Tag: EDCI515

Reflections from guest speaker Shauneen Pete

July 16th– Thoughts on the discussion with guest speaker Shauneen Pete

A lot of great questions arose in our discussion with guest speaker Shauneen Pete this week, many that need further thought and consideration.

Think about whether we are making race-based decisions in our everyday practice?

I think that we try sometimes to be so culturally sensitive that we miss the mark altogether. I often struggle with ensuring that I am providing the most authenticated materials, however I may be making race-based assumptions about what I think is culturally appropriate for my classroom without really having the full understanding of what constitutes culturally appropriate curriculum.

In addition, when it comes to how we develop our curriculum we also need to think about how we are setting the bar for our students. We should have the same expectations for indigenous learners as we have for all learners, however I feel this has not been the case for many indigenous learners.

Last year for part of our professional development, we read the novel They Call Me Number One by Bev Sellers. This speaks directly to this notion of educational institutions making race-based decisions.  Bev spoke in her book of often not feeling valued throughout her educational career and not feeling that she received the same treatment as non-indigenous learners. She speaks to not feeling that her teachers were confident in her abilities, did not push her and therefore this effected the level of effort she exerted during her school years.

There is a new study exploring how race influences teacher’s perceptions of their students academic abilities and the implications and findings are troubling. For more information on this article visit: https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2015/8/19/9178573/teacher-students-race-study

How can we enhance the learning of indigenous students to ensure their success?

At my current elementary school the indigenous population is 67%, so it is paramount that we ensure that the indigenous perspectives are heard, and also that teachers feel comfortable with the indigenous content they are expected to teach. I personally feel that often time’s teaching staff are not comfortable with the indigenous content, because they don’t feel that they have a solid understanding or don’t feel that they will do it justice. In not teaching this perspective, we are robing our students of this learning experience. I studied side by side with my students this year while teaching the crests and clans unit as part of the Social Studies component. I think we have to be willing to take risks with our own professional development. Shauneen spoke about reciprocity vs. the burden to teach, this idea that it is not up to indigenous peoples to teach settlers about the indigenous histories of Canada. She talks about the importance of dialogue as a supplement to self-study or professional development. Indigenous educators should not be burdened with the responsibility of teaching everyone else, rather contribute to reciprocal conversations with non-indigenous educators.

How do we make education accessible and create a learning environment where indigenous peoples do not feel like outliers in their own community? This notion that we need to look at the concept of intelligent indigenous labor to ensure that all people feel that they have a place in education. This makes me think about the longstanding arguments in academia, where academic orality and oral histories have not been previously considered primary resources due to the fact that they are not written down. This needs to change as much of indigenous knowledge is about the sharing of stories and experiences through dialogue and should not be devalued.

What kind of acknowledgement do we offer as a reaction to moving forward towards reconciliation?

We need to have the belief that Aboriginal people are integral to the social fabric of Canada, and that providing these educational opportunities which lead to success for Aboriginal learners are vital in education.

Lastly, I enjoyed the section in Shauneen’s article, Idle No More: Radical Indigeneity in Teacher Education that speaks to her efforts to indigenize her own curricular practice through self-study which guides her research and allows her to reflect, look at various artifacts, examine and engage in conversations about her own learning. Some of our best work, when looking at indigenizing our own curricular practice will happen through self-study and professional development. Many of us learn best through experiential learning. We gain a greater understanding and appreciation for the historic content that we are bestowed to teach, and in taking more responsibility and being open and vulnerable to it, we will see a greater connection to the content and the overall experience for our indigenous learners.

Thoughts from Kitchen Stories-July 17th

The movie Kitchen Stories and discussions around it were thought provoking and makes me think about the evolution of research methods and the sensitivity and ethics required to conduct a study. The movie, which is based on real life social experiments conducted in Sweden during the 1950’s follows a research institute which sets out to modernize the home kitchen. The research study collects information by making observations of Norwegian bachelors.

We looked at connections made between the moments of the movie that made us laugh and how research methodology looks drastically different today.

One particular example of a humorous part of the movie occurs when the telephone is ringing, however the participant (Isaac) never picks it up. The participant often just stares at the phone, watching it ring.  Later on when the observer asks the participant why he never picks up the phone, he learns it is because it is too costly. The fact that all the observer had to do was ask, lends itself to question why the research methods need to be so rigid? (expecting that the observer sit in the umpire chair and not communicate with the participants). A great deal of time could have passed in this research study, and the observer may never have come to gain the information as to why the participant never answered the phone. Engaging in communication is vital in research and this scene in the movie shows us how quickly the observer could have acquired the information.

There are a number of things we can question with regards to the methods employed in this research study.

  • How difficult is it to be objective when there are cameras placed everywhere?
  • Whose shape of reality is this study supposed to represent? The fact that they are not able to communicate with one another seems very obscure.
  • How long would it have taken researchers to reflect back and consider how unnatural and unrealistic the methods are?
  • Would this clinical research data be considered accurate and valid? There is a part in the movie where the participant becomes the observer.

There were some good connections between the movie and our discussion with the guest speaker, Shauneen Pete this week. In the movie, the observer (Isaac) mentions that he is not comfortable with being observed. He speaks to the fact that he was observed during the war. Knowing about the historical background lends itself to varying responses. This concept of allusion is clear. Those from Sweden and Norway would have a different response as opposed to those not from Europe who may miss the context. These deep relationships could affect the interactions needed for the research study.

When we look at research groups who want to observe various cultures, we have to take into consideration how they are going to feel about it, especially if the intention is to come in and simply observe as demonstrated in the movie.  Research groups may have backlash from their participants as they may be viewed as culturally insensitive.  These research methods can be easily viewed through a colonial lens, where they are not looking to engage in dialogue and meaningful relationships to establish a base line, rather impose themselves on the participants. This research approach need to be weary of the potential for harm and think about the ethical dilemmas they may incur if not coming from a more naturalistic approach.

In Shauneen Pete’s article, Idle No More: Radical Indigeneity in Teacher Education, she speaks to the concept of critical multiculturalism, which is used to help understand the structural inequalities. This concept allows us to look closely at unequal power relationships and analyze the role of institutional inequalities. Shauneen spoke about how indigenous peoples often feel like outliers in their own communities. While she was talking about indigenous people in education, if researchers are taking a similar colonial approach, they may feel like foreigners in their own community. The potential for harm is overwhelming, especially when we look at western society and its research methods, which in the video clearly did not see the importance of dialogue between the observer and the participant. This also speaks to the importance of reciprocity of information sharing. If cultural communities are not made to feel worthy of their contributions to research studies or feel that there is a lack of information sharing, the results of the study may lead to a negative response. This response may further exacerbate the structural inequalities that continue to exist between indigenous communities and the western world.

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