Equity and Multiculturalism in Education
On the fourth day of Education Week, talking about equity brings us to curriculum changes being made to incorporate Indigenous perspectives. The Ministry of Education believes that “Ontario’s diversity is one of its greatest assets – both today and for the future. Embracing this diversity and moving beyond tolerance to inclusivity and respect will help us reach our goal of making Ontario’s education system the most equitable in the world.”
Multiculturalism is important to Canadians, but discrimination is still a big problem in our society today. To help us deal with biases and barriers to fair education, Ontario has developed an Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy.
At the Avon Maitland District School Board, equity is one of our guiding principles. Our strategic plan envisions an environment where students see themselves reflected in their curriculum and where diversity is honoured and respected.
With that in mind, we are excited about this fall’s curriculum changes.
Indigenous Curriculum changes
The 2015 report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada included four calls to action under the heading Education for Reconciliation (page 7). Two of those, #62 and #63, will be implemented in the fall of 2018.
Specifically, revisions have been made to Grades 4-6 Social Studies curriculum, Grades 7 & 8 History curriculum, and Grade 10 Canadian and World Studies – History curriculum.
The Ministry of Education is currently working on Phase 2 which will revise K-3 Curriculum and secondary mandatory courses to ensure Indigenous content from K- 12. The third Phase will ensure that Indigenous Peoples are included on all curriculum revisions going forward.
Revisions focus on strengthening the learning connected to Indigenous perspectives, cultures, histories and ways of knowing. This includes treaty education, the impacts of the residential school system, and the Indian Act.
Curriculum revisions at AMDSB
In April 2018, 77 AMDSB teachers were trained in the Indigenous Curriculum revisions that will be put into action in the fall of 2018. More training will come next school year to complete the call of having mandatory Indigenous curriculum for grades Kindergarten to Grade 12 in all provincial schools.
One educator at April’s training session said of Patsy, an Indigenous Knowledge Keeper who supported the learning: “We need more Patsys to educate us as teachers. Her story and her perspective bring an inspirational approach.”
“I found it beneficial to deconstruct the curriculum and am looking forward to collaborating opportunities with other schools to develop a program/tasks that would be great and beneficial for all,” said another teacher.
At Avon Maitland we will continue to build current teacher practice in this area and ensure that we keep a strong focus on Ontario in relations to First Nations Peoples. This will help students continue to make connections and grow understanding and an appreciation for our local nations. For the many students in our school board that identify as First Nations, Métis or Inuit it will ensure that their identity and history is taught in their home schools and that they feel an increased sense of belonging in their classrooms.