Developing Student’s Citizenship

This week for ECS 210, we were challenged to reflect back on our own schooling and to think of examples of citizenship education. There were plenty of instances that stood out for me, when I reflected on my education. It seemed as though my elementary and high school were consistently doing fundraisers and activities to support our community. I remember taking part in food & clothing drives every year around the holidays. We also had multiple Penny Wars (all money was donated to a specified charity). As I got older, myself and my peers became responsible to planning and promoting such events. Not only that, but I distinctly remember taking part in various seminars that taught us various skills. For example, one of my high school teachers brought in a representative from RBC to teach us about financial literacy (ex. budgeting, saving, etc.) and we also took part in many mock elections whenever there was a real provincial or federal election going on. We spent many class periods being taught about elections, how to vote, and studying the party’s platforms. Out of the three types of citizen education that the article talked about (personally responsible citizen, participatory citizen & and the justice oriented citizen), I think that these examples that I’ve shared, belong to the personally responsible citizen category. The things we took part in, focused on students knowing the ins and outs of democracy, becoming financially literate and taking action in our community (food drives, litter pick-up & clothing drives etc.). We were always taught the importance of our actions and were always preached at saying “we need to be the change…etc.” While I believe that sharing these values with students is important because it emphasizes their agency to advocate for change; I believe that it is also important to ensure that students understand the importance of WHY they are taking part in various activities and how their actions are making an impact. Our students need to be well informed.

This approach to curriculum privileges those students who come from financially stable homes and who are able give of their material possessions. For some students, this may not be a reality and when schools put on events such as food drives, clothing drives and other monetary donations, these students may feel that their inability to give is being highlighted. They also may feel that they are less than or not as strong of a personally responsible citizen. This approach to curriculum can also empower students, making them feel that they are able to take charge and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Students may feel motivated to engage more in their community and see the value in building into their school community.

A diverse group of students is being created from the implementation of this citizenship curriculum. While there are three, distinct categories; depending on your perspective on these categories, many different students and citizens will be created. What variations in these citizens do you think will be created?

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

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Re-orienting Ourselves

This week, we looked at different perspectives on learning and development. I found that talking about orientations was interesting. Orientations are a starting point; how we approach a situation based on our view point. A change of perspective can lead to a changed course of action. As teachers, we may need to re-orient ourselves and view our students and classroom through a different lens. Some students may require us to provide a different approach to learning for them, and we need to be able to re-orient ourselves to provide for these needs. After all, we are teaching students, not subjects. We need to be able to meet their different needs. I also learned more about reconceptualist theory. I appreciate that these scholars are trying to challenge the grand narratives, and to incorporate various perspectives into education. I believe that these perspectives need to become regular practice in our education system to provide more inclusive education. A third thing that I learned was Cannella’s (1999) assumptions of educational discourse. These assumptions are saying that education is crucial to become a successful person in society and that there is a hierarchy  within the subjects (ie. math is much more important that the arts), these assumptions are also saying that people who perform better in education are superior to those who don’t. Overall, I find these assumptions about educational discourse are quite problematic and that I why I believe that we need to re-orient ourselves to allow diverse perspectives to take shape within the education system.

As we began our conversation about the good student, I was reminded of a similar conversation I had in my ECS 210 course. We talked about the common sense idea of a good student. In both conversations, we came to similar conclusions. We have been trained to respond with characteristics like “quiet, good listener, engaged, helpful, etc.” However, I believe that the definition of a good student is very subjective and depends on each person’s perspective. I was also reminded of Indigenous ways of knowing that I studied in my ESCI 302 course last semester. This is a diverse perspective on knowledge and learning that was discussed in one of our assigned readings for the week. In this perspective, I really like how learning is primarily experiential and allows learners to explore concepts for themselves. I believe that experiential learning is very important to create motivated learners and foster curiosity.

I am still a bit confused, with regards to the developing child and it’s grand narrative. How can we begin to move away from this narrative and stop expecting all children to develop at the same, predictable rate?

