The concept of single stories is very interesting, is describes quite nicely the effects that non-opposing experiences can have on a persons worldview. My own worldview was shaped by the stories told by my small town’s elementary school, the stories my parents told me, as well as the general opinions of different things, places, and peoples.
My school, though not labeled a christian school, displayed and taught many biblical stories. More important, i think, than the specific stories was the casual attitude in which they were spoken. Often when referencing christianity in any way, teachers would talk as if the content they were talking of should be known to all, that it was normal to have interactions with this knowledge. At the time I was a fairly active member of the united church and so i did not see that for someone who did not grow up with those teachings, the demeanor in which they talked might tell a different story.
In my small border town, it was definitely the truths of the privileged, white, upper class citizens that framed what everyone else deemed important or desirable. I think though that because of the openness to exposure that my family (especially my mom) instilled in me allowed me to see and acknowledge this privilege at a very young age.
I still have many unknown biases that shape how i view the world, but because of experiences like this class, i will continue to identify and tackle them.
In my elementary school, the word citizenship was tossed around a lot but never really explained. We participated in the Terry Fox Run, and did fundraisers for charity, but knowing the “why” of why we were doing these good works. When i learned that poverty and oppression were not just incidental bad things about the world, but rather norms that framed many peoples lives, i was pissed. This information hadnt been shared with me and yet i was spending 30 hours a week in a building designed to inform me. The world is a creul and unusual place, but it feels to me that that is in at least part due to the fact that citizenship is viewe as a collection of rights by those in power, rather than a responsibility. Hopefully the world focuses more on what the individual can do for the world soon.
Treaty education and Indigenous education are two parts of an education system that do not carry the weight of the rest of the curriculum. Many believe that indigenous education and treaty education are only necessary for school whose student body contains few to no indigenous students. The reality of the situation is that everyone benefits from a complete education. Canada is where we live and so its history is all of our history.
We are all treaty people. We exist here, as we do, right now, because a discussion was had intending for both parties involved to agree upon the who and why of the future of these lands. I am a treaty person because as a descendant of an immigrant family, treaty was formed so that i could live here. We are all treaty people because we are all responsible for repairing the broken promises of treaty.
Much has been lost in the colonial ways of assimilation and conquest that have framed the western world. But much is still here. In small villages, in elders’ stories, in the land itself, much of the old ways of knowig are still here.
The reading this week follows a research group that follows a collection of indigenous individuals from three generations on a traditional canoe voyage down a river tied deeply to the roots of the Mushkegowuk Cree in the Fort Albany First Nation. Throughout their voyage, the older members tell stories and recall ways in which they, an the people before them, read the land and the life within it in order to navigate the many named river, predict wether using birds, asses the quality of drinking water by hearing frogs, and trusting in nature to provide food in the form of moose and other natural sources. Understanding ones relationship with the land and the life therin is massive in the Mushkegowuk ways of knowing, and through sessions such as this, they will continue to be.
One can easily apply some of this knowledge or at least promote respect for it in one’s classroom. From active discussions about the knowledge and the dangers and real life possibility of it being lost, to simply acknowledging the very real connection with the world we live in. Decoloniztion can be so much more than a response to oppressive practice. It can be a prideful showcase of the knowledge that was, is, and will forever be tied to this land and its people.
At one point, I truly believed that old white guys in long brown robes made curriculum standing around in a circle chanting satanic phrases to piece together a document to tell us all what we need to know. More realistically i thought it was bureaucrats in boardrooms telling us all how to be.
Now i realise that curriculum is a much more quilted document. Pieced together from the opinions and work of many many teachers over many many years. this is a small part however. Nothing will ever be more important than the things humans place value on, and right now its money. That gives the power to those who have the money. Textbook companies, government, and even private institutions who are funded by the families enrolled. More money equals better programming. Better programming equals the bar by which all are judged.
Money is power
Power makes the knowledge
The knowledge defines the curriculum
Mark Twain is quite possibly one of the most quoted writers of the modern era, so it makes sense that he woud have a thing or two to say about the institutions that teach literacy.
Schooling has evolved and changed much since the time of Mark Twain but I think many would agree that this quote still rings true for how many view the education system and what it does to students.
Many view schooling as Tyler does, as an assembly line designed to create adults who can join the workforce. But becoming an educated individual possibly means something different.
This ideal however does not reflect what schooling could be. Schooling could be a prcess in which the potential contained within the learners becomes recognized and refined. A place where confidence is built up rathe than tested.
This quote doesn’t have a very good view of teachers, suggesting that they are hindering ones ability to become an educated indvidual. This ideal probably came from the teachers that Mark himself interacted with. This quote does, however, have a very high opinion of students and their potentials to become educated indivduals.
I believe that schooling can be so much more than a place to mould students. and that, as educators, it is our responsibility to create environments and classrooms in which students feel that what they can be is not comprimised by where they are.
Education is different things to many people, and many agree and disagree with the ideals and theories of one another. Many of the differences in these opinions and ideologiees boils down to what is deemed to be its goal, or what aspect of it is most important. A social effeciency model focuses on the effeciency of the process, “where efficiency is defined in terms of expenditure of time, money, and human resources.” (Schiro 2013).
My own experiences with one of the many branches of the education system in Canada has shown many examples of this kind of ideology, the rationale favoured by Tyler and many other “behavioual engineers”. The use of nation-wide tests to attemp to categorize and rank the skills of students in arbitrary “important” areas of study is an obvious example, but perhaps more specialized would be the use of report cards and progress reports to attempt to convey the effectiveness of lessons or the shoortfals of students to parents, other teachers, and of course, the administration of the institutions themselves, and the boards of directors who decide what schools get paid more and vise versa.
Many limitations exist in imagining that the effective education is one that can be broken down to the net cost of a learner. How much does an A+ cost? A system that view education this way is playing by no rules but its own. Having institutions and previously constructed curriculum decide what should and shouldn’t be learned, what is and isn’t valuable does not allow for the learners, the individuals who are actually going to be in charge of the planet quuite soon, to understand why they need to know the knowledge. Knowing why is almost, if not more important than the what.
“Efficient” teaching may have its advantages, be them percieved or other wise. One such exmple is the aforementioned report card system. Taking opinions of the system aside, one can see its usefulness within the greater, efficiency based paradigm. Suppose that the information contained within the card can actually informn parents of the successes and shortfalls of their child(ren). Allowing parents a direct link into the school lives of the students allows them to be informed about the choices they are making in relation to school choice, importance of homework, and so on.
No one way of viewing education will ever be the best, there are only more or less applicable ones to any given situation.
Schira, Micheal (2013). Curriculum theory: Conflicting visions and Enduring Concerns (2nd ed). SAGE