Shining a Light on Treaty Education

Treaty Education is not only mandatory in the Saskatchewan curriculum and thus, an obligation for educators to responsibly teach, but also a very important subject to address in order to move away from teaching colonialism and racism in the underlying curriculum and stride towards instilling true understandings about the history of our country among our students. Unfortunately, treaty-education makes many educators feel uncomfortable and challenges them to unlearn the societal narratives that they were raised with and change their perspectives concerning what it truly means to be a treaty person. Many Canadians lack understanding or are misinformed about Indigenous people in Canada which reiterates the importance of teaching Treaty-Education.

I believe, to begin teaching Treaty Education appropriately, as an educator, I must open myself up to accepting the discomfort that comes with recognizing who I am as a Treaty Person. I must embrace the discomfort of owning my privileges as a white settler and admitting that some of my views may be biased or stereotypical. It is often unsettling to question the ideas and beliefs that I grew up with but, it is vital that I begin to recognize the myths in society surrounding colonialism and actively work to debunk them and own the honest truth of our country.

Image result for we are all treaty people I believe that a strong starting point for teaching Treaty-Education in the classroom is developing the understanding that we are all Treaty people. Personally, this idea was only introduced to me in my first year of University and initially, it was confusing to hear because my mindset was that I was not a First Nations, Metis, or Inuit person and thus, I was not a treaty person. Today, I recognize the harm in that belief and can now comfortably acknowledge that I am a Treaty person because treaties were agreed upon between Indigenous people of Canada and European settlers from whom I descend, on the covenant “as long as the sun shines and the rivers flow” which implies that they will always exist. In fact, living in Canada, we are all treaty people. As Canadians, we all inherit the outcomes of treaties and experience the effects of them every day. The decisions of the past have created the future of today and we must acknowledge them and learn the truth about our country’s past which begins long before European settlement.  Reading Cynthia Chamber’s chapter titled We are all Treaty People with students may help instill this perspective in one’s classroom and initiate openness to learning about treaties and their continuous effects on our country.

With the understanding that we are all treaty people, it should become evident why no matter what race we belong to, Treaty-education is part of every Canadian’s identity and should be taught to all students. Many Indigenous students have knowledge about Treaty-education and indigenous people’s history of our land and as Claire suggests in her introduction video, Indigenous peoples of Canada “do not want more cultural programming … especially when these programs are aimed at them specifically.” What Indigenous students want is to be treated fairly, for the colour of their skin not be a barrier to their success, and for their classmates to know and understand the things that they know and understand about being Indigenous to Canada. Treaty-education goes far beyond teaching about our countries past because it demonstrates respect and admiration for the people who began on our land and have experienced detrimental effects due to white European settlement. It may be a valuable approach to allow Indigenous students in our classrooms to share their stories and perspectives to create a rich and real learning experience for all students.

Our society has become instilled with racism which is “pervasive, insidious, and deadly” as expressed by Claire in her introducing Treaty Education video. News stories such as the Colten Boushie case or cases of MMIW exemplify this idea and can be used in our classrooms to illustrate the truth about racism in our province. Recent examples concerning the effects of treaties that are still relevant today should help students understand the seriousness of Treaty Education and be open to the learning process. I hope to include such stories in my future lessons to help the concept of Treaty Education become real and present in the eyes and minds of my students rather than simply a topic of our past. It is important that Treaty Education is taught from a current perspective where the importance of continuing to work towards reconciliation is highlighted.

Image result for indigenous games high fiveAs a math major, I am often challenged to consider how Treaty Education could fit into the high school math courses that I will soon be teaching. This is a concept that I believe I will never have a concrete answer to but rather, I will continue to develop and implement new ideas. What I do know is that I don’t want to simply infuse or incorporate Indigenous ideas into math classes because as Dwayne Donald suggests in his article, these practices would continue to colonize Indigenous peoples as they would attempt to take Indigenous cultures and fit them into the Western European math that is currently taught in schools. As a math educator, it will be important for me to find ways to experience Indigenous practices and beliefs with my students without removing them from their tradition and swallowing them with European mathematical teachings. Below I included two examples of Teaching Treaty Education in math classrooms that I have found to be valuable. I look forward to continuing to grow and develop more ideas that will help me respectfully teach Treaty Education and mathematics consecutively.

