Monday, 11 November 2013

Cultural Immersion in Schools (and curriculum integration) Radio Documentary

In our radio program our group discussed the idea of coming into a classroom as non-aboriginal teachers and the challenges of teaching aboriginal students. We looked at the cultural challenges aboriginal students face in western schools. We then talked about possible solutions.and techniques to integrate aboriginal culture in our schools and the western curriculum. Our guest in helping us understand these concepts was Joanne Halas. She spoke to us about these topics as well as what it meant for her to be an ally to aboriginal students. She did this through telling her experiences and stories.

Producers; Tyler Belog, Matt DeGraaf, Scott Church

Music: Deer Dance by Joanne Shenandoah
Kahalu'nyuhe by Joanne Shenandoah


  1. I really enjoyed the documentary, Cultural Immersion in Schools (and Curriculum Integration). In this documentary it states that everyone should have a good understanding of Aboriginal history, traditions, and perspectives so that they can understand and appreciate the beauty and richness of the Aboriginal culture (Belong, DeGraff, & Church, 2013). I totally agree with this statement. Thus, I believe that teachers need to incorporate Aboriginal history, traditions, and perspectives into their lessons so that their students can understand and appreciate Aboriginal culture. In the next couple of sections, I will explain some ways in which teachers can incorporate Aboriginal history, traditions, and perspectives into their lessons.

    Importantly, a teacher could integrate Aboriginal history, traditions, and perspectives into mathematics. One way to integrate Aboriginal history, traditions, and perspectives into math is by discussing the Aboriginal peoples’ traditional methods for measurement. In this discussion, the teacher could explain how the Aboriginal methods of measurement evolved and why these methods of Aboriginal measurement are important to the Aboriginal culture. Also, the teacher could explain that Aboriginal peoples’ view measurement as a set of relationships and proportions and not as a set of absolute means (Lipka, Wong, & Andrew-Ihrke, 2013). For instance, the teacher could explain that Yup’ik peoples use body proportional measurement in order to build a Yup’ik kayak (Lipka, Wong, & Andrew-Ihrke, 2013). Importantly, since a person’s body is used to decide the measurements of the kayak, the kayak will be a perfect fit for the person (Lipka, Wong, & Andrew-Ihrke, 2013). I think this form of measurement is absolutely fascinating and meaningful.

    Thus, since measuring is a hands-on activity in the Aboriginal culture, I think that it is important for teachers to incorporate the Aboriginal peoples’ traditional methods of measurement into their lessons. By incorporating the Aboriginal peoples’ methods of measurement into math lessons, students will be able to deepen their understanding of math concepts (e.g. measuring) because they will be able to work on the math concepts in a kinesthetic way. (When students move around and interact with objects and materials, they will be more engaged in the content. They will also be able to increase their understanding of concepts because they physically will be able to utilize and make sense of the math concepts.) The students will also see the practical application (e.g. making a kayak) of the math concepts (e.g. measuring) and thus, they will be more willing to learn them as they will now understand why these math concepts are important to learn and understand.

    Also, I think that it is important for students to understand that Aboriginal ways of measuring are just as important at the Eurocentric ways of measuring. Importantly, when the students are able to learn about and practice Aboriginal ways of measuring, they will be able to respect and understand Aboriginal ways of measuring. Thus, the students will gain an appreciation for the Aboriginal cultures.

    Aboriginal perspectives, traditions, and history could also be incorporated into a social studies unit. For instance, students could be exposed to Aboriginal music. In order for them to be exposed to Aboriginal music, the teacher could bring in a drum group to explain the significance of music in the Aboriginal culture. The drum group could also discuss the importance of the drum in the Aboriginal culture (e.g. the drum ensures the Aboriginal peoples physical, spiritual, and mental wellbeing). Furthermore, they could perform a drum song (the students could get involved in this song by playing instruments or singing). Thus, the students would be able further their appreciation of Aboriginal musical traditions because they will be understand how the Aboriginal cultures expresses themselves through music.