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

 

Personal Land Acknowledgement

This place is my home. I live in the Qu’Appelle valley and this has become home to me. I was raised here. I live on this land and it has played a role in who I have become. I have made countless memories here. This place brings me an abundance of joy. (especially in the autumn when the valley comes alive with colours of red, orange and yellow 😍 )

It is troubling to know that on this very spot, many years ago, the beginnings of  tragic, continued injustices occurred. The land that I have grown to love, and is a huge part of my life, is not even mine to begin with. This is why land acknowledgement is so important.

Honestly, I always thought that people included a land acknowledgement at the beginning of their presentations because it was polite and expected to do so. I thought is was politically correct, so I adopted the practice for that reason. For fear of being offensive. There was no personal connection to the land I was acknowledging, at least I didn’t think there was.  I was just mindlessly reciting a few words that included “Treaty four territory” and I continued on with the presentation I was giving. I wanted to do what was right, even if I didn’t know why it was right. Recently, I have been challenged in my way of thinking about land acknowledgment. This acknowledgement can have a personal connection to my life and this land. I have been fortunate to grow up on Treaty four territory, home of the Cree, Saulteaux, Nakota, Lakota and Dakota peoples, and the Métis people. I have made a life for myself here and none of that would have been possible without wîtaskêwin and the graciousness of these peoples , sharing their homes with us, white setters. I would not have a home if it weren’t for this land, so I feel that it is imperative that now that I know better, it is my responsibility to acknowledge this land as belonging to someone else.

This acknowledgement recognizes the relationship between Indigenous peoples, their territory, the settlers & their descendants (ME). Being aware of such relationships and being willing to acknowledge them on a regular basis is one step towards reconciliation. For some, taking this action can be a conversation starter, to share Canada’s history with others.

In class, we were challenged to create our own land acknowledgement and to make it person. Here is my take on it:

“The land that I am currently on is Treaty four land. I want to acknowledge that this land does not belong to me. It belongs to the original inhabitants of this land. The Cree, Saulteaux, Dakota, Nakota, & Lakota peoples, have shared their home with us and we are fortunate enough to continue living together and build our lives on this land. Our past does not define our future, and together we can move forward in reconciliation and to uphold kihci-asotamâtowin (sacred promises to one another)”

Until next time,

Emily Grace

Things are beginning to come together…

This week during lecture, we talked about culture and diversity. Throughout my time in the education program, every class that I have taken, has touched on this topic in one way or another. Despite this, I know there is so much more for me to learn because it is such a diverse and expansive topic. Recently, I learned about stereotype threats. This means the “extra emotional and cognitive burden that your performance in an academic situation might confirm a stereotype that others hold about you” (p.205) (Woolfolk, Winne & Perry, 2013). For example, the illustration that Sharlene used in class was about a blonde girl. The widely known stereotype about blonde girls is that they are supposedly not very intelligent. (I can speak from personal experience that this stereotype is totally false.) So when a girl with blonde hair receives a poor mark on an assignment, she may worry that this stereotype is being enforced. I also had the opportunity to read about the five dimensions of multicultural education. While I’ve read about these dimensions individually before, I have never considered them parts of a whole before, as James Banks does.

Photo Credit: https://www.google.ca/search?q=james+banks+multicultural+education&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwivp-2emZXZAhUNXa0KHU6JC-4Q_AUICigB&biw=1280&bih=613#imgrc=Yr_SwGg1Ler0oM:

The five dimensions include integrating content from a variety of cultures,  matching teaching styles to student learning styles to help students from all backgrounds experience success, an empowering school culture and social structure, reducing prejudice through teaching, and understanding that knowledge is constructed in various ways. (Woolfolk, Winne & Perry, 2013). I also found that the chart on page 215 was quite interesting to read and can be potentially helpful in the future. This chart was on research-based characteristics of schools and teachers who are able to serve a diverse group of students. Something that I found problematic was the blurb about weeding misbehaving students out. By weeding students out, we are not helping them to be successful. Instead we are sending the message that they are not good enough to be a part of this program and therefore need to be removed. I believe a different approach needs to be taken when dealing with students who appear to be problematic; such as a varied practice of instruction and allowing them to take an active role in their own learning.

