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Darian Kaszas

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ECS 210

Why I Hate Math…

Thinking back on my schooling experiences with math, they are all pretty negative thoughts. I remember that in elementary school especially, we were really only taught one way of math. If you did not understand it, then it sucks to be you. I was NEVER able to understand math, I’m still not able to understand it and I think that is mainly because of how I was taught in elementary schools. Thinking back to how I was taught math, I really remember doing Mad Minutes. You had one minute to answer as many math questions as possible. Once you completed the mad minute and got a certain percentage on it, your name tag would move up a level on the “Mad Minute Mountain”. My name only got to about the third level, where everyone else’s was on roughly the seventh. I remember going home and crying because of how bad I was at math and the rest of the class could also see that. When the rest of the class would move up a level, they would be doing their mad minute on a new type of math (multiplication, division, etc.) so I never got to practice those types of math as I was never able to move up, which pulled me farther and farther behind in math. As I got into high school, I noticed that the teachers were much more willing to help me with my math. If we failed a test, they would put us in a separate room for a week of math with a teacher and we would just go over that unit again until we understood it. The teachers would work with us one on one and they would explain the math to us in as many different ways as they could until we understood it. In elementary, it was taught one way and high school was taught in a MUCH better way.

I was not really sure that there was even different ways to teach math around the world until I came to university. We discussed some of these ideas in MATH 101, but I did not think too much of it at that time. In Eurocentric math, the numeral system is in base 10, whereas the Inuit’s use a base 20 numeral system. In the Inuit culture, they have a system where they do math orally, whereas in the Western culture, we do math in a written form. This would obviously cause some issues and complications if we were to switch from oral math to written. The Inuit also measure differently than we would in the Eurocentric culture. The Inuit measure using their body parts such as arms, feet, fingers, etc. whereas we would use measuring tools.

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Did Single Stories Teach us Anything?

In my schooling, all that I heard were single stories. All the stories that I was told in school was from a white person’s point of view. In my elementary school, it was not common to have a non-white person. As I got into high school, this changed drastically.  My parents were always good with letting my brother know about the other side of the single stories that we were told at school. Although my parents are also white, they had much more to inform us about other cultures than we ever learned in schools. My dad being a travel agent, has been all over the world. Again, although he is still white and is not a different culture as any of my teachers were, he still has taught me way more than they ever did. Growing up, my teacher’s single stories mainly consisted of telling us about how poor everyone in Africa is and how we should all feel bad for them. When my brother or myself would go home and share this new information, my dad would shut it down quickly. Even though he is not from Africa or any of the other places we “learned” about in school, he still knew a lot more due to his experiences in these places than my teachers ever did. All through elementary school, my parents tried to make these single stories more realistic for my brother and I. Once I got into high school, it was a much more diverse place, so students would let us know when the single stories were untrue or if we were misunderstanding them. If it was not for the students in my high school however, the single stories would still be misunderstood and for the most part, untrue. So basically all through my schooling years, teachers did not do a great job of teaching us about biases in the world or even about different cultures as all their single stories were definitely misunderstood.

Am I REALLY Being A Good Citizen?

In my schooling the amount of citizenship education we had was very little. I always had teachers telling myself along with other classmates that we need to be good citizens. With this, we would sometimes pick up garbage on Earth day, donate money for the Terry Fox run and also go for a walk. We would also have bake sales that went to something, but I couldn’t tell you what. Many people discuss that the SRC in their school helped them with citizenship. In my school however, SRC was basically just the students who wanted to suck up to the teachers. No one even payed attention to the SRC as they did nothing for the school.

Teachers drilled it into our brains that we all needed to become good citizens and volunteer and give all of our money to charities. After all of those experiences however, I just learned that volunteering is almost selfish. I became disgusted at the fact that teachers only wanted us to volunteer so we looked good. Not because we wanted to, or felt that it was right. Don’t get me wrong, I do feel that volunteering is good. But teachers made me feel as though volunteering was selfish because of the fact that we were doing it to make ourselves look good and feel like good citizens. However, volunteering to me is not about making myself feel good, but about making those I’m helping feel good. I wish overall, that my school experience with learning to become a good citizen didn’t make me think that way about volunteering.

