Connection to Place = Connection to Learning

Some of the ways that I see reinhabitation and decolonization happening throughout the narrative

As stated in the article written by Restoule, Gruner, and Metatawabin,

        decolonization as an act of resistance must not be limited to rejecting and transforming dominant ideas; it also depends on recovering and renewing traditional, non-commodified cultural patterns such as mentoring and intergenerational relationships.

The project described in the reading embodies this statement. The radio interviews between the youth and community members helped form relationships and share important knowledge about Indigenous relationships with land. It fostered dialogue between the generations in the community. Further, “youth and Elders travelled together on the traditional waters and lands, exploring history, language, issues of governance, and land management.” This part of the project transfers powerful knowledge to youth about not only living in and learning from their environment, but protecting it. Moreover, the renaming and reclaiming of the land was a powerful message. Due to European influence, many Indigenous names for locations have been lost or forgotten. This process of renaming the land works towards decolonizing it and was certainly an empowering process for the elders and youth of the area. Additionally, this is an act of reinhabitation, working together with decolonization, by building sites for learning to take place. In particular, “the land [is] crucial to healing the Mushkegowuk people from the impacts of colonialism” and therefore, utilizing their environment in the education of Indigenous youth is critical.

How I might adapt these ideas / consider place in my own subject areas and teaching

However, all youth can benefit from place-based education. This way of teaching and learning gives students agency in their education. They feel what they are learning is important and are more motivated to learn by experience. Further, I can see myself incorporating this is in my future classrooms. I am a math major and English minor. I could utilize the environment in an English class, perhaps by using nature to inspire works of writing. For math, I might measure rainfall and have my students collect data overtime about its effects on the nearby river or lake. As illustrated by the article, place-based projects can be multi-disciplinary and often creates experiential learning for the students that covers a variety of subject areas. For instance, students involved in the project described in the article created their own forms of popular culture via radio and worked with the community to build a map of the land incorporating both English and social studies education. Ultimately, place-based education heightens the engagement of students and creates a learning experience that is equally memorable and meaningful. Thus, incorporating this form of critical pedagogy into my teaching philosophy will be greatly beneficial to my future students- Indigenous and non-Indigenous.


The “Acceptable” is Unattainable

What does it mean to be a “good” student according to the commonsense?

The common sense understanding of a “good” student is someone who listens and follows instructions and rules. This student is organized, respectful and falls easily into the routines and expectations of schools and teachers. They most likely test well, answer questions in class, and get good grades.

Which students are privileged by this definition of the good student?

Learners that are privileged by this definition of a “good” student are those who are most likely fully intellectually able, have a “type A” personality and are able to sit still for long periods of time. Additionally, these students often have a good home life (ie. good financial standing, two parents at home, lots of love/attention, all needs are being met, etc). Furthermore, they are more likely to be agreeable with what is being taught and also, what is not being taught (nothing in school goes against their own beliefs/understandings).

What is made impossible to see/understand/believe because of these commonsense ideas?

Through this lens, it becomes impossible to see “bad” students’ difficulties at home, learning difficulties, and the oppression they suffer. Moreover, it is impossible to notice the strengths of these “bad” students. Therefore, the teacher and class are missing out on the students’ perspective; their ideas, opinions, and beliefs. Furthermore, these common sense understandings make it impossible to understand or believe that there may not be a “bad” kid at all. There may not even be a “bad” teacher or “bad” classroom. Most likely, it is a “bad” school system and even further, a “bad” society that writes these narratives that are being implemented in our schools, our classrooms, and our minds. Similar to Kumashiro’s story about “M” in the reading, the traditional classroom is not every student’s ideal setting to learn and that does not make a child inherently bad. Furthermore, like Kumashiro’s student, N, a student that gives an answer that does not align with the teacher’s answer is not inherently wrong.


What’s Popping in Pop Culture Pedagogies

 What I’ve Discovered

After searching “Jennifer A. Sandin” in the “quick-find” of the library webpage, I came across an article written by her and Julie Garlen Maudlin titled “Pop Culture Pedagogies: Process and Praxis.” This article caught my interest because a lot of what we come to know and understand as the “commonsense” we discussed in class is transmitted through popular culture. Maudlin and Sadlin define popular culture in various ways and state that “through our engagements with popular culture, we learn what the world is, how to see the world, and how to experience and act within the world.” In other words, popular culture shapes our understanding of how we identify ourselves and others. Maudlin and Sandlin touch on three different ways that pop-culture teaches its audience: through “the transmission of norms,” through the connection between viewer and culture, and through “encounters with radical otherness.” Beyond this, they focus on individual ways to approach pop-culture pedagogy such as exploring repeated representations of teachers and students in media, analyzing personal beliefs about societal “norms,” and “engaging students in (not just with) popular culture.”

