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Cultural Perspectives on Sustainability

Lessons to Support Science 10

Secondary

Description

The activities in this resource provide background information on a First Nations and Métis perspective or worldview and their respective concept of sustainability. The lessons were developed to address objectives from the unit entitled Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems (SE) in the Science 10 Saskatchewan Curriculum Guide.  Students participate in talking circles, simulations, group discussion and role play to explore core elements of the ecosystem concept.  Students will also discuss and reflect on a number of readings and essays provided by the resource to better understand Indigenous perspectives on the themes of stewardship and sustainability.   As such this resource should be of interest to those teaching about ecosystems at the high school level in all jurisdictions.

General Assessment

What skills does this resource explicitly teach?

The resource provides students an opportunity to practice skills related to

  • communicating questions and ideas
  • interpreting the ideas of others
  • defending a decision or judgement.  
  • predicting outcomes based on investigation

Strengths

The resource has a number of strengths:

       Content

  • An understanding of worldviews and their accompanying perspectives is a necessary pre-requisite to collective action in support of sustainability. 
  • The competing views regarding the role of ecosystems provides an effective context in which to study worldviews.

        Pedagogy

  • The unit employs a variety of activities that serve to balance the strengths of teacher guided inquiry and student interaction. 

Recommendation of how and where to use it

The resource is designed to support the grade 10 Science unit on sustainability but would also support those units of study that have students investigate issues related to resource management.  It would also be of interest to educators teaching courses focusing on Indigenous studies

Relevant Curriculum Units

The following tool will allow you to explore the relevant curriculum matches for this resource. To start, select a province listed below.

  • Step 1Select a province
  • Alberta
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Aboriginal Studies 10: Aboriginal Worldviews
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10-4 (Knowledge and Employability Science): Investigating Matter and Energy in Environmental Systems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Aboriginal Studies 30: Aboriginal World Issues
  • British Columbia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 11:Humans can play a role in stewardship and restoration of ecosystems
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science for Citizens 11:Scientific processes and knowledge inform our decisions and impact our daily lives
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • B.C. First Peoples: The identities, worldviews, and languages of B.C. First Peoples are renewed, sustained, and transformed through their connection to the land
        • Contemporary Indigenous Studies: The identities, worldviews, and languages of indigenous peoples are renewed, sustained, and transformed through their connection to the land.
        • First Nation Studies 12: Land and Relationships
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Specialized Science 12: Biodiversity is dependent on the complex interactions and processes between biotic and abiotic factors
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Comparative Civilization 12: Culture and Values
        • Comparative Cultures 12: Value systems and belief systems shape the structures of power and authority within a culture.
  • Manitoba
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Languages and Cultures
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: Cultural Diversity
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Geographic Issues of the 21st Century: Natural Resources
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Senior 2 Science: Dynamics of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Languages and Cultures
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: Cultural Diversity
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in the Sciences 30S: Science, Technology, Society & the Environment
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Languages and Cultures
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity: Cultural Diversity
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Current Topics in First Nations, Métis and Inuit Studies: Image and Identity
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Citizenship and Sustainability: Area of Inquiry: Environment
        • Citizenship and Sustainability:Area of Inquiry: Indigenous Peoples
        • Global Issues
        • Global Issues
  • New Brunswick
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Native Studies 120: Language & Culture
  • Newfoundland & Labrador
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 1206: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 2200: Ecosytems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Geography 3200/3202: Ecosystems
  • Nova Scotia
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Mi'Kmaq Studies: Culture
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Sustainability of Ecosystems
  • Nunavut
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Experiential Science 10, Terrestial Systems: Ecology of the Land
        • Science 14: Investigating Matter and Energy in the Environment
  • Ontario
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Aboriginal Beliefs,Values, and Aspirations in Contemporary Society (College Prep.) Identity
        • Aboriginal Beliefs,Values, and Aspirations in Contemporary Society (College Prep.) Relationships
        • Current Aboriginal Issues in Canada (Univ./College Prep.) Relationships
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Regional Geography (Univ./College Prep.): Sustainability and Stewardship
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Issues of Indigenous Peoples in a Global Context (Univ./College Prep.) Identity
      • Geography
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Living in a Sustainable World (Workplace Prep.) Ecosystems and Human Activity
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • World Cultures (Univ./College Prep.): Cultural Expression
  • Prince Edward Island
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 421A: Sustainability of Ecosystems
  • Quebec
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science & Technology
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Applied Science & Technology:The Living World
        • Science & Technology:The Living World
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Contemporary World: Environment
  • Saskatchewan
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Native Studies 10: Identity and Worldviews, Aboriginal Perspectives
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Science 10: Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics
    • Grade 11
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Aboriginal Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Native Studies 20: Development
      • Environmental Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Environmental Science 20: Integrative Nature of Environmental Science
  • Yukon Territory
    • Step 2Select a grade level
    • Grade 10
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Science
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • Life Science: Sustainability of Ecosystems
    • Grade 12
      • Step 3Select a subject
      • Social Studies
        • Step 4Relevant matches
        • /Comparative Civilizations: Culture and Values

