Archive

Monthly Archives: November 2012

I think alternative schools are a very positive thing.  They all obviously serve a purpose that a population found was lacking in the public schools.  I believe in fully integrated public schools that meet the needs of diverse students but I also understand that there are currently many limitations within the public system.

Through my time working at an alternative school, I definitely understand that some students need a completely different version of school to even begin to see the potential benefits of education. There are also elements, such as specific religious instruction, sole adherence to specific instructional strategies and methods, and providing appropriate level and pacing of content that are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to approach without heavy criticism, in any one given class. Home schooling is also an alternative schooling option, that I have seen work wonderfully for families with the space, time, and abilities to provide it.  Obviously, none of us are going to get a job in such cases, so it’s not a topic we would discuss, but I do feel conflicted sometimes, weighing the benefits of homeschooling my children and leaving their education up to the public system.

Back to private schools, I feel as though privately funded schools can provide a better education in  ways, and thereby privileging those with the money to afford a “superior” level of education, and class divisions may be perpetuated.  Parents just want the best for their children, and if that, in part, includes sending them to a private school, then I think it’s hard to fault them.

The talk from Bonnie Morton of the Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry will be remembered most for her personal story and the many obstacles she has overcame in her life.  It was a powerful story including poverty, abuse, how the system failed her, how it helped her, and how education has become an integral part in her facing challenges.

One thing that stood out to me from her talk was the the social worker in Regina (?) who actually wanted to help her, beyond signing her welfare cheque every month.  He worked with her directly and indirectly through schools to diagnose her learning disability and attain a high school diploma, undergraduate, and currently her masters.  This is inspiring when thinking about teaching someday when there will be many circumstances when taking the easy way out is an alternative, but you know you can and should do more.  Not that I think I am personally going to save students from their problems or challenges, but the teacher is undoubtedly a large link in his/her students’ lives that has the potential to guide and lead them to different or better places.  Or, if we always take the easy way out and refuse to do the necessary hard work involved, students may miss opportunities that could benefit them.

The Regina Anti-Poverty Ministry does this hard work, through its social justice, advocacy, and educational arms.  It was useful for our class to hear Bonnie’s story and the issues that exist in Regina and are being dealt with by organizations such as hers.

I had a difficult time completing a top 10 list of Maureen Johns during her guest lecture.  After asking us to complete it, she quickly moved right into her talk.  I have a tough time multi-tasking so I chose to continue listening to her rather than developing a list of ten questions I have about First Nations, Metis, & Inuit education.  After class, I looked back on her question and did manage to think of a few questions.

Should Inuit content be less of a priority in Saskatchewan because of our demographics?  

Similarly, should the amount of First Nations, Metis, & Inuit content taught vary depending on the demographics of a classroom?  

Is there a correlation between First Nation, Metis, & Inuit graduation rates and funding levels in areas?  

Am I really qualified to teach the intricacies of different Aboriginal worldviews?  

Is it legitimate that the spiritual practices and aspects of First Nations culture and ceremonies be taught in public schools?  

How is the increased emphasis on First Nations, Metis, & Inuit education perceived by relatively recent immigrants to Canada?

I’m quite sure I don’t even know where to start answering my own questions. I feel like I need lots of time to really think and research each one.  If I jumped in to answering any one of them now, I would just be guessing or giving a fairly uninformed opinion.  Well, maybe I could answer one of them now. “No, I do not feel adaquately prepared to teach the intricacies of different Aboriginal worldviews.”  Not yet, anyways.  I am hopeful that I will feel competent enough to teach them relatively soon, though. And I really  am interested in the whole topic of First Nations, Metis, & Inuit education, and as a social studies major I do want to come close to answering these types of questions.  Maybe not now, but give me some time actually teaching and I feel I will have a more informed, practical opinion to share.