One of the most important principals of teaching is that students can absorb information easier if it is put in terms that are relevant to their daily lives.
Lessons about percentages make more sense if applied to the amount of money to tip at a restaurant. Memorizing a new word in a different language becomes easier if you have to use it in conversation.
To quote the popular and recently remade Disney classic Mary Poppins, a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.
There was lots of sugar being served at Prince Rupert Middle School this week where learning algebraic algorithms was made fun by combining it with the Ts’msyen art of cedar weaving.
The teachers who developed the lessons are trying to find ways to incorporate local traditions in classroom lessons, and cedar weaving helps make abstract concepts tangible and real.
As someone who was raised on the old school chalk board method of math teaching, it was neat to see students so excited to learn about a subject that can often be intimidating at such a young age.
Even more inspiring though, was watching the way in which these lessons connected students, many of whom are First Nations, with their history and heritage.
As a part of the program, instructors from the Aboriginal Education Department brought Ts’msyen elders into the classroom to teach the cedar weaving that was the foundation of the lesson.
In this way, learning became more than just a one way dictation. Rather, it became a two-way dialogue between the old and new generation, with both learning lessons from each other.
At the end of the day, that is what real education is all about.