When I think of this class in terms of inquiry based learning, I can’t help but find my processes and phases repeating over and over; and I bounce back from one another. Just when I think I have an answer, I learn something new or hear something that challenges my thoughts and I then have to investigate and reflect on my new found knowledge. I think maybe my whole life may be a repeating inquiry process…
When I think about what I took away most from this class, I would have to say it is being aware of my place. Acknowledging that the home I sleep in is built on land that holds stories and resources that make up the life we live today. Prior to our water treatment plant field trip I never once stopped to think about the clean water that comes through my taps whenever I want; or the fact that I even have access to clean water because there are communities in Canada that do not. In Canada, colonization is a part of our history and the effects of colonization are the very reasons why communities such as Shoal Lake 40 First Nations have been enduring a water crisis for the past 20 years.
Let’s rewind this a bit to my very first blog post, where I thought that the environment meant an escape for me. I drew a road with a sign saying leaving “reality” and entering “Nature” which was my escape from all of the stress of my life. When writing this blog I pictured mountains as tall as the skies and teal blue waters. That was my connection to the environment; that is what wilderness meant to me. Not once did I take into consideration where I lived and what the land in Regina and surrounding area does for me.
When I made my eco literacy poem I wrote about how on holidays instead of participating in common holiday celebrations I would instead do something to acknowledge my environment; at the time I didn’t really realize that I was following a more western way of thinking that certain things only needed to be celebrated during certain times of the year. When I heard Sean read his poem about his mother being a very eco-literate person and her relationship with her garden I could not believe that I again did not think about my place. I grew up on a farm and I had a very special relationship with my grandma and her land because we spent almost all of our summer days outside taking care of her garden, fields and yard. The things she taught me and the memories made were more important to me than western holidays, yet I was so busy trying to produce something that rhymed and was “cute” that I actually overlooked who I am and where I am from.
My eco literacy project was a big eye opener for me because I went into this vegetarian restaurant a waiting answer that would support my already established point of view: such as shopping local and buying organic will solve a lot of our carbon imprint”. Oh and that not eating meat is a great way to reduce our carbon imprint as well. Although David, the gentlemen answering our questions, did agree that reducing meat consumption is impactful, he was quick to remind us of where we are right now. One of the first things he said to us is “look outside”, “consider where you live right now”, is it possible to meet supply demands all year long given our location and climate? I again did not take into consider my place.
I have to admit that our society carries a very anthropocentric point of view. Pre contact, First Nations people were able to live off the land by taking only what they needed and leaving the rest untouched. They demonstrated reciprocity by celebrating all living things and showing gratitude for whatever lives and spirits they took from Mother Nature in order to survive. European contact brought with it a completely different worldview; a worldview of more, more resources, more land, more money- capitalism. This worldview is still very evident today as we do not take from the land what we need to live, but we take what we want to supply our convenience and consumerism.
Yi Chien Jade Ho’s ideas on place- based education are very valuable to me.. He states on page 3 of our reading that “place-based education as having the potential to address both social and ecological justice”, “It seeks to enhance human connection with others and with the natural world, cultivating a responsibility to address the ecology of which we are a part. To do this, one must confront the ways in which the dominant culture works to constrain the potentialities of human’s connection to place” (Ho, pg 3) I believe that this is a very important process in terms of developing eco literacy because it allows for a better connection and understanding to be had with our place and how we can be sustainable for our community. I believe in our reading “No Child Left Inside”, we discussed the importance of biophilia and I think that this also relates to Ho’s ideas of place- based education.
One of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite readings that I have shared numerous times this semester is from our Maple Nation reading. The quote reads as
““Here it is, almost tax day, when my fellow humans are getting ready to make their contributions to the well-being of the community, but the maples have been giving all year long” – Robin Wall Kimmerer
I love this quote because it really puts into perspective our relationship with our place. I truly believe that our relationship with the environment is the only relationship that we will ever have that continues to give without receiving. I look in my yard, and I have a beautiful pear tree, and every year that pear tree gives me an abundance of pears, and I don’t really do anything to help it produce those pears. I have a garden and even though it is a lot of work I am going to put more effort into it this year. I am going to pay more attention to the stories of my place here in Saskatchewan and how I can decolinize my thinking in order to reinhabit my area.