  1. I had the opportunity to participate in a lesson where my class was posed with a task to determine the area of land that is set aside as Indigenous reserve land in Canada and then visually and numerically compare this to the landmass of Canada. To complete this task, my classmates and I were required to use various mathematical ideas, logical thinking, and problem-solving skills, and thus, we were doing math but never were these ideas highlighted. This allowed the focus to remain on Treaty education rather than the ideas being swallowed by mathematics. This activity powerfully illuminated the little amount of land that was left for Indigenous peoples to live according to treaty agreements. With creativity, this activity can be connected to mathematical ideas in all of the high school strands and thus, is a valuable task that I plan to steal and share with my future students.
  2. This is a Probability lesson plan that I developed with culturally responsive pedagogy in mind. I was inspired by the Indigenous Games For Children Resources published by High Five, Canada’s quality standard for children’s programs, when designing this lesson. I believe that including traditional Indigenous games and activities in our classrooms is one way that we can help our students reflect on the rich cultural heritage of Indigenous peoples across Canada and appropriately include Treaty Education in a variety of subject areas.

Image result for saskatchewan Treaty Outcomes

I also believe it is important for teachers to be familiar with Saskatchewan’s Treaty Outcomes and Indicators. It is vital that educators not only read through this document but continually reflect on it to deepen their understandings and challenge themselves to critically think about what they are saying and how they could look in practice. In 2007, the Saskatchewan government and ministry of education committed to making mandatory instruction of the history and content of Canadian Treaties in the K-12 curriculum. While they are presented separately, the goals for Treaty Education can only be understood when considered as parts of a whole and thus, the outcomes and indicators at each grade level are designed to engage learners on a journey of inquiry and discovery. When meaningfully and thoughtfully incorporated into subject areas, Treaty Education moves beyond an idea to become actualized and becomes a belief that benefits all learners. It is the teachers’ responsibility to know the Treaty Outcomes and Indicators and to creatively work together to respectfully implement them in our schools.

Image result for light shiningMy final advice to myself and all other educators in order to shine a line and illuminate Treaty Education is to keep talking. The more we discuss Treaty-education, the more natural it will become and the more willing people will be to continue the conversations. Residential schools may no longer exist but their mentality remains constant and in order to fix that, we need to be honest about our countries past and embed our curriculum with Treaty-education rather than colonialism and racism which continue to persist. By taking responsibility for Treaty-education, we are putting ourselves in a position that will permit reconciliation and a more optimal future where everyone matters and has a voice to be heard.

EDTC 400 – Summary of Learning

Hi all,

My EDTC 400 learning journey is coming to an end and I am so excited to share with you a video that summarizes my experiences and growth. Thank-you Katia for providing myself and my EDTC 400 peers with the opportunity to discuss important topics concerning the integration of technology into teaching and learning. As a preservice teacher, I value the critical conversations around technology as it relates to classroom practice that I was able to engage in through my Ed-tech journey. Despite my completion of EDTC 400, my learning about integrating technology into the teaching practice has only just begun and I look forward to continuous learning in the field of Ed-tech!

EDTC 400 – Summary of Learning Script

This is me, a second year Education student fairly confident that I had a great understanding of Educational Technology and the Digital platforms that dominate our society thanks to my EDTC 300 learning experiences. Turns out, there was still much more to learn. This semester allowed me to further explore topics discussed in EDTC 300 but in greater relation to implementing them into teaching and learning opportunities. The student-led approach to learning in this class opened my eyes to modern teaching strategies and the critical class discussions concerning the effects of emerging technologies and media in school and society challenged my personal beliefs and allowed me to see various perspectives that are essential to consider.

First, let’s take a look at my journey through the Great Ed-Tech Debate series.

Debate #1 – Technology in the classroom enhances learning.

Agree Statement – Of course, technology enhances learning, it provides global collaboration, can be used as an instantaneous resource to endless information, and allows material to be represented in multiple different forms.

Disagree Statement – But technology is also a distraction, it permits plagiarism and cheating, and is causing a digital divide among our students.

Debate #2 – Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled.

Agree Statement- By not teaching things that can be googled, the focus of education will stem away from memorization, personalized learning will be promoted, and students will be better prepared to live in our modern society.

Disagree Statement- Yes, but it is difficult to decipher what is true with the overwhelming abundance of information online and students should be proficient in basic skills in areas such as reading, writing, numeracy, and creativity without relying on Google.

Debate #3Openness and sharing in schools are unfair to our students.

