Category Archives: ETEC 521

My contributions to the ETEC 521 Weblog.

The ETEC 521 course is split into 4 Modules:

  1. The Global and the Local in Indigenous Knowledge

  2. Stereotypes and the Commodification of Indigenous Social Reality

  3. Decolonization and Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights

  4. Ecological Issues in Indigenous Education and Technology

For each Module, we were asked to source and briefly annotate at least 5 online resources that were relevant to the Module and could possibly help us “fine tune” our final project.

Module 1: The Global and the Local in Indigenous Knowledge

From CBC: Sachs Harbour, N.W.T., teen pens song about uncle’s death, garners thousands of views online

This story, published on September 16, 2017, came to my attention from my Facebook feed. Two years ago, a colleague of many years, left Victoria to take a teaching position in Inuvik, Northwest Territories.  Jasmine has been Michelle’s student for the last two years.  Because the community that Jasmine is from is so remote (Sachs Harbour in Inuvialuit Territory), she stays with a host family in Inuvik while attending high school. At the time of the recording, Jasmine was part of a program that takes part on a ship that sails through the Arctic in the summer, visiting communities and taking part in cultural communities along the way. Apparently, a student from my school, Esquimalt High, recently took part in this program as it is open to any student that applies, who falls within the age restriction. Until the song went “viral”, Michelle did not even know that Jasmine was a singer-songwriter! Another layer to Jasmine’s viral social media experience, is her mother’s story of attending residential school. Sending her daughter away to school, however, was not an option for her.

From CBC: ‘A punch in the gut’: Mother slams B.C. high school exercise connecting Indigenous women to ‘squaw’

This story was published September 18, 2017. A Grade 9 teacher, using the Teacher’s Guide, distributed worksheets to their students that had students associate racist nomenclature with the person of origin. Apparently, the motivation was to teach students what the ubiquitous terminology of the day was, however, as the mother astutely points out, the workbook is void of context, and fails to educate students about relevant information regarding the Indian Act and the reserve system, amongst other knowledge. Turning to Michael’s essay from this week; “ Educators must help students conceptually focus the mirror rather than a magnifying glass at native people.” (p. 499) This workbook perfectly exemplifies the magnifying glass approach.  What also should be pointed out, is that the teacher in question, was likely trying to incorporate the new K-9 BC curriculum that has attempted to bring Indigenous knowledge into every course. As a BC teacher, I can say with certainty, that there has not been enough (any?) professional development to facilitate this change so that BCTF members can actually teach Indigenous knowledge with confidence.  I am grateful that I am taking ETEC 521 so that I can hopefully avoid making one of my students or their parents feel link I have “punched them in the gut.”  Most teachers will not be paying $1600, however, in order to take such meaningful Pro-D.  Moreover, I wonder how many teachers will simply side step this portion of the curriculum in fear of making a mistake?  <Segway to next article…>

Marker, Michael, “After the Makah Whale Hunt: Indigenous Knowledge and Limits to Multicultural Discourse”, Urban Education, Vol. 41(5), 2006, 482-505.


From CBC: Teachers lack confidence to talk about residential schools, study says

This story was published August 20, 2017. Yes. This is me.  Or rather, this was me. I feel fortunate to work at a school that devotes a portion of our Pro-D time, every year, to Indigenous education and the well-being of our Indigenous students.  But still, I do not feel like I know enough to say too much in class. With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission being part of mainstream media, combined with some incredibly meaningful Pro-D, I have begun to say more, however. On Orange Shirt Day 2016, I gave my first talk to my homeroom class about the significance of the day— how could I not? I felt like I had finally broken through my self-imposed, block of ice. It is now three weeks into ETEC 521, and I feel more equipped to say what needs to be said, when it needs to be said. I am looking forward to learning more, however, as I know there is much more knowledge to come!

This is Just Us: A Digital Media Documentary

At my high school, we run a course called First Peoples English, in which any student may elect to take this course, in lieu of regular English.  Recently, students created the documentary, “This is Just Us.” For whatever reason, I only just learned of this documentary this week (it is amazing what you can find on your school’s website!). It is a bit of a commitment to watch, however, should you have 38 minutes to spare, you will not regret it.  In the documentary, Indigenous and non-Indigenous students are interviewed. As well, a local Elder, one of our school’s Aboriginal Educational Assistants and the teacher of the course are all interviewed. Topics that are touched on include: Why Digital Media? What is self-esteem? Who are you thankful for? … and more! I was blown away with the students’ candidness, honesty, bravery and wisdom in their responses. The Elder speaks of running away from his residential school, seeking refuge in Washington.  This really drove home the reading of “Borders and the Borderless Coast Salish” from last week. As opposed to the educator who ran into trouble when they attempted to “teach” Indigenous knowledge using an inappropriate “magnifying glass”, Ms. Dunn helped her students “conceptually focus the mirror”, with this project. The project would not have been a success without the partnership with Dano, an actor and director from Tsawout First Nation. Dano came in once a week for a couple of months, and after getting to know the students, he decided that the common thread was how self-esteem affects individuals, families and communities.

Indigenous Leaders on How to Celebrate National Aboriginal Day

This page was published on June 20, 2017, on the University of Toronto’s website. It interviews a variety of Indigenous Leaders (a student, an Elder, and the former National Chief, amongst others), who share how they plan to celebrate June 21 and what any Canadian could also do to recognize this day. I would like to specifically highlight one piece from this page, that addresses the Canada 150 celebrations. This summer, there was a heap of dialogue concerning whether we should be celebrating 150 years of colonialism. Many people I know chose to boycott all July 1 celebrations, and they were not afraid to make it known to all who would listen. Reading this piece, you will find Phil Fontaine’s (albeit brief) take on Canada 150. I don’t think everyone shares his perspective, however, it does exemplify the power of the “positive re-frame”.  That is, when a situation is not ideal or seemingly “good”, by changing our perspective a few degrees, we can sometimes see opportunity past the darkness.

Pacific People’s Partnership

PPP is a non-profit organization that promotes sustainability, peace, social justice and community development for Indigenous peoples from the Lekwungen territory in coastal BC and South Pacific Indigenous peoples.  I chose this site because I was able to attend a recent event at the BC Legislature on September 16, 2017, The One Wave Gathering.  Five local Indigenous youth won a contest that resulted in their work being displayed on the front of four longhouses that were temporarily erected on the Legislature. The fifth artist’s work was made into a dance screen, as the judges were not able to let his work go unnoticed. Both the Songhees and Esquimalt Nation chief’s spoke at the opening ceremony. Chief Andy Thomas described the history of the land that we were meeting on, and how his Great-Great Grandparents were forced to move their village from Victoria’s Inner Harbour to the Esquimalt Harbour. I was particularly moved by the stories of the young artists and I truly felt the sense of proudness that they had of themselves and that their community had for them.  That proudness wrapped itself around everyone in attendance.  I will put a couple of my pictures on this blog, however, feel free to check out the Instagram hashtag, #onewavegathering to see other pictures and videos.

Module 2: Stereotypes and the Commodification of Indigenous Social Reality

The Ethnos Project

From their Home Page:

The Ethnos Project is a research initiative that explores the intersection of Indigeneity and information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as:

  • open source databases for Indigenous Knowledge management
  • information and communication technologies for development (ICT4D) initiatives
  • new and emerging technologies for intangible cultural heritage
  • social media used by Indigenous communities for social change
  • mobile technologies used for language preservation

The essays found in this site seem incredibly appropriate for our learnings in this course. The founder of The Ethnos Project, Mark Oppenneer, might be a “Wannabe”, however! I tried to learn more about him, only to find that either another person with the same name, or the founder of this page, was fired from his teaching job for inappropriate relations with a student.  From Oppenneer’s LinkedIn profile, it appears to be the same person… What intrigues me about this website, is how polished it looks and how interesting the essays seem to be. My question is this: is the founder a “Wannabe” and should this site be not accessed should this be the case???

Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science

Anyone who says that Facebook is a waste of time, is not using Facebook to its full potential.

