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Curriculum ContextEquity and Inclusive Education
PART OF: First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies (2019) > Some Considerations for Program Planning in First Nations, Métis, and Inuit Studies > Equity and Inclusive Education

The valuing of equity and inclusiveness is an element of the vision for all First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies courses, and encouraging students to understand and value the diversity of Indigenous peoples, communities, and nations is therefore an important focus. The course expectations provide numerous opportunities for students to break through stereotypes to learn how the diverse beliefs, values, and traditions of Indigenous peoples are reflected in the community. Students also investigate various injustices and inequities experienced by Indigenous individuals, communities, and nations, but not through the lens of victimization. Rather, they examine ways in which individuals act or have acted as agents of change, and how they can serve as role models for responsible, active citizenship.

The course expectations contained in this document provide teachers with the opportunity to address a number of key issues related to equity, antidiscrimination, and inclusion. Among these are ways to educate students about the residential school system, treaties, and Indigenous peoples’ historical and contemporary contributions to Canadian society.

In the journey to reconciliation and healing, it is important that teachers of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit studies create an environment that will foster a sense of community. This will allow all students to think critically about issues of concern to Indigenous peoples, to build relationships based on trust and respect, and to deepen their understanding of Aboriginal rights, treaty relationships, cultures, languages, and perspectives.

More information can be found in the "Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education" subsection of the "Considerations for Program Planning".

Curriculum ContextEquity and Inclusive Education
PART OF: Health and Physical Education (2019) > Some Considerations for Program Planning in Health and Physical Education > Equity and Inclusive Education

Teachers of health and physical education create an environment based on the principles of inclusive education in a variety of ways. For example, in implementing the Active Living and Movement Competence strands of the health and physical education curriculum, they ensure that students are exposed to a wide range of activities and skills that appeal to all students. Sports and games should be balanced with small-group, individual, and recreation activities, including exercises for physical fitness and activities for stress reduction, such as simple yoga techniques.

Teachers must also provide accommodation for students from various faith communities, consistent with the board’s religious accommodation guideline – for example, in some cases, segregated swimming classes for male and female students and same-sex partnering for small-group activities might be required – and be aware of clothing restrictions that might exist for some students. In addition, teachers may need to provide accommodations for students who are fasting for religious reasons.

The physical activity component of the curriculum should also take into account the range of student abilities and the diversity of their backgrounds and needs. Teachers should familiarize themselves with strategies that would allow them to involve all students in an appropriate way. Introducing games and activities that have roots in a particular com- munity, for example, can make the learning environment more relevant for students from that community as well as promote cultural awareness and respect among all students. Lacrosse, with its origins in games played by the Haudenosaunee and other First Nations, is an example of a culturally relevant activity that can also appeal to students from all backgrounds. When including these kinds of activities in the program, teachers should seek out culturally relevant and appropriate resources that make the connection to the cultural heritage explicit, in order to build understanding, awareness, and respect.

The Healthy Living expectations provide teachers with the opportunity to address a number of key issues related to equity, antidiscrimination, and inclusion. Among these are gender issues in the area of healthy sexuality, including the existence of differing norms for sexual behaviour and different risks associated with unprotected sexual activity. In addition, food choices and eating habits may be influenced by personal beliefs or by religious and cultural traditions (e.g., vegetarianism, religious fasting, traditional foods), and these should be addressed in instruction relating to healthy eating. The issue of body image and the detrimental effects of homogenized standards of beauty and physical appearance promoted in the media also have implications for equity and inclusiveness that may affect students. The use of steroids and drugs to enhance athletic performance and appearance, and harmful diets to achieve impossible standards of beauty, should be examined.

More information can be found in the "Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education" subsection of the "Considerations for Program Planning".

Curriculum ContextEquity and Inclusive Education
PART OF: Social Studies, History, and Geography (2023) > Some Considerations for Program Planning > Equity and Inclusive Education

The principle of valuing inclusiveness is an element of the vision statement of the social studies, history, geography, and Canadian and world studies programs. Thus, encouraging students to understand and value diversity is a focus of the social studies, history, and geography program. In the primary grades, students learn that there is diversity within families and communities. Students explore how traditions change over time and how various traditions are observed or celebrated by different members of the community, including the classroom community. In later grades, students explore concepts of power and exclusion, learning about the living conditions of different groups of people in the past and present, including women, First Nations, and people in developing countries. At the same time, the program provides students with opportunities to learn about how people from every walk of life contribute to society. There are numerous opportunities to break through stereotypes and to learn about various religious, social, and ethnocultural groups, including First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people, and their distinct traditions. Students investigate injustices and inequalities, but not simply through the lens of victimization. Rather, they examine ways in which various people act or have acted as agents of change and can serve as role models for active citizenship.

