- CEE Home
- About CEE
- Events for TAs, TMs and ITAs
- Inclusion in the Classroom Week
- Remote Teaching Forum 2021
- Instructional Skills Workshop
- CEE Anti-Racist Pedagogies Program: HRJ
- Certificate Program in University Teaching and Learning
- Symposium on Teaching and Learning
- Special Events
- Rethinking Course Design
- TA Day
- Decolonization and Indigenization
- Teaching Matters Seminar Series
- Tea and Teachings
- SFU university lecturer, associate dean, Sarah D. Johnson awarded 3M National Teaching Fellowship
- SFU's TA Hub is proving to be a valuable resource for teaching assistants
- CEE instructor needs survey
- Linguistically Responsive Classrooms Instructors Series (LRCIS) returns for a second year
- Blended learning: spotlight on SFU’s newest course designation
- A one-stop teaching resource for TAs now launched: introducing the TA Hub
- Healing from Racism Journey's first year comes to a close
- Inviting TAs to share their teaching strategies
- 32nd National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
- Teaching and learning with chat tools
- Learning from remote instruction
- Lecture recording and AV support for in-person instruction
- 813,000 Zoom meetings: How IT Services handled the move to remote instruction
- National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
- Reflections on Inclusion in the Classroom Week
- Welcome to your new Zoom classroom
- Kevin Lam: “Students appreciate every little thing we do that shows that we care”
- Sheri Fabian: “I embraced a flexible approach”
- Sarah Johnson: “The biggest change I made was to switch to asynchronous delivery”
- Nicky Didicher: “I’m finding my job less exhilarating”
- Mark Lechner: “You have to be OK with things going sideways”
- Nienke van Houten: “They really valued my clear and upfront approach”
- How can we support remote instruction at SFU?
- Crowdmark: A more efficient way to grade student assessments
- The unexpected benefits of a shorter syllabus
- Photo gallery: Talking shop at Teaching Matters
- Watch the video: Faculty members discuss SFU's new instructor-led online course model
- Bridges and booster rockets: CEE's new senior director talks about teaching support
- Meet the Centre for Educational Excellence leadership team
- A biology instructor rethought her students’ role—and her own
- Photo gallery: SFU’s 24th Annual Spring TA/TM Day
- Photo gallery: SFU's 9th Annual Winter Warm-up
- If you build it, will they come?
- “My students didn’t look like they were having fun”: Three additions to the TA/TM Stories podcast series
- An upgraded Canvas Gradebook is coming in January
- Share your thoughts on the furniture in SFU classrooms
- DEMOfest presenter slides
- Photo gallery: 5th Annual DEMOfest
- Teamwork needs to be taught
- TA/TM Stories: Three new podcasts explore the teaching experiences of grad students
- Can it be done? A math instructor attempts to indigenize her course
- Answers to your questions about SFU's new approach to online education
- Photo gallery: The CEE Open House
- Do you know your faculty teaching fellow?
- Instructor-led online courses: How one faculty member prepared for the new model
- Photo gallery: SFU's 34th Annual Fall TA/TM Day draws a crowd
- Connecting people and crossing artificial divides: An interview with Elizabeth Elle
- Don't say this to your class—a student shares his experience
- How one lecturer is using podcasts to make course concepts more real in her online course
- Photo gallery: Rain, burgers and smiles at the 2019 President's Employee BBQ
- Five questions and answers about the creation of CEE
- A redesign made this course more engaging for students—and the instructor
- CPUTL: A graduate student describes her experience
- CEE Staff Login
Can it be done? A math instructor attempts to indigenize her course
By Jackie Amsden, Centre for Educational Excellence
Petra Menz (senior lecturer, mathematics) revamped her first-year math course to integrate Indigenous knowledge and pedagogy as a way to enhance student learning and well-being.
“Math is math. What’s there to indigenize?”
Petra Menz, a senior lecturer in the Department of Mathematics, admits that this was her first thought when she read the calls to indigenize and decolonize curriculum and teaching in the SFU Aboriginal Reconciliation Council’s 2017 report, Walk This Path With Us.
Now, two years later, Menz regularly uses Métis weaving, Coast Salish artwork, Ojibwe poetry reading and talking stick ceremonies to guide her students through everything from numeration systems to transformation geometry in her MATH 190: Principles of Mathematics for Elementary Teachers course.
So, how did Menz shift her perspective from feeling reluctant about the idea of decolonizing and indigenizing her courses, to embracing it? Step. By. Step.
“As an instructor, I’m always asking myself how can I improve student learning and enhance their well-being? I wasn’t sure what decolonizing and indigenizing would mean for me, but I also knew that if there was a chance that it would contribute to those goals, I couldn’t just ignore it.”
Small steps, inside and outside the classroom
Menz says her journey began with modest steps.
“It can feel like a mountain at first, so I started small, with a land acknowledgement in class that was connected to some of the material we were working through.”
Menz also began collecting research articles and resources and attending events and workshops organized by groups in her field like the Canadian Mathematics Education Study Group.
“Going to these events was a very emotional experience because my whole belief system was shaken up. I would look back and question all of my past actions and decisions. This can be very scary, but I believe this is necessary for change.”
Menz explains that these experiences eventually helped her find a path forward.
“I remember someone suggesting I should just bring in a canoe and talk about the math of it, but that didn’t seem right. Instead, what I have done is weave Indigenous material and Indigenous ways of learning and teaching—such as group learning, interactivity and reflection—throughout the course, so that it is integrated deeply and not just on the surface.”
Menz points to the talking stick ceremony as one impactful example of what this integration looks like.
“We do the ceremony during the last class. Each student has a turn to hold the stick, which is actually a shell, and share the struggles they have overcome and what they have learned during the course. Most of the students in my class are math anxious, so it can be very powerful to hear how they have found a way through the material. The goal of it is to show that we are a community and have taken a journey together.”
An enriched learning space for students
The results for students, she notes, have been profound.
“Many of my students have expressed being deeply appreciative that Indigenous knowledge is out in the open and is not just being used in a token way here and there. I feel that they are all benefitting because bringing in other perspectives enriches the experience and equips them to be more creative in their problem-solving approaches.”
Menz’s next challenge? Decolonizing calculus.
“I’m teaching a calculus course in Fall semester and I know that is going to be more challenging to indigenize, not because of the complexity of content, but the complexity of the context. The classes are much larger, with 300 to 500 students in one lecture, and with more colleagues teaching the course that I will need to get on board.”