Tag Archives: culturally responsive education

Module 3 Weblog

Keywords: decolonization, research methodologies, colonization, law, traditional knowledge, Indigenous youth, curriculum, technology, language, culturally responsive education

1.Stand Film


This documentary film touches on important issues pertaining to the Great Bear Rainforest and Haida Gwaii. Centered around paddleboarding as a vessel for action, we see how some Aboriginal youth in Bella Bella learn to make paddleboards in school as a way to connect to the land and to make something purposeful. Their engagement in evident in the way they speak about the boards and their connection to place. Their personalized boards, and they way they speak about them demonstrate how important their culture is to them.  In connection with elders in the community, the youth are inspired to take action against the potential of oil spills on the Northwest Coast as a result of the Northern Gateway Pipeline by speaking at cultural gatherings and participating in a hunger strike. As the youth make their paddleboards and take action, it becomes evident that this is a project that is culturally responsive.  


Pictures of the boards:


2. Aboriginal Worldviews and Perspectives in the Classroom:

This is the BC Ministry of Education’s 2015 document on Aboriginal worldviews in the classroom. Pages 39-57 focus on “Attributes of Responsive Schooling”. As an educator, this section of the document is less theoretical and more practical. It consists of participant responses to each principle of responsive education, with advice and suggestions to support educators. What strikes me with regards to this document, is the difficulty in which I had to find it on the BC Ministry of Education Website. Although Aboriginal education is integrated throughout the revised BC Curriculum, this document provides educators with practical information which lends to the visualization of responsive schooling.



3. In Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker, the following concepts are introduced for culturally responsive mathematics education: grounded in place, storywork, focused on relationships, inquiry based, requiring social consciousness and agency. Simon Fraser University’s Math Catcher Outreach Program uses the concepts of place, storywork, and inquiry to engage students in mathematics. They also offer classroom visits, workshops, and summer camps for Aboriginal children. The digital resources include youtube videos in English and one or more Indigenous languages and are all based on real life situations. They could also act as a math catalyst between school and home. I wonder how these resources are being implemented in the classroom and if they are being used with the other concepts of culturally responsive mathematics ed.



4. In the following TEDx talk entitled Aboriginal math education: Collaborative learning, Stavros Stavrou explains how he takes an “anti-oppressive math education” approach. He co-teachers with an Aboriginal teacher and attempts to incorporate Indigenous knowledge and principles of knowing with mathematics. Watching his lecture, his approach seems to echo the concepts of culturally responsive math education as outlined by Cynthia Nicol, Jo-ann Archibald, and Jeff Baker in Practising Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education. As an educator, this sounds like an amazing situation, where a non-native teacher specialist is able to collaborate and co-teach with an Aboriginal teacher. Stavrou provides an example of how he connected with a student on a cultural, mathematical, personal level. He illustrates for us what we hear echoed in the messages of Inuit youth in Alluriarniq – Stepping Forward, students are motivated and engaged when teachers connect with them personally.  


4. Designing Games with First Nations Youth


This is a project, entitled Skins, conducted by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace (AbTeC) (Concordia University), where Aboriginal youth, in partnership with game experts learn to create digital games based on stories from their communities. Upon reading the paper, it becomes evident that much thought has been put into this project through consultation and connection with the Aboriginal community. Protocol is important as noted in the article and in the references which demonstrate depth of research around appropriate methodologies. There is evidence of the principles of culturally responsive education: “ 1) flexible curriculum, 2) a dedicated instructor connected to the community, 3) defined roles, and 4) creative freedom”. In addition, upon completion of the project researchers were able to conclude that, “Stories from the community came alive for the students in both the telling and discussions about them, and, ultimately, in the game itself. They were then able to synthesize their own original story, and furthermore, transform that narrative into a gamespace and gameplay.”