It is important that teachers of social studies, history, and geography create an environment that will foster a sense of community where all students feel included and appreciated. It is imperative that students see themselves reflected in the choices of materials, resources, and examples selected by the teacher. When leading discussions on topics related to diverse religious, ethnocultural, or socio-economic groups or the rights of citizenship, teachers should ensure that all students – regardless of culture, religious affiliation, gender, class, or sexual orientation – feel included and recognized in all activities and discussions. By teachers carefully choosing support materials that reflect the makeup of a class, students will see that they are respected and will, in turn, come to respect the differences that exist in their classroom and in the larger community.

More information can be found in the “Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education” subsection of the “Considerations for Program Planning”.

Program PlanningHuman Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education
PART OF: Program Planning > Considerations for program planning > Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education

A positive, inclusive, equitable, and non-discriminatory elementary and secondary school experience is vitally important to a student’s personal, social, and academic development, to their future economic security, and to a realization of their full potential.  Human rights principles recognize the importance of creating a climate of understanding and mutual respect for the dignity and worth of each person, so that each person can contribute fully to the development and well-being of their community. Indeed, human rights law guarantees a person’s right to equal treatment in education. It requires educators and school leaders to prevent and respond appropriately to discrimination and harassment, to create an inclusive environment, to remove barriers that limit the ability of students, and to provide accommodations, where necessary.   

Ontario’s education system, at all levels, must respect diversity, promote inclusive education, and work towards identifying and eliminating barriers to equal treatment in education that limit the ability of students to learn, grow, and contribute to society. Discriminatory biases, harassment, non-inclusive environments, lack of accommodation, systemic barriers, power dynamics, societal poverty, and racism make it difficult for students to acquire the skills they need to be successful, competitive, and productive members of society. Ontario schools aim to improve the academic outcomes and experiences of students who have traditionally not benefited from the promise of public education.

In an environment based on the principles of inclusive education, all students, parents, caregivers, and other members of the school community – regardless of ancestry, culture, ethnicity, sex, disability, race, colour, religion, age, marital or family status, creed, gender identity/expression, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or other factors – are welcomed, included, treated fairly, and respected. Diversity is valued when all members of the school community feel safe, welcomed, and accepted. Every student is supported and inspired to succeed in a culture of high expectations for learning.

Research has shown that students who do not see themselves reflected in what they are learning, in their classrooms, and in their schools become disengaged and do not experience as great a sense of well-being or as high a level of academic achievement as those who do.

Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy (CRRP)

In an inclusive education system, students must see themselves reflected in the curriculum, their physical surroundings, and the broader environment, so that they can feel engaged in and empowered by their learning experiences. Students need to experience teaching and learning that reflect their needs and who they are. To ensure that this happens, educators in Ontario schools embrace culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy (CRRP), which recognizes that all students learn in ways that are connected to background, language, family structure, and social or cultural identity.

CRRP provides a framework for building positive environments, improving student responsibility and success, encouraging parent-school relationships, and building strong community connections. It also emphasizes that it is important for educators and school leaders to examine their own biases and to analyse how their own identities and experiences affect how they view, understand, and interact with all students. This can help to prevent discrimination, harassment, and the creation of poisoned environments. Educators are responsible for meaningful teaching and learning that recognizes and responds to who is in the classroom and the school.

By knowing “who our students are”, educators and leaders can tailor policies, programs, and practices to better meet the needs of their diverse student populations, to provide accommodation of the needs specified by human rights law, and to ensure that every student has the opportunity to succeed. CRRP involves recognizing that “culture” encompasses various aspects of social and personal identity. It also means acknowledging students’ multiple social and personal identities and the social issues that arise where identities intersect. The CRRP approach is designed to spark conversation and support educators and school leaders as they seek to implement effective equity strategies and policies. Educators are encouraged to engage in meaningful inquiry, in collaboration with colleagues, to address equity issues and the particular needs of the students they serve.

Implementing Principles of Inclusive Education

The implementation of inclusive education principles in education influences all aspects of school life. It promotes a school climate that encourages all students to work to high levels of achievement, affirms the worth of all students, and helps students strengthen their sense of identity and develop a positive self-image. It encourages staff and students alike to value and show respect for diversity in the school and the broader society. Inclusive education promotes equity, healthy relationships, and active, responsible citizenship. The absence of inclusive approaches to education can create discriminatory environments, in which certain individuals or groups cannot expect to receive fair treatment or an equitable experience based on aspects of their identity.