Recently, I joining a Science Teacher FB group and this group has actually revolutionized my teaching in only 4 weeks. Not only have I adopted something called Two Stage Exams, but someone recently posted a link to this incredible resource, Knowing Home: Braiding Indigenous Science with Western Science. What is particularly jaw-dropping, is that I saved this link two weeks ago, long before I watched this week’s video interviews. The co-author of this online book is none other than Lorna Williams!!!!

This book is a MUST READ for anyone teaching science.  I have only had time to look at a few of the chapters but the one chapter that particularly applies to this week’s module is Chapter 9: Changing Students’ Perceptions of Scientists, the Work of Scientists, and Who Does Science

This chapter summarizes a study that was done with Grade5/6 students and Grade 11/12 in a First Nations Studies course. The stereotypes harboured  by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal  students are eye-opening, to say the least. As a science educator, what can I do differently in my practice to help my students see past these stereotypes?  Am I do anything that reinforces these stereotypes?

Sask. First Nation chief says tobacco offering from visiting school’s coach a step toward reconciliation

From the CBC, September 30, 2017. Here is the original Facebook post from Chief Evan Taypotat.

People stereotype, consciously and unconsciously– stereotyping is often due to making assumptions, without taking the time to educate oneself of the truth.  However, this was an example of someone taking the time to understand Indigenous culture and showing respect, in an authentic way.

Colorado River should have same legal status as a person: lawsuit

From the CBC, October 10, 2017.

In Week 6 of our studies, we were asked if we thought if cultures have rights to protect themselves?

Should the lawyer representing the Colorado River win his case, he may wish to move on to representing culture in the courts, as well!  Although the article is a quick read, spending time listening to the lawyer’s arguments in the interview is recommended as it may provide you with extremely compelling reasons that make it obvious that our natural resources should be protected in court, as if they were a person.

Stop believing this myth: No, Native Americans are not “anti-science”

Although this website is highly irritating with its pop-up ads, the article itself is worth a read. I took some time to learn about the Salon website (you know, to check on something called “Authority”…) and according to Wikipedia (I know my credibility is sinking fast now…), is a left-wing tabloid style, media outlet. NONETHELESS, I am posting this article because IF what it says is actually true, this article would be very valuable to anyone wishing to “braid” Indigenous science into their lessons.  I would highly advise folks to use this as a stepping stone to research more into the topics it provides.

Module 3: Decolonization and Indigenous Intellectual Property Rights

Victoria school district Aboriginal cultural facilitator honoured with music award

Anyone who knows Sarah Rhude knows that receiving an award is not something she sought or yearned after.  I talked to my friend and colleague, Jenn Treble, the trouble maker who nominated Sarah, as she was photocopying endless sheets of music for her students, last week.  Jenn informed me that the photo of Sarah was snapped after tears decided to run down her face, due to the emotional wave that the ceremony impacted her with.

Three years ago, Jenn decided that she wanted to introduce Indigenous music into her practice and she asked for Sarah’s help.  Baby step after baby step, since then, has now led to SD61’s permission to the teaching of three Indigenous songs, that were created for the purpose of the project.   All students in Jenn’s band classes, Grades 9 through 12, learn, practice and perform these songs.

Last year, a Grade 12 Metis student asked Jenn, in front of the class, why she was “singling out” Indigenous culture, when there were so many other cultures represented in class. Was he embarrassed? Had he been “colonized to the point of no return”?  I am not sure, although I know the student extremely well– he was one of my top math and physics students! It was a non-Indigenous Grade 9 student who spoke up and said, “Because we do not live on Scottish territory.  If we did live in Scotland, we would undoubtedly learn about Scottish music.  But we live on Lekwungen territory… that is why.”

Enough said.

Why Gord Downie’s ‘beautiful’ work can’t stand alone

My guess is that this will not be the only Hip post this week. I am a Hip fan, although I “only” saw three live shows. Good friends of mine saw well over 20 shows and their now deceased cat was named Gordie.

There were many online pieces to choose from over the week, but I went with this interview from CBC’s, Q, recorded on December 7, 2016. The subject was Jarrett Martineau, and Indigenous art scholar and creator of the Indigenous music platform, Revolutions Per Minute. Martineau acknowledges the significance of Downie’s work, and simultaneously underscores the importance of continuing with activism surrounding language preservation and authentic forms of reconciliation.  Marineau also mentions how celebrities can bring “different communities together by having them all meet in the middle.”   #ThirdSpace

In Canada, white supremacy is the law of the land

You cannot simply reform your racist state by enacting a few more programs and delivering a few more services. It is embedded in the very nature of Canada and requires a completely new deal. But first, to truly understand where we have landed today, we have to continue retracing a bit further along the sad road that brought us to this place. ~Arthur Manuel

Described by some as the Nelson Mandela of Indigenous rights in Canada, Arthur Manuel passed away earlier this year.  The above quote was taken from an excerpt from his recently released book he co-authored with Grand Chief Ronald Derrickson, “The Reconciliation Manifesto, Recovering The Land, Rebuilding The Economy.”

Those of us who appreciate history will appreciate this piece. We have touched on some of this history in our ETEC 521 journey, however, Manuel’s perspective offers a dose of reality, that lacks the sweetener.

For what it is worth, when I visited the Human Rights Museum in Winnipeg last summer, I was impressed with the ample amount of “Canada’s dirty laundry” that was put out for public viewing. This piece does not attempt to hide our soiled knickers, either.  If the rest of the book is like this excerpt, it will be one “kick ass” manifesto!

Non-Indigenous B.C. artist defends work despite calls for authenticity

If you have been monitoring my posts, I listen to a lot of CBC. Perhaps I should be branching out more with my searches, however, when I hear or read something that is recent and relevant, it really resonates with me, as it allows me to think about historical relevance and how it influences our now.

This column, written by the new host of CBC’s Reconcile This, Angela Sterritt, highlights issues of cultural appropriation and intellectual property rights. The artist in question is from England, and has been “blending” Indigenous art forms with non-Indigenous. The article points out that even though the artist is well-meaning, she is indirectly taking money from Indigenous communities that rely on sales of authentic crafts and artwork. An interviewee continues by saying that “the art market is only so big and we are the most vulnerable demographic, so it kind of stings a bit.”

The History of  Dia de Los Muertos & Why You Shouldn’t Appropriate It

“Dear white people, … You arrived at the Dia de los Muertos ceremony shipwrecked, a refugee from a culture that suppresses grief, hides death, … celebrates it only in the most morbid ways — horror movies, violent television — death is dehumanized, without loving connection, without ceremony. You arrived at Dia de los Muertos like a Pilgrim, starving, … and the Indigenous ceremonies fed you … [And] like Pilgrims you have begun to take over, to gentrify and colonize this holiday for yourselves.” ~Aya de Leon

Indigenous peoples worldwide have been fighting off the ramifications of cultural appropriation. This article is a short, history of the cultural relevance of the holiday and why white folks need to stop morphing it into a pathetic excuse to drink excessively and where inappropriate costumes at Halloween parties.

Typically, the comments sections within online pieces are filled with the worst verbal diarrhea know to our species. I came across this comment, however.  She nailed it:

“Alana Sterling I truly believe that it IS okay. Cultural appreciation is wonderful. But there is a big difference between cultural appreciation and cultural appropriation.

My old high school is thinking about having a day of the dead themed prom. In my opinion that is cultural appropriation because the school is majority white and from experience I know that a lot of them are prejudice and are very outspoken about their feelings on Mexican immigration. Its a small high school in the south.
Cultural appropriation to me is when you want the culture but not the people.
I think if you wanted to throw an actual day of the dead party it would be great look up customs and traditional food and music. That’s appreciation, but if you just want an excuse to wear pretty colors and “sugar skulls” then that’s appropriation. Some people might jump on you for it but to me that’s not really that bad, if you want to throw a day if the dead themed party that’s cool you just need to have respect for your Hispanic brothers and sisters.”~Ayleen DeLeon


Module 4: Ecological Issues in Indigenous Education and Technology

Aboriginal Nations Education Division (ANED) for School District 61

So many amazing resources from my school district’s Aboriginal Education team. You can find pretty much anything you want here, or use this website as a launch point to bring authentic, Indigenous knowledge into your classroom or workplace.