I would like to include one last quote from another favorite reading of mine; “Epiphany in the Beans”
“People often ask me what one thing I would recommend to restore relationship between land and people. My answer is almost always, “plant a garden.” It’s good for the health of the earth and it is good for the health of people. A garden is a nursery for nurturing connection, the soil for cultivation of practical reverence. And its power goes far beyond the garden gate- once you develop a relationship with a little patch of earth, it becomes a seed itself. Something essential happens in a vegetable garden. It’s a place where if you can’t say “I love you” out loud, you can say it in seeds. And the land will reciprocate, in beans. (Kimmerer, 2013, pg 126-127)
I think that inquiry based, interdisciplinary learning has a lot to offer environmental education intentions. Inquiry based learning offers different processes in which students are able to choose (within reason) what they want to learn. They are then able to approach the topic through an investigation and creation process which is mostly led by them. Most inquiry processes usually end with a reflection or elaboration process, which allows for students to reflect on and evaluate their own processes. Every part of this process involves students being physically and mentally involved; it is very experiential and hands on. In terms of environmental education this is the best way for students to establish a connection and relationship with the environment. The interdisciplinary learning aspect of inquiry based processes allows for students to connect the learning and content to other aspects of their life and demonstrates how essentially, everything is connected; much like the environment. Lastly, since inquiry based learning process often involve actions, it is easy to transpire these actions to real life and is a good habit for students to adapt. Especially since our environment requires action in order to change and support it.
I would have to say that I have engaged in meaningful inquiry cycles throughout my eco- literacy project. I was able to choose what I wanted to do in terms of a topic or idea, and my group members were based on similar interest and not just a draw. This meant that we were all passionate and serious about our topic. We then investigated ways in which meat impacts the environment and contemplated ways in which we could make a healthy change for our environment. Then, we created recipes and arranged ways in which we could document our journey and hold one another accountable. We then took a field trip which is where we discussed our ideas with other people and we were surprised to learn that some of the things we thought were “right” were actually not true. We didn’t really take into consideration some of the cons of what we thought was a solution to global warming; for instance shopping local, eating organic etc. After having heard our new found information we had to reflect on our journeys and make changes along the way. I realized it was okay that our ideas changed because that meant we were learning something. Most importantly our goals required us to take action by eliminating red meat and reducing other meat and dairy from our diets. This action was something that we were able to do successfully and having made such a positive change we decided this is something we are going to keep doing even though our project is complete. I think this is the beauty of inquiry process based learning; it allows us to actually experience and have a part in our learning processes and this helps us to better understand, connect and act out our takeaways. My creative visual is a learning inquiry process that I followed during my eco-literacy project. Although sometimes I bounced back and forth from process to process, it was still a very beneficial learning experience for me. I have placed it on a tree cookie that I have kicking around my house because I wanted to show the inquiry process in relation to environmental cycles and how everything is connected somehow.
So in terms of history, I grew up learning about a very settler history. I remember learning about surviving the prairies, farming, planting vegetables to survive the winter and famines, building sod houses and so on. This history was easy for me to learn and take in because most of my family members had farms and I could see the planting and harvest still taking place, I could see the old houses in the farm yards that my family used to live in before they built new or until the house was no longer livable. I remember watching shows like little house on the prairie and telling my mom that there was an episode when Charles tied a rope from the barn to the house during a severe snow storm so he could still make it to the barn to check the animals during the storm. My mom told me that they also did that too during bad storms, they would tie a rope to their outhouse and barn as well to make sure they can find their way in case of a whiteout. I was able to see myself, in history and I was able to see my family practices in history as well. When we read stories in English class they were traditional tales of white people and if there were colored people in the story they were often being oppressed. You could imagine how surprised I was when grade 12 rolled around and I took my very first Native Studies class and I learned that the history I had always heard about growing up took place during the same time that all of these horrible actions were had towards First Nations people of Canada. I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this and I felt incredibly sad and stupid.
