Challenging Colonial Bias
This topic is extensive. In this course, we have provided some basic starting points to explore and uncover ways that you can begin to shift this imbalance of knowledges and the modalities of knowledge transfer that our students have access to.
To begin challenging colonial biases, you could:
- curate a range of options; a curriculum buffet of course content from which learners can choose (Chardin & Novak, 2021). For instance, when teaching how to summarize main themes, you could make available texts written by authors from a variety of social locations
- seek and select materials that decentre Eurocentric histories, epistemologies, and knowledge systems. This can include exposing learners to different sources and databases as well as inviting them to collect learning artifacts from their own lives
- ensure that materials selected are not merely additional but are embedded into the existing discourse, so that the analysis of key concepts is viewed through a variety of standpoints
- critique, correct, and replace content that excludes, distorts, diminishes, or appropriates original knowledges and realities
Decolonizing curriculum is an ongoing, intentional process that requires dialogue, questioning, exploration, and mutual support. In the end, realizing our vision of universal inclusion for all learners and dismantling the structural, attitudinal, and academic legacy of colonialism requires community. We must work together to share ideas, collect resources, challenge our institutions, listen to our students, learn from our mistakes, and celebrate our successes.
Let’s check in with our Educator Circle on this topic.
Decolonizing Curriculum Educator CircleEducator circle activity
Decolonizing Curriculum Educator Circle
Complete this activity on the Universal Design for Learning websiteOpen activity
If using a mouse, trackpad, or touch device, click on the button over an educator in the group to open the educator slide. Use the next and previous buttons to navigate between educators and the close button to return to the group.
If using a keyboard or screen reader, press the tab key to focus on an educator in the group, and press space to open the educator slide. Once open you may use the Left arrow and Right arrow keys to navigate between educators. Press Escape to return to the group.
What came up for you in the Educator Circle? Is there something you’ve already begun? Something you’d like to start? Where do you think would be the most appropriate starting point for thinking about adding options for representation to your course?
As mentioned in the Educator Circle, one place to start is with our own subject areas. Taking the time to reflect on representational gaps and epistemological histories that are ignored in a Eurocentric course design and pedagogy can be inspirational!
"The Missing Colours of Chemistry" (Menon 2021) (Word Count: 4,800).
For example, science and racism have been intertwined for centuries. “One way to counter racial prejudices is to ensure we remain aware of how science developed throughout history, giving due credit to the contributions from historically marginalized groups but also not forgetting science’s involvement in establishing racial bias in society” (Menon, 2021).
Canadian History, South Asian Studies, Solidarity Lives (Runtime: 14:04 min). CC is autogenerated.
Teaching any type of history from a “lived” standpoint, or math that considers its ancient origins, or psychology from a critical perspective, enriches curriculum and welcomes discourse. Integrating a cultural safety model in health sciences curriculum can counter a “pedagogy that maintains oppressive ways of interacting with marginalized and dehumanized patients” (Koptie, 2009). Inviting psychology scholars to decolonize theory and infusing community and social work curricula with lived narratives are central to developing informed approaches to generational trauma.
The resources in this section can provide you with further inspiration and opportunities to reflect on representational gaps and epistemological histories that are ignored in a Eurocentric course design and pedagogy.
Here’s a quick look at some mathematical history in this video on why algorithms are called algorithms.