Having said this, I found this resource on this site, that was developed by the BC government in 2006. It targets Kindergarten through Grade 10, and for the most part, looks like a useful document. However, when searching for material for my ETEC 521 paper, I did uncover something that did not sit well with me on p.82. It suggests that in Mathematics 10, that educators and students research the statistics surrounding Aboriginal graduation rates.  Although graduation rates have been slowly improving over the years, they are still below the provincial average.  An exercise such as this will consequently perpetuate stereotypes amongst non-Indigenous students and potentially send Indigenous students harmful messaging.  This document was produced by the Ministry of Education, who used Indigenous community members and educators to assist with its creation, however, at the end of the day, the MOE was the entity in charge of the final product. Who was the person who added this terrible idea to a government resource? In general, it is difficult to find culturally responsive material for academic Math 10, so did somebody “pad” this section without being informed? I find it very difficult to believe that any Indigenous person would think that this was a good idea!!

Four Directions Teachings

Click on the image to go directly to this interactive website that shares Indigenous knowledge from five First Nations from across Canada.  Drumming, storytelling, sound effects and beautiful graphics are clearly shared and described in these teachings. Be sure to spend time with the Teacher Resource package that is linked on the first page, as well.  My only disappointment is that the Coast Salish was not included in this resource, as this would help my non-Indigenous students connect more to the land that they live on and to the people who were here before colonization.  Barring that, this seems to be a great site for not only learning about specific Nations, but to also dispel stereotypes that promote pan-Indigenous homogenization.

Victoria’s booming shoebox campaign part of “reconciliaction”

This article was recently posted in the Victoria News, a local, community newspaper.  A family of Metis heritage has started a campaign that creates shoeboxes filled with age appropriate gifts for Indigenous youth who presumably are living in poverty conditions, north of Smithers, BC.

Having grown up in a state of lower, lower middle class myself, I think that I would have loved to have received a shoebox full of trinkets as a child. Sometimes when I was young, I did not think that anybody cared about me, and that I was more of a hassle, than anything else. I would imagine that Indigenous youth, in isolated towns, who may not have a heck of a lot to do or to live on, would be prone to feeling this way, as well.  Suicide rates in some communities, definitely exemplify this sentiment, in the worst possible way.

So my hat goes off to these young girls who are not only filling shoeboxes and but rallying others to do the same.  We all need to feel like somebody cares about us, that is the TRUTH!

However, is it fair for the editors of the newspaper to make a play on words, turning “reconciliation”  to “reconciliaction”? Hmmm… that part is not sitting well with me. Is it not the government’s role to “reconciliact”? It seems to me that this family is NOT enacting reconciliation via their noble campaign.  True, they are addressing the oppressive, harmful effects that colonization has had on Nations and their people. But this is not reconciliation…

What does reconciliation mean to you?

So what does reconciliation truly mean? Here are six individuals perspectives from a 2016 CBC article.  Spoiler alert: none of them mentioned shoeboxes…


My Kiwi Godfather posted this on his Facebook feed this week and I had to share.

“Colonization has forced stereotyping

To become a household name

Which resides under our beds

Becoming the monsters that we are now scared of.”

The raw talent of Kia Kaha is unreal and inspirational. When students are given the freedom to have their voices heard, powerful, life changing moments can and will transpire.


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A must read for mathematics educators wishing to foster a non-oppressive learning environment.

In my quest for current research for my project, this journal article was given to me.  I recognize that all of us have negative amounts of time on our hands right now, but I do recommend making a free account, and downloading this article for a read in the future.

Miscalculations: Decolonizing and Anti-Oppressive Discourses in Indigenous Mathematics Education”   (Vol 40, No 3, 2017; ​ written by Stavros Stavrou and Dianne Miller, University of Sask.

Many topics that we have read and discussed in ETEC 521 are presented in this piece. It challenges the work of many researchers who have attempted to understand (close?) the comprehension gap between non-Indigenous and Indigenous Math learners. The gloves were off in this article!

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Filed under Decolonization, ETEC 521, Indigenous culture, Mathematics education

How to make my math class more CRE-friendly.

Originally posted on November 11, 2017 on Connect

To summarize, Culturally Responsive Mathematics Education should be mindful of

  1. Place.  Ground the learning in the land where students are from.
  2. Storytelling.
  3. Forming relationships.
  4. Inquiry learning.
  5. Social consciousness.  (Nicol, Archibald, & Baker, 2012)

In this week’s reading, I was very pleased to see that one of the subjects in the study was a high school math teacher. I was curious to read about her take on math-based CRE.  I was hoping to read about her process that allowed both CRE and academic mathematical rigor into her practice.  Unfortunately, that did not come to fruition for me. Kit’s issue is also mine: how do you prepare future engineers, doctors, scientists, and mathematicians in a CRE? There simply is not enough time to address both.

Or is there?  I still don’t know and remain open to people’s ideas.

By the time I get a student in Foundations/Pre-Calculus Math 10, for most students, there are significant deficits in their mathematical comprehension. Our society does not value early numeracy as it does early literacy. It is socially acceptable to “be bad at math”.  For the entire five months that I have my students, we are learning a new process, and filling in holes from yesteryears. If I take one day to fold paper into boxes, then that is one less review day for the final and I only slot 5 classes for review of the course.  Wherever possible, I will do “quick” activities, do collaborative learning techniques and counsel my students through their math anxieties, but there is not time to finish what they require for the next year AND do hands-on or inquiry learning.

I am at a loss.

What I do think, is that there needs to be a new course developed for Math graduation requirements, as there is for English.  We have First Peoples English, so why don’t we have First Peoples Mathematics?  At present, we offer Trades Math in BC.  This is a course that could be tailored into First Peoples Math, with a bit of effort. Non-Indigenous students would greatly benefit from a course like this, as well. It could be hands-on, land-based and situated in storywork. Community members would be vital to making a course like this takeoff. I would LOVE to be part of something like this.

In the meantime, I have decided that I am going to request that I step away from Physics next year, in my teaching load. In an effort to bring Indigenous knowledge into the Math classroom, I do see that there is room and there is a great need, in Math 9. All students come to high school and take Math 9 (apart from students learning below Middle School level; these kids take Adapted Math 9). It is in Grade 9 that classrooms are filled with students of all cultures and ability levels, in that the kids are Grade 9 age, but may be at a Grade 7, 8 or 9 Math level.  My thinking is that I could bring in CRE at the Grade 9 level, as it has one-third of the learning outcomes as academic math 10.

To be continued…

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

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Filed under Decolonization, ETEC 521, Indigenous culture

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Originally posted on October 31, 2017

Man. The Fraser River Journey took me on a journey, without question. It was inspirational on many levels: seeing the youth bravely venture out of the comfort zones (difficult for any adolescent, let alone adolescents that are overcoming obstacles); processing the elders’ words; witnessing Indigenous youth embrace technology, both modern and traditional; witnessing substantial, life changing growth from individuals in but 10 short days.

Reading the updates at the end of the film, I was eagerly waiting to hear about Bonnie.  She captured my attention from the very first interview. Her authenticity, her insights, her compassion… as an educator who has crossed paths with thousands of students, you learn how to spot these “gold flags” right away when you engage with students.  You know “star quality” when you are in its presence. Bonnie had it. I was certain that we would read about something amazing, and that her story was being left until the end because it was going to be spectacular.

OK. So maybe I am crying. Tragedy makes me cry.  Although any loss of life due to a premature cause is tragic, Bonnie is particularly so. Her potential to influence change in our world was immense, and now immeasurable.

We need more Bonnies. And they are out there; we just need to look.

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Using The Third Space to both honour resistance and foster hope.

Originally posted on October 22, 2017 on Connect

Indigenous cultures have nurtured an interconnected worldview for hundreds of years. In contrast, Western cultures have excelled in specializing and compartmentalizing their knowledge for hundreds of years.