After Sharlene showed us the video about certain books reinforcing stereotypes, I was immediately reminded of my ELIT 101 course I took last semester. We spent the entire semester evaluating and selecting quality picture books that support an anti-bias classroom. We looked at books about culture, various abilities, gender roles and sexuality. I believe that with these various elements in mind, I will be able to select an array of excellent books for my future classroom library. I was also reminded of the EFND 306 (Schooling and sexual identities) course that I was enrolled in at the beginning of the semester. I ended up withdrawing from the course but I know that if I had taken it, we would have studied things along the lines of gender and sexual identity, just as we talked about in lecture. And I’m sure we would have gone much deeper than we did on Monday.

After reading this chapter and participating in Monday’s lecture, a question that stills remains for me is where would I be able to find anti-bias resources (activity ideas, images, books, etc.) that would support culture and diversity in my classroom?

Woolfolk, A., Winne, P., H, & Perry, N. (2013). Culture and Diversity . In Educational Psychology (6th ed., pp. 189-223). Toronto: Pearson.

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Who’s got the power?

This week in ECS 210, our blog is to be done in two parts. The first is as follows; get the thinking juices flowing (trust me, I hate that saying as much as you do) and before reading the assigned article, think about how school curriculum is developed.

Before Reading:

My gut reaction to this question is to say that the people who have power in society are some of the main influencers on school curriculum. These people wish to create functioning members of society for the future so whatever they deem valuable for future societal members to know are the things reflected in the curriculum. I knew that very few teachers, who play an active role in implementing the curriculum, (ie. teaching the students) have a say in what they teach. Curriculum is made to produce successful and literate adults. When I think about this approach to curriculum, I see that a curriculum as product approach is being produced here. While I do not believe that this approach is the most effective way to educate students; I find it very interesting that my initial thoughts about curriculum production reflect the product approach.

After Reading: (now that you’re enlightened about curriculum development processes, what do you think??

“Most curricula are organized around at least two levels of objectives—very general or broad goals and then much more specific learning activities and objectives. Curriculum documents and policies may also endorse or support, explicitly or not, particular teaching and learning practices” (Levin, 2008)

Creating curriculum is a labour-intensive process. There are multiple discussions at various levels.Values and ideologies of society are often reflected in currilculum documents, either implicitly or explicitly. And since the government has a lot of power to implement what they wish into the curriculum, many of their ideas are reflected in the curriculum (formal or informal curriculum). With our government having the potential to change every four years, people might see the emphasis on certain subjects sway as governments come in and out of power. While reading, I was surprised to see that teachers and principals were almost always involved with curriculum reviews and that they played a role in the decision making process (Levin 2008). I had always thought that, while teachers should be getting a say in what they teach, in reality they weren’t. I guess I was wrong. Although, I don’t think that their voice is heard louder than say, politicians or textbook creators. I find this very concerning. I recognize that different subject specialists or the minister of education have valuable ideas to contribute to curriculum; but I think teachers should have a larger role with deciding the content that is brought into their classrooms. In addition, some subject specialists may approach curriculum discussions with a personal agenda or specific bias, to see more of their subject area represented in the curriculum (Levin, 2008). Because curriculum is public policy, “the rules and procedures governing public sector activity – what they are and how they are made” (p.8) (Levin, 2008), teachers are public servants. They are carrying out these decisions made by governments, and it is important to keep in mind that such policies are rarely (never) neutral. Someone is usually (always) benefitting from having these policies in place. What are your thoughts on curriculum being a public policy? How might our ideas of what goes into the curriculum change when we consider who is inputing the content?

Levin, B. (2008). Curriculum policy and the politics of what should be learned in schools. In F. Connelly, M. He & J. Phillion (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of curriculum and instruction (pp. 7 – 24). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

What is a treaty person?

