Monday, June 23, 2014

STEREOTYPES Part 2 Culturally Responsive Literature and Resources

by: Jackie Taypotat

Pam Wenger, Teacher Librarian at Dr. A.E. Perry School, felt the need to critically look at her school’s collection of resources. Together, we focused on resources with First Nations, Metis and Inuit content. Pam’s goals included: sorting resources for easier access for teachers, weeding materials containing stereotypes and those that are outdated.

The first step was to gather all First Nations, Metis and Inuit resources and sort them according to Saskatchewan Curriculum Outcomes and Treaty Outcomes. Pam feels that sorting materials in this way will make it easier for teachers to connect First Nations, Metis, and Inuit resources to the outcomes, and incorporate Aboriginal content and teachings into daily lessons, in all subject areas.

The topics and resources were recorded on a master list that will be kept in the library. The list can be requested from Pam by email  In this way, she is able to see at a glance, what areas are lacking and what needs to be ordered. Topics may change in the future according to need. Pam’s idea is to have teachers explore resources on a Professional Development time in the fall, and decide how they would connect them to their own grade and treaty outcomes.
Next, we previewed literature and resources, checking for First Nations, Metis, and Inuit stereotypes. Stereotypes were found in images and embedded in text. Identifying stereotypes is an important skill for teachers and students to learn, and it cannot be assumed people will know this, without it being taught. There were quite a number of outdated and overgeneralized resources, such as: Atlas of Indians of North America, and a number of series containing mostly historical content.

Besides often being outdated, they were also a very generalist, Eurocentric view of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit peoples, which lack diversity. For students, these resources keep Indigenous peoples in the past and perpetuate stereotypes. Pam feels these can be replaced with Canadian materials that have a balance of relevant, historical and contemporary information, which are written from an Indigenous perspective.

Time is required for this process, but will ensure the materials students are exposed to are culturally appropriate. Pam feels it is important for teachers to be trained in identifying stereotypes. If teachers are able to critically identify appropriate, culturally responsive literature and resources, they are then able to pass this on to students.

The following are only a few of the outcomes that require students to critically look at literature and media, or have the ability to identify stereotypes: IN1.2, CR2.1, CR3.2, CR4.2, CR5.1, CR5.2d, USC5.4d, USC6.2, USC7.7, USC8.2, CR8.1g.

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