Themes Addressed

  • Ecosystems (2)

    • Appreciating the Natural World
    • Biodiversity
  • Indigenous Knowledge (2)

    • Rituals, Spirituality and Worldviews
    • TEK -- Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Sustainability Education Principles

Principle Rating Explanation
Consideration of Alternative Perspectives Very Good

The goal of the resource is to have students recognize that our perspectives are shaped in part by our worldviews, which in turn are shaped by our culture. There are, according to the resource, a variety of perspectives on sustainability, including a First Nations and Métis perspective, an ecological perspective, a conservationist perspective, and a utilitarian perspective.

Consideration of Alternative Perspectives:
  • Satisfactory: absence of bias towards any one point of view
  • Good: students consider different points of view regarding issues, problems discussed
  • Very good: based on the consideration of different views, students form opinions and  take an informed position
Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions Good

The competing perspectives illustrated by the resource reflect in part the relative weight each gives to economic, social and environmental considerations. System thinking is further encouraged by having students examine the biotic and abiotic or the animate and inanimate interactions in an ecosystem.

Multiple Dimensions of Problems & Solutions:

Effectively addresses the environmental, economic and social dimensions of the issue(s) being explored.

  • Satisfactory: resource supports the examination of  these dimensions
  • Good:  resource explicitly examines the interplay of these dimensions
  • Very Good:  a systems-thinking approach is encouraged to examine these three dimensions
Respects Complexity Good

The resource encourages students to think in circular rather than linear terms and in multiple rather than single causation. It asks students to consider the risks and benefits to a society and the environment of applying scientific knowledge as against traditional environmental knowledge in our approach to "development".

Respects Complexity:

The complexity of the problems/issues being discussed is respected.

Acting on Learning Satisfactory

The final lesson - Demonstrate Understanding - in the resource suggests that students consider a class letter to the local newspaper on an aspect of sustainability or the development of an individual action plan.

Acting on Learning:

Learning moves from understanding  issues  to working towards positive change — in personal lifestyle, in school, in the community,  or for the planet

  • Satisfactory: action opportunities are included as extensions 
  • Good: action opportunities are core components of the resource
  • Very Good: action opportunities for students are well supported and intended to result in observable, positive change
Values Education Good

In exploring the perspectives towards the environment represented here by the First Nations and Métis people, by ecologist, by those who take a utilitarian approach and by conservationists, students may be expected to see the underlying values and assumptions represented by each and thereby begin to sort out their own values.

Values Education:

Students are explicitly provided with opportunities to identify, clarify and express their own beliefs/values.

Empathy & Respect for Humans Very Good

A central goal of the resource is to help students understand the First Nations and Métis worldview and their perspective on nature on the assumption that greater understanding will lead to greater respect. The use of talking circles to discuss the questions asked of students also contributes to greater mindfulness in their relation to others.

Empathy & Respect for Humans: Empathy and respect are fostered for diverse groups of humans (including different genders, ethnic groups, sexual preferences, etc.).
Personal Affinity with Earth Very Good

Two of the key questions addressed by the resource ask students to consider what their roles and responsibilities are in looking after the earth? and how shall we look after the earth?  In answering these questions, students explore the First Nation and Métis worldview and how this shapes their perspective of living and non-living things and their treatment of the earth.

Personal Affinity with Earth:

Encourages a personal affinity with -the natural world.  

  • Satisfactory: connection is made to the natural world
  • Good: fosters appreciation/concern for the natural world
  • Very Good: fosters stewardship though practical and respectful experiences out-of-doors 
Locally-Focused Learning Good

Lesson three- Perspectives on the Environment - asks students to respond to pictures of the local environment so as to reflect the perspectives of First Nations and Métis, Ecologists, Utilitarians, and Conservationist. This is followed by a role playing activity in which each of the groups must decide how to respond to a local environmental challenge. The resource also encourages teachers to invite a local Elder to speak to the class about the Indigenous view of nature.

Locally-Focused Learning:

Includes learning experiences that take advantage of issues/elements within the local community. 

  • Satisfactory: learning is made relevant to the lives of the learners
  • Good: learning is made relevant and has a local focus
  • Very Good: learning is made relevant, local and takes place ‘outside’ , in the community 
Past, Present & Future Satisfactory

The resource is intended to help students recognize and understand the difference between traditional indigenous knowledge and that of the current Western or scientific approach to the environment and perhaps to suggest that our future approach to the environment should be informed by both perspectives.