Prior to beginning ECCU 400, the phrase “We are all treaty people” was not entirely new to me; however, I had not spent any time thinking about what it truly meant. I am confident that as the semester progresses, we will spend a copious amount of time unpacking this particular phrase. Even in the few short weeks of this class, my understanding of treaties and treaty people has been enriched and my level of understanding has been deepened.

Initially, my understanding of being a treaty person was tied to the land that I live on. I live on treaty four territory, therefore I am automatically included as part of Treaties and am a treaty person. While this statement is accurate, I believe that we can go deeper. Being a treaty person involves the responsibility to ensure others are aware of our collective history and their engagement with future reconciliation. As it says in the Treaty Backgrounder article from the OTC,  “If relations between Treaty First Nations and other residents of Saskatchewan are to be harmonious, all people in Saskatchewan will need to be made aware of the history of relations between the Treaty First Nations and other people of Saskatchewan” (Office of the Treaty Commissioner, 2018). With a deeper understanding for one another’s culture and values, I believe that a greater respect for both parties will be a result. The desire to uphold and adhere to the responsibilities that treaties have placed upon us will be a result of our growing knowledge of one another.

I know there are many people out there who are resistant to change their way of thinking and are unwilling to expand their knowledge in regards to treaty education. Some people are closed-minded and do not see that they too, have responsibilities with treaties. As someone who has spent some time studying treaties in the classroom, (but has so much MORE to learn) I am able to respond to such behaviour in a way that is respectful but also challenges their way of thinking. Before beginning university, my reaction to various aspects of treaty education may have been comparable to that of the reaction that I described earlier, but I now see the dire need for change and reconciliation exists. Because I am a treaty person, and future educator, it is my responsibility to “think deeply about the implications of their [my] pedagogical choices and the content they [I] teach” (Tupper, 2012).

Treaty Backgrounder. (2018). Retrieved February 04, 2018, from http://www.otc.ca/pages/about_the_treaties.html

Tupper, J. A. (2012), ‘Treaty education for ethically engaged citizenship: Settler identities, historical consciousness and the need for reconcilia- tion’, Citizenship Teaching & Learning 7: 2, pp. 143–156, doi: 10.1386/ ctl.7.2.143_1

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

 

 

The “Good Student”

If someone were to ask you what characteristics does a good student possess, what sorts of images come to your mind? What do you immediately think of? Without giving the question much thought, I would immediately start rattling off qualities such as “good listener, engaged, does not challenge the teacher, respectful, sits still during instruction” and so on. Seeing as I am a product of our current education system, I have been conditioned to believe that all of these characteristics are true of any “good” student. I have been made to believe that these attributes are just common sense and expected of students. The student, M, described in this week’s reading by Kumashiro would not be considered a “good” student, based on this description. M was disruptive, had difficulties listening and was not engaged with what the teacher was doing with the rest of the class. However, I would argue that these things do not necessarily make M a bad student; M is just a different type of learner.

Our system has crafted a “one size fits all” model approach to education based on the belief that there is only one type of “good” student. If you are a student and you do not learn this way, you may be facing a severe disadvantage. Schools have been structured to facilitate the learning of the “good” student. So if you fit this definition, you’ve got nothing to worry about; if not, watch out! As Kumashiro talked about in chapter 2, a good student does not challenge what is taught because their view of the world is confirmed through their education. This is called comforting learning; because what you are taught is comfortable and sits well with the learner. So imagine being a student whose view of the world is challenged by what they are taught… they can’t help but question the knowledge they are receiving; therefore creating for themselves a “bad” student image.