   Next, I decided to focus my two supporting articles on ways that pop-culture is being actively integrated into the curriculum. First, I came across a book titled Hip-Hop Poetry and The Classics written by Alan Sitomer and Michael Cirelli that focuses on the overlap between classical poetry and hip-hop lyrics. Additionally, Teaching With Disney, a collection of essays edited by Julie C. Garden and Jennifer A. Sandlin, touches on how Disney teaches gender, race, consumption, and identity. 

Next Steps

   With the information I gather from these three works, I plan to define popular culture and its role inside and outside the classroom. Furthermore, I will deepen my understanding of this topic by discussing pedagogical approaches to pop-culture and the various ways in which they are being adopted and adapted by teachers in the field. 

Week 2: Curriculum Theory and Practice

The four models of curriculum described in the article are:

  1. “1. Curriculum as a body of knowledge to be transmitted.
  2. Curriculum as an attempt to achieve certain ends in students – product.
  3. Curriculum as process.
  4. Curriculum as praxis” (Smith, 2000).

One of the main benefits of defining “curriculum as a syllabus to be transmitted” is that education is focused on the content of the subject to prepare students for an examination on the course material. However, this is also a drawback as it does not specify the importance of the topics or the order in which they should be studied. As mentioned in the article, this model allows educators to “limit their planning to a consideration of the content or the body of knowledge that they wish to transmit.”

The next model of curriculum, “curriculum as a product,” focuses on objectives and outcomes. The goal of this curriculum is for students to obtain the knowledge that is considered by society to be needed. This could be considered beneficial as it aims to prepare students for life outside of school as contributing members of society. On the other hand, a significant drawback to this model is that learners have little to no control over their education. Additionally, assessment is based on outcomes. As stated in the article, “[i]t implies that behaviour can be objectively, mechanistically measured.” This creates a check-list approach to measuring success that allows students and teachers to overlook the learning that occurs outside of the written objectives.

The third model of curriculum, “curriculum as process,” emphasizes integration between teacher, students and knowledge. This is a beneficial aspect because it encourages students to participate in active learning by engaging through conversation with their peers and teacher. It also allows for continual evaluation which is important because every classroom is unique. Most importantly, students have an active role in their education as they work with their teacher to develop content and means. As stated by Smith, “[the students] have a clear voice in the way that the sessions evolve.” Instead of focusing on teaching, curriculum as a process highlights learning in the classroom. However, a drawback to this model is the high-degree of variety in content from classroom to classroom.

Lastly, the “curriculum as praxis” model focuses on the freedom of education. As stated in the article, it “pays careful attention to collective understandings and practices and to structural questions.” One of its main benefits is its focus on action and reflection, and the emphasis on human emancipation.

The most common model of curriculum in my own schooling experience was “curriculum as product.” This model allowed me to succeed in school by following and achieving a list of objectives and outcomes. However, it allowed little room for uniqueness or variety in student work. Personally, it solidified the link between grades and success in my schooling experience. I believe this to be a negative thing because if I missed an outcome, I viewed that as failing to learn a concept. However, as mentioned in the article, the knowledge I had gained during the process, that was not listed as an outcome, may have gone unnoticed by the teacher and myself.


Week 1: The Problem of Common Sense

The Problem of Common Sense

How does Kumashiro define ‘commonsense?’ Why is it so important to pay attention to the ‘commonsense’?

Kumashiro defines ‘commonsense’ as the knowledge obtained by an individual from simply living in and learning from their society. Simply, it is one’s worldview that is shaped by experiences. It is the way an individual or group of individuals routinely live day-to-day. Additionally, it includes personal and social values, traditions, and perspectives. Often, an individual’s commonsense will mirror that of the society they live in because of societal pressure to conform to the “norm.”

It is important to pay attention to ‘commonsense’ because ‘commonsense’ is what allows us to think, act, and teach based on societal norms that are often oppressive and favour a certain group of individuals. We must be aware of our own ‘commonsense’ as well as others’ so that we are able to recognize when we may be using our ‘commonsense’ in ways that hurt or hinder our students.