Agree statement – the internet is forever and teachers should not be contributing to their students’ emerging digital footprints or exposing students to greater probabilities of being cyberbullied or embarrassed

Disagree Statement – Yes, but sharing students work online permits open conversations between students, teachers, administration, and parents and the benefits of documented learning are undeniable in multiple aspects of learning, including the emotional, cognitive, and social strands.

Debate #4Cellphones should be banned in the classroom.

Agree Statement – Of course, cellphones should be banned in classrooms, they are distracting, disrespectful, disruptive and dangerous.

Disagree Statement – No, Cellphones are a major part of society, provide immediate access to online tools and resources and permit inquiry-based learning thus it would be a disservice to our students to forbid them of use of their cellphones in classrooms.

Debate #5 – Technology is a force for equity in society.

Agree Statement- Technology gives youth a voice, enhances education across the world and helps people living with impairments or disabilities in their daily lives.

Disagree Statement- But doesn’t technology create even larger divides? Technology only seems to provide equitable opportunities for those who can afford the devices and are already belonging to majority groups.

Debate #6Social media is ruining childhood.

Agree Statement- Students no longer go outside and play, or have meaningful face-to-face conversations with others and they can be incredibly mean to one another via cyberbullying. Social media is associated with extreme health risks and there are numerous basic skills that children are no longer developing.

Disagree Statement- Yes, but think about all of the new possibilities. Social media has opened doors to new opportunities for children to learn, create, and collaborate, provided them with global support, and offers them a voice which I never had as a child.

Debate #7Public education has sold its soul to corporate interests.

Agree Statement- Of course, public education has sold its soul to corporate interests. There are common core standards that guide learning across the country and teachers are forced into teaching to the test.

Disagree Statement- In order to afford technology in classrooms schools must rely on corporations but they do practice ethical consumption. Corporations may be unavoidable but schools still value and prioritize the needs of their students.

Debate #8 – We have become too dependent on technology and we’d be better off returning to the “good old days” before the Internet and smartphones took over.

Agree Statement- I rely on my phone to navigate me through the city, monitor my banking and google every question asked if the answer is not obvious to me immediately. We have become unsocial beings with our heads always down and that is problematic.

Disagree Statement- Yes, but don’t you like being able to call home during stressful weeks, communicate with your friends across the world and participate in digital activism by supporting cause-related movements?

Debate #9Educators have a responsibility to use technology and social media to promote social justice and fight oppression.

Agree Statement- We owe it to our students to demonstrate exemplary citizenship, advocate for social justice, and fight oppression to strive towards equitable opportunities for all and teach our students how to critically think and make informed decisions.

Disagree Statement- Don’t you think teachers are in the public eye enough? Now you want to draw more attention by discussing important issues and brainwashing your students with your biased views?

The opportunity to debate serious topics concerning technology and its effects on education has taught me the value in having discussions from directly opposing sides. There are often two valid sides to every story but we can be quick to agree with the majority without considering perspectives from opposing points of views and that is problematic. I have learned that tangent conversations are unavoidable when a class discussion is opened up but that sometimes these conversations provide the best learning opportunities and thus, they should not be shut down.  I also learned that it is okay to be unsure, or lie in the middle as long as you have taken the time to become informed about perspectives from both sides of a topic. My thoughts concerning some topics still remain a jumble but I am still learning and through classroom experiences, I hope to find clarity in my beliefs. Personally, the debate component of this course was the most powerful for me and where I found myself experiencing the most growth as an educator.

Additionally, this course provided me with opportunities to practice many roles of an educator which I will be forever grateful for. Mentoring EDTC 300 students was not always easy through online means because I never got to meet them. At times I became concerned when their weekly blog posts were late but I had to remind myself that I did not know their stories and that it was my job to be there to support and encourage them but not to step on their toes. I hope my mentees recognized the value in being able to ask me questions and reference the links I provided them with to my EDTC 300 course work, and twitter page because I believe having supportive role models can greatly improve one’s learning experience. The mini-lesson component of this course also provided me with an opportunity to be a teacher by requiring me to design and implement a lesson which proved to be more daunting than I ever would have expected. I was surprised by the large amount of detail that is required in lesson planning and the feedback I received reminded me how the underlying messages of one’s lesson can be problematic. I have learned that beyond the content of a lesson, it is important to examine safety considerations, possible adaptations, and the various ways diverse students may interpret the ideas being presented. As a preservice educator, I believe the best way to become comfortable with the roles and responsibilities of a teacher is to practice them and EDTC 400 allowed me to do just that.