We Are ALL Treaty People…

Well, this is a tough topic to try and teach certain students about. I know in my own schooling experience, I had several classmates that insisted Treaty Education is useless and that we are wasting our time. With this, we never really did learn much on treaty education. Now being in university, I have a lot more knowledge and experience. I think that there are many good resources and activities for your students. Something that I had never even heard of until university was the Blanket Exercise. This really opened my eyes as to how important FNMI people are to our history, and how much we really need to learn about all of this. There are many documentaries about Treaty Education or FNMI that could engage your students and also give them lots of information. Recently, I listened to a teacher from Moose Jaw named Claire Kruger. She is a wonderful guest speaker and if you could find a way for your students to be able to listen to her, they could come out with different opinions of the importance of Treaty Education.

Place Impacting Our Learning…

In the reading, decolonization and reinhabitation is talked about in several ways. The main theme seemed to be the rivers, as well as communicating with the community. The youth discussed issues with the land, river and people with other community members. The elders and the youth also went travelling to the waters, lands and also exploring language, land management, history and issues of governance. These trips and explorations helped everyone understand the connections with everyone as well as the environments.

Just like the readings, trips can be taken with students in my classroom to explore our surroundings and environments. Being able to see all of these different places would then be able to help the students make connections to relationships and people. Even having lessons outside as opposed to going on a field trip could help students learn about their surroundings and the environment.

Could the Curriculum be Hurting More Than Helping?

Before: I think the curriculum for schools is obviously decided by the government. I believe that there are probably some teachers or people with educational experience to help guide what the curriculum may look like. At the end of the day, it is the government’s say and what they would like students to learn.

After: The curriculum is decided by the provincial government. This is a big issue because of the fact that the people deciding the curriculum, are the ones that have not been in a classroom since they probably went to school. It is concerning that the students, teachers, parents, principles, etc. do not have a say in what the students learn. It surprises me that there is not much say from the people who are impacted by this the most. It really opens my eyes to see that this may be a much larger problem than I thought it could be. In fact, I always assumed the government had the say in what went into the curriculum, however, I have never thought deeply into it.

The “Good” Students.

The way that I was trained to know was a “good” student is, is not right on all levels. Throughout school, the “good” students were always in class early, at the front of the classroom, very engaged in the lessons and class discussions, always had the answers to every question, finished homework on time or even way in advance, always nice to the teacher (basically a suck up), etc. I think that these qualities obviously make you a good student, but even if you do not have these qualities, or show these qualities, you can still be a good student.

I think that there are students that are privileged by the definition of being a good student. I think those who naturally excel in certain subjects are considered the good students. When I would take a physics, chemistry or math class I would not understand what was going on. Those students that always had their hands up and got good marks on the test were just considered the “good students” in my eyes. In music and band classes, my close friends would consider me as a “try hard” or the “good” student, or even a suck up because music was just something that naturally came easy to me. I have never done well in maths and sciences, but music and art were always my strong areas. Now that I think about it, I was just thinking of those who were good at math and science in the same way that my friends saw me with music. It doesn’t mean that I was a better student than anyone, it was just that it was easy for me. I think that those who excel in certain subjects are more likely to be considered a “good” student.

It is hard for those who have a common sense about the “good” students like I did, to picture others being a good student. For example, someone coming from a different country that does not speak much English could be considered (to some people) a bad student. Obviously just because they do not speak perfect English, does not mean that they are not a good student. It may be hard for those who have already developed that common sense to see that though. It could also be difficult to change the common sense for everyone to understand that the “good” student isn’t necessarily the good student shown in all the movies, and that anyone can be a good student, they just show it in different ways.

