ECS 110: Self-Story 1- What Home is For Me

Close your eyes and picture this: a bright, blue, sunny sky dotted with white, fluffy clouds. There are huge, rolling hills all around you. Off in the distance, you can see clusters of trees surrounding an old yard site. If you look around you, you will be able to see Tipi rings from long ago scattered here and there. Now listen. It is silent. Well, nearly silent. The stirring of the native grasses and plants in the light breeze can be heard, along with the occasional interruption from a Meadow Lark`s song and the mooing of cow s. Now breathe. Inhale the fresh, crisp, sweet air, and exhale all of your worries. Now, open your eyes! Do you feel calmer, and more relaxed? If so, you will understand why I love this place.

This is what I call home. No, it is not four walls and a roof. No, there are not any windows, (although being here opens the window to my soul). It is probably different from what you consider home, but that is okay! Home is different to all of us. I am under the impression that a house is derived from four walls and a roof, but a home is so much more than that. A home is a feeling and it gives you (or me anyways) a true sense of belonging. A home is safe, and is something that nobody can ever take away. To others, this place that I call home might be just an insignificant piece of land, but to me, it is so much more than that.


This land represents my hard-working, settler ancestors who left their mark in the area for the future generations (like me) to thrive today. The struggles and hardships that my ancestors had to overcome makes me proud of who they were and who I am. I am amazed when I look back to see where they started, and how that evolved into today`s time and place. When I really think about it, this place has also allowed me to understand the truth and beauty of the hard work used to create this wonderful country we live in. It gives me a sense of belonging. It has shown me who I truly am. It has allowed me to connect to my roots, and see where I came from, and how I got here. Not only is it “my home” but it also has a small role in Canadian history. Not everyone can say that their home has this many credentials!

It is tranquil. It is peaceful. It is safe. It is infinite. It is my pasture that has been in my family for years; like an heirloom that cannot be broken, lost or forgotten; no matter what Mother Nature has in mind. All though it does have a market value, to me it is priceless. My home is like artwork- because, how can you put a price on feelings?






Curriculum as Literacy

Throughout most of my schooling, and especially my high school years, I struggled greatly with math. The math teachers in my small school were no aid to my struggles. Often, the math teachers were not, in fact math teachers, and struggled themselves to get through teaching the course. On the rare occasion where we had a teacher with math experience, it was almost more of a struggle. The struggle was that the math had to be done in the exact same way as the teacher had taught it. Even if you got the answer correct, it would still be incorrect if the steps to get the answer were not correct. I suppose this was discriminatory to the different ways that students learn. It made lessons difficult and frustrating for not only myself, but my fellow classmates as well.

Whether teaching or learning math, it is necessary to keep an open mind. By keeping an open mind you are exposed to new ways of learning, and by thus become more considerate of others learning as well. Take Poirier`s writing and the Inuit base twenty method for example. This method is much different than our own, yet it is how an entire culture expressed themselves numerically.

One thing to remember, and to remember especially while teaching is this: what you have always known is not necessarily always right.

“Critical Engagement with the Politics of Knowledge”

I come from a small, very rural town in southern Saskatchewan. So rural in fact, I am surprised that when you look up the word “rural” in the dictionary, a small portrait of Glentworth, Sask isn`t attached. I attended the equally small school in my town. Everyone thinks that they seem to live in “a small town” but my town`s population was around forty people and my graduating class consisted of seven kids, so try me.

The size of my town and the people in my community did not allow for diversity. Since hardly anyone ever leaves that town, it has always remained the same, and everything has to be done as it always has for what seems like eternal centuries prior. That also means that the same teachers remained in the school for forever-for goodness sake, my dad`s kindergarten teacher was also my younger brothers!

The familiarity and unchanging atmosphere in my community and school presented challenges. We were a K-12 school with little to no diversity, meaning it was a predominantly white school. When something was different, we noticed and reacted. Of course this was never meant in a mean or cruel way, it was just the only way we knew- the only way that I knew for so long, as the generations prior had taught us.

In school, it seemed that we did not learn about a history other than that of our own pasts. We were taught the white-washed settler history, the history that did not tell the whole story, or the whole truth. I did not even fully learn what a residential school was or about their lasting impacts until my final years in high school. It was not until my first semester of university that I had my eyes opened to the truths of the world around me.

Moving forward as a soon to be teacher, I will not forget my educational experiences as a student. I hope and plan to allow my students the opportunity to expand their mindsets and learning in diverse learning outcomes. It is important that students are able to see what is beyond them and beyond their boundaries to expand their horizons to become informed, inclusive members of their school and habitual communities.

Curriculum and Treaty Education

Nearly every component of our daily lives is influenced by some way by politics. From the prices of the gas we put in our vehicles to what we learn in classrooms, through curriculum. Believe it or not.

The school curriculum is composed and influenced heavily by the government. From the material that must be taught, down to each and every word throughout textbooks. All of it is constructed under a critical government eye. In some ways this is surprising that it is not the teachers who establish each and every detail of the curriculum that they work with and teach their students every school day.

Treaty education is obviously an important component of the curriculum. However, making sure it is taught thoroughly and effectively may not always be easy. It is huge for politicians and the public alike to come to the realization of this.

