Monday, August 31, 2015

BC school curriculum - an overdose of aboriginal culture

Alongside the article on the "massive shift" in BC school curriculum (previous post) is a related article - Aboriginal perspectives help shape new B.C. school curriculum:
With the new curriculum comes one notable and significant shift ...

Not only will students in B.C. be learning about the history of residential schools, starting in Grade 5, but they will also have aboriginal perspectives embedded into all parts of the curriculum in what the government hopes will be a meaningful and authentic manner.
In the specific lessons about B.C.’s history, topics will include discrimination, inequality, oppression and the impacts of colonialism. The changes are part of the B.C. government’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on the residential school system. [That was fast! Wasn't that report just published?]
Wonderful! A school system that wasted so much time, money and energy on the highly dubious notion that "self esteem" was a paramount consideration in educating students has now shifted in the opposite direction.  Now it is of paramount importance that students (at least the non-aboriginal ones) be indoctrinated with the equally dubious notion that they should feel guilty for their ancestors' supposed sins.  Perhaps for "progressives" that's progress.

I don't know how many aboriginal children attend BC public schools but those who do will be subjected to this curriculum.  What effect will such an unremittingly negative indoctrination on the "history of residential schools" have on their young, immature minds? Will it not reinforce a sense of victimhood?  Will it not make them feel bitter?  How will it affect their relationships with their fellow non-aboriginal students?

Then, how about the children of immigrants who had no role whatsoever in residential schools?  What will this indoctrination do to them?

Indoctrination (not "education") that induces feelings of guilt, victimhood, bitterness and God knows what other negative effects seems not just a little misguided.  This curriculum needs some serious re-thinking.

As for "having aboriginal perspectives embedded into all parts of the curriculum" -  why, other than to demonstrate "sensitivity" and, perhaps, boost aboriginal self-esteem?  Given the limited time available for more valuable learning, it is a massively unproductive exercise to subject everyone to an overdose of aboriginal culture. This stuff should be strictly optional for anyone who might have a "passion" for it.

First Nations Mathematics
Also discussed in the article is how the mathematics curriculum might embed learning about First Nations:
"... difficult to imagine how math ...  could have learning about First Nations embedded into its curriculum  ... building a canoe is a good example of how to think about it. ... Math ability has always been important for First Peoples.   ...There are some fantastic resources out of Haida Gwaii that show how math was embedded in the creation of a canoe ...
  Well, "math" in this sense has no doubt been important for all human beings at all stages of development.  It's not difficult to imagine that all humans, even at their most primitive stage, were capable of thinking logically about how to measure and compare quantities for various purposes.  How societies  throughout history actually thought about and used these capabilities would be part of the disciplines of "Cultural Anthropology" and  perhaps "History of Mathematics".

So the rather esoteric "Haida mathematics" of building a canoe should not be embedded in the "Mathematics" curriculum.  It would be a possibly interesting but probably confusing distraction that interferes with learning the modern mathematics necessary to survive and get ahead in the modern world. And suggesting that it is comparable with or relevant to the study of modern mathematical concepts is delusional.

While "First Nations mathematics" may be of great interest, even importance,  to aboriginals (for self esteem?) or historians or anthropologists, for everyone else it should be strictly optional. 


Anonymous said...

Cultural Marxism in hyper drive... are they going to teach how Indians were essentially nomadic tribal savages who lived short brutal lives and contributed nothing to the building of British Columbia? Yeah, probably not. The "cultural genocide" and demonizing of English Canada and the former British Crown Colony of British Columbia continues. Of course this will be imposed by the Government without reason, consultation or truth. You knew when the Government started unilaterally changing the names of historic sights (Queen Charlotte Islands) in BC that more cultural Marxism would follow. The future looks bleak.

Anonymous said...

old white guy says.........not all cultures are equal. when the first Europeans first came to the Americas the native Indians had not even discovered the wheel.