Past, Present & Future: Promotes an understanding of the past, a sense of the present, and a positive vision for the future.

Pedagogical Approaches

Principle Rating Explanation
Open-Ended Instruction Good

The lessons are designed to have students recognize a variety of perspectives on sustainability and understand that these perspectives emerge from different world views.

Open-Ended Instruction :

Lessons are structured so that multiple/complex answers are possible; students are not steered toward one 'right' answer.

Integrated Learning Very Good

Although the lessons are intended to support the grade 10 Science unit on ecosystems found in most provincial and territorial curricula, its attention to different worldviews and the perspectives that emerge from those views give it wider curriculum relevance. Since those perspectives influence how we approach resource management, the lessons would have application for a number of Geography courses and to those courses that focus on Indigenous studies. 

Integrated Learning:

Learning brings together content and skills  from more than one  subject area

  • Satisfactory: content from a number of different  subject areas is readily identifiable
  • Good:  resource is appropriate for use in more than one subject area
  • Very Good:  the lines between subjects are blurred 
Inquiry Learning Good

The resource identifies the essential questions to be examined by students and provides a framework for their investigation that is largely teacher directed. The group discussions and the role playing simulations, however, allow the students a degree of autonomy in determining the direction and depth of their study.

Inquiry Learning:

Learning is directed by questions, problems, or challenges that students work to address.   

  • Satisfactory: Students are provided with questions/problems to solve and some direction on how to arrive at solutions.
  • Good: students, assisted by the teacher clarify the question(s) to ask and the process to follow to arrive at solutions.  Sometimes referred to as Guided Inquiry
  • Very Good:  students generate the questions and assume much of the responsibility for how to solve them.  . Sometimes referred to as self-directed learning.

 

Differentiated Instruction Good

The resource adopts a variety of pedagogical strategies - talking circles, ranking activities, response to visual prompts, role playing/simulations, and presentations by local resource persons.

Differentiated Instruction:

Activities address a range of student learning styles, abilities and readiness.

  • Satisfactory:  includes a variety of instructional approaches
  • Good: addresses  the needs of visual, auditory &  kinesthetic learners
  • Very Good: also includes strategies for learners with difficulties
Experiential Learning Good

The resource helps students understand that the way they react to the world is determined by their worldview and the perspectives that flow from that worldview. Students come to an appreciation of this reality by having them respond to the local environment and the challenges attached and by having them view that environment through a variety of lenses.  

Experiential Learning:

Authentic learning experiences are provided

  • Satisfactory: learning takes place through ‘hands-on’ experience or simulation
  • Good: learning involves direct experience in a ‘real world context’
  • Very good: learning involves ‘real world experiences’ taking place’ beyond the school walls.
Cooperative Learning Good

The use of talking circles, ranking activities, role playing and other forms of group activity requires students to interact with one and other and learn from the positions taken by others and the defenses offered in support of those positions.

Cooperative Learning:

Group and cooperative learning strategies are a priority.

  • Satisfactory:  students work in groups
  • Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught and practiced
  • Very Good: cooperative learning skills are explicitly taught, practiced and assessed
Assessment & Evaluation Very Good

The resource provides teachers with a variety of formative assessment tools - circle activity, ranking activity, group discussions, and exit slips along with a performance task that serves as a summative evaluation.

Assessment & Evaluation: Tools are provided that help students and teachers to capture formative and summative information about students' learning and performance. These tools may include reflection questions, checklists, rubrics, etc.
Peer Teaching Good

Peer teaching opportunities arise from the variety of group activities. Students must convince others of the importance of our obligation to care for the earth; of the merits of various worldview with respect to our approach to the earth and its resources; and of how they should respond to selected environmental challenges.  

Peer Teaching:

Provides opportunities for students to actively present their knowledge and skills to peers and/or act as teachers and mentors.

  • Satisfactory: incidental teaching that arises from cooperative learning, presentations, etc.
  • Good or Very Good: an opportunity is intentionally created to empower students to teach other students/community members. The audience is somehow reliant on the students' teaching (students are not simply ‘presenting')
Case Studies Good

Students must demonstrate their understanding of the different perspectives the lesson introduces by responding in kind to one of two case studies, both of which are 'real" in the sense that they reflect issues found daily in the newspapers.

Case Studies:

Relevant case studies are included.  Case studies are thorough descriptions of real events from real situations that students use to explore  concepts in an authentic context.

Locus of Control Good

The resource is an example of guided inquiry, with the direction and control of the lessons in the hands of the teacher, but because a number of the activities are somewhat open-ended they allow for a degree of student input. 

Locus of Control: Meaningful opportunities are provided for students to choose elements of program content, the medium in which they wish to work, and/or to go deeper into a chosen issue.