Writing the Self Analysis: Looking for Normative Narratives

Writing the Self Analysis: Looking for Normative Narratives

i) Normative Narratives (Gender)

From writing my own story about being gendered, I realized how deeply the idea of females being the weaker sex was ingrained into me from a young age. After reading the blog posts of my colleagues, I can infer that they came to the same sort of realization or epiphany. Both Elara’s, and Janine’s posts were similar to mine as they addressed a time when they were told or shown they were simply less than the boys. Less strong, less skilled, and less qualified.

In Elara’s post, she describes an error she makes on the soccer field at a young age. After accidentally scoring on her own net, she is approached by an opposing player. The normative narrative in Elara’s story is prominent in her retelling of what happens next; “[a] boy from the opposing team shouldered past me to retrieve the ball, mumbling under his breath, ‘you play like a girl.’” This classic line is one I have heard several times from both the men and women in my life. I have been told this enough that it has become normal to me. Girls cannot play sports as well as boys do. That’s normal because that is what I have been told is normal. This normative narrative becomes apparent in my own thinking as a child, in my story. The last line of my blog post reads “Heck, even I could beat Johnny in an arm wrestle, and I’m a girl.” This thought is powerful because even though it oppresses my gender, I still accept and believe it to be the truth. This shows the normative narrative told by Elara’s opponent in action. Elara, too, accepted this myth as the truth. While driving home from her soccer mishap, Elara is told by her dad that she should “stick to ballet.” Elara follows this by beginning her next sentence with “I did,” meaning she did just that; she stuck to ballet instead of pursuing an athletic career as a female soccer goalie. She, like me, not only heard the normative narrative but lived by it too.

Janine chose to write her blog post about a childhood memory as well. In her post, she describes a time when she is not given the chance to prove her skill and ability because of her gender. She writes: “Once we are finished introductions and the parents leave, I approach the coach and asked, ‘Why I wasn’t [placed] on the more advance team?’ He replied, ‘This is the team [that] is [the] best suit for you as a girl, the other team would have been [too] rough.’” This coach’s decision to place Janine on a lower level team told Janine that her gender made her unable to participate to her full potential. Similar to Mr. Cooper from my blog post, Janine’s coach may have had good intentions, but he was still reinforcing the gender roles pushed upon children by society. As I grew up, I heard Mr. Cooper repeat the same line from my story on various occasions. He always said, “I could use the help of three strong boys.” At first, his request for assistance seemed harmless but the older I got, the more I recognized the power in his words. I knew, sitting in my grade 11 desk as Mr. Cooper borrowed a group of guys to help him unload the pop bottles from the Coke truck, that just because he specifically asked for boys did not mean that as a girl, I was any less capable of unloading that truck. But, it made me ask myself if the girls sitting in their grade 3 classrooms would feel differently. Would they think the same way I did in the third grade? I wonder if they would share young Janine’s thought from her story; “In that moment I don’t think I could have felt more discouraged.”

ii) Creating Counter-Stories: Disrupting Normative Narratives

Natasha’s blog post runs counter to the ‘norm’ because of her involvement in male-dominated areas. The normative narrative, as discussed above, suggests that girls can not fit in with the boys because the boys are at a higher level of skill and ability. Natasha states otherwise by recalling her memories of recesses; “I joined the boys almost every recess in whatever sport we chose that day.” Natasha explains that it was not always that simple, however. She writes, “In the beginning the boys would choose me last when picking teams or never pass me the ball during a game.” What makes Natasha’s story differ from the three other posts mentioned previously is that she did not choose to live the normative narrative that was presented to her. She continued to play with the boys and earned their respect. In her words, “I eventually gained a type of equality with the boys.” Unlike her colleagues, Natasha’s potential was not silenced and she was given the chance to prove that she belonged. Although this turned out positively for Natasha, I would like to point out that the determination of young girls is not the issue and that the normative narrative is the problem in need of change.

I chose to address this normative narrative because I truly believe many of those who reinforce these ideas about women and athleticism are unaware of the damaging effects. During her TEDx Talk, Hannah Perez, a seventh grader, says “As girls, we’re really not asking for much. We just want to be treated like another person; not coddled, not ostracized, and definitely not separated.” As a middle school girl, Hannah has been exposed to enough sexism surrounding athletics to inspire a five-minute speech. Additionally, I found Jox Dirkx’s TEDx Talk extremely helpful to describe the disruption of this normative narrative. Jox emphasizes the importance of storytelling by stating that “[t]o gain this ownership and relevance [of women in sports], we can start by using our own unique storytelling techniques . . . . [W]e are responsible for the stories that we tell boys and girls about young women and girls in sport and . . . these stories are actually much more important than we may realize.”