Learning With Pleasure Isn’t That Easy…

“What we learn with pleasure, we never forget.” – Alfred Mercier

This quote by Alfred Mercier really hit me, as it made me think of many school experiences that were both positive and negative. As I’m considering the positive and negative experiences I went through, it makes it easy for me to think of the possibilities and impossibilities in education, through this quote.  This quote is fairly obvious as to what it means, but to sum it up it is saying that we always take more out of the lessons that we enjoy being a part of. A large difficulty with education is that not all students are interested in the same things, or learn in the same way. This is not a bad thing, but it does make teachers struggle in order to find a way for all of the students to learn and enjoy what they are learning. Ultimately, teaching one idea to an entire class and having all the students engaged and enjoying it, is probably pretty close to impossible. Although teachers want to make a way to spend time with each student, teaching the idea in the way that the student will most enjoy it and understand it, it is basically physically impossible. This being said, this quote definitely does have impossibilities as not every student enjoys the same things, or learns in the same way. The possibilities however, is that most teachers most likely find a way to get most of the students engaged or at least a little bit interested in the material. For me, this quote opened up possibilities that I didn’t know existed. To begin with, I had never really deeply thought about this quote, so considering that, I didn’t know how to fix the issue. I still don’t really know how to fix the issue, however I am now aware of something that is a common sense to me. I am used to enjoying music, however, I know for a fact that there are going to be students that probably hate it and/or do not understand it, which makes them not learn anything about it. As my common sense would be that everyone loves and understands music, I am now aware that I would obviously have to find different ways to make it understandable and enjoyable for all students. This opens up possibilities because now I would be able to come up with ideas to help the students that are not interested or do not get it. Without the quote, I probably wouldn’t deeply think about the possibilities that myself, or other teachers could come up with in order to help students.

This quote could really help teachers think about this idea in a deeper context, which would help the student. While I was in school, I was never good at maths or sciences. However, I was always really excelled in music, art, English and social studies. It obviously helped that I was genuinely interested in music and art because I was always more engaged and then I would always take more out of the lessons. With math and science, I was never in a classroom where a teacher tried to make math interesting. Teachers can always find ways to make music and art interesting, math on the other hand is difficult to make fun and enjoyable. I think if I were shown an interactive and fun way of doing math or chemistry, I would have been more engaged, making it easier for me to listen to the material and take more out of it. This doesn’t mean that my teachers were bad because I didn’t really learn anything from math or science. It also doesn’t mean that the students are not listening to the material. Everyone just learns in a different way. Some of my teachers made large efforts to try and get me to understand math, but the lightbulb just never went off in my head. Thinking about this quote, it may come off at first as though the teacher is not doing their job because a student is not finding the pleasure in learning, but it does not mean that the teacher is a bad teacher or that the student is a bad learner.

Although throughout my school experience I became very frustrated with the fact that I was not always able to be taught the ways that I needed to be, I understand that it is also very frustrating for a teacher. I always blamed the teacher when I was younger because they taught it in a way that I was not able to understand it. However, I am now able to understand that teachers obviously have a hard time trying to find a way for all students to be engaged and understand the material.

Tyler Rationale…

In my schooling, the Tyler rationale was placed into the curriculum in many different ways. It seemed as though at the beginning of the year, or even of a new unit, there was always a goal in mind. Our experiences were attained by the teacher having us practice the ideas over and over again and even doing activities involving the subject. Practicing these new ideas helped us memorize them to perform well on the tests. The Tyler rationale obviously took place in my schooling especially for testing our knowledge. After we learned any new idea, we had to be tested on it to make sure we knew what we were doing.

Some limitations that could come with the Tyler rationale is the testing. I have always had testing anxiety. No matter how hard I study and how much I get the topic that is being covered, I will always bomb the test. For me, I think this could be a limitation as students like me never do very well on tests, even though we know what is going on. For teachers on the other hand, it is very difficult for them to find other ways to test a students knowledge without giving an exam.

There are some benefits that come with the Tyler rationale. It seems to really have an impact on the way that students are evaluated. Like I mentioned earlier, although testing is unfortunate for some students, such as myself, testing really is helpful in the school system for teachers. The Tyler rationale has also been around for so long that our school systems would have a difficult time doing without it. The Tyler rationale really does prepare students, and we see the rationale being used our whole lives basically, so even though it does have flaws, I think our world will be fine if we kept it around.

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