Deconstructing a Curriculum of Dominance: Teacher Education, Colonial Frontier Logics, and Residential Schooling

  • Bryan Smith University of Ottawa
  • Nicholas Ng-A-Fook University of Ottawa
  • Sara Berry University of Ottawa
  • Kevin Spence University of Ottawa
Keywords: Canadian histories, curriculum, colonial frontier logics, historical narratives, residential schooling

Abstract

This article considers the idea of a curriculum of dominance in relation to the colonial logics that have, and continue to, shape the lived experiences and knowledges of both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal individuals living in Ontario, Canada. In thinking about the present absence of certain Aboriginal narratives in relation to the ‘fort’ of Canadian history, the authors contemplate the ways in which the circumscribed logics of colonialism limit how we understand historical knowledge of Aboriginal groups not only as curriculum scholars but also as teachers and students who work in and have been educated in colonial public and Catholic schooling systems. Utilizing narrative assemblage as a research and writing methodology we partake in a dialectic wherein we confront the contours of colonial frontier logics. By braiding in our lived experiences, we seek to understand how curricular materials facilitate the silencing of certain Aboriginal narratives like residential schooling, the ways in which filmic representations can serve to re-write and redress lost memories, how one can learn from those who were subject to the violence of colonialism and how, as educators, we can address the violence and historical exclusion in our teacher education programs. Through this process, we suggest that although the continued discursive violence of colonial logics shape popular understandings of Aboriginal experiences in the Canadian nation-state, as socially justice orientated teachers we must continue to challenge the re-inscriptions of a curriculum of dominance within our future classrooms.

Author Biographies

Bryan Smith, University of Ottawa
Bryan Smith is currently pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Ottawa. He is currently researching the ways in which deictic language operates across curricular materials to create racialized and national communities and the implications this has for the notion of community and inclusion. More broadly, his research interests include anti-racism education, curriculum and social studies learning.
Nicholas Ng-A-Fook, University of Ottawa
Nicholas Ng-A-Fook is an assistant professor of curriculum theory within the Faculty of Education at the University of Ottawa. He is the acting director of a Canadian Curriculum Theory Project and co-President of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies. He has published books like An Indigenous Curriculum of Place as well as several articles in journals like the Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies (JCACS), Transnational Curriculum Inquiry (TCI), and the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT).
Sara Berry, University of Ottawa
Sara Berry currently teaches eighth grade in Ottawa, Ontario, and conducts volunteer work with a local immigration centre. She holds an undergraduate degree in History and Religious Studies, and a master of education degree with a specialization in society, culture and literacies from the University of Ottawa. Her pedagogical interests include: equitable education, media literacy, life writing, oral history and Aboriginal education.
Kevin Spence, University of Ottawa
Kevin Spence teaches sciences and Native Studies to adult learners in Ottawa. He holds an undergraduate degree in biology and anthropology from Carleton University and a bachelor of education from the University of Ottawa. He is currently completing his master’s in education degree with a specialization in curriculum studies from the University of Ottawa. His research and outside interests include traditional teachings, liminal spaces and a place for learning, experimentation with autobiography, métissage and writing styles, and the re/engagement of adult Aboriginal learners.
Published
2012-10-08