Because of these beliefs, the idea that variations of good learners exist, is made impossible. This belief creates polar opposites; good & bad. If you don’t belong to one category, you automatically fit the other description. However, what I have been learning recently, directly contradicts this common sense idea of the “good” student. Each student is a different learner and excels in different areas. Just because a student is not able to sit still during a lecture and listen carefully to their teacher, does not mean that they are a bad student. This just means that we need to provide other avenues for this child to learn. Sometimes employing the traditional classroom method does not provide the student with what they need to thrive and engage with their learning. And now that we know better, we can do better. In what ways do you think that we can do better? How can we go about changing the belief that only one type of good student exists?

Kumashiro, Kevin. (2010). Against Common Sense. Routledge. Retrieved 31 January 2018,                 from <http://www.myilibrary.com?ID=10708>

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Continuing my treaty walk…

This past week in my ECCU 400 class, the women had the privilege in taking part of the Pipe Ceremony. Again, this was something that I had never experienced before and was very intrigued to find out what it was all about. The ceremony began with a smudge; we smudged ourselves, the prints and objects that we would be using during the ceremony. We then began to pass the pipe around the circle. We had the option of puffing the pipe or just acknowledge the pipe by holding it up to both of our shoulders. We passed the pipe around the circle four times. Once that was completed, Alma and Evelyn sang a song, thanking the spirits and prayed over our journey over the course of this semester.

When I think of a covenant, I often think of it in the biblical sense. For example; the Ark of the Covenant. A covenant is similar to a promise, but I like to think of it as a promise on steroids; so basically it’s more intense than a regular promise. It’s an agreement, often legally binding between two parties. In the case of treaties, it is an agreement between Canadians and the Aboriginal peoples. After participating in the Pipe ceremony, I was reminded of how sacred this ceremony and the Treaties are the the Aboriginal peoples and how it should be the same for us, Canadians. These treaties are a covenant that is made to last forever, “as long as the grass grows, the sun shines and the rivers flow.”

Being a christian, I approach my spirituality in a different way. I see my spirituality or faith as a personal relationship with my Creator. So when I consider the spiritual aspect of treaties, I struggle with understanding that concept. Based on the way I have been taught; I have never thought of treaties as being a spiritual thing. However, I certainly understand that treaties are relational and that is how I understand my identity as a treaty person. I have relationships with the land and the people living on the land. The land is not mine to own, but to be shared, peacefully amongst the people living on it. As a treaty person, it is my responsibility to educate others and see to it that the promises made in these treaties are being upheld and reconciled.

As this course moves forward, I will continue to focus on our theme, miskâsowin; finding one’s self and sense of origin & belonging as I learn more about what it means to be a treaty person and how I will be able to apply this to my daily life. I recognize that I have so much more to learn, but learning is a process. It is not about the end product; it is the journey we take as we learn.

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Cookie Monster & Marshmallows

What do these objects have to do with this week’s lecture topic? Let’s dive in and find out!

This week in lecture we talked about Social Cognition and Self regulation. I found this week’s assigned reading and lecture quite interesting. I have heard about Albert Bandura before but prior to this class, I had not studied any of his work. After reading about his personal life and how he got to where is today, it is easy to see where the roots of his theory came from. Bandura worked very hard in his youth to earn an education and work toward his future. The theory that was a result of his research, the social cognitive theory “concerns cognitive factors such as beliefs, self-perceptions, and expectations to social learning theory” (pg. 396) (Woolfolk, Winnie & Perry, 2016). He was also a firm believer in self efficacy, the belief that you can experience success with a specific task. Before this class, I always believed that self efficacy and self esteem were interchangeable. However, after reading the assigned chapter I learned that was not the case. Self esteem is the evaluation of self-worth and self efficacy is the belief in one’s ability to successfully complete a task. While the two definitions are similar, they do mean different things and are not interchangeable as I once thought. For example, I would consider myself to have high self esteem because I can see my value and worth through my family, friends and my education. I have self efficacy because I believe that I will be successful in completing my degree and continuing on to reach my goal of being an elementary school teacher. I also learned about self regulation and the marshmallow test! We sure had fun in class this week learning about these things! Allow me to share with you:

Self regulation according to Cookie Monster:

You’re in for a real treat here; the marshmallow test! This test was completed by young children. A marshmallow was placed in front of them by and adult then the aduklt left but they were told that if they waited to eat the marshmallow; the adult would return with a second marshmallow for the child. Let’s see how the children do…

You can see that in the video, the children are employing some of the different coping strategies that Cookie Monster is talking about. We see the children looking away form the marshmallow, talking to themselves, squirming and moving around to avoid eating the marshmallow. There has been studies completed that followed up on the children who were able to wait and those who ate the marshmallow and these studies have generally shown that the children who were able to wait, were more successful in life. What I found particularly interesting is a point that Dr. Crooks made; a factor that could have affected the child’s ability to be successful in this test. TRUST. If a child trusted the adult to return with a second marshmallow, they would be able to wait. However, if a child did not believe the adult would return; they would be more inclined to eat the marshmallow sitting in front of them because they know that they will be receiving at least one marshmallow. This reminded me of Erikson’s first stage of development; trust versus mistrust. A child develops trust only after they learn that the adult will provide for their needs and is worthy of trusting. If the child does not trust the adult facilitating the test, the child’s results will likely show that.

I wonder what types of strategies we, as future educators, can employ in our classrooms to help foster a child’s ability to self regulate and enhance their self efficacy? What do you think?

Until next time,

Emily Grace.

Being shaped by new experiences

Feeling apprehensive and uncertain are really not pleasant feelings to be experiencing, but I believe that feeling this way can lead to some extensive growth and learning, personally and professionally. This is how I was feeling last Thursday as I was anticipating my first blanket exercise and smudge. I had never experienced either of these things before and I really had no idea of what to expect. Let me walk you through a few of my reflections…

I was certainly pleasantly surprised with the blanket exercise, I found the activity to be really eye opening and emotionally charged. I had been made aware of bits and pieces of this history at various points in my education but this exercise really put the timeline into perspective for me. The visual of seeing the blankets or Turtle Island being shrunk and taken away and seeing all of my classmates who represent the First Nations being told to leave the blanket. It really left an impression on me. I also found that listening to and reading all the personal narratives of those who are affected by these tragic events was very powerful. Often when you are learning about our history, you read about it in a dry textbook, devoid of emotion. Hearing it from a new perspective was really refreshing and I certainly learned a lot about it. This would be an incredibly powerful tool for teaching in the classroom, together we can work toward reconciliation in the classroom. This interactive activity engages students and presents them with the history in a way that can be understood through the visual and personal narratives. While this activity may be aimed at a higher grade level, perhaps grade five and up; I believe that younger children can participate as well. If you are curious and want to read more about this; I suggest you check out this site. You can explore various blog posts and read testimonials of those who facilitate and participate in the exercise. When I watched the video, I was really struck when I saw a young child sharing his experience as a facilitator. I think it is really special to see a younger generation taking the initiative to educate and create awareness in their peers.

I also experienced a Smudge for the first time. Again, I was not sure what to expect. If I’m being completely honest, I was a bit uncomfortable when I was in front of Elder Alma as she was performing the smudge. I couldn’t help but feel that this was not part of my culture and not my place to be experiencing this and I say this with the absolute utmost respect. Throughout the weekend, I revisited my thoughts on this and I came to the realization that what I experienced on Thursday was really special. It is a huge honour to have this part of Indigenous culture shared with me, even more so because I do not share the same culture. Elder Alma was so willing to be a part of our journey and invite us to join this ceremony. While it may not be something that I regularly practice as a part of my faith, it was really special to have that shared with me. I think about the times when I have had the opportunity to pray over someone, sharing my Christian faith with them and how special and exciting that is for me and I can’t help but think that is how Indigenous peoples feel when they are able to share their culture.

Overall, I am very thankful for these new insights that I have gained as a result of last Thursday and I am really looking forward to this Thursday as we are participating in a pipe ceremony. These experiences are shaping my into the educator I am becoming and as a result, I find myself more open and willing to more new experiences.

Until next time,

Emily Grace.