Lastly, I continue to build my e-portfolio through my WordPress account that allows me to record my learning reflections, formally share my opinions, join in conversations to further my learning, demonstrate my growth as an educator, and present myself positively online. I also became active on twitter once again by sharing resources, using hashtags and retweeting or commenting on other posts. Twitter opens up learning conversations, allows important ideas to be addressed, inspires me as an educator, and provides an opportunity to engage with others globally about a specific topic. Focusing my twitter page around math education and education technology has allowed me to create a network of followers who have similar interests in which I can learn from and interact with. By creating a professional digital presence, I have taken control over how I am perceived online and thus, what employers find out about me when they conduct their search.

As a preservice teacher, I am a lead learner who is responsible for representing and encouraging positive uses of technology. It is crucial that I am aware of how technology influences education and the positive and negative effects that it can have on learning environments. Our world is becoming increasingly more digital and as an educator, I am responsible for exemplifying digital literacy, citizenship, and activism and helping my students benefit from technology which requires me to first and foremost become informed, remain open to learning, and be willing to embrace change.

We All Have Biases

Literacy is formally defined as the ability to read and write but analyzing curriculum as literacy illuminates many problems with this limited understanding. Firstly, this hidden message behind this definition implies that one can read and write in the dominant language of the society and thus, living in Saskatchewan if you can not read and write in English, you are seen as illiterate. Secondly, the definition fails to address that people can be literate in other subject areas. In lecture, we discussed various examples of being financially, musically, physically, socially, or technology literate which demonstrates the depth to the term literate that is often forgot. Further, we discussed how beyond being able to read literature, everyone has a way of “reading the world” that has been shaped by their personal experiences and unique identities but yet we often fail to acknowledge our personal biases.

Examining the experiences of my upbringing and schooling point to a number of stories that I was implicitly taught which have developed my biases and coloured the lenses I use to “read the world”. Growing up I believed the Canadian Grand narrative that portrays surface elements of what it means to be Canadian such as being passionate about hockey but fails to acknowledge the history of our country. Throughout my schooling, the notion that Canadian history began in 1867 was constantly reiterated showing ignorance to the people who lived on the land prior to European settlement and confederation, and telling the story that “true” Canadians are of European descent. I also grew up believing in the good and bad racism binary and never believed that I was a racist. I developed racist stereotypes through the tv shows that I watched which consisted of dominantly white casts and the city that I was raised in. I moved to Prince Albert at the age of seven from a small white farming community where I had only ever interacted with people who had white skin. I was immediately taught that some areas of Prince Albert were considered safe while others were not and reflecting on this idea shows that the “safe” areas of this city were dominantly populated by white people while the “unsafe” areas were occupied by First Nations. As a young child, I was impressionable and thus, I became to believe the stereotypes that white people had money and were not dangerous and that First Nations people were poor and scary. Another common myth that I grew up believing was the idea that all people have equal opportunities and that people who are poor simply don’t try. Lastly, I engaged with the girl/boy gender binary and developed understandings of internalized gender roles. Being a twin, I thought it was adorable when my twin and I had matching outfits in contrasting colours and thus, I failed to understand the problematic nature of becoming absorbed by the socially developed gender categories. Due to my experiences as a child, I have blurred lenses concerning gender, classism, racism and being Canadian that guide the way I “read the world”.

My experiences above illustrate examples of single stories that I was taught throughout my schooling and demonstrates how the lens of white, European, wealthy, males was the truth that mattered. I developed an ignorance towards Canada’s true history and believed the myths about classism because that’s what was being taught and never did I receive opportunities to consider these topics from the perspective of Indigenous people or individuals living in poverty. Students are taught to believe the information shared by their teachers and thus, it is my role as an educator to ensure that I teach from various perspectives and provide my students with opportunities to consider material from points of view differing from their own. I hope to teach my students to acknowledge that they have personal biases and instill in them a willingness to challenge oppressive perspectives.

