Dr. Val Johnson and Nasreen Hussain (BSW Placement Student)
Workshop 1 – Part 1 and 2
Comparative Perspectives on Inclusive Education Strategies
(Moderator) Elisabeth Barot, Program Officer, Canadian Commission for UNESCO
Ruth Flynn, Director, Inclusive Education Branch, Ontario Ministry of Education
Dr. Susan Brigham, Associate Professor, Chair, Institute for Women, Gender and Social Justice, Mount Saint Vincent University
Késa Munroe-Anderson, Doctorate of Educational Studies Student, Mount Saint Vincent University
Sylvia Parris, Manager, African Nova Scotian Affairs Integration Office, Halifax Regional Municipalities
Jim Sharpe, Faculty of Education, Mount Saint Vincent University
John Jerome Paul, Director, Program Services, Mi'kmaq Kina'matnewey
Jun Morohashi, Programme Specialist, Education Sector, UNESCO (via Skype)
UNESCO has offered recommendations to develop a better understanding of racism in education and to report on relevant policy and programs every 5 years. An updated report is expected soon. It will be framed around the critique of work in silos and how this categorization disempowers children in the educational system.
This workshop was intended to communicate about practices across various issues of racial discrimination in the educational system, facilitating new intellectual strategies to address racism through education. We must acknowledge equality amongst all as we continue to fight this battle. The Canadian Commission helps to promote a better understanding of programs focused against racism and make recommendations to develop different attempts to combat racism in education. This is done though sharing practices and intellectual strategies. An intellectual strategy is needed to tackle racism via education. The question posed to the room was, what is your definition of "inclusive education"? Small group discussions were followed to formulate answers.
Realizing the Promise of Diversity
Ontario's approach to education encompasses inclusive education critical to higher education; it believes students should see themselves reflected in educational curriculum and should be inspired to achieve to high standards. Lastly, this approach values diversity, strength, equity and excellence. When we have high expectations, this results in incredible feats (as informed by Human Rights Commission). Ontario's Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy, 2009 is an award-winning strategy. Inclusion and equity does not mean treating everyone the same, it means acknowledging and including differences. Demographics are changing to include race. Accepting and guarding against religious intolerance is associated with this issue. To illustrate this point an excerpt from "Hear me out - Stories for Schools about Equity and Inclusive Education" video was viewed see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2uNl6A8voE
A discussion of the video turned over to groups
Some comments from the floor suggested that positive reinforcement is key (rather than punishment), to encouraging inclusive behavior in students. It is also important for educators and student peers to call bullies on both physical and verbal abuse. Some critiques missing from the video and discussion were how students and the educational system deal with bullying by teachers. An incident was reported by a Toronto Somali student at the conference about her experience of being bullied and racially discriminated against by a teacher, and the difficulties in having this abuse recognized by the Board.
Stories about equity and inclusion should be inclusive for students in the following ways: through basic necessity, confidence, encouragement, support, religious acceptance, realizing the fact that we all have something to offer, hearing out, listening and understanding.
Ontario Strategy is for School-wide Approach to Inclusivity and Safety
Accepting Schools Comprehensive Action Plan
Family Capsule Initiatives
Susan Brigham (Associate Professor, MSVU; board member Africentric Learning Institute), Kesa Munroe-Anderson and Sylvia Parris (African NS educators, graduates of Med w. focused on Africentricity and Leadership)
Africentricity in education was discussed as questioning dominant perspectives, putting emphasis on the importance of storytelling and drawing on oral traditions. The audience worked in groups and were asked to construct stories based on the artifacts on the tables. A man by the name of Rocky Jones told his table's story which was about a lost and lone soul who walked for miles and wanted nothing more than shelter and company. He found none so he built an instrument called an mbira which talks when its strings are stroked. This instrument spoke to him and when others heard it being played they came. Storytelling is crucial to maintaining identity. Using your voice is to create a social place, to resist oppression and the dominance of anyone else's story. We should be sensitive to and respect the stories of our community's artifacts. The facilitators steered everyone through exercises where the following proverbs were read:
"Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable."
The meaning behind this is similar to 'united we stand divided we fall. The more sticks you have the harder they are to break. It is about strength in bundles and not letting things fall apart.
"It is not what you are called but what you answer to."
These are true words of wisdom, especially for those who are easily offended by name calling. It isn't the name caller who has the power, but the person being victimized and how they handle their reaction to what they choose to answer to.
"Talking about fire does not boil the pot."
Talking and discussing isn't enough to make a real change and upheaval. These words of value must influence action to create the desired initiatives to move forward towards inclusion and equity.