Teachers can give students a variety of opportunities to learn about diversity and diverse perspectives. By drawing attention to the contributions and perspectives of historically marginalized groups, and by creating opportunities for their experiences to be affirmed and valued, teachers can enable students from a wide range of backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the curriculum. It is essential that learning activities and materials used to support the curriculum reflect the diversity of Ontario society. In addition, teachers should differentiate instruction and assessment strategies to take into account the background and experiences, as well as the interests, aptitudes, and learning needs, of all students.

Interactions between the school and the community should reflect the diversity of both the local community and the broader society. A variety of strategies can be used to communicate with and engage parents and members of diverse communities, and to encourage their participation in and support for school activities, programs, and events. Family and community members should be invited to take part in teacher interviews, the school council, and the parent involvement committee, and to attend and support activities such as plays, concerts, co-curricular activities and events, and various special events at the school. Schools need to be prepared and ready to welcome families and community members. Schools may consider offering assistance with child care or making alternative scheduling arrangements in order to help caregivers participate. Special outreach strategies and encouragement may be needed to draw in the parents of English language learners and First Nations, Métis, or Inuit students, and to make them feel more welcomed in their interactions with the school.

Mathematics Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education in Mathematics
PART OF: Mathematics > MTH1W Mathematics, Grade 9 > Introduction > Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education in Mathematics

Research indicates that there are groups of students (for example, Indigenous students, Black students, students experiencing homelessness, students living in poverty, students with LGBTQ+ identities, and students with special education needs and disabilities) who continue to experience systemic barriers to accessing high-level instruction in and support with learning mathematics. Systemic barriers, such as racism, implicit bias, and other forms of discrimination, can result in inequitable academic and life outcomes, such as low confidence in one’s ability to learn mathematics, reduced rates of credit completion, and leaving the secondary school system prior to earning a diploma. Achieving equitable outcomes in mathematics for all students requires educators to be aware of and identify these barriers, as well as the ways in which they can overlap and intersect, which can compound their effect on student well-being, student success, and students’ experiences in the classroom and in the school. Educators must not only know about these barriers, they must work actively and with urgency to address and remove them.

Students bring abundant cultural knowledges, experiences, and competencies into mathematical learning. It is essential for educators to develop pedagogical practices that value and centre students’ prior learning, experiences, strengths, and interests. Such pedagogical practices are informed by and build on students’ identities, lived experiences, and linguistic resources. When educators employ such pedagogy, they hold appropriate and high academic expectations of students, applying the principles of Universal Design for Learning and differentiated instruction to provide multiple entry points and maximize opportunities for all students to learn. By acknowledging and actively working to eliminate the systemic barriers that some students face, educators create the conditions for authentic experiences that empower student voices and enhance their sense of belonging, so that each student can develop a healthy identity as a mathematics learner and can succeed in mathematics and in all other subjects. Mathematics learning that is student-centred allows students to find relevance and meaning in what they are learning and to make connections between the curriculum and the world outside the classroom.

In mathematics classrooms, teachers also provide opportunities for cross-curricular learning and for teaching about human rights. To create anti-racist, anti-discriminatory learning environments, all educators must be committed to equity and inclusion and to upholding and promoting the human rights of every learner. Students of all identities and social locations have the right to mathematics opportunities that allow them to succeed, personally and academically. In any mathematics classroom, it is crucial to acknowledge students’ intersecting social identities and their connected lived realities. Educators have an obligation to develop and nurture learning environments that are reflective of and responsive to students’ strengths, needs, cultures, and diverse lived experiences – identity-affirming learning environments free from discrimination. In such learning environments, educators set appropriate and high academic expectations for all.

Culturally Responsive and Relevant Pedagogy in Mathematics

High-quality instruction that emphasizes deep mathematical thinking and cultural and linguistic knowledge and that addresses issues of inequity is the foundation of culturally responsive and relevant pedagogy (CRRP) in mathematics. In CRRP classrooms, teachers reflect on their own identities and pay attention to how those identities affect their teaching, their ideas, and their biases. Teachers also learn about students’ identities, identifications, and/or affiliations and connected lived experiences. Teachers develop an understanding of how students are thinking about mathematical concepts according to their cultural backgrounds and experiences, and make connections with these cultural ways of knowing in their pedagogy. This approach to pedagogy develops social consciousness and critique while valorizing students’ cultural backgrounds, communities, and cultural and linguistic competences. Teachers build on students’ experiences, ideas, questions, and interests to support the development of an engaging and inclusive mathematics classroom community.