Treaty Ed: It IS Important

No matter if the population is home to a few or no Aboriginal Peoples, or if the population is thriving with culture, treaty education has a place. Perhaps I should say this a little louder for the people in the back to hear: TREATY EDUCATION HAS A PLACE IN THE CLASSROOM! From now until my last breath, I will continue to shout this loud and clear from the roof tops because not everyone around me can comprehend that (peep this UR Confessions response if you do not believe me). If you are need of even more evidence as to why Treaty Education has a place in the classroom, I will strongly suggest that you read over, and over, and over again Cynthia Chamber`s article explaining how “we are all treaty people”, because we are!

But back to the topic- why treaty ed is important, no matter how diverse your classroom is. Every classroom in Saskatchewan has a home on treaty land, and as you may have heard before, this makes each and every one of us a treaty person. Is this not reason enough to teach our students the reasons behind this land we have to live, and learn and grow on?

No matter where in the world we come from, once we settle upon this land we all become treaty people. The History and Social Studies curriculum for each grade covers global, as well as a variety of Canadian Historical Events. While we may get so caught up in everything else there is to teach, we can not forget not leave out the information that is most crucial to our homes and hearts here. As a treaty person, we must do our best to teach our younger generations their past to ensure a much better outcome for our future generations, and our future treaty people.

The Importance of Learning from Place

In Restoule`s article, he discusses the Mushkegowuk people and how they learn. The elders are vital in their society as the elders teach the younger generations their past, their ways of knowing, and how they can pave a better path for the future generations. The resources on earth, and the lands they are found in are very sacred to the Mushkegowuk.

This way of life is important for many reasons. First, it helps to ensure that this culture remains lively for generations and generations to come. Second, it is a sturdy way of learning for the youth involved. Thirdly, it provides a pathway to decolonization. In this learning mindset, it is possible to edge closer to a healthy inhabitant-land relationship.

In my own classroom, I hope I can teach my students similar lessons. Through the English curriculum, perhaps we may have elders teach us their stories, and through art, we can portray these crucial messages as well. When taken into careful consideration and positive action, decolonization is possible to achieve.

No Such Thing as a “Bad Student”

Around the world, there are thousands of classrooms; each with their own unique learning styles, techniques, teachers and students. Each classroom has similarities but in saying that, also has drastic differences. Every teacher incorporates their own teaching method, perhaps courtesy of the four models, (curriculum as a body of knowledge, as product, as process, or as praxis).

In terms of common sense, a “good” students does things that, well, make sense. They show up on time. They rarely miss a class or a day of school. They participate. They listen closely to classroom instruction without hesitation or question. They work well with their classmates and carry out tasks like a breeze individually. It seems simple enough, nothing too out of the ordinary, right? Yes, the commonsense approach to having and being good students seems easy and reasonable. However, this only works for privileged students.

You might wonder who this approach leaves out. Well, it leaves out and cuts no slack for the poverty stricken students, the rural students, students with behavioral problems, and students with disabilities. However, this approach will work well for the white, upper class students who have access to any and all resources they need.

Through the commonsense ideas, many things are made impossible to see, understand, and or believe. It is impossible to believe the kindergarten student who is never on time to class because their ten year old sibling is in charge of overseeing their arrival to school. It is impossible to understand why the rural children miss class to help their families finish up with their harvest. It is impossible to see that not every child is able to hit academic milestones at the same time.

Just like us (the teachers), our students are only human. We have our good days, and our bad days- it is just how the world works. What we my consider to be easy or “just commonsense” is not always the case for others around us. Sure, not every day in a classroom is easy. No profession is “easy”. When you think about creating “good students” remember: they are already “good” because there is no such thing as a “bad” student or child! We have excited students, scared students, happy students, upset students, anxious students and so on, but what you will never find is a “bad” student. Some just need our guidance and time a little more than others, but that is okay.

Critical Summary: Reconciliation and Curriculum

A Starting Point…

For my critical summary of a curricular concept/topic I chose to write about reconciliation and curriculum. The reason being for my choice- the lack of this content in curriculum, and classroom lessons. Reconciliation is something as a society, we are no where close to achieving, yet we are on our way. To achieve full reconciliation (if at all possible) it is necessary to implement treaty education in classroom lessons early on.

Progress…

In my fall 2018 field placement, my young pre-school students were being taught treaty education. Their classroom was equipped with puppets, story books, and an interactive online component. The students loved it, and you know what? They got it! They could grasp the basic concepts of treaty education, and they understood (to some extent and with many questions of course) why they were learning such material. It is not rocket science, and if three and four year olds can study the topic, anyone can!

Moving Forward…

I know that I am not the only educator that stands for more treaty education and reconciliation in the curriculum. Upon my searching, I came across the “4 Seasons of Reconciliation”. This is a Canadian page dedicated to incorporating and teaching reconciliation in classrooms and workplaces, which is an excellent start!

As I continue my research I hope to find curriculum lessons/accommodations for all grade levels. I want to focus my research on what has been done in terms of reconciliation “curriculum”/ treaty ed, as well as how it can all move forward in a positive manner.