For myself, the Knowledge System comparative list in the Kawagley and Barnhardt piece really drove home the differences in Indigenous and Western worldviews. I sometimes find myself thinking that since the worldviews are fundamentally so different, that it is a seemingly impossible task to work together, in one school, educating both Indigenous and non-Indigenous students.

But then, I think about what I learned in Module 1 regarding “The Third Space”.* The Third Space is where two worldviews can overlap, share, learn and exist in a non-binary, “third world”– for myself, I think of The Third Space as the overlapping bits of a Venn Diagram.

Kawagley and Barnhardt continue in their essay to emphasise Indigenous priorities that relate to survival: adaptation, sustainability, and self-sufficiency– priorities that tribes have held for hundreds and hundreds of years! Indigenous peoples are the experts in these fields; experts that non-Indigenous peoples would be wise to learn from. As being able to adapt has historically been a matter that survival has directly depended on, it is no surprise to know that Indigenous cultures are meeting in The Third Space, so that modern affordances can be brought into their non-static, worldview.  The Third Space provides allowances for peoples to not only protect their worldview, but to then allow that worldview to evolve in the presence of hope for a better, more sustainable future.

Kawagley, A. O., & Barnhardt, R. (1998). Education indigenous to place: Western science meets native reality. Fairbanks: Alaska Native Knowledge Network.

The list…


Indigenous Worldviews

Western Worldviews

Spirituality is imbedded in all elements of the cosmos Spirituality is centered in a single Supreme Being
Humans have responsibility for maintaining harmonious relationship with the natural world Humans exercise dominion over nature to use it for personal and economic gain
Need for reciprocity between human and natural worlds – resources are viewed as gifts Natural resources are available for unilateral human exploitation
Nature is honored routinely through daily spiritual practice Spiritual practices are intermittent and set apart from daily life
Wisdom and ethics are derived from direct experience with the natural world Human reason transcends the natural world and can produce insights independently
Universe is made up of dynamic, ever-changing natural forces Universe is made up of an array of static physical objects
Universe is viewed as a holistic, integrative system with a unifying life force Universe is compartmentalized in dualistic forms and reduced to progressively smaller conceptual parts
Time is circular with natural cycles that sustain all life Time is a linear chronology of “human progress”
Nature will always possess unfathomable mysteries Nature is completely decipherable to the rational human mind
Human thought, feelings and words are inextricably bound to all other aspects of the universe Human thought, feeling and words are formed apart from the surrounding world
Human role is to participate in the orderly designs of nature Human role is to dissect, analyze and manipulate nature for own ends
Respect for elders is based on their compassion and reconciliation of outer- and inner-directed knowledge Respect for others is based on material achievement and chronological old age
Sense of empathy and kinship with other forms of life Sense of separateness from and superiority over other forms of life
View proper human relationship with nature as a continuous two-way, transactional dialogue View relationship of humans to nature as a one-way, hierarchical imperative

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What was gained in land, was lost in culture.

Posted on October 14, 2017 on Connect

I wonder if the European settlers knew exactly what they were sacrificing, as they searched for new territory to colonize?  Leaving behind the land that they had grown up on, learned from, and formed stories from—did they understand the importance of their homeland, the same way that Indigenous cultures did, and continue to do? Dr. Turner’s interview eloquently emphasized how Indigenous stories are “embodied lessons” that connect to the land here, whereas European stories are connected elsewhere. Not having multi-generations live on the same land, for hundreds (thousands?) of years, would seemingly lead to different cultural value systems.

Although I do not have access to the interview, here is a brief interview with Dr. Turner describing the importance of connecting land to its people:


Personally, I do not feel terribly connected to my culture. I could even argue that I am “cultureless”, in many ways. Adopted from birth, I was raised mostly by a single mum and for four years, my grandparents. My grandparents shared the Norwegian culture with me, as my Grandma moved to Stuart Island, BC when she was very young and knowing zero English.   Although I value those years with my grandparents, the Norwegian culture is hardly part of my daily life. At Christmas, I will celebrate with some Scandinavian tradition, but that about sums it up. Being adopted also amplifies these feelings of cultural disconnect, along with not living close to family.

My question to my classmates is this: how connected are you to your culture and why?

I ask this, because I am wondering if I am in the minority of people who feel “culturally void”?  Also, if you can relate to my experience, is there a commonality in our history?


To briefly respond directly to the question of the week: “Do cultures have the right to protect themselves?” … I must say, that the question even needs to be asked, seems incredulous to me. The preservation of one’s culture should transcend individual rights. It should just be a given that preserving one’s culture comes before all else.  Moreover, this is not to say that cultures cannot evolve and embrace the affordances of modern knowledge.  But as Lorna Williams said near the end of her interview regarding technology, “if it worked, we kept it.” Lorna also shared her experience interviewing families in the 70s, who had on opportunity to say that they wanted their children to learn “white knowledge” along side Indigenous knowledge. Preserving one’s culture does not mean that one is not prepared to learn new ways. Sadly, there are people out there that advocate that non-European cultures need to “get with the program” and join the melting pot of “Canadian culture”.  A more enlightened viewpoint would embrace the concept of adaptation, that allows other cultures to preserve their heritage, while living in a multi-cultural setting.

Again, I do not have access to Lorna Williams’ video, however, here is a brief interview that shares some of the same sentiments of what was shared in ETEC 521:

Dr. Lorna Williams, “Inside a Residential School” from FNESC and FNSA on Vimeo.


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The White Man Come Saveth!

Posted October 2, 2017 on Connect

I had two minds about watching the clip of “Nanook of the North”.  First of all, there was a genuine attempt to capture “everyday life” or at least the bits of everyday life that was clearly made palatable for a wider audience. The portrayal of Nanook and his family was not in line with the Spaghetti Western stereotypes of dangerous and savage Indian.  Providing the names of the family members at least attempted to personify these people. On the flip side, however, it blatantly characterizes the traders as the saviors. This is exemplified perfectly when the movie shockingly reveals that Nanook had but only a harpoon to hunt with.  With a different spin, the producer could have featured Nanook’s incredible hunting skills, in that he ONLY needed a harpoon.  But alas, no. Amen, for the white man who could trade him skins for more advanced hunting tools. Colonizers are “the good guys” right?

For students to engage in media products more critically, I think we need to replicate what was done for us on this week’s Discussion. Michael teed us up with questions to think about as we watched the clip.  For myself, this forced me to think about the key issue as I was watching, as opposed to passively watching.  It is incredibly easy to be thinking about something irrelevant while watching media.  Heck, I even do this when I read sometimes.  I have had to read text three times, if I am truly mentally distracted! Another tip could be to have the media available outside of class time, so that students can watch, pause and “rewind”, thus allowing students to regulate their own learning, and hopefully engage in critical thought, at their own pace.

Inuit cultural advocate, Mary Simon’s interview with George Strombolopoulous was too short; I really could have listened to this conversation for a lot longer! She spoke so well and her approach was very personable. She did not hesitate to point out similarities between Inuit and other cultures, and she made sure to highlight the differences. Not in an adversarial way, but in a way, that did not imply one culture being better or correct… just different. I can easily see why she is in the position that she is in. She is incredibly relatable, yet simultaneously no push over. I don’t watch this show, but the interview really seemed too rushed.  Is it normally like this? Or this another case of inequity in main stream media?

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The Non-Oppressive Mathematics Classroom: A Comprehensive Guide Towards Creating a Third Space

ETEC 521: Indigeneity, Technology, and Education

Professor: Dr. Michael Marker

December 3, 2017


Perhaps the most commonly pondered question from frustrated mathematics students, across grades and cultures, is “When am I ever going to use this?”  For exasperated fifteen-year-old Indigenous learners, this question transcends feelings of frustration; it clashes with their entire worldview. Traditionally, mathematics has been taught entirely from a Western perspective, a mindset that is firmly rooted within the pedagogy of oppression. This essay begins to address why mathematics educators need to take a step back from strictly traditional approaches, how this shift can occur within Western high school mathematics curriculum, and how Indigenous and non-Indigenous students can mathematically thrive within a culturally inclusive, third space.