In mathematics classrooms, educators use CRRP to create teaching and learning opportunities to engage students in shaping much of the learning and to promote mathematical agency investment in the learning. When students develop agency, they are motivated to take ownership of their learning of, and progress in, mathematics. Teaching about diverse mathematical approaches and figures in history, from different global contexts, can offer opportunities for students to feel that they are reflected in mathematical learning – a key factor in developing students’ sense of self – and to learn about others, and about the multiple ways mathematics exists in all aspects of the world around them.

Mathematics is situated and produced within cultures and cultural contexts. The curriculum is intended to expand historical understanding of the diversity of mathematical thought. In an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory environment, teachers know that there is more than one way to develop a solution, and students are exposed to multiple ways of knowing and encouraged to explore multiple ways of finding answers.

Indigenous pedagogical approaches emphasize holistic, experiential learning, teacher modelling, and the use of collaborative and engaging activities. Teachers differentiate instruction and assessment opportunities to encourage different ways of learning, to allow students to learn from and with each other, and to promote an awareness of and respect for the diverse and multiple ways of knowing that are relevant to and reflective of students’ lived experiences in classrooms, schools, and the world. When making connections between mathematics and real-life applications, teachers are encouraged to work in partnership with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis individuals, communities, and/or nations. Teachers may respectfully incorporate culturally specific examples that highlight First Nations, Inuit, and Métis cultures, histories, present-day realities, ways of knowing, and contributions, to infuse Indigenous knowledges and perspectives meaningfully and authentically into the mathematics program. In this way, culturally specific examples centre Indigenous students as mathematical thinkers, and strengthen learning and course content so that all students continue to learn about diverse cultures and communities in a respectful and informed way. Students’ mind, body, and spirit are nourished through connections and creativity.

More information on equity and inclusive education can be found in the “Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education” subsection of “Considerations for Program Planning”. 

Curriculum ContextHuman Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education in ASL as a Second Language
PART OF: American Sign Language as a Second Language (2021) > Some Considerations for Program Planning in American Sign Language as a Second Language > Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education in ASL as a Second Language

Cultural, linguistic, racial, and religious diversity is a defining characteristic of Canadian society, and schools can help prepare all students to live harmoniously as responsible, compassionate citizens in a multicultural, plurilingual society in the twenty-first century. Learning resources that reflect the broad range of students’ interests, backgrounds, cultures, and experiences are an important aspect of an ASL program. In an inclusive program, learning materials involve protagonists of all genders from a wide variety of backgrounds and intersectionalities. ASL teachers routinely use materials that reflect the diversity of Canadian and world cultures, including those of contemporary sign language cultures (e.g., langue des signes québécoise [LSQ] culture) and of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples, and make such materials available to students. Short ASL stories, ASL epics, television programs, and films provide opportunities for students to explore issues relating to the cultural identity of an ASL community.

In an inclusive and intersectional ASL program, students are made aware of the historical, cultural, and political contexts of both the traditional and non-traditional gender and social roles represented in the materials they are studying. ASL literary works and ASL texts, including ASL media works, relating to immigrant experiences provide rich material for study, as well as the opportunity for students new to Canada to share their knowledge and experiences with others. In addition, in the context of the ASL program, both students and teachers will become aware of aspects of intercultural communication and discourse – for example, by exploring how different cultures interpret the use of eye contact in conversation.

Teachers can choose ASL resources that reflect diversity and intersectionality. They also need to keep in mind that students often deconstruct materials found outside the classroom (e.g., web articles, online videos, and material on social media platforms). It is imperative for the ASL program to create and sustain safe, healthy, equitable, and audism-free learning environments that honour and respect diversity and intersectionality for every student.

