Education and Knowledge

A History of Education

            This was our first week of the class ECS 100. We were instructed to read about the history of education in Saskatchewan written by Ken Horsman. I found the reading very lengthy and hard to follow at some points but that is only because there is so much to cover. Overall, I found it very interesting. Some of the topics covered in this reading are Education in Saskatchewan before confederation, language and religion in elementary and secondary education, school district consolidation, teacher education, university development, and many more. There were a few topics that I found particularly interesting, specifically language and religion, teacher education and university development.

Language and religion were interesting to read about because it is still a debate we see today. Originally the schools were supposed to be French and English speaking Catholics but the population had changed so much that it slowly became less French and less Catholic. This change happened so quick that the province abolished separate schools and French as an official language. This decision was met with anger and the prime minister organized a compromise. The compromise allowed Catholics to establish separate private schools, but it did not allow for publicly supported schools. This meant that French would be provided if ten or more spoke French. In a way, this system has lasting effects on today. Many private schools are Catholic and French-speaking, and public schools are mostly English. Especially in rural areas, there are rarely any French-speaking schools, French is hard to come by in small towns. I also found it quite interesting that religion had more of a place in schools that it does now. Nowadays there are people trying to ban all religion from schools, and they have mostly succeeded. Schools used to start with a daily prayer and Hail Mary but now that is only seen in private schools. That is a lot to change in under 100 years.

Another point of interest for me was the articles’ discussion of how teacher education has changed in Saskatchewan. In 1888 there was no formal teaching program, teachers came from outside or from higher level students in the service. Finally, in 1890 the Board of Education offered “normal school” classes in any school where ten or more students requested. This took off and normal school classes were offered in more places than ever before. Another thing I found interesting was that one of the first teachers colleges was offered in the city of Moose Jaw before it was even offered in Regina. Now in Moose Jaw, there is only Saskatchewan Polytechnic and Regina has one of the best Education programs in the country. It is interesting to see how much things can change in the history of Saskatchewan.

What I loved most about this reading was that I could see that there was a continuous effort by our province to better our education. People like to say that education has not changed in the last hundred years, but this article clearly shows that this claim is not true. I also think that this gives a lot of hope for our future because it means there is only more change to come, most likely for the better. I imagine and would like to see that more Indigenous knowledge and ways of knowing with be incorporated into our curriculum because there are major calls for it to be at the moment. It is impressive how far our province has come in terms of improving education in all areas and hope it progresses at the same speed in the years to come. I also hope that as a teacher I can contribute to this change.

Muffins for Granny

            On Monday, January 22nd, 2018 my ECS 100 class watched a documentary called “Muffins for Granny” directed by Nadia McLaren. I kind of had an idea what was going to happen, but I had never seen the film before, so I kept an open mind on what to expect. The documentary begins with a voiceover of a girl talking about her Grandmother and the affect residential school had on her. The Grandmother has passed away, but the daughter wants to share her story. To do this, the daughter interviews seven other Indigenous elders about their personal experiences with residential school. Each of them had a unique story to tell, but they all had one overall message to tell: it ruined their lives. When the Elders began their stories, I was not expecting what they were about to say. They went into gruesome detail that I had never heard before. One of the elders talked about their experience with escape attempts, another talked about the sexual abuse, a third talked about his suicide attempt afterwards, and then one talked about the effects it had on his family. This was quite different than the other times I learned about residential schools. Normally we are taught “there was sexual abuse” and that is it. These elders explained how it happened and what it was like, it was like nothing I had ever heard before. The three things I learned from this reading are that: 1. Residential schools are the direct cause of many of the problems we see today on reserves like substance and alcohol abuse. 2. Sharing about residential schools is the only way to help the survivors recover and 3. There are still many secrets about residential schools that we may never know.

