Unit Four: Cultural and Controversial Issues in the Classroom

Part I 

Frecon and Lang (2017) completed a treaty project with high school students from Regina, Saskatchewan. Discuss the following statement: “after everything they had learned and experienced the previous year, Leia had trouble believing that her students’ perceptions were defined by the same indifference they have shown at the beginning of grade nine.” Why do you think there was still an indifference to knowing about treaties? What was most successful about the project? 

I think there are many reasons that Leia’s students had the same indifference towards treaty education they had before participating in the conference. First, the excitement faded away. Second, the knowledge and empathy they acquired from the Treaty4Project conference were forgotten.  When the student’s teacher, Leia, asked them to recall what they learned in the four workshops the participated in, “many of them could not remember more than one workshop” (Fortier-Frecon & Laing, 2017 p. 33). Third, the students did not think it was important to learn about the treaties. Leia states that it took her a few weeks to a year “to convince them [her students] that it was important to learn about First Nations culture and to understand the negotiation of treaties”  (Fortier-Frecon & Laing, 2017 p. 34). The most successful result of Treaty4Project was the interest it stirred in the students. It made the students realized the importance and relevance of treaty education.

Part II

Why do Tupper and Cappello refer to teaching treaties as (Un)Usual Narratives?

Tupper and Cappello refer to teaching treaties as (Un)Usual Narrative because treaty education is a different way of understanding Canadian history. Most of Canadian history is told from the pioneer perspective that it was “the ingenuity and pioneering spirit of the early prairie farmers” (Tupper& Cappello, 2008 p. 561) that help create the province of Saskatchewan.  This is the dominant narrative. Teaching treaties is a counter-narrative to the dominant narrative and is needed to see the whole picture of Canada’s history.

What do they mean that the curricular commonsense needs to be disrupted? 

They mean to disrupt the Curricular Commonsense because it only gives one narrative to the story and a whole story cannot be told from one perspective.

Why is there a continuing reluctance and resistance to teaching treaties in the classroom?

Many teachers are reluctant to teach treaty education because they don’t know how to go about it without making mistakes and being disrespectful.  There hasn’t been a big push on teaching Treaty education until a decade or less ago. Many teachers haven’t been taught anything about treaties in their own K-12 education and university years and so not only do they have to teach their students about treaties but they also have to teach themselves.

What does “We are all treaty people” mean to you?

The phrase “We are all treaty people” means to me is that anyone who lives in Treaty territories are participants of the treaties. We are not just participants but beneficiaries of the treaties. With these benefits come responsibilities that treaty people have to honour and keep.

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