Through my journey in the faculty of education thus far, I have learned about the importance of unlearning the biases we develop from our personal experiences. I believe that the best way to do this is to first acknowledge that I do have biases and then reflect on why they exist. I cannot change my personal experiences growing up but I can move forward in allowing myself to feel uncomfortable and discussing the socially constructed ideas, normative narratives, binaries, oppression, discrimination, and rebuttals created by the identities that I have come to understand through my upbringing. I am a white, middle-class, Canadian female and by appropriately owning these identities and acknowledging the privileges and oppression that each of those identity features offers me I will begin to unlearn the biases that I have developed in regards to them. Beyond owning up to my personal lenses that I use to view the world, I must also be open to learning about perspectives that differ from my own views as I strive to work towards a more accepting and diverse lens that accounts for a variety of perspectives. As a pre-service educator, I am committed to being a life-long learner who is willing to feel uncomfortable and ask myself the tough questions when I notice myself having bias thoughts.



Introducing My Arguments for the Great Ed-Tech Debate

For the Great Ed-Tech debate of winter 2019, I am responsible for arguing that cellphones should be banned in classrooms. Below is the video I prepared to introduce my arguments and the script that I used during my video.

Good evening EDTC 400 classmates. The use of smartphones has become the new social norm but they are detrimental in classrooms.

  1. Cellphones in schools are distracting:

According to an Oxford Learning article, Students check their phones on average more than eleven times a day which equates to twenty percent of class time being spent using personal technology. Mr. Newport introduces the ‘attention residue effect’ in his book which claims that switching your attention back and forth between tasks is not as easy at it sounds and thus students who have their cellphones with them in class are working at a fraction of their fullest abilities. The distracting nature of cellphones causes students to become stressed, frustrated, and to constantly be playing catch up due to their lost time being focused on subject material in class. When students’ focus shifts away from course material, learning cannot be optimized thus cellphones are a disservice to students in classrooms and should not be permitted.

  1. Cellphones in the classroom are disrespectful:

Contrary to popular belief, cellphones are not part of our anatomy and thus do not need to be attached to us everywhere we go. Despite the wondrous possibilities that cellphones make accessible, there is a decorum for cellphone use and students need to learn that there is a time and a place for them to be used appropriately. Everyone would agree that it is highly disrespectful to be on our phones during professional work meetings, when working in customer service, and when attending live performances or celebrations of life. What is different about classrooms striving for collaborative social discussions?  By banning the use of cellphones in schools, students will learn that they do not need to be dependent on smartphones and that they are capable of thinking for themselves without them. It will also send a message that the use of cellphones is not always appropriate especially in social scenarios when other individuals require and deserve one’s undivided attention instilling the value of respect within our students.

Cellphones also permit cheating to become an unacceptable norm. The use of cellphones suppresses individual thought and creativity because students can search for answers online and efficiently find solutions without being encouraged to critically think or extend problems further to develop deeper understandings. Students are also able to share answers with their classmates through forms of direct messaging, take pictures of exams or their classmates’ work, and plagiarize the efforts of others. Cheating is an incredibly disrespectful action that undermines the integrity of institutional learning and diminishes the development of students’ minds.

  1. Cellphones in schools are disruptive:

The bright lights, flashy screens, and alarming sound effects of cellphones disrupt classroom learning environments and take the focus away from purposeful learning objectives. Permitting the use of cellphones in classrooms has a detrimental effect when teachers are constantly stopping instruction to police individuals on their smartphones. These irritating interruptions take away from valuable learning time, permit teachers or other students to lose their trains of thought, and cause classes to lose focus on the task at hand. Cellphones in classrooms are also disruptive in nature because they permit a dangerous form of bullying that is easily performed in disguise. Unfortunately, cyberbullying has become an undesirable net effect of cellphone use amongst teens. Hiding behind a screen allows people to be more expressive than they would in face to face public encounters which becomes dangerous and amplifies attacks on individuals’ character and well-being. Cellphones are dangerous tools that feed negative information quickly and decisively to the detriment of victims of cyberbullying. This form of bullying is difficult for teachers to detect and control. To manage the consequences of social disruption, the use of cellphones should not be allowed in classrooms.

  1.  Cellphones in schools are dangerous:

In a society where troublesome activities including bomb threats, school shootings, cyberbullying, peer pressure and suicide are becoming commonplace in schools, cellphones are a negative tool that interferes with the ability of administration and public service officials to manage these situations. Cellphones permit information to spread faster than the speed of light and it is common for communication networks to become overloaded during times of crisis increasing the probability of amplified tragedy as documented from the Columbine School shooting in Colorado. In my senior year of high school, a fabricated Snapchat story expressing that one of our school’s students was planning to initiate a school shooting spread virally reaching a large portion of the student body prior to administration. As a result, many parents chose to keep their children home from school the next day, tangents of lies and personal interpretations from various parties created chaos at our school, and learning environments were disrupted all due to the use of cellphones. The ability of cellphones to trigger emergencies is a dark reality that is extremely problematic.

