Levin’s Curriculum Policy and Saskatchewan’s Treaty Education

The reading “Curriculum Policy And The Politics Of What Should Be Learned In Schools” by Ben Levin discusses the political elements involved in creating curriculum. It brings to light the complexities and key underlying information the public is often oblivious to when it comes to the development and implementation of curriculum. The chapter discusses who is involved in curriculum creation; largely being government. Other participants include “education stakeholder groups – teachers, principals, senior administration, and elected local authorities where they exist – are . . .involved in curriculum review and decisions” (16). Subject matter experts play a vital role “in the curriculum formation and  review processes” (16). Students also play a minor role, specifically in terms of assessment policies. In terms of implementation this is done mainly by educational stakeholders, specifically teachers, despite what one could argue to be, their minor involvement in curriculum creation. 

Teachers involvement, or insufficient involvement, in curriculum development surprised me. From Levin’s article I understood that teachers had the smallest part of curriculum making when compared to government and topic experts, but are essentially the only ones implementing it. Previous to this reading I believed teachers to have more of an active role in curriculum development. I believed topic experts to follow teachers leads and work closely in line with them to develop a teachable and educational curriculum, it seems to be very reversed though.

In connection with Levin’s reading I also read through Saskatchewan’s Treaty education curriculum, Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators, largely made by Saskatchewan’s provincial government. From this document I made the connection of the struggle Levin notes regarding the teach-ability of a curriculum made by experts. Levin noted in his article “One danger in curriculum development . . . is the production of curricula that are not readily usable by ordinary teachers” (17). I can see, and have experienced,  how the average teacher, who comes from a white settler family and has little experience with First Nations culture or history, would have trouble teaching expert made curricula on treaty education. Even though this curriculum was made in 2013, while I was only in grade eight, I experienced only a small of the goals the document sets out to implement, the goals being: 

  • Treaty Relationships
  • Spirit and Intent of Treaties
  •  Historical Context of Treaties
  •  Treat Promises and Provisions.

When it comes to development I assume similar tensions were in play, with many of the stakeholders, government officials, and experts to some extent being of white settler decent working on a document aimed at First Nation culture and history. One can assume the Saskatchewan government was also facing a lot of public pressure to both push the document through as fast as possible, but also from people who questioned the necessity of the document at all. Its content would have been another extreme source of tension. The document is aimed at bringing about reconciliation due to a traumatic relationship caused by Canada’s government toward the First Nations people, thus its content holds no room for mistake as its a risk to furthering the trauma in the relationship. 

I believe teaching treaty education in my own future classroom to be of huge importance. I think education on the subject is the key to changing false and racist narratives. When tension on the subject inevitably arises I hope to use it as a learning opportunity as an entryway for greater understanding. Treaty education is something I feel very passionate about and hopefully one day have the opportunity to work alongside experts in developing a curriculum.

References

  • Levin, Ben. “Curriculum Policy And The Politics Of What Should Be Learned In Schools.” The SAGE Handbook of Curriculum and Instruction. Edited by Conelly, Micheal., He, Fang., Phillion JoAnn. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2008. 7-24. Online.
  • Government of Saskatchewan Ministry of Education (2013). Treaty Education Outcomes and Indicators.

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