As Natasha mentioned in her post, inequality is often present on the school playground. Is Everyone Really Equal?, written by Özlem Sensoy and Robin DiAngelo, touches on this matter as well by pointing out “[m]any people cite sports as now open to women, and a strong emphasis on sports often begins in schools. But what is emphasized between boys and girls varies. There is often a lack of support for girls in schools . . .” (108). Furthermore, Sensoy and DiAngelo remind us that women’s sports receive less funding, television airtime, and recognition from mainstream culture than their male counterparts (108). This oppression results in lack of interest in sports for young girls. Sensoy and DiAngelo go on to say “[o]nce girls who are highly interested in sports reach puberty, a new pressure to establish their heterosexuality (by demonstrating their interest in boys and by remaining feminine) emerges.” (108). Pressure from society hinders the potential of female athletes. My examination of this normative narrative is extremely beneficial to me. I am involved with a lot of female youth through coaching and I hope to be apart of the disruption of this myth in their lives.

Works Cited

Badduke, Janine. “Unnoticed Sexism.” Miss Badduke, WordPress, 23 Oct. 2018,

Accessed 12 Nov. 2018.

Dirx, Jos. “You throw like a girl! Telling stories about women in sports.” TEDx Talks, 2014.

     Youtube, uploaded by TEDx Talks, 31 Jan. 2014,

Perez, Hannah. “Women in Sports.” TEDx Talks, 2016. Youtube, uploaded by TEDx Talks,

18 May 2016,

PettyJohn, Natasha. “Gender Inequality On The Playground.” Natasha Pettyjohn’s Blog,

WordPress, 23 Oct. 2018,

Accessed 12 Nov. 2018.

Sensoy, Özlem and Robin DiAngelo. Is everyone really equal? An Introduction to Key

     Concepts in Social Justice Education. Teachers College Press, 2017, Second Edition.

Trischuk, Elara. “SELF-STORY #3 – YOU PLAY LIKE A GIRL.” Elara The Educator,

WordPress, 23 Oct. 2018,

Accessed 12 Nov. 2018.


Writing the Self 4: The Smallest

   Writing the Self 4: The Smallest

    “No! My house might look big from the outside, but you both know it’s not THAT big,” argued Mckinnleigh.

My two best friends and I were walking side by side on the sidewalk. Alike most days, we were walking home from school together. We had only recently started fourth grade and autumn was in full swing. The wind picked up momentarily and a pile of leaves started to dance in a circle a few feet in front of us.

Sighing, I hiked my backpack up a bit further on my shoulders and replied. “I can’t believe we are even arguing about this. It is obvious my house is the smallest.”

“No way,” my other friend, Patricia, joined the debate. “Mine is the smallest. End of discussion.”

That was far from the end of the discussion, though. My friends and I went back and forth the whole way home; each of us arguing for our house being the smallest. When I finally reached my house, I stopped at the edge of the driveway to analyze its exterior. My house is blue and white, but some of the paint is chipped or peeled off in certain places. By no means would I consider it to be large, but I could understand how others may not view it as little either. Of course, I had seen many houses that were not as large as mine, but neither of my friends’ houses were on that list. It angered me that Mckinnleigh and Patricia refused to agree with me. Not only did they have bigger homes than me, but their parents had bought them a D.S. and an iPod. Patricia even owned the newest version of them. Furthermore, I made sure to point out to them that most of my clothes were hand-me-downs. In fact, everything I was wearing at that time had been worn by someone else first.

Even in that moment, I could see the irony of the whole exchange I had just shared with my friends. Why did I want to be right? Why did I want my friends to admit my house was the smallest? Why did I want to be the least fortunate? I wondered if I was hoping for their pity or if I just wanted my friends to recognize their privilege.

Upset and confused, I stormed into my house with a pout hanging from my bottom lip. I retold the after school altercation to my mother, and felt astounded by her chuckle that closely followed.

“Honey, we have to be happy with what we have instead of being unhappy for what we don’t have. Besides, your dad and I are doing very well. I’d say we are a middle class family.”

     Although I didn’t quite understand the meaning of middle class from my mom’s explanation, I understood that comparing my house to my friends’ houses was probably not the best way to determine my family’s wealth.  With that realization, I was content and began searching the kitchen cupboards for an after-school snack. Not only did I have a lunch and two snacks when I was at school, but I also had a snack waiting for me when I got home . . . every single day.