Keywords:  Indigenous, non-Indigenous, mathematics, non-oppressive, worldviews, third space, high school


Protocols of Place

I would like to acknowledge that this essay was written on the traditional territory of the Lkwungen people.  I would like to further acknowledge the Songhees First Nation and the Esquimalt First Nation on whose territory I live, I learn, and I work. For the purpose of situating myself within this research essay, I am a high school mathematics and physics teacher, of White settler identity— adopted into a Norwegian family at birth, and, to my knowledge, originally from Italian and English heritage. I am primarily concerned with creating an inclusive, non-oppressive learning environment for my students, reducing the effects of anxiety in the classroom, and maintaining the academic rigor required for courses in senior mathematics and physics.


Class begins promptly at 12:20 P. M., and the agenda is on the board:

  1. Homework Questions?
  2. Hand-in homework.
  3. New section: Polynomial expansions.

Today, nobody has any questions from last night’s work.  The teacher is pleased with herself as she thinks that she must have been very effective the class before; however, this thought passes quickly, as fewer than half of her students proceed to hand in the work. She continues to teach the new lesson, as she was taught when she was in Mathematics 10.  She provides notes; students write the notes; students practice, and repeat. Her degree in mathematics has served her well—she knows what qualities the students need to succeed and to be “efficient” with their processes, as these were the qualities that she required.  If you were to ask her if she thought that she was contributing to an oppressive learning environment, she would not hesitate to say, “Absolutely not.”

The Oppressive Math Classroom

For those of us who were in high school before 2000, it is almost guaranteed that we were taught math in what is commonly called a “traditional” format, as described in the introduction. Our teachers gave notes; we wrote notes; we practiced, and were assessed. Consequently, many of us who see ourselves in the role of “math teacher” continue to teach in this traditional format. At first consideration, it may appear to be unwarranted, even outrageous, to say that learning in a traditional environment is “oppressive.”

In its most extreme form, “traditional mathematics education” can easily be equated with “math indoctrination.”  A teacher who prescribes mathematics indoctrination will provide one-sided arguments, attempt to erase learners’ differences from their processes, employ language that would pit vice against virtue, and could claim a right versus wrong way of problem-solving (Nodoushan & Pashapour, 2016).  Students in these classrooms must follow the “optimal way,” be efficient with their time, and be precise and deliberate with their strategy (Russell & Chernoff, 2012). Assessments are typically timed and performed individually, so that fully indoctrinated students will likely be successful; those who do not learn in this way risk failure, as technically this constitutes an oppressive learning environment.

In his most influential work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire describes mainstream education with the metaphor “the banking concept of education.” Although he wrote this work in 1968, it is common to find educators today possessing attitudes and following practices that imply that the teacher’s role is to merely deposit information into students as though they were receptacles. Other oppressive practices and attitudes that Freire lists include these:

  • The teacher knows everything, and the students know nothing.
  • The teacher talks, and the students listen—meekly.
  • The teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher.
  • The teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it. (p. 73, Freire)

Studies have revealed that students are less motivated in classrooms where the teacher is overly controlling, where they have fewer options for academic study, and have fewer opportunities to voice their opinions (Preston & Claypool, 2013). Should mathematics educators wish to evolve towards a non-oppressive practice, they must be prepared to loosen their academic leashes.

Also drawing from Freire’s work, Dr. Kevin Kumashiro ( has devoted his life to anti-oppressive education, amongst other forms of equalization in the classroom. Kumashiro argues that anti-oppressive teaching practices are routinely resisted when they do not fall in line with the entrenched ideations of what education is “supposed” to be.  Compacting this resistance is that, despite the good intentions of anti-oppressive sympathizers, teachers will often contribute to oppression unknowingly within their classrooms. As oppressive practices are not always identified, they may be repeated over and over, and thus experienced over and over, a cycle which results in students’ believing that there are only certain acceptable forms of identifying or thinking (Kumashiro, 2002).

On the other hand, some reformists are not simply looking at what is being done in the math classroom; rather, they are focusing on what is not being done. Stavrou and Miller maintain that, although there are many educators that recognize the disparity between Indigenous and non-Indigenous learners, there is a disconnect between what is espoused to be decolonizing, anti-oppression mathematics education and the discourse itself produced by those scholars in the field of these topics.  Often, anti-oppressive “well-meaners” will fall short in their attempts to provide decolonized education. Although they promote cultural understanding and non-Western mindsets, they neglect to address and to challenge the root causes of oppression, namely how inequalities are entrenched within our schools, and how to counter Western knowledge as superior to Indigenous ways of knowing. They also warn about the harmful effects of providing “culturally relevant mathematics” that is superficial in nature, such as teaching circular geometry by showing a medicine wheel. In circumstances where Indigenous knowledge is utilized devoid of context and meaning, not only can its use propagate stereotypes, educators risk the homogenization of Indigenous cultures and knowledge (Stavrou and Miller, 2017).  Also at risk, when simplistic versions of culturally responsive teaching are at play, is that the cultural homogenization can lead to increased instances of “othering” the non-dominant culture (Keddie, Gowlett, Mills, Monk, & Renshaw, 2012). Ultimately, practices that reinforce divisions of “us and them” are oppressive and obstructive in the creation of a safe learning environment for all. Moreover, it is critical that teachers not trivialize or decontextualize Indigenous knowledge if the learning needs of Indigenous students are to be truly valued.

Creating a Third Space

When two cultures combine and co-evolve in such a way that neither is placed as the dominant culture, but more as a new culture, some scholars describe this synthesis as representing the third space (Lipka, Sharp, Adams, & Sharp, 2007). Should there be a third space in a mathematics classroom, the new culture would have the potential to challenge existing hegemonic systems, and provide space for addressing racism and oppression, thereby creating a nurturing learning environment for all.  For the classroom to represent a third space authentically, educators must learn about the roots of oppression, such as colonization (past and present), residential schools, and racism (Stavrou & Miller, 2017).  These topics require educators to situate themselves for prolonged periods of time; considerably more time than an afternoon of Professional Development! Should teachers understand the roots of Indigenous oppression (as obvious as this will sound), non-Indigenous educators must then learn about Indigenous worldviews that can be embedded into their classroom’s third space.

Indigenous Worldviews in the Mathematics Classroom

Academic mathematics educators have many “reasons” to not embrace Indigenous worldviews within their classrooms.  These may include restrictions in teaching time, having too many learning outcomes to address, not understanding Indigenous culture or worldviews, and/or not valuing Indigenous worldviews for their subject matter.

Long before Lev Vygotsky developed his socio-cultural learning theory that focuses on the critical nature of More Knowledgeable Others (MKOs), Indigenous cultures were harnessing the wisdom of their own MKOs, namely, their elders.  Vygotskian Theory relies on MKOs to help learners flourish within their Zone of Proximal Development.  This is the space where a learner can be successful, not on their own, but with support from someone with more knowledge (John-Steiner & Mahn,1996). Elders in Indigenous communities are not only experts within their fields; they also act as conduits of culture, language, and history. Where successful examples of decolonized education have been documented, knowledge from elders is part of authentic, contextualized mathematical learning, that is far from being trivial (Lipka et al, 2007; Kawagley & Barnhardt, 1998 Preston & Claypool, 2013; Munroe, Lunney Borden, Murray Orr, Toney, & Meder, 2013).  A beautiful example of the sharing of an elder’s wisdom recently came my way on my Facebook feed. It was a video of a young girl, not more than six years old, deboning a salmon with a rather large blade.  Her mother, Margaret Neketa, was behind the camera providing encouragement, not stepping in to help physically, and allowing her daughter to make her own mistakes. At one point, the girl did make an error, and the mother calmly told her it was “okay to make mistakes”; consequently, the girl continued with even more confidence (Neketa, M., 2017). Although the little girl’s accomplishment was commendable, the magnitude of this mother’s gift of empowerment and practical, hands-on knowledge, is unmeasurable. Furthermore, how can a non-Indigenous, high school mathematics teacher draw lessons from this example of non-oppressive education?