The first thing that I noticed all the elders had in common was that some of them had admitted to some form of “self -medicating” whether that was drugs, alcohol, smoking, or food. They said that this was to help them forget or “numb” some of the feelings and memories that they carry with them from residential school. I found this interesting because no one really talks about this correlation. We all hear the stereotypes about First Nations and alcohol, yet no one ever stops to think that maybe its caused by residential schools. This was the first time I learned that the substances are a form of self-medication to forget the trauma they have been through. The second thing I learned was that talking about residential schools seems to help. One of the elders gave some advice to other IRS survivors at the end of the video and that was to “talk about their experience even if it is painful”. I did not know that talking about something so traumatic would be helpful. So maybe there needs to be more supports for IRS victims out there. Finally, the most shocking thing I learned is that there are still so many secrets about residential schools that need to be brought into the light. For example, one of the elders said that when she was in school some of her friends climbed under the building and found human baby bones. This is just one of the many secrets that still need to be exposed.

After the reading, I really only have one question, and that is “Why isn’t there anything more being done for these survivors?” Sure, they get money from the government, but is money really enough to cure trauma? No, not at all. There needs to be more accessible to health care and other sources of support for these victims. I don’t really find anything problematic about the video but I am puzzled about the fact that so many people still don’t know about this or refuse to accept that residential schools happened. Videos and messages like these should be widely known throughout our country. This documentary was eye opening and I learned many important lessons from watching it. I hope others have the opportunity to see it and learn some of the lessons I have.

 

 

Sexual Diversity in Education

 

This week in ECS 100 we had two readings, one was “Deepening the Discussion About Sexual Diversity in Saskatchewan” and the other was “TV Bullies: How Glee and Anti-bullying Programs Miss the Mark”. The first article I read was Deepening the Discussion About Sexual Diversity in Saskatchewan”. Overall it was a very good article, the tips for what to do were incredibly helpful and I will most likely use them in my classroom when I am teaching. Another thing this article did really well was explaining sexual diversity. The article clearly explained the differences between each which is key for people to understand. It outlined the differences between gender identity, sexual orientation, biological sex and gender expression. Biological sex is what you are physically (male or female), gender identity is your personal sense of being male or female, sexual orientation is who you are attracted to, and gender expression is a combination of everything. This was something new I had learned.

Another thing I learned from his article was why we need to understand gender and sexual diversity in schools and communities. As an education student we are always told “you need to know this” and “you need to do this…” but we are never told why. This reading was different because it actually tells us WHY. The article highlighted 5 points: student safety, school culture, student engagement and academic success, and diversity and equity. I won’t go into detail of them now because the explanations are too lengthy for this reading response, but I will say that each explanation was logical and true, no one could really dispute why these teachings are important if they read the article.

One question I still have after reading is “what about Catholic schools?”. The article talks many times about Indigenous ways of knowing and how this topic relates to their culture and beliefs but does not once make a connection to Christians and/or Catholic Schools which are a part of the schooling system. The reading could have included this and how it pertains to these students in Catholic schools. A Catholic teacher reading this would not get much out of it since it was directed mainly at Indigenous knowledge and Saskatchewan public schools, yet Catholic school teachers are still under the STF and would like help on this issue too.

The second reading was about what Glee had gotten wrong when it comes to bullying. The reading basically stated that the TV show did not address the adults’ mistakes (how they did not address bullies for harassing Kurt) and therefore is not a good reference. This article makes a good point about adults not stepping forward but disregards the fact that this show is not for adults and to show them what to do. Glee is meant for teenagers, and it is meant to show them how to deal with bullies in real life because in real life the teachers are not going to be perfect and catch everything wrong that students are doing. It is impossible for teachers to micro-manage everything in their students’ lives. Had the teachers in Glee been perfect, addressed the bullies, and stopped the harassment completely, Kurt would not be a role model for LGBTQ students around the world because he would not relate to teenagers in real life. Personally, I think Glee got it right because it showed students how to deal with harassment when adults won’t help because in real life they don’t (a lot of the time). Yes, it’s unfortunate that things are this way and it shouldn’t be, but teenagers need to learn that there are other ways to help themselves and Glee does an amazing job of showing this.

Regressive (Currere Essay)

Throughout my entire life, I have always had significant relationships with teachers. They have been my role models, friends and my parents, (I don’t mean like parents, both of my parents are actually teachers). I wish I could pinpoint a moment in my life where a teacher has changed my life significantly for the better because I don’t think there has been one specific moment, more like several. But there is one moment that sticks out to me as something incredible.

