Minister Eyre has apologized for involving her kid. She’s pledged to ensure that Treaty Education continues to be a priority in the province. She just wants to rearrange things, so that Indigenous perspectives aren’t so “infused” in things like Language Arts, History, and so on. So, what’s the big deal? As long as all the same things are included why does the order matter so much?
Teaching kids, a teacher friend tells me, is like baking a cake. It’s not just the ingredients that matter, it’s where and when you put them in. Kids learn certain things best at certain ages. This is why my niece who took French Immersion from kindergarten can jabber away fluently, and I (who mostly just took French class) am pretty much only able to say “hello”, “goodbye” and “please ensure that your seatbelt it securely fastened, and your setback and tray table are in the upright and locked position”.
The cake thing isn’t just about age, though. It’s also about how things are grouped. This is why fractions are taught in math, alongside division... the concepts are interconnected. To remove fractions from math and teach them only in a separate, stand alone section would damage students’ learning even if all the same material were still included. Students don’t just absorb facts, they also absorb the ways those facts are connected.
A child whose grade three Language Arts class includes a Metis story and a European story doesn’t just learn the two stories. There's a lesson found in the way they interconnect. Looking at both side by side, the child learns to see the world through a variety of cultural lenses. That child learns to think cross culturally. They learn intercultural competency, and tolerance—which are values we want them to learn.
If that same child studies only European stories in the Language Arts curriculum and then learns a Metis story in Indigenous studies, it's not the same. The facts are the same, sure, but the lesson in viewing the world through the eyes of a variety of cultures is lost. That valuable lesson is replace by a different one, which is that some cultures’ stories are “core”, and others are not.
Minister Eyre’s suggestion that we remove the Indigenous Content from the core curriculum and place it in a segregated class is like saying “I think we should try skipping putting the eggs in the batter, and add them at the end. We can crack them over the top of the cake, after we take it out of the oven."
Exact same content… very different lesson.
Same ingredients… very different cake.
Indigenous perspectives, in my mind, do not belong cracked over the top at the end. They are part of the cake, and if you segregate them out, it’s not the same cake any more.
Minister Eyre hasn’t offered any research or reasoning for suggesting this rearrangement, so we are left to guess. We are left to guess why she is okay with the idea of a seven year old Metis girl learning that her history is “Indigenous studies”, and that the history of the kid beside her is “History”. We are left to guess if it’s a lack of understanding of curriculum, or an ideological view that doesn’t line up with the rest of the citizens of this province.
At a certain point, it stops mattering.
Because from the perspective of the kids in the desks, it doesn’t matter what her reasons are. It only matters if she's able to do the job. Every child in this province must see themselves reflected in the core curriculum. Every child in this province must see every child in this province reflected in the core curriculum. Support for goal is not a nice perk to have in the Minister of Education, it's fundamental qualification for the position.
The lesson that some kids are cake and some kids are icing is not one we teach any more. Period. Full stop.
We are all treaty people, and that has to include the Minister of Education.
The Minister of Education has demonstrated, over the course of two weeks and across multiple interviews that she is either unable or unwilling to accept that every kid in this province belongs in the cake.
Either she doesn't understand how baking works, or she’s not baking the same kind of cake as the rest of us.
At a certain point, it stops mattering why she can’t do the job. It just matters that she can’t.
The petition for Minister Eyre's resignation can be found here. I hope you'll join us in standing up for every child in this province.