Letter to my Intern

Dear Intern,

It worries me to see how some teachers view Treaty Education and the First Nations culture. The picture posted by UofR Confessions was written by a teacher who has no intent to change and most likely has similar views as your Coop teacher. If your Coop has views as such, it is very important to make sure that as a intern you are educating those students on the importance of Treaty Education and what it means to be a treaty person, as they probably will not obtain this knowledge anywhere else.

It is just as important if not more important to teach Treaty Education to classrooms with less diversity of First Nation peoples. As Claire stated in her introduction video “Put even more effort into the cultural programming, teaching the history, and building these relationships when there are not many First Nation students in your classroom.” This is an idea that some teachers do not quite understand yet and it seems as your Coop may be one of them as well, but just because there are no or few First Nation students in you class, that does not erase our past culture here. It is so important to teach it to those students specifically as they probably do know or understand our history here in Canada. It is important for them to understand that we are all treaty people. Claire also talked about in her introduction video, indigenous students most of the time already know their past and history, it’s the settlers who need to be taught. It is essential that you teach everyone.

As an intern you can introduce the topic through the lens of Settler Education instead of Treaty Education. Claire mentions in her introduction video that this is a strategy that she uses when teaching to her students as a vast majority of her students are settlers and do not know what treaty education means or how it relates to their lives. This is a way to help students connect to the understanding and the severity of how it has impacted each of their lives. Claire notes that the decision to change the name for her class was helpful, and because you expressed that the majority of your class is also settlers this might be a great way to introduce the topic to your students as well as your Coop teacher.

One idea that many people (students and teachers) do not fully understand is that we are all treaty people. It is important to stress to the students that not only indigenous people are considered treaty people; it is all of us here in Canada. This can be a difficult topic to understand for some people but keep pushing and try many different ways until all students understand that statement. One great example of an activity you could try that Claire talked about in her discussion with Mike was that she gets her students to make a video at the beginning of the year about what it means to be a treaty person. Then after learning and discussing that idea she gets them to make another video at the end of the year with the same question. This helps to show the students understanding and see the change in their ideas about what it means to be a treaty person.

In the video discussion between Mike and Claire, Claire said “No one is going to be a perfect Treaty Education teacher; you just need to do it and get better as you go.” It will be hard at the beginning to get everyone on board and teach them an idea that may be completely new to them, but it will get better and easier with time. Learn from your mistakes and that will help you become a terrific Treaty Education teacher. Stick to your gut and teach what you think is important, your students will thank you later even if they do not understand what you mean now.

 

Resources:

Kreuger, Claire. (2017). “ECS 210 8.2 – Claire Intro” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sWY_X-ikmaw&feature=youtu.be.

Kreuger, Claire & Cappello, Michael. (2017). “ECS 210 8.4 Q&A”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NnPl9Xfd0Bw&feature=youtu.be

UofR Confessions. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bxm_ZQFO_bQ1rHYWmXFmxrs5my9gUWQE/view

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Learning From Place.

This weeks article “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” by Jean-Paul Restoule, Sheila Gruner, and Edmund Metatawabin, was about a group of students who went out on a day trip which helped them to better understand reinhabitation and decolonization as well as a sense of place. The main focus of the trip seemed to be so that the students could get a sense of their environment and living off the land. This teaches the students about reinhabitation and lets them experience it out on their own. This article also shows how place-based education can help students learn about and connect with the land in which they live on. Place-based learning could be incorporated into any subject area, as I believe it should be. However, one area that I believe students would really benefit from place-based learning would be in Treaty Education. Getting the students out and interacting with the land, learning about its history, and helping them understand why it is so important that we take care of it is essential.

As an educator it is important to teach and understand how a to incorporate indigenous ways of knowing and decolonization into our lessons every day. I am minoring in outdoor education, so I believe that using the outdoors to get out and explore is very beneficial for students. Many of the classes I have taken previously have began to open my eyes to the idea that place and place-based education can be a tool used in the classroom no matter the subject.

The “Good” Student.

A ‘good’ student according to the commonsense we observe would be someone who shows up early to class, has all their materials ready, listens and participates in class, is respectful to the teacher, does not misbehave, gets their homework done and always eager to learn. The students who are more privileged by this definition are the ones who fit this description. It would most likely be the middle to higher class families, who have the money to provide for their children, who are able to get them to school on time and have a quiet place for them to learn at home. This commonsense idea is an issue because the majority of our students will not be able to fit this mold that we have created for them. Every student has a different home life and different responsibilities besides school that we do not always know about.

Growing up and even now a days it is obvious that teachers are trying to shape children to fit into the molds of a ‘good’ student, but why is that. When students do not feel as though they belong in a group they tend to try to stand out, which might not always be in a positive way, so teachers would then label them as a ‘bad’ student. But what if we didn’t have any molds at all? What if we let students be who they are and adapt to each one of them and their needs, instead of trying to conform everyone to be ‘good’?

Placed-Based Education

The topic I have chosen to explore more in depth would be place-based education. “Experiencing the City: Experiential Learning in Urban Environments” by Thomas C. Henthorn is the article I choose to explore and in this article it examines the idea that place-based learning is more than that in the classroom and the community, instead it is defined as a space that is defined meaningful to you based on your activity there. It looks at how experiential learning helps students understand problem solving and how it should be a primary role in students learning. Henthorn continues to go through and talks about some of his experiences within the classroom trying to create a more place-based education for his students and how they adapted to that. One interesting quote that I came across was “place-based education is anytime, anywhere learning,” which really made me think, place based education can happen at any point without us even expecting it which I thought was pretty amazing.

Moving forward in my research about place-based education I would like to read a few other people’s opinions and thoughts on this topic, and I would like to explore the negative and positive sides to place-based learning more thoroughly. As someone who grew up not being exposed to much place-based learning, I am looking to gain as much knowledge on the topic as I can to hopefully be able to integrate into my own teaching practice someday.

The Problem of Commonsense Review

Kumashiro defines common sense as what everyone knows without being told. Common sense is when people are in a routine and everyone knows exactly how and when things should happen. Things have always been done in such a way, so when people disobey those ways of doing things, they are not using common sense. Common sense is described as things that are ‘so routine that they go unquestioned’, people just know and follow. “Common sense is telling us ‘this is what schools should be doing.’”

I believe that it its very important to pay attention to ‘common sense’ so that you can make sure you are not following it completely. “Common sense makes it easy to continue teaching and learning in ways that allow oppressions already in play to continue to play out unchallenged in our schools and society.” People usually tend to like keeping things the same as they know, “we find comfort in the repetition”, however I think it is important to get out of routine and your comfort zone to try new things. “Common sense needs to be examined and challenged.”