Although academic mathematics is not traditionally “hands-on,” there are occasional opportunities that lend themselves to direct, practical experience.  Consider these examples:

  1. Surface Area: creating three-dimensional models from net diagrams.
  2. Trigonometry: using a clinometer to determine inaccessible heights.
  3. Relations and Functions: collecting actual data to graph, as opposed to using premade, tables of values.
  4. Domain and Range, Linear/Quadratic Equations, Inequalities: recreating artwork on a coordinate plane using the free, online Desmos platform (example of student work).

Although the time constraints and the number of learning outcomes to be mastered are not within an educator’s locus of control, I have found that, in my own practice, it is manageable to utilize a few practical applications within each semester. I would also reinforce the premise that to non-trivialize or decontextualize Indigenous ways of knowing, the activities should not “force” Indigeneity into the process. However, providing students with choice, such as the piece of artwork to be used in their Desmos activity, is the key because students may choose the artwork that has meaning to them.  Additionally, it is important to avoid micro-managing approaches as the students are working.  Allowing them to decide how and when they need help licenses students to have control over their learning process.  In relinquishing centralized control, educators are shifting the authority structure in their classroom, while still maintaining classroom management and the quality of the lesson content (Lipka, et al, 2007).  I do not believe that hands-on activities are possible for every lesson in academic mathematics, however, if we can occasionally weave practical applications throughout appropriate units, the result situates the learning in a non-oppressive, third space.

Collaboration with peer MKOs. Learning together via collaborative techniques is another Indigenous worldview that lends itself to mathematics in numerous ways. Vygotsky believed that MKOs could be found from all ages, not just authority figures (John-Steiner & Mahn, 1996).  In my online, ETEC 521 graduate course (Indigeneity, Technology, and Education), I watched an interview with Dr. Lee Brown, a leading expert in emotional education and creating healthy learning environments for Aboriginal learners. Here, he describes how Western culture historically promotes individualistic learning practices, whereas Indigenous cultures believe that one learns more effectively collectively.  He also maintains that, when Western classrooms fail to reflect Indigenous values, educators risk having their Indigenous students leave their classroom. What, then, can the academic mathematics teacher do both to reduce that risk and to draw from Indigenous wisdom that endorses the interconnectedness of shared knowledge?

Peer instruction. Harvard physics professor Eric Mazur is known for his alternative instructional style called peer instruction (PI).  PI is a technique in which lessons do not contain direct instruction, as the instructor’s expectation is that students will pre-read, prior to the meeting time.  Instead of direct instruction, classes include qualitative, multiple-choice questions that students vote on individually, discuss responses amongst each other, and then revote individually. The instructor moderates a class discussion that is responsive to the final voting results. Mazur explains that the success in PI is the result students’ being able to explain concepts more effectively than an experienced instructor for each other. As the peer-MKOs have only just learned the material, they have an easier time explaining from a perspective that the confused learner can more easily digest (Serious Science, 2014).

I have used a modified version of PI in my high school classroom for almost twenty years. Although I still deliver content traditionally in the form of notes, I have students discuss answers with each other throughout the lesson. Subsequently, my lessons can be noisy yet also vibrant because all students have opportunities to share their thought-processes daily. When we review material, I incorporate voting questions as directed by Mazur’s PI methodology.

Formative collaborative review. Tabletop whiteboards allow regular, small-scale review to be done collaboratively, then shown to me from across the room.  As students arrive at correct answers on their whiteboards, they become MKOs to pairs that are having difficulties.  “Snowball Math” is another technique in which students are on teams, armed with review questions that they wrote onto paper “snowballs.” For two minutes, snowballs are hurled across the room, and teams then must collaboratively solve any snowballs that were left in their zone. I just recently found this activity in a resource called the “Math First Peoples Resource Guide” (p. 22), produced by the First Nations Education Steering Committee in British Columbia. Within this guide, there is a multitude of ideas that foster third space creation.

Collaborative assessments. Mathematical assessment provides another opportunity to utilize collaborative, third space affordances. Quizzing done in a collaborative format, provides students with formative assessment, that reduces “test stress” amongst anxious mathematics learners. Allowing students the freedom to assess alone or in pairs, closed- or open-book, creates academic choice that caters to the individual needs of students. Marking their own work again shifts the responsibility towards the students, who can then obtain credit for handing in corrected work, should educators wish to record assessments.  Unit tests may also be done in a collaborative format, utilizing what is known as two-stage testing. During two-stage collaborative testing, students complete a shortened regular test individually, then in groups of four they complete the same test collaboratively.  Educators blend the two marks, say with an 80%-20% split. Students report understanding the material better, having decreased anxiety, and feeling a heightened sense of community within the class; whereas educators report higher attendance rates, lower rates of course dropouts and higher final grades (Knierim, Turner, & Davis, 2015).

As opposed to subjecting our students to repetitive forms of hegemonic oppression, these collaborative techniques repeatedly reinforce Dr. Brown’s mantra “Together, we are stronger.”  Moreover, collaborative learning practices shift the power to the students and away from the authority figure, thereby situating the learning in the third space.

Honouring multiples ways of knowing. Most high school mathematics educators have considerable experience in their field at the postsecondary level, and subsequently have an informed opinion as to how mathematical processes should optimally be done.  Optimization of process, however, is yet another practice that may be oppressive in the eyes of our students. Russell and Chernoff (2012) strike at the heart of this issue by saying, “As Indigenous students continue to struggle with mathematics teaching and learning they are concurrently struggling with yet one more aspect of this assimilation, and, thus, we are causing harm through this unethical process” (p. 116).   Traditionalists will undoubtedly take offence to the assertion that their pedagogical style is “unethical.” What is of greater concern to me, however, is that by teaching students that there is an optimal method that differs from their method, repeatedly sends the message that the students’ way of knowing is not valued. For those students who already have deep-seeded feelings of being devalued in broader contexts, rejecting their mathematical thinking may in turn perpetuate the perception that their Indigenous ways of knowing are also not valued; hence they themselves may perceive that they are not valued in our classrooms.

When multiple methodologies, in combination with cultural relevance, are presented in mathematics, students’ motivation and engagement with the mathematics increases (Kisker et al, 2011). Admittedly, in academic, high school mathematics courses, situating the mathematics within a cultural context is extremely difficult, as the mathematics is vastly learned, to perform higher levels of mathematics. Providing multiple methodologies and celebrating all forms of solutions are entirely possible in academic mathematics, however.  Expanding binomial factors, for example, can be done in a variety of ways (Table 1).

Without question, my preference is to use FOIL when expanding; however, this is of little use, should higher order polynomials be involved. Therefore, I must sometimes employ an alternative strategy. Should we require this double-barreled approach for our students as well?  In my experience, students who struggle with mathematics would prefer to learn just one strategy rather than two, so is fair to only teach to the top 50% of the class? Realistically, most students will not be taking mathematics past high school, and simply need enough academic mathematics either to graduate or possibly to enter one of countless, non-mathematics-based postsecondary programs. Moreover, it is a disservice to all our students to withhold alternative problem-solving approaches, as doing so ultimately undermines the value and creation of the third space by reinforcing a multitude of oppressive practices.

The Best of Both Worlds

Western methodologies are not without their affordances within academic mathematics contexts, and the creation of the third space allows for those affordances to remain accessible. It is also clear to me that, when educators create a third space for their students to learn within, all students benefit from this mindful effort. Helping non-Indigenous educators engage in best-practices, the case study “She Can Bother Me, and That’s Because She Cares” outlines a list of universally effective teaching strategies being used with middle school students on Baffin Island, Nunavut. Some of these strategies include the following:

  1. Adapting teaching strategies to meet the needs of the students, as opposed to having students adapt to teachers’ ways.
  2. Providing multiple learning strategies maximizes the effectiveness of students’ responses.
  3. Providing opportunities for students to voice their own strategies produces a positive learning environment.
  4. Being a caring, consistent, interested, and connected teacher who neglects student deficiencies will foster student success (Lewthwaite & McMillan, 2010).