I would have to say that the biases I learned in my classrooms were often dependent on the biases of my teacher. When we would read novels then have to share our thoughts and opinions; even though there were many different opinions you could tell that there were a few words and ideas that the teacher was looking for and those ideas were the ones that would continue to shape the rest of the lesson and outcomes. It is funny because on our test there would be a section that asked us to share how we felt about a certain part of the book or why we felt that way and what we think it means. Although we are being asked what “we” thought the answers were always supposed to be based off what we were told and taught during class. The teacher would often say “remember what we talked about in class” or “remember the themes we discussed during this chapter”, it was always pre conceived ideas. I think it is hard to unlearn biases because I think we are sometimes unaware they we have them or are portraying them, but this is how we grew up; this is how we were engrained. We have always been told these single stories and single histories throughout our educational journeys and those stories mostly benefitted one group of people only. I can only speak for myself and my place because I have only gone to school in Alberta and Saskatchewan but I would say that the only “truth” that mattered and that I heard growing up was that of white- euro settlers, and I believe that is because everyone was supposed to be assimilated into this body of people so this was supposed to be the only truth needed. I am curious to know how students who are learning about Treaty education and residential schools from a very young age nowadays, how they will be able or allowed to see these histories and if there will still be a hierarchy of histories in Canada. Now that these histories are we being told I often wonder how they are being told and by who; because unfortunately I think Canada’s history varies depending on who tells the story.
Think back on your experiences of the teaching and learning of mathematics — were there aspects of it that were oppressive and/or discriminating for you or other students?
Oh boy, I don’t really have much to say about my mathematics skills because they are quite lacking, however I have always wanted to be good at math! I find it exciting to be able to solve an equation and share with others how to do so. Unfortunately in order for me to succeed in math I have to put a lot of time and effort into it and sometimes we aren’t exactly always full of extra time and effort. I am so envious of people like my husband who can just look at an equation and see; simply see what comes next in order to solve it. I make the most simplistic mistakes and it often throws off my while process. I remember during my University math class quizzes I would be so nervous, I even tried calming oils and stuff because I was so afraid I would forget a step and mess it up. Even though my University math class professor was AMAZING, so I had no reason to worry. He taught in different ways, and even though he encouraged us to try his methods, if we got the answer he respected our work and process. I would have to say this underlying fear is from taking math throughout grade school. Like most people I know my mathematics experience was quite intimidating and discouraging. We were often taught one way of knowing (the teachers preference) and expected to apply that method to the equations. When my mom would help me with my homework she would sometimes show me other ways that help her understand and evidently helped me understand as well; but when test time would come around I would lose serious marks for not completing my work via teacher preferred and taught method. Also, I find that my teacher didn’t have the time, patience nor care to assist me and other students who required a little more help. They often suggested a “tutor” but in a class of 14 kids, and a school of 250 K-12, you never really wanted to burden or ask anyone.
After reading Poirier’s article: Teaching mathematics and the Inuit Community, identify at least three ways in which Inuit mathematics challenge Eurocentric ideas about the purposes mathematics and the way we learn it.
One of the first things that stood out to me in regards to Inuit mathematics compared to Eurocentric ideas is that the Inuit Mathematic teaching methods includes not calling upon a child who does not know the answer. This is something that is an extremely common Eurocentric method in addressing students who seem to maybe be off task or not understanding. I never really understood this logic; let’s call on a child to answer a question that I know they won’t have the answer to because putting them on the spot is exactly what will help them understand the mathematical process. If anything all this does is either scares the child into forceful memorization or creates shame and fear associated with the subject which often contributes to a disconnect and further attempts.
Another one is the importance and advance knowledge of sense of space. They are able to apply their logics to everyday life actions and tasks and vice versa; “The Inuit have developed an outstanding sense of space to help orient themselves. They have learned to ‘read’ snow banks and assess the direction of winds. I was told that they can say how far they are from the bay by smelling how salty the air is” (Poirier, 2007 pg. 57). Also, measuring; “the use of objects or measuring tools to quantify dimensions” (Poirier, 2007 pg. 56)
Lastly, the use of base 20 instead of base 10; this is something I learnt in my University math class at FNU. We learnt Mayan numerals and math and they used base 20 as well which I found to be extremely interesting and versatile; especially when you use the symbols. My Professor Dr. Dolittle always taught us how to accomplish equations that we can visibly represent with symbols and drawings as well as just number methods. I liked this because it was a way of double checking your answers and is very resourceful when teaching children; especially those who thrive as visual learners.