I went to school in a town called Vanguard Saskatchewan. There is not much there: A school, co-op, and a few local businesses. Everybody knows everybody in this town. So, before I even started kindergarten I knew who my classmates were going to be. There was ten of us, and it stayed that way all the way until high school. I remember “meeting” my teacher, of course, I already knew her, but this was the first time I saw her as my teacher. Her name was Mrs Daniels and everyone who she taught loved her. She was kind, compassionate and always took interest in everything you had to say. Needless to say, after our first day we all loved her too.  She taught me everything I needed to know for grade one, even things she wasn’t required to teach. She taught me the alphabet, numbers to one thousand and even to read and write. I remember when she taught me to tie my shoes I was so worried because I was the only one in the class who didn’t know how, and I was so embarrassed. But she taught me patiently and in almost no time at all I could tie my shoes two different ways. Whenever she went on vacation she would bring us all back individual gifts that she knew we would all like. She bought them for her older students that she didn’t teach anymore as well. Each unique gift was a reminder that she knew us all as individuals not just as a class. She made me want to go to school every day, even though kindergarten was only every second. By the end of the school year, none of us wanted to move on to grade one.

Eventually, she retired, and we didn’t see her around the school anymore. We grew up and went on to middle school and then high school. When graduation came around, I had changed schools to play hockey and I was not with my original class. I had forgotten my elementary years until my mom told me I had gotten a grad present from an old teacher. I opened it up and there was a letter from Mrs Daniels. She wrote me a lovely letter telling me about everything I used to love that I had completely forgotten about. In the letter, she mentioned that I had a passion for sports and even at a young age she knew that my athleticism and competitiveness would take me places. It warmed my heart to know that she still remembered things about me, things that I had forgotten.

Looking back on all of this I realize that she is one of the reasons I want to be a teacher. Her, combined with all of the other amazing ones I had throughout my years including my parents and their fellow staff members that became my second parents. I plan to take all of my teachers’ attributes and use them as a guide to becoming the ideal teacher. I understand that the perfect teacher doesn’t exist but, having all these perfect attributes to follow will help me on my path. One day I hope I am the teacher that a student is inspired to write about.

Progressive Currere Essay

In my future teaching career, I see myself as someone who accepts change and is willing to consistently do the little things in order to become an even better person and teacher. At the beginning of my teaching career, I will be professional and earn the respect of my older colleagues and students. I will be the young teacher that does such a good job that even the older teachers will adapt my techniques into their classroom, even if they haven’t changed their structure in many years. I will have excellent classroom management but will still make learning fun and make an effort to engage fully with my students. I will also have a relationship with my students’ parents and maintain active communication with them, so I am able to provide them with information on their children’s latest developments. I will be known as a great teacher regardless of how young I am.

As the years go on I will maintain updated on the latest and best teaching methods. I will be open-minded even if I have a teaching method that works for me since no teacher is ever perfect and can always be improved. I will have a deep connection in my school community and will be a part of many extra-curricular activities connected to the school. I will be a coach of some kind, most likely a volleyball coach in the fall, hockey coach in the winter, and track and field coach in the spring. By this point, I will be a role model for younger teachers and help them out whenever they need by giving them advice or even helping them in their classrooms. When I start to get older I will consider moving to something like administration like my dad did.

As my teaching career comes to an end I doubt I will be able to completely stay away. I will still substitute as much as I possibly can after retirement. Perhaps I will never fully retire and continue to help out in schools whenever I can, maybe in a different role, something other than a teacher. By this point, I will have connections and relationships with people from all over. I will also keep in touch with older students and provide them with any guidance they may need as they get older. I hope by this point I have significantly changed many students’ lives for the better.

When my time as a teacher is finally over and I am unable to work I hope to still be a role model that students, teachers, and parents come to for advice and even just to keep in touch. I want to be able to look back and be proud of what I have accomplished as a teacher. All around I will be an accepting, understanding, kind, and respectable teacher and person. I want to change lives for the better wherever I go. I want to be many kids’ favourite teacher and someone that they think of whenever someone asks them “what was your favourite thing about school?”. I will be that teacher that changes lives.