Module 4, Post 2 – Culturally responsive Santhal education

Music and dance has always been a part of the cultural milieu of the Santhal community. However, the conventional education in schools in India has been totally cut off from these cultural elements. The Rolf Schoembs Vidyashram, Birbhum, tries to use the bilingual approach to teaching language. The alphabet book is bilingual, with every Santhali word written alongside its Bengali counterpart. every child learns to draw and sculpt with his /her tender hands as is akin to Santhali culture. Dance and music is an intrinsic part of the curriculum. Every child gets to learn Santhali folk songs and rhymes and gets introduced to the Santhali idiom.


Video | Santal children learning through video as teaching instrument

Teaching Santal children by Boro Baski

Santal musical instrument workshops


Module 3 | Post 5 Culturally responsive education

This is a resource prepared by the University of North Carolina and provides an overview of the issues and challenges that exist for teachers and the introduction of culturally responsive education content into their curriculum. It talks about rethinking teacher education pedagogy and provides guidelines for developing culturally responsive teacher education pedagogy. http://www.nccrest.org/Briefs/Teacher_Ed_Brief.pdf

For a comparison and more local resource,  here is the  Assembly of First Nations Education, Jurisdiction, and Governance paper on culturally responsive education and its impact on the academic achievement of First Nation students.


Module 3 – Post 2 Culturally Responsive Adivasi Education

There has been increasing awareness about imparting  culturally responsive and inclusive education to the Adivasis (tribals / Native peoples) in India. More and more Native peoples’ associations are demanding preschool education in the native language and demanding that native cultures become a part of the curriculum. Following are the links to a few such efforts –

Pajhra – An organization working towards Promotion and development of Adivasi languages


Mother tongue based Multi-lingual Early Childhood Education – An organization demanding that multi-lingual early childhood education be made a right for the adivasi communities. Following is a link to their videos.


A report by the UNESCO on the case studies of ‘Improving the Quality of Mother Tongue-based Literacy and Learning’ in native peoples.


Module 3, Post 4- Inquiry Based Learning

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Alaska Native Knowledge Network


By teaching mathematics through an inquiry approach to learning, students will be involved in hands on engaging experiences applying critical thinking and problem solving skills.

The Alaska Native Knowledge Network has a diagram on their website (see above) representing the ‘iceberg’ model of thinking about Aboriginal culture. This is an effective visual when developing culturally responsive math curriculum with reminders about a variety of ways of making connections to deep culture as opposed to only what’s above the surface level. This ties in well with also considering the math concepts being taught and ensuring that math concepts are taught in more depth for greater understanding than at a surface level. By engaging students in authentic, relevant learning engagements, students’ conceptual understandings should also be enhanced. These were the findings in the research done with Canadian Aboriginal youth (Nicol, Archibald & Baker. Designing a model of culturally responsive mathematics education: place,relationships and storywork).  

Below, I have included a diagram from the International Baccalaureate (http://www.ibo.org/) showing how Math practices are changing in mainstream classrooms. The curriculum is based on ‘best practices’ such as starting with students’ prior knowledge, making connections between different subject areas and learning through authentic experiences.

How are Mathematics Practices Changing

How are Mathematics Practices Changing- Making the PYP Happen, page 84). retrieved from http://tecnosanfran.wikispaces.com/file/view/Making+the+PYP+Happen.pdf

The article and link to curriculum below show some wonderful ways of integrating Aboriginal culture into our teaching practices.

Lipka, Jerry & Andrew-Irhke, Dora. Ethnomathematics Applied to Classrooms in Alaska retreived from https://www.uaf.edu/files/mcc/Articles/Ethnomathematics-Applied-to-Classrooms-in-Alaska-Math-in-a-Cultural-Context.pdf

Village Math (draft)- http://ankn.uaf.edu/publications/VillageMath/village_math.html


McGregor, H. E. (2012). Curriculum change in Nunavut: towards Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit.McGill Journal of Education, 47(3), 285-302.

Nicol, C., Archibald, J., Baker, J. (2013), Designing a Model of Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education: Place, Relationships and Storywork. Mathematics Education Research Journal. 25(1), 73-89.