Strict, traditional Western mathematics approaches engage in few to none of these strategies, thereby requiring Indigenous students to change, and potentially devalue, their own worldview. Sadly, this conflict of worldviews may result in the isolation of Indigenous students and their marginalization from mathematics entirely (Russell & Chernoff, 2012).

Moving forward in establishing a third space in academic mathematics classrooms, educators may follow many pathways. Providing pathways that foster resilience is a focus for some, as it is a necessary quality for students to have when developing coping strategies that mitigate stressors. York University researchers have shown that increased levels of social competency resilience and heightened appreciation of cultural identity may be fostered through Aboriginal peer mentorship programs (Rawana, Sieukaran, Nguyen, & Pitawanakwat, 2015).  In his paper entitled, “Transforming Cultural Trauma into Resilience,” Martin Brokenleg maintains that, although one can use a medicine wheel for reference, learning resilience cannot be learned from words or a poster; it must be learned through life experience. Referencing Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Brokenleg explains that, once we are convinced that we are not good enough or smart enough, the effects of oppression are internalized and very difficult to erase from our thoughts (Brokenleg, 2012). In reality, many students entering my classes at the high school level have already internalized this harmful negativity, which I often refer to as one’s “Math Baggage.”

As a non-Indigenous educator who is mindfully making her initial steps towards the creation of a non-oppressive, third space in her mathematics classroom, I fully recognize that, in following the pedagogy described in this essay, I have merely broken the ice in considering what needs to be an ongoing journey towards a truly non-oppressive classroom.  Addressing the roots of oppression in a non-trivial way has not been addressed in this essay; nor was how to authentically embed contextualized mathematics within academic mathematics.  Nonetheless, I must follow the advice that I give to my students: a person’s not knowing how the entire solution plays out does not mean that he or she cannot at least begin to move towards a solution. Moreover, I must not be afraid to take risks and make mistakes in my learning, as I want my students to take risks and make their own mistakes in my classroom. Learning through life experience, honouring one’s identity and one’s culture, and collaboratively sharing our knowledge for the betterment of our learning community are all Indigenous worldviews that allow all students to learn at the highest levels of mathematics in a non-oppressive environment. It truly is the best of both worlds.

Brokenleg, M. (2012). Transforming cultural trauma into resilience. Reclaiming Children and Youth, 21(3), 9-13.
First Nations Education Steering Committee. (2011). Math First Peoples teacher resource guide. Retrieved from
Freire, P. (1970). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: The Continuum International Publishing Group Inc.
John-Steiner, V., & Mahn, H. (1996). Sociocultural approaches to learning and development: A Vygotskian framework. Educational Psychologist31(3), 191. doi:10.1207/s15326985ep3103&4_4
Kawagley, A.O., & Barnhardt, R. (1998). Education Indigenous to Place: Western science meets native reality. Retrieved from
Keddie, A., Gowlett, C., Mills, M., Monk, S., & Renshaw, P. (2012). Beyond culturalism: Addressing issues of indigenous disadvantage through schooling. The Australian Educational Researcher, 40(1), 91-108. doi:10.1007/s13384-012-0080-x
Kisker, E. E., Lipka, J., Adams, B. L., Rickard, A., Andrew-Ihrke, D., Yanez, E. E., & Millard, A. (2012). The potential of a culturally based supplemental mathematics curriculum to improve the mathematics performance of Alaska Native and other students. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 43(1), 75.
Knierim, K., Turner, H., & Davis, R. (2015). Two-stage exams improve student learning in an introductory geology course: Logistics, attendance, and grades. Journal of Geoscience Education, 63, 157-164. Retrieved from chrome-extension://oemmndcbldboiebfnladdacbdfmadadm/
Kumashiro, K. K. (2002). Against repetition: Addressing resistance to anti-oppressive change in the practices of learning, teaching, supervising, and researching. Harvard Educational Review, 72(1), 67.
Lipka, J., Sharp, N., Adams, B., & Sharp, F. (2007). Creating a third space for authentic biculturalism: Examples from math in a cultural context. Journal of American Indian Education, 46(3), 94-115.
Munroe, E. A., Lunney Borden, L., Murray Orr, A. Toney, D., & Meader, J. (2013). Decolonizing aboriginal education in the 21st century. McGill Journal of Education, 48(2), 317-337. doi:10.7202/1020974ar
Munroe, E. A., Lunney Borden, L., Murray Orr, A. Toney, D., & Meader, J. (2013). Decolonizing aboriginal education in the 21st century. McGill Journal of Education, 48(2), 317-337. doi:10.7202/1020974ar
Neketa, M. (2017, July 11). My one and only [Facebook post]. Retrieved from
Nodoushan, M. A. S. & Pashapour, A. (2016). Critical pedagogy, rituals of distinction, and true professionalism. I-Manager’s Journal of Educational Technology, 13(1), 20.
Preston, J. P., & Claypool, T. R. (2013). Motivators of educational success: Perceptions of Grade 12 Aboriginal students. Canadian Journal of Education. 36(4), 257-279.
Rawana, J. S., Sieukaran, D. D., Nguyen, H. T., & Pitawanakwat, R. (2015). Development and evaluation of a peer mentorship program for aboriginal university students. Canadian Journal of Education. 38(2), 1-34.
Russell, G. L., & Chernoff, E. J. (2013). The marginalisation of indigenous students within school mathematics and the math wars: Seeking resolutions within ethical spaces. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 25(1), 109-127. doi:10.1007/s13394-012-0064-1
Serious Science. (2014, June 18). Peer Instruction for Active Learning – Eric Mazur [Video file]. Retrieved from
Stavrou, S. G., & Miller, D. (2017). Miscalculations: Decolonizing and anti-oppressive discourses in indigenous mathematics education. Canadian Journal of Education, 40(3), 92-122.

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Filed under assessment, collaboration, ETEC 521, Indigenous culture, Peer Instruction, Vygotsky

Situating my GAFE conference presentation within the Third Space

I think my name tag sums up the heap of my emotions as I entered the conference location yesterday. People making their name tags beside me were disappointed that only the “negative” emoji stickers were left on the table, whereas I went directly for them.  I also got the special “presenter” sticker… placing it upside down was intentional.  (“Imposter Syndrome”, perhaps? My inner-bitch can sometimes morph into my inner-coward. Thankfully, I’ve got some great cognitive therapy tricks kicking around my brain from my post-partum days.)

Experienced presenters told me that for them, presenting at a staff meeting was more difficult than at a GAFE conference, but that is most definitely not where I was at.  My school is my second home and the people I work with are my second family. When I am surrounded by these wonderful people, I have no issues sharing whatever it is I have to share. If I crap the bed in front of them, they will help me find new sheets.  Last week, when I presented at school, I was still very sick and started by saying that I needed to sit down because I was feeling a bit faint.  Bryn quickly lept out of his seat to say that he would spot me and so I would land safely should I go down! He literally had my back.

I had a laundry list of worries heading into the GAFE conference:

  • Would my technology work?
  • Would anyone show up?
  • Would the people who did show up, take anything of value away with them?
  • Would I be able to overcome my extreme case of nerves so that my witty, fun side would be able to come out?
  • Would people get up and leave?
  • Would I have enough material?
  • Would people participate in the activities I had planned? (Would they roll their eyes?)
  • Would I mess up the traditional territory acknowledgement?
  • Would I be able to share my newly acquired knowledge from ETEC 521 in an authentic, meaningful way? 

My presentation was titled: Collaboration in the Math and Science Classroom: A Blended Approach. 

Essentially, I drew on everything I have learned from my entire MET (Masters in Educational Technology) experience. For example, how could I not invite Vygotsky to this presentation??? He is one of the forefathers of collaboration within learning environments! Part of me thinks that a learning theory essay that does not, at the very least, mention him, should automatically be graded lower.

