When teaching Treaty education teachers often face ignorance and opposition to their work. Two common arguments related to this oppression include:
- I have no Indigenous students in my classroom so I don’t need to teach Treaty Ed.
- It all happened a long time ago; it’s not important anymore.
Treaty ed. is a mandatory part of the Saskatchewan curriculum for a reason. Whether you have Indigenous students or not; we as Canadian’s are all Treaty People since we signed the treaties. You cannot separate Indigenous history from Canadian history, and pretending that we were not a part of this history is doing a great disservice to all of our students. Yes it’s a history that we should be ashamed of as it’s riddled with hate and oppression, but rather than hiding from it we should acknowledge it and use that to inspire change. By pretending that we were not a part of the horror of residential schools, the sixties scoop, and the countless other forms of oppression that indigenous peoples have faced is erasing our place in history, and without that reflection we risk continuing the cycle of oppression. The argument that it doesn’t affect our students because it happened a long time ago is not valid as the last federally run residential school in Saskatchewan “continued to serve as a residential school until 1996, when it was finally closed…and torn down”; having only been nineteen years since the last school was closed and only seven since the Canadian government officially acknowledged their role in residential schools and apologized this is still very recent. Our students are going to have parents, grandparents, and even siblings that have experienced this horror and abuse. Aside from that, students are still experiencing stereotypes, abuse, and racism left over from our troubled past
In the article “Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing” there were many examples of both reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative of a research project. One way this project encouraged reinhabitation is that they encouraged young people to converse with older generations about the river because ‘this connection to nature and land was all the more significant for its contributions to an additional dimension of development: the cultural identity of the people”. Allowing the students to take ownership for and reinhabit the land. Decolonization was supported by research project was that the advisory group was formed with the band council “so that the Cree could track environmental and social changes on their own terms for their own purposes”; this is important to decolonization because society’s colonial wallpaper encourages us to get so caught up in helping people that we neglect to ask their own ideas or opinions on the project,
I definitely want to consider place in my own classroom; I will do this by first asking myself who feels comfortable in my classroom and in the school as a whole. I would also like to get my students opinions on the place where they are learning; maybe by having students write in their journals describing their favorite place then sharing with the class what makes up a safe, comforting, and open place. Through English and drama I plan to encourage the exploration of place both through reading and analyzing texts and through play; using my students insights to mold and create the place that is my classroom.
During my elementary school years I was the good student according to the modern day, North American commonsense. I was quiet, I did my homework, and I never questioned my teachers; as an introvert the commonsense fit me perfectly. Once in high school though the commonsense seemed to change; no longer was I being praised for my quietness, but rather I was being told that I was a “good student, but needs to speak up more in class”. All of a sudden I was expected to change the commonsense I was raised to believe (that students sit quietly and listen to the teacher) and now speak up and question what I was being taught. Students who privilege from this commonsense are those who are raised in the dominant culture and hence are raised to understand this commonsense as well as those who can adapt to change in the commonsense. In turn students from minority cultures are disadvantaged; as differences between cultures cause the commonsense to not be so common.
Commonsense makes things such as racism, sexism, and homophobia impossible to see/understand/believe because the commonsense causes projection bias; where the dominant culture expects everyone to know the commonsense even when they are of different cultures. This is seen in schools when students from Asian and Indigenous cultures are seen as defiant when they don’t make eye contact even though their cultures feel as if direct eye contact is rude/confrontational. The commonsense allows the dominant culture to feel comfortable without actually learning about the diverse students in your classroom leading to many missed learning opportunities both for the students and teachers.
The traditionalist approach/the Tyler rational follows along four main questions
1. What educational objectives should the school seek to achieve?
2. What educational experiences can be provided that are likely to achieve these
3. How can these educational experiences be effectively organized?
4. How can we determine whether these objectives are being achieved?
These four easy to follow steps are problematic in that teaching should not be easy and that a one size fits all mentality will not work seeing as you don’t have one-size fits all students.
The Tyler rational was often used in my own schooling; which luckily for me I was not an exceptional learner in most subjects. And I did see many students get left behind or just moved on to the next grade. One class that this method has negatively effected me in is math. All through schooling I’ve had trouble with math and it wasn’t until high school that teachers seemed to notice. Once teacher’s noticed and helped me by providing a more visual example to what we were studying my grades improved quite a bit. As my example hopefully shows; the Tyler method allows no space for the individual student and differentiated instruction. This not only limits students who need a little extra help when it comes to learning, but also those who are further ahead who usually wind up doing busywork until the teacher decides the class has learnt what they need to. The benefit to the Tyler rational is that it can provide a jumping off point for teachers to create lesson/unit plans; hopefully adding their own differentiated instruction to supplement it.
In his work The Problem of Common Sense Kevin Kumashiro defines common sense as “what everyone should know”in the context of his time teaching in Nepal. It is important to pay attention to common sense because we can become complacent in what we think everyone should know and forget to think about the deeper meaning behind the things we feel are common sense, and as Kumashiro states; this can cause us to “teach… and learn… in ways that allow the oppressions already in play to continue to play out unchallenged”. Throughout my own schooling this commonly took the form of teachers asking the boys to leave class to help move any heavy equipment; leaving the girls to feel weak and helpless when it comes to that sort of stuff. This oppression can make students feel hurt, excluded, and subordinate to their peers, and can place a stop to any meaningful learning and advancement occurring in the classroom.