MERN Forum Presentation id=443
MERN Forum # 27
Session: 2B
Author: Anne-Marie Rochford
Affiliation: Frontier School Division
Title : But what does this have to do with real life? Connecting students to community through relevant curriculum
Description : As a teacher of Aboriginal students, I am concerned with making my ELA curriculum relevant and with preparing them to become active citizens. In order to maintain and improve the authenticity of the curriculum, I explored how the Manitoba ELA program could better serve Aboriginal students through a qualitative research process with 60 high school students in northern Manitoba. In listening to the voices of these Aboriginal students, my research found that while youth are acutely aware of the inequities they face as individuals and as a culture group and possess a keen desire to change these situations, many do not see how formal education can play a role in this process or indeed how curriculum has any bearing on the realities faced by students in their communities and beyond. My research found that by utilizing more experiential activities and providing authentic opportunities for students in which to practice the skills and attitudes for social justice within the framework of the existing curriculum, we can invigorate the process of schooling and ensure that learning outcomes transcend the basic graduation credit requirement and empower young people to take active roles in their communities, in society and work toward social justice. Heard through my research, the voices of our youth underline the necessity of the connection between schools and communities and give us insight into means of providing instruction that respects their experiences while empowering and supporting the development of skills and attitudes necessary for practical application to social justice. Our schools are not neutral institutions. Therefore, as educators we have a responsibility to prepare students to successfully live in and change their society for the better.
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