Analytical Currere Essay

Today I am currently enrolled in the Faculty of Education at the University of Regina. I am focusing on years pre-k to five. I live on the very edge of the East side of the city in an apartment style condo building. It is nice because I can see a field directly out of my living room window and it makes me think of home. I think if I was in the middle of the city I would feel a bit claustrophobic. As for activities I play on a rec hockey and volleyball team, I also like to work out as I enjoy the gym quite a bit.

Currently, my favourite class is biology. The professor gives engaging lectures and the labs are full of exciting activities. The content of the class is extremely interesting as well. We just finished learning about the genetics unit, which has always been my favourite, even in high school. I find inheritance of traits from parents to offspring fascinating. This semester I am not enjoying my classes as much since I basically have 8, well, 5 classes plus 2 labs and a field placement so it is a lot to do. By far my least favourite field of study is my Media Arts and Performance class. Basically, the professor uses the fourth year reading material on first-year students and leaves us all confused. But life is what you make it, so I am trying my best to keep a positive attitude and finish the class. I find myself enjoying my placement at the elementary school a lot. I find it energizes me when I am there, but like any teacher at the end of the day realize I am exhausted by the time I get home. Recently I picked my electives for next semester, and by far I am most excited for justice studies 100. I have always had a huge interest in law and I still find myself excited about it to this day, maybe that will take me somewhere someday.

I think my past self is shown in my present self through the way I act. I like to think that my small-town upbringing has played a role in keeping me humble, hard-working and determined. I tend to keep my cool when things get difficult and I am not afraid to do the hard work that no one else wants to do. I also tend to be a bit hesitant and shy at first because as a child my parents always told us “Better to be silent and thought a fool than to open your mouth and be proven one.”, and I think this is a respectable quality to have. I also was a very determined child, I wanted to do big things and represent my community well. That is why I take so much pride in my school work.

My future self also has all of these traits. It is hard working and determined. One thing I think will be different is that I will learn to relax a bit. At the moment I am so tense and stressed, so I hope to see my future self-learning to relax and enjoy the little things in life. I also know that my future self constantly motivates my present self so that I can fulfil my dreams for the future. Overall, I am happy about my past, present, and future and I would be more than happy to see my future self, become even better than I imagined.

 

Synthetical Currere Essay

If I were to look in a mirror and be able to see inside myself, not inside my body, inside my brain I would see someone who is a number of things. I decided the easiest way to explain what I see would be by dividing it into two categories: positive attributes and negative attributes. I will start with the negative attributes so I can end on a positive note. At this moment if I were to see everything inside of me I would see stress, confusion, impatience, anxiety, and doubt. This is because I am completely overwhelmed with everything that is going on in school but having to keep those feelings to myself for the sake of maintaining professionalism. Now onto the list of positive attributes, and they are determination, joyfulness, motivation, loyalty, and empathy. I believe that these attributes are a direct cause of the situations I have had to deal with in my life. The meaning of the present is to prepare you for the endeavours of the future.

The contribution of my scholarly and professional work to my present is just getting started. I have just started my professional work in my first year, and my scholarly works are still in the beginning stages. I would say they perfectly illumine the present situation. The works are just getting started much like me. Graduating high school is the very beginning of adulthood and my works are the beginning of my degree. Everything is new and rough. It has many years to be corrected and smoothed out.

This essay has been significant in discovering myself because it has helped me analyze every corner of my life. The progressive writing was by far the most empowering because fantasizing about what I want in the future is not something I get to do often. We are so busy as university students, focusing on the present and the big picture that we forget to think about the amazing details that will be accompanied by the bigger picture. I think this exercise was important especially for students because we are so absorbed in the present we forget to think about the future entirely even though it is the reason we are at school in the first place. I liked this activity more than I thought I would. Although this essay is not something I would typically publish for all people to see, I am willing to do so for this project and my learning journey. I hope to take everything I have learned about myself and apply that knowledge to any situations that I can in the near future.