But then, why stop at Vygotsky?  Let’s go back even farther in time and acknowledge Indigenous cultures, shall we?

At this very moment, I should be writing my final paper for ETEC 521 where I am searching for ways to create a non-oppressive, academic math classroom that incorporates Indigenous worldviews.  I was not sure if 5 people were going to come to my presentation or 55 people, but what I did know, was that everyone who did show, was going to be a high school or middle school math/science teacher.  THIS WAS MY CHANCE TO GIVE MY COLLEAGUES AN ALTERNATIVE WORLDVIEW TO CONSIDER.  So I went for it!

I began by talking about my own insecurities as a non-Indigenous educator who has been tasked to incorporate Indigenous culture into her lessons.  I talked about not wanting to simply exchange the word “boat” for “canoe”, in a couple of word problems. I talked about the importance of making mistakes in front of our students so that they would be less fearful of taking their own risks in front of their peers and teacher. Then, I turned to Dr. Lee Brown’s message. In Dr. Marker’s interview, around the 12 minute, 50 second mark, Dr. Brown talks about the Indigenous learner who has been raised to believe that “together, we are stronger”.  That by looking at someone’s work, is not cheating; it is learning. That in Indigenous culture, there are no straight lines; only curves.   (Unfortunately, I do not have permission to show this interview on this post. For those readers who are not in ETEC 521, I feel like it is important to share Dr. Brown’s general message somehow. Here is some more information about his passion: emotional health and wellbeing.)

Although I have barely begun my paper, my main conclusion is going to be that by incorporating Indigenous worldviews into our teaching practice, ALL of our learners will benefit, through maintenance of their own emotional health.  When we utilize collaborative pedagogies, we are actually utilizing an Indigenous worldview!  As Dr. Marker described in our ETEC 521 course, different worldviews can simultaneously be maintained and honoured, whilst also have a space where they overlap, as in a Venn Diagram:


Looking at the sketch I just drew, I honestly think that there is more overlap in our classrooms already.  We simply are not labelling and/or being as mindful of the pedagogies that we are doing that celebrate our cross-cultural similarities.  Going forward, this must change.  We must use better language surrounding Indigenous worldviews and to do that, we must learn more about what these worldviews are. We also must believe in the value of Indigenous worldviews. Honestly, this is the easiest step, as far as I am concerned, as Indigenous worldviews promote interconnectedness, emotional wellness, and the building of one’s identity. Sign. Me. Up!!!

In conveying this message at the GAFE conference, I truly hope that I did the message justice. I won’t ever know for certain, but at least I went for it.  I would not have been able to even attempt to share this knowledge had it not been for the ETEC 521.

Once I finished discussing the affordances of a collaborative classroom, my first collaboration activity was the Snowball Fight, which I discovered in a resource that my classmate and Belmont High School teacher, Paul Waterlander shared with me a few weeks ago.  If anyone is interested, it is a free, downloadable PDF, “First Peoples Math 8 & 9”. Here is how my first Snowball Fight “went down” last week:

If anyone is interested, I ended up not passing out and/or completely dropping the ball on my presentation due to a few factors.

  • I repeatedly told my inner-coward to shut up. It was OK that I didn’t have humorously timed slides or pre-made jokes to tell.  It was OK that I wasn’t “Google Certified” and that “Crazy Certified” is also beneficial.
  • I gave myself a 1 hour time out.  I basically hid and ate free food before my presentation. During that time, I sat by myself and gave the presentation to myself (for the fourth time…).
  • I went to my presentation room as soon as the previous presenter was done. I talked to him to see if he had had any tech issues.  I shared how nervous I was, and his advice was very comforting.
  • I chatted with people as they came in.  Introduced myself and asked people to talk about themselves. Some people, I have known for YEARS came in, triggering both happiness and additional anxiety.  One teacher came right up to me and introduced himself as Josh Elston, a fellow MET student.  We have been in a couple of courses together, as well!  That was so great meeting a classmate, face-to-face for the first time! 
  • Although I stumbled a bit on the acknowledgement, I got it out. It took about 5 minutes for me to relax into the presentation, but what one super nice teacher did, was to go into “teacher mode” and reassure me that this was a safe place and not to worry.  I really appreciated her calming words. She was my hero at that point.

In the end, the entire process not only drained me, it challenged me and it then filled me.  It really drove home the importance of challenging our students within their Zones of Proximal Development (#VgotskyIsInTheHouse!), as I was in my Zone!

I must thank everyone who came to my presentation, as I would not have made it through without their support, kindness, and willingness to learn about new pedagogies. Thank you to my inner circles who sent me such encouraging words.  Thank you to this lady who I have been admiring from afar for years:

It really is unquestionably true: Together we are stronger.


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Filed under anxiety, collaboration, ETEC 521, Google Apps For Education, Indigenous culture, Mathematics education, Uncategorized

ETEC 521, BC Politics and Cabbage Patch Dolls

During the 2014 BC Liberal campaign, in which the party shockingly upset what most people thought was going to be an NDP sweep, the returning party used social media and its “Digital Influencers” (a.k.a. trolls) to act as an “overseeing gaze” on the pulse of the province. The NDP was destroyed, and the BC Liberals had an overwhelming majority for their next mandate. Twitter trolls were easy to spot as their accounts were freshly made, they had very few followers, and hundreds, sometimes thousands, of tweets in a very short time.  Looking through their tweets, they were almost entirely negative towards anything resembling NDP affiliation. On the BC Liberal homepage, you could even apply to be a “Digital Influencer”!  (Does anyone remember last election’s Troll Truck, that followed prominent NDP campaigners around the Lower Mainland?) Knowing that this was the New World Order for BC politics, made me incredibly disenfranchised. To be fair, I would not be surprised to find out that the NDP is now taking some pages from this campaign. Sigh.

I use this as an example to illustrate my agreement with this week’s statement:

…that “the Internet provides indigenous peoples powerful new means of self-representation, but as its use expands and intensifies, so does the ‘overseeing gaze’ of encapsulating polities and transnational corporations.” (Prins, 2002)

It seems to me that with most, if not all, technologies, with affordances come grievances. The mid-eighties land treaty victory and federal recognition of the Mi’Kmaq tribe was due in part to the Prins documentary, “Our Lives in Our Hands”. Yet, public releases of sacred knowledge, puts that knowledge at risk of exploitation and appropriation. Reflecting on Michael’s last post, what makes the most sense to me is to resist the urge to look at situations like these through a binary lens.  Perhaps residing in the “third space” is where our best time can be spent.

The BC Liberals dominated social media’s cyberspace two elections ago.  Since much of an average citizen’s political discourse was now being shared on Facebook and Twitter, that is where the BC Lib’s strategically targeted their campaign efforts.  It was brilliant!!!  As soon as cyberspace is encroached upon, anybody and everybody can enter the conversation-slash-fighting arena. It makes your thoughts, your beliefs, your culture, vulnerable to attack. This is a very good thing if one is trying to win an election.

But does that mean that you should abstain from that space?

To each their own, however, I say no. Technology is evolving faster than technological-use rulebooks can keep up with. Late-night talk shows, viral videos and presidential Twitter accounts are swaying New World Order. Alternatively, and are making grassroots causes have nonnegligible traction leading to societal change.

Sometimes I feel like cyberspace is like trying to buy a Cabbage Patch Doll in the early 80s. Here was this fairly large doll, complete with a birth certificate, that parents lost their entire sense of civility over. The doll itself, was just a stuffed, and in my opinion, freaky looking toy. It is what humans did with that doll that needed some serious re-examination.

Hmmm… this is ringing some Module 1 bells.  Is the problem the technology or what people do with the technology???

Prins, Harald E.L., “Visual Media and the Primitivist Perplex: Colonial Fantasies, Indigenous Imagination, and Advocacy in North America,” in Media Worlds: Anthropology on a New Terrain, eds. Faye D. Ginsburg, Lila Abu-Lughod, and Brian Larkin. Berkeley:University of California Press, 2002, 58- 74.

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Filed under ETEC 521, Indigenous culture, Technology & culture