Since the use of cellphones is distracting, disrespectful, disruptive, and dangerous, cellphones should be banned in classrooms.

Learning From Place

Learning from Place: A Return to Traditional Mushkegowuk Ways of Knowing is an article that discusses the nature and power of learning from place. The article illustrates the reflection of a research project that was conducted to honor the Mushkegowuk Cree people’s concepts of land, environment, and nature. By sharing the story of the river excursion which joined many generations from youth to elders, the importance of learning from experience and storytelling were conveyed which are two key ideas of the indigenous ways of knowing.

The article explains how decolonization cannot be limited to rejecting and transforming normative narratives but rather must also depend on recovering and renewing mentorship and intergenerational relationships. Thus, the river excursion which allowed individuals from vast generations to travel together and communicate with one another demonstrates many forms of decolonization and reinhabitation. While on the voyage, youth, adults, and elders learned about the history and significance of the river, related issues of governance and land management, and the culture of the community. A key theme was the importance of nature and land for the Muskegowick people which is more than just a resource; it is a spiritual and material place that all life springs from and the cultural identity of the people. The word The large focus on the word ‘paquataskamik’ which means “natural environment” was emphasized in explaining the traditional views of the land. The elders were also able to share many vibrant meanings of the river that go well beyond thinking of it as simply a body of water. The Mushkegowuk people saw the river as a way of life and believe that it has physical, spiritual, and emotional uses and meanings. The river is also used as a cemetery and it is expected that when traveling along the river those who have passed away remain in ones’ thoughts and prayers. The group also documented sites of significance for the community during the excursion which encourages reinhabitation of the land. Most importantly, while on the trip, an audio documentary was recorded to detail the experience of the travelers. Many voices such as those from members of the band office, health center,  and education system, were included allowing for community involvement beyond those participating in the excursion. The documentary was shared with the community and broadcasted on the radio in hopes of reaching a broad audience and allowing their stories and traditional knowledge to be heard and preserved for future generations to come. Reinhabitation and decolonization are dependent on one another but both rely on identifying a need for change regarding the use of land and ways of thinking and the river excursion, which helped members of the community share linguistic, cultural, historical, and geographical knowledge permitted for these realizations to occur.

After reading the article, I realize the significance of teaching from place and being aware of the traditional understandings of the community that I will be teaching in. Acknowledging my position in a given community will require me to commit to unlearning and relearning new perspectives and provide me with insight into the perceptions my students hold. It is important that I recognize my personal biases and remain aware of my own beliefs while being open to change and accepting of new ideas. I must remember that knowledge and curriculum can come from more than just textbooks and government regulated materials and that it is okay to ask for help when I do not feel confident in my knowledge about particular subject areas. Bringing elders and other voices into my classrooms will allow my students to learn from experts in their fields who can speak from experience and provide my students with true understandings. Encouraging learning from place in my classroom will require me to first acknowledge my position in the community but more importantly incorporate significant local knowledge and values into everyday classroom lessons.



The Truth About Curriculum

Before Reading: 

I honestly never questioned the ‘how’ of curricula creation, but putting that into words makes me think that as a preservice educator, I definitely should. My understanding of how school curricula are developed stems from my personal experience in the Saskatchewan school system and the little discussion through some of my education courses thus far. I think curricula are developed by a group of people with some expertise or relation to the field of education whether that being that they had teaching experience or not. They decide what is critical for students to learn at each particular grade level and organize these ideas into outcomes and indicators in hopes that all educators are able to successfully cover the outlined topics in a given school year. When deciding what is important, I believe that society has a heavy influence and thus white eurocentric views continue to guide the decisions. I also know that in Canada, school curricula are provincially mandated thus I think provincial governments have the final say in what is implemented across the province. Once curriculum guidelines have been agreed upon, they become the new norm and are executed across the province. 