Why Algorithms Are Called Algorithms
>> We think of an algorithm as something new, but the term actually dates back about 900 years. The word algorithm comes from the name of a Persian mathematical genius, Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi. He was born around 780 AD in the region now known as Uzbekistan. His name suggests he came from Khwarizm. Known as al-Khwarizmi, he was director in the House of Wisdom, an intellectual centre for scholars in 9th Century Baghdad. He made innovative contributions to mathematics, astronomy, geography and cartography, and wrote an influential book called Concerning the Hindu Art of Reckoning. 300 years later, the book was rediscovered and translated into Latin. It introduced Hindu-Arabic numerals to the West, which eventually replaced the unwieldy Roman ones. The Hindu-Arabic number system, along with the decimal point, both described by al-Khwarizmi in his book, are the basis of the numbers we use throughout the world today. Al-Khwarizmi's name, when Latinised in the title of the book, became algoritmi. And this is the origin of the word algorithm. We also have al-Khwarizmi to thank for the word algebra, which comes from another of his works. His books revolutionised mathematics in the West, showing how complex problems could be broken down into simpler parts and solved. In medieval Latin, algorismus simply meant the decimal number system. By the 13th Century, it had become an English word and was used, for example, by Chaucer. But it wasn't until the late 19th Century that algorithm came to mean a set of step-by-step rules for solving a problem. In the early part of the 20th Century, Alan Turing, the British mathematician and computer scientist, worked out how, in theory, a machine could follow algorithmic instructions and solve complex mathematics. This was the birth of the computer age. During World War Two, he built a machine called the Bombe, which used algorithms to crack the Enigma code. Today algorithm is a fairly common term, even if sometimes you're not exactly sure what an algorithm does. Algorithms are everywhere now, helping us to get from A to B, driving internet searches, making recommendations of things for us to buy, watch or share. And predicting how we vote or who we fall in love with. This little word that originated in medieval Persia is gradually transforming our lives. Thanks for watching. Don’t forget to subscribe and click the bell to receive notifications for new videos. See you again soon.
Why Algorithms Are Called Algorithms - Runtime 3:08 min
Digging into the theoretical foundations of our curriculum offers the opportunity to examine the political and cultural context of the theorist, their methodology, and the subject of their work. Here is some research on the actual source of a commonly taught theory: "Blackfoot Wisdom That Inspired Maslow’s Hierarchy."
Our college and university libraries are an important site for curating materials that support decolonizing curriculum.
Join us for a Learn and Share with a librarian.
UDL Library – Christa Lochead
>> My name is Christa Lochead. My pronouns are she or her and I work as a librarian at one of Ontario's colleges.
There is so much that libraries can offer to support Universal Design for Learning on campus. Traditionally, we fit into the multiple means of representation category, because we provide learning resources in so many formats. Not only do we have text that can be accessed online, like ebooks, journals, newspapers, magazines, dictionaries and encyclopedias, but college and university libraries also tend to have video databases and image databases, and sometimes specialized content like music and other sound recordings, historical archives, infographic collections, and specialized software. Often, we also have specialized collections, where the focus is on Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, Diaspora peoples and Queer studies, for example. In general, you can find information about all of these on your library’s website, either in a research guide or a specialized database. Like each institution, each library is a little different. We all collect resources to support the programs and research taking place at our institutions. We collect these materials in collaboration with faculty; in other words, we work with faculty to determine what is needed to support research or teaching. Then, we work to make sure the resources that we purchase are as accessible as possible. In this way, we play an ongoing role in ensuring faculty and students have the resources and materials they need.
We’re also part of a broader community of academic libraries who work together in a number of ways, including purchasing materials collectively, and creating repositories of open resources. Open resources don’t belong to a particular institution; they are freely available to anyone. Examples of this include College Libraries Ontario’s Learning Portal, or eCampus Ontario’s Open Education Resource library. Some institutions create collections that they make available online. Your librarian can help you discover open resources that are available beyond your institution.
In addition to collecting resources, librarians are teachers too. We often teach research workshops, during which we endeavour to incorporate UDL principles. With our in-depth knowledge of subjectspecific resources, instruction needs and barriers to access, librarians have often been early adopters of UDL and have partnered with other stakeholders on campus to advocate for campus-wide policies. It’s important to note that we are a profession that is continuously examining itself. We are very aware of prejudices inherent in conventional library systems. Currently, libraries are working together to decolonize subject headings, and we continue to examine ways to remove barriers to access to our collections and physical spaces. As a profession, we care deeply about equity of access to information, which makes us a natural fit for UDL communities of practice on campus.
In short, if you’re looking for resources to support multiple means of representation, your library is the place to go, and your librarian is the person to ask for help. We’re here to support you individually as educators and the campus community as a whole. You can find our contact information on your institution’s library website, as well as links to all of the resources we have available. We look forward to hearing from you.
Learn and Share: UDL Library - Runtime 3:44 min