Storytelling helps us to invite people to create ways of living in common relationship and allows people to see themselves as authors of their own histories.
Storying and Social Justice
As human beings we are the 'storying' beings. Telling stories is our own natural habit. The only way that the self can be centred is if stories of the self-have an opportunity to be told. No stories should be distorted or silenced. Storytelling helps us to invite people to create ways of living together in common relationship, as we learn more about each other, through stories told-we get to know and understand each other better. People are authors of their own history and cultures, languages and economics so they will feel a part and succeed in their environment.
There is power in the story. This power is the ability not just to feel, but it is the definitive story applicable to that person. Action produces implications (knowledge involves action), enlarges our humanity and scope of thinking.
Storytelling themes of Africentricity
The following themes of storytelling embrace Africentricity and show us various associations of storytelling.
1) Call and response
2) Choral reading
3) Meaning making
4) Story Telling
5) Spiritual Places
6) Creating counter spaces
7) Revisit, review and reflect
8) Value life learning
9) Disruption & Engagement in Encouragement
10) Mission Statements, one person vs. all.
Jim Sharpe (Faculty of Education- Mount Saint Vincent University (MSVU), Past Pres. Assoc. of Canadian Deans of Education) on Deans' partnership model for development of the Accord on Aboriginal Education
On June 1, 2010 members of the Association of Canadian Deans of Education (ACDE) signed an Accord on Indigenous Education. The Accord lays out a vision, a set of principles, and an extensive list of goals with the aim to create respectful learning environments, inclusive curricula, and to recognize and promote Indigenous knowledge in education. The Accord uses the term Indigenous to include the distinct Canadian terms Aboriginal, First Nations, Indian, Métis, and Inuit as well as the more global context
of First Peoples' epistemologies, ways of knowing, knowledge systems and lived experiences. The Accord believes in supporting a socially just society for Indigenous peoples; that reflects a respectful, collaborative, and consultative process with Indigenous and non-Indigenous knowledge holders.
Vision of The Accord
The Principles of the Accord include social justice which reflects respect, collaboration, consultation. The outcome of these principles has been positive. As witnessed by Aboriginal leaders; progress reports show 18 months after the Accord and on-going discussions with Aboriginal partners, Nova Scotia has 70% high school graduation rate (twice national average), because of this kind of initiative.
John Jerome Paul (Director of Programs for Mi'kmaq Kina'matnewey on Mi'kmaw Language Education in NS)
Points to consider
Languages vs. teachings and philosophy
It is important that the impacts of the residential schools be unveiled to the younger generations. The residential school system is viewed by much of the Canadian public as part of a distant past, disassociated from today's events. In many ways, this is a misconception. There is an intergenerational effect: many descendants of residential school survivors share the same burdens as their ancestors even if they did not attend the schools themselves. These include transmitted personal trauma and compromised family systems, as well as the loss in Aboriginal communities of language, culture, and the teaching of tradition from one generation to another.
Group consideration of Questions
What is the goal of inclusion of First Nations in the curriculum?
What would First Nations curriculum look like?
Who should take First Nations language and culture courses?
The best practice inclusion issues should include and introduce colonization after effects, the crystallization of oppressive philosophies at residential schools, (e.g. 'white is right') and new approaches to challenge these dominant perspectives.
June Morohashi (Program Specialist Educational Sector UNESCO) via Skype
UNESCO Regards inclusion as: A process that caters to the needs of everyone. Respecting people is the key role of education. When people feel included we must work out how to develop membership, influencing others. We must look at text books, teachers, schools, community based organizations. In an integrative manner, we must develop a set of policy guidelines and supporting teaching materials for teachers and educators.
How UNESCO implements the Inclusive Education Strategy
Implementation Strategies Could Include
1) A curriculum framework including concepts, topics and learning objectives that could be integrated globally and nationally in school curriculums.
2) Supportive materials for teaching and learning developed (e.g. teachers, guides, materials for pupils and students, proposing a series of possible educational activities.
3) An online interactive platform for educational professionals.
4) An online interactive platform for young people to direct interaction and facilitate discussion.
5) A project website for sharing findings.
6) A documentary film on youth engagement.
These summaries of the following discussions were prepared by volunteers from their notes taken during the workshops. While the CRRF fulfills its function as an organization which stimulates discussion on race relations issues, and provides opportunities for experts and communities to network and exchange information on these question, the posting of these summaries does not necessarily imply endorsement of the ideas and opinions expressed herein.