After Reading:

After reading Ben Levin’s chapter regarding curriculum policy and politics concerning what should be learned in schools I realized my understanding of curriculum development was fairly minimal and vague. Today, curricula are developed by bringing groups of experts together to draft new or revised versions by examining and evaluating current forms of curricula and suggestions for change that have been made. The two big concerns when designing curriculum are ‘what subjects should be taught ‘ and ‘what content should be included under each subject’ and there are various opinions regarding these questions. Curriculum decisions are shaped largely by “ideology, personal values, issues in the public domain, and individual interests” and because everyone has some relation to schooling, their personal experiences in school have a grand influence on educational policies. Post-secondary schools also have a significant influence due to the entrance requirements they have for students interested in enrolling in their programs. Levin opened my eyes to the power of politics regarding curriculum design and thus the influence that the economy and people in authoritative positions have on deciding what should be taught in schools. Levin also pointed out that once a curriculum has been approved by the provincial government, it is not always implemented successfully in schools because teachers’ practices are often influenced by what they know and value, and what is practical for them to implement.

I have learned that I was correct in thinking that the provincial government has the final authority when developing school curricula. Thus, “an individual in a key position can either shape of hold up decisions” despite the opinions of others which is concerning as one person in power should not have the authority to influence the lives of all students and the future generations of our society. The significant influence of one individual shifts the focus from being on providing sufficient education for all students, to meeting biased goals. Often experts in a particular subject area are consulted when making the decisions about what should be included but this can also be problematic because the result of expert dominated choices will only be implemented successfully by other masters of the subject. The reality is that most teachers, especially those with elementary education degrees, will have limited knowledge in particular subject areas and will not be able to teach the objectives developed by experts. I believe what is most problematic is that despite new curricula being developed, they are not being implemented appropriately in classrooms. For example, treaty education was introduced to Saskatchewan’s curriculum in 2007 and yet students are still not learning the truth about treaties in their classrooms. Designing curricula is a political process which means it is driven by the most vocal interests and marginalizes opinions of those whose matter. Levin’s chapter exposed me to the troubling truths about the process of designing curricula and emphasized the importance of considering who is designing curricula.

Technology has the POTENTIAL to ENHANCE Learning

The Great Ed-Tech Debate of 2019 commenced this week with the topic of whether or not technology in the classroom enhances learning up for discussion. Originally, I did not expect this subject to draw up much controversy within our EDTC 400 class because the course is focused on integrating technology into teaching and learning, and thus, I anticipated that we would all lean towards agreeing with the positive side of the statement. The pre-vote that was conducted showed my anticipation was correct as only one member of my class disagreed that technology enhances learning. Fortunately, the purpose of the debate was a success as we were able to critically think about the topic under discussion, openly consider both sides of the debate and left the conversation with less of a concrete opinion on whether or not technology truly does enhance learning. Personally, I did not switch my vote but many members of my class did as some excellent arguments were made that challenged our initially biased opinion.  Professor Katia explained how it is “very easy to start poking holes into arguments” and how this topic is not meant to be looked at in a “black and white fashion.” The final result of our vote provides proof that there are valid arguments to both sides of the subject and reminds us as educators that we must cautiously consider our beliefs before implementing them into our teaching environments. Below I discuss some of the major arguments made during our discussion and some of my personal thoughts regarding the topic.

Class vote prior to the debate

Class vote after the debate







The first point I want to address was critical to our discussion and something we all needed to be reminded of prior to sharing our views. The topic at hand was whether or not technology ENHANCES learning with the keyword being ‘enhance’ meaning further improve the quality, value, or extent of learning. Although the topics are related, there are different arguments focusing on whether or not technology should be in the classroom making it critical to remember the keyword ‘enhance’ and focus our attention to it.

Arguments for the Pro Side

Global Collaboration: Technology allows individuals to connect with anyone around the world, and thus, provides students with access to learn from experts of the particular field they are studying in. As an example,  Ashlee drew our attention to a heartwarming Speaking Exchange CNA video where students in Brazil connect with seniors in the United States to develop their English speaking skills. This would never have been possible without the use of technology and even if there were skilled English teachers at their school the students still would have missed out on opportunities. Every student was partnered with a senior permitting the students to receive one on one learning opportunities which would have been impossible for an educator to provide to the same extent. The students also were able to teach their partners some of their first language providing them with another opportunity to learn through the teaching which helps to develop deep understandings. In situations such as this, technology provides contemporary possibilities that enhance learning for everyone involved.