I struggled with this blog post because I do not recall many school experiences which entailed environmental education. In grade 11 we took a school trip to Wanuskewin and we had visited a Hutterite Colony as well during the same trip. Although we hadn’t really learned too much about Indigenous history or Treaty education we did briefly discuss it here and there in history class (the following year our school finally offered Native Studies). We slept in a Teepee that night and made Bannock around the fire. It was a fun experience for us however had I known what I do now about Treaty education and Indigenous ways of knowing I think I would have got much more out of the experience. One memory I do have that entails some environmental education is from grade three when we planted tree’s as a class in our community garden (community forest). I don’t exactly remember all of the details behind our reasons and what else we were learning but I recall our class making the short trip across town to our local community garden and forest and each picking a spot to plant our trees; well they showed us our row that we were allowed to plant in and we basically picked who we want to plant our tree by. At the end of the day we were able to purchase some of the small trees to plant at our own home or give to family members. I think they were about $5-$10 a tree so I got one for my mom and one for my grandma. I enjoyed this experience and even though one the two trees we planted at my grandma’s farm were eaten by a deer, the other is going strong. I must say they take forever to grow!
This experience kind of reminds me of what was mentioned in our The Whiteness of Green reading. Once of the students shared how the class learned a lot about how they could make a difference in terms of their footprint; some of the examples they used was recycling, riding their bike and so on. They said that they never really discussed “the government that passes legislature that allows big companies to do whatever to the environment” (Mclean, 2013, pg 357). This experience was the same for me; we always discussed ways that we could personally make positive environmental changes but never about the accountability of the government and bigger than us organizations. We each went and planted our own trees but we did not talk about companies that ripped trees down. Also, I was privileged enough to be able to afford a tree to take home to my family in order to share the experience, however not all of my classmates were able to do so. I think this approach is rather discouraging for my classmates that were from families that were not able to dish out $10 on tree to take home. Maybe they felt they weren’t as “good” or doing as much as other classmates that was able to do so. I think this can cause a divide or create disconnect among classmates and the environment.
For my Creative visual this week I basically drew barrels, rain barrels. Growing up my grandma’s farm had rain barrels spread out across her land. Not in the fields, but there would be a couple by the gardens and green houses, some down by the barn and through some bush paths. I remember my mom would often worry for us kids around the rain barrels or water trough’s for fear of drowning; especially since we had lost a few cats that way. My mom used to tell me that when she was a kid she would dip her head in those rain barrels to cool off during the summer, or to “wash” her hair (without soap of course). She said she would clean her garden vegetables off in them and eat them as she mucked around in the yard. She also said she would take her watering can and fill it in the rain barrel then go water the plants and as much of the garden as she could with it. To this day I never recall the rain barrels being empty but I wonder if I would have seen them last summer if they would have been. I as a kid also helped my grandma water the plants with her rain barrel water. I sometimes dunked my head in the water to cool off during the summer too but my mom didn’t want me drinking or washing my vegetables off in it.
I never realized this connection that I have with water. When sitting in on Dwayne Donald’s presentation and hearing him say that he is connected to the water because his body is made up of 60% water I realized that this beautiful connection means something to me as well. I think that if were to all feel as though we were related or connected to our environment such as the water, we would take better care of it. Perhaps we spend more time in our environment in order to establish a relationship, we would want to care for it like our friend or family. This is something I am working on, trying to listen more; and actually listen not just wait for my turn to speak. Not just to my friends and family, but in my environment and people, places and things around me.
“I can see my face reflected in a dangling drop. The fish-eye lens gives me a giant forehead and tiny ears. I suppose that’s the way we humans are, thinking to much and listening too little. Paying attention acknowledges that we have something to learn from intelligence’s other than our own” (Kimmerer, 2013, pg 300)