The development of critical thinking skills is integral to the ASL curriculum, as discussed in the section “Critical Thinking Skills, Metacognition, and Metalinguistic Skills”. In the context of critical literacy, these skills include identifying and analysing perspectives, values, and issues; detecting bias; and deciphering-deconstructing for implicit as well as explicit meaning. In the ASL program, students develop the ability to detect bias and stereotypes in ASL literary works and ASL texts. When using biased ASL literary works, ASL texts, or non-ASL works containing stereotypes for the express purpose of critical analysis, ASL teachers take into account the potential impact of bias on students and use appropriate strategies to address students’ responses. Critical literacy also involves asking questions and challenging the status quo, leading students to examine issues of power and justice in society related to ASL and the ASL community. Through critical literacy, students can present and argue their perspectives when discussing issues that strongly affect them. ASL literary works and ASL texts, including ASL media works, also afford both ASL teachers and students a unique opportunity to explore the social and emotional impact of different forms of oppression related to audism, racism, sexism, or homophobia on individuals and families, communities, and society.

Curriculum ContextHuman Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education in Mathematics
PART OF: Mathematics (2020) > Some Considerations for Program Planning in Mathematics > Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education in Mathematics

Research indicates that there are groups of students who continue to experience systemic barriers to learning mathematics. Systemic barriers can result in inequitable outcomes, such as chronic underachievement and low confidence in mathematics. Achieving equitable outcomes in mathematics for all students requires educators to pay attention to these barriers and to how they can overlap and intersect, compounding their effect. Educators ensure that students have access to enrichment support, as necessary, and they capitalize on the rich cultural knowledge, experience, and competencies that all students bring to mathematics learning. When educators develop pedagogical practices that are differentiated, culturally relevant, and responsive, and hold high and appropriate expectations of students, they maximize the opportunity for all students to learn, and they create the conditions necessary to ensure that students have a positive identity as a mathematics learner and can succeed in mathematics and in all other subjects.

It is essential to develop practices that learn from and build on students’ cultural competencies and linguistic resources, recognizing that students bring a wealth of mathematical knowledge, information, experiences, and skills into the classroom, often in languages different from the language of instruction. Educators create the conditions for authentic mathematics experiences by connecting mathematics learning to students’ communities and lives; by respecting and harnessing students’ prior knowledge, experiences, strengths, and interests; and by acknowledging and actively reducing and eliminating the systemic barriers that some students face. Mathematics learning that is student-centered allows students to find relevance and meaning in what they are learning, to make real-life connections to the curriculum.

Mathematics classrooms also provide an opportunity for cross-curricular learning and for teaching about human rights. To create safe, inclusive, and engaging learning environments, educators must be committed to equity and inclusion for all students and to upholding and promoting human rights. Every student, regardless of their background, identity, or personal circumstances, has the right to have mathematics opportunities that allow them to succeed, personally and academically. In any mathematics classroom, it is crucial to acknowledge students’ multiple social identities and how students intersect with the world. Educators have an obligation to develop and nurture learning environments that are reflective of and responsive to students’ strengths, needs, cultures, and diverse lived experiences, and to set appropriate and high expectations for all. 

Culturally Relevant and Responsive Pedagogy in Mathematics

Rich, high-quality instruction and tasks are the foundation of culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy (CRRP) in mathematics. In CRRP classrooms, teachers learn about their own identities and pay attention to how those identities affect their teaching, their ideas, and their biases. Teachers also learn about students’ identities, identifications, and/or affiliations and build on students’ ideas, questions, and interests to support the development of an engaging mathematics classroom community.

In mathematics spaces using CRRP, students are engaged in shaping much of the learning so that students have mathematical agency and feel invested in the outcomes. Students develop agency that motivates them to take ownership of their learning of, and progress in, mathematics. Teaching about diverse mathematical figures in history and from different global contexts enables students not only to see themselves reflected in mathematical learning – a key factor in developing students’ sense of self – but also to learn about others, and the multiple ways mathematics exists in all aspects of the world around them.

Culturally reflective and responsive teachers know that there is more than one way to develop a solution. Students are exposed to multiple ways of knowing and are encouraged to explore multiple ways of finding answers. For example, an Indigenous pedagogical approach emphasizes holistic, experiential learning; teacher modelling; and the use of collaborative and engaging activities. Teachers differentiate instruction and assessment opportunities to encourage different ways of learning, to allow all students to learn from and with each other, and to promote an awareness of and respect for the diverse and multiple ways of knowing that make up our classrooms, schools, and the world. When making connections between mathematics and real-life applications, teachers may work in partnership with Indigenous communities to co-teach. Teachers may respectfully incorporate Indigenous culturally specific examples as a way to meaningfully infuse Indigenous knowledge into the mathematics program. In this way, culturally specific examples can be used without cultural appropriation.

More information on equity and inclusive education can be found in the "Human Rights, Equity, and Inclusive Education" subsection of "Considerations for Program Planning".