Technology as a Resource: Educators are able to use technology as a resource in their classrooms in many ways. In an article titled 8 Ways Technology is Improving Education, the author expresses how through technology we have access to simulations, models, and virtual manipulatives which all offer beneficial visual representations in a timely fashion. For example, when teaching a lesson on fractions, instead of teachers having their students draw pie graphs for every change in the denominator a virtual manipulative could be used to save time and represent the relationships between various fractions which would permit deeper understandings of the lesson being taught. In my EMTH 200 course, the ability to reflect on and extend problems beyond finding the solution is highly emphasized. With the use of technology, students are able to extend problems beyond the means of the classroom and make global connections to the topic under study providing them with more beneficial learning opportunities. Technology can also be used as a resource for communication providing for a collaborative learning environment and allowing students to connect with one another and their teachers. By encouraging open communication and building relationships within the classroom, students may become more engaged in their learning and have the desire to participate which ultimately will lead to enhanced learning possibilities.

Multimedia Representations: It is commonly known that all students are unique and have various learning style preferences. By presenting subject material through various multimedia representations, educators can adhere to the varying learning needs of their students. Courts and Tucker discuss how Audio (voiceovers and podcasts), videos, simulations, and blogs can be expanded and used to enhance learning for all students in their journal about technology in the classroom. Multimedia can be integrated at simple and static levels such as using power points or sharing videos but it can also encourage active learning through the use of simulations and digital conversations. By incorporating multimedia representations into classrooms, educators can also design lessons to include the interests of their students which again permits engagement and thus the quality of learning available for students.

Arguments for the Con Side

Technology as a Distraction: We all have experienced technology distracting us in one way or another in our daily lives. By incorporating technology into the classroom, students may be distracted by the flashy visuals and sound effects. Technology can also cause distractions in the classroom when it fails to operate smoothly. I remember teachers struggling to load videos or connect to audio being a frequent occurrence in my classrooms thus permitting time for my classmates and me to visit but causing everyone to be off topic and teachers having difficulty regaining the class’ focus. Julia Klaus’ article explains how students often become caught up in the excitement of technology and forget that the purpose of having it in the classroom is still for learning.

Cheating, Plagiarism & Academic Dishonesty: Reanne brought our class’ attention to an idea that I would never have thought of myself, but believe that it is critical to consider. Providing students access to technology gives them means to google any question they have been assigned with answering and we all know it is not difficult to copy and paste it without having to think for ourselves. Students also have more means to share answers with one another through devices without the teachers knowing they are doing so. In Mathew Lynch’s article, he states “students often do not think that what they are doing is wrong” when using modern-day methods such as Google to cheat. Some educators do lesson appropriate use of technology and academic conduct but this takes away from their time to teach curriculum objectives which can also be problematic.

Ill Considered when Implemented: Personally, I believe this is the strongest argument for the opposing side. Students who do not have devices available to them at home may be inexperienced in skills such as typing or researching topics which will put them behind in course work if this is expected from them for assignments. In Technology, But Not for All, Liz Riggs mentions how despite the intention of educational technology being to “level the playing field”, there are studies that show the achievement gap between rich and poor students is growing due to the implementation of technology in classrooms. The internet has become an incredibly popular commodity but there is still a digital divide that exists leaving low-income families with less technological access and knowledge. Educators cannot expect that all of their students have access to the internet and are equally comfortable performing tech-savvy skills.  44372487464_c039a9e5e1                               Photo Credit: verchmarco Flickr via Compfight cc

In Conclusion 

It is undeniable that technology plays a critical role in the 21st-century society that we are living in, and to quote John Dewey, an inspirational education theorist, “If we teach students today, as we did yesterday, we are robbing them of tomorrow.” Technology did not always exist which is why traditionalist educators continue to argue that it is not required to provide high-quality learning without it, however, the world has changed and it is crucial that education adapts to these changes to provide students with skills applicable to today. By utilizing technology in the classroom to enhance learning, educators provide there students with a glimpse at the wonderful powers of technology and the endless possibilities that it provides us with.

Image result for george couros technologyAfter being exposed to arguments for both sides to the question; “does technology enhance learning?” my personal belief is that it can. I am not a firm believer that it always will and I do believe that there are implications that must be addressed but I have faith that when implemented correctly, the POTENTIAL for technology to ENHANCE learning is incredibly high. As a future educator, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn how to correctly implement technology into my future teaching environments so that I can hopefully provide all of my students with the best learning opportunities in the years to come. Thank you, Ashlee and Reanne, for leading an awesome discussion and engaging our class to develop new insights and perspectives. After just one debate, I recognize the value in being able to discuss important topics from directly opposing sides and look forward to having my beliefs be challenged and gaining more new perspectives in the weeks to come!


-Miss. S