real beauty

I don’t know if anyone has seen the new Dove campaign ad going around about ‘real beauty sketches’ but when I first saw it, I really liked it! I thought it was so true that women are their own worst enemies and see themselves as less beautiful than others do.

Here’s the video:

While I really liked most of the messages in this video, one of my Facebook friends just posted a link to a tumblr page that had another idea. I encourage you to check it out. I think this person may be a teacher because this is some great critical thinking! It links to so many topics that my ECS classes have touched on and that’s why it really connected with me and made me go “whoa…”

http://jazzylittledrops.tumblr.com/post/48118645174/why-doves-real-beauty-sketches-video-makes-me

What are your thoughts on Dove’s video?

delicate balance

It feels like a long time since I’ve written, but it really hasn’t been! First post of April, though! And sorry to anyone who sees how many posts I had in March, that isn’t indicative of how much I usually post.

As per usual, I have just come back from ECS class and have a few things I thought were worth sharing.

1. For our ECS assignment, we had to read an article about Indigenous Education and respond to it. I chose one by Verna J. Kirkness and one thing that really resonated with me is when she talked about the Indian Control of Indian Education policy of 1972. She pointed out that “we continue to base education on white, urban culture and history” (22). As a white pre-service teacher, this brought up a nerve-wracking question for me:

If people who have Indigenous blood/culture in their past can’t implement Indigenous ways of knowing into the curriculum, how can I?

This also got me thinking about my preconceptions, though. Just because people have Indigenous family members doesn’t mean they know any more about the culture than I do! My ancestors are German, Polish, French, etc, etc, etc but I know nothing or very little about those traditional cultures. We automatically assume that Aboriginal people are experts on their cultural traditions, but, the truth is, they are just like us! Lots of Aboriginal teachers have to learn how to implement Indigenous ways of knowing in their classrooms too!

Kirkness, Verna J. “Aboriginal Education in Canada: A Retrospective and a Prospective.” Journal of American Indian Education 39.1 (1999). Print.

2. Talking about incorporating Indigenous knowledges not into singular activities, but the classroom as a whole leaves me with a million questions. Most of all: HOW? I really wish I could observe a classroom that models these practices so I could see for myself how it is done! I just hope that the program continues to prepare me for real-life teaching situations like these so I don’t feel overwhelmed.

3. After attending the Education Career Fair early in the semester, I have been seriously considering doing my fourth year internship in a predominantly Métis or Indigenous community. I think this would really help to answer lots of my questions about teaching students with these backgrounds so they can achieve academic success! I have heard that any experience with children of these diverse backgrounds (which will make up 40% of classrooms by 2016!) is a wonderful opportunity and asset for young teachers. As a dominant figure in terms of race, class, and sexual orientation (and gender in the field of education), I also think it would be a great learning experience for me to be in an environment where I am the ‘minority.’ While this may be uncomfortable at first, I think it will give me a better understanding of minority students’ perspectives and feelings in a school setting. Hopefully this can help me to be aware of ensuring that all students feel welcome in my classroom!

As a side note, I was SHOCKED when my professor told me that ZERO students have done their internships in Métis/Indigenous communities (unless they were in Indigenous Teacher programs)! When Saskatchewan schools have a high population of these students, it really surprises me that no pre-service teachers are eager to gain useful experience like this! Maybe I will be #1! 🙂

4. When dealing with any social justice issues (homosexuality, class, gender, race, etc.) in your students’ identities, I think it is really all about striking that delicate balance between treating students the same AND different. You want all of your students to receive the same respect, care and expectations so the classroom is EQUAL. However, you want to address your learners’ individual needs and identities so your classroom is EQUITABLE. It’s absolutely impossible for me to judge this while I am sitting on my bed, typing on a laptop. I think so many facets of teaching can’t be learned in any other way than experiencing them first-hand in a classroom; that’s why I am so eager to get out into the field so I can start answering some of my endless swarms of questions!

just a little tuesday afternoon thinking…

It seems that every time I come back from my ECS 110 class, I have something I need to get down in words! Not only does that class make me think while I am there, but I also catch myself noticing things throughout my daily life that, as my prof would say, “make me go hmmm…”

I have a couple hmmmm moments that I’d like to address today:

1. I have read or heard that “the field of education is dominated by white, middle-class females” too many times to count. But for some reason, when I saw this familiar statement in our last reading, something just clicked in my head and it said: Hey… Was I unknowingly steered towards this career path because I am a white, middle-class, female? Have my identity, my previous experiences, and society’s views of me slowly pushed me towards being in the Faculty of Education today?

I have to say, this thought made me rather uneasy and troubled! I like to think that I made the decision to pursue this path because I was born to be a teacher. I have always felt a subtle tugging towards teaching and realizing that society may have influenced this decision honestly ticked me off a little bit!

Thinking about it now, people experience this every day (and in much more offensive aspects than a simple nudge in the direction of a career choice). Aboriginal people are automatically assumed by many to be drug or alcohol abusers, Asian students should be exceptionally smart and concerned with school, men should be buff and women petite, etc, etc, etc. The list never ends. And these assumptions can end up steering us away from our own path if we aren’t careful! If you hear from others what you “are” or should be enough times, you have a good chance of becoming it.

Granted, IF society did push me towards a teacher education program, I have nothing but thanks to give! There is no doubt in my mind that I am exactly where I should be in the world. On the other hand, though, I can think of numerous times when I was very subtly persuaded to choose a different career path because, “I am so smart and could do anything, why would I want to bother being a teacher, of all things?” and that clearly didn’t change anything, did it? So I will stick to my opinion that nothing could have stopped me from becoming a teacher, simply because it is my biggest dream and goal. 🙂

2. The second thing that got my mind’s gears turning was a comment a classmate had regarding our discussion about whiteness and white privilege. She noticed that when people are telling stories that involve people of an ethnicity other than Caucasian, they will actually link that person to their race. For example: “I saw a lady fall down in the street, and 3 Chinese women came and helped her up.”

The question she posed was: Why does it matter if the women were Chinese and why does this always end up slipping into our language, presumably unconsciously?

While I agree that these statements are blatantly pointing out the race of the stories’ subjects, and positioning them as ‘other’ to the norm, I can also see the other side of things as well.

If the speaker had just said “women,” I can guess that people will automatically picture these women as white. And while this is a troubling realization, it can’t be blamed, because white people have been systematically placed and understood as the norm.

So… is the speaker actually just trying for accuracy of the story to avoid the listener’s assumption of the subjects as white? Are they trying to portray another race in a positive light (which, I would argue is difficult to fight against, when criminals’ ethnicities are very pointedly acknowledged on the news…)? Or is this a racist act, whether intentional or unintentional?

What do you think? Is this wrong to be linking people with their race, or is it an attempt to get our heads to see someone of a colour other than white?

Just something to think about…

i’ve been thinking…

My ECS 110 professor always prompts us at the beginning of class to share anything “that made us go ‘hmmm…'” and just now, I had a ‘hmmmm… moment’ regarding the new Kinder Eggs for girls.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a girl power kind of girl but this particular marketing choice kind of makes me wonder.

One of my friends told me that she saw a little boy grab one and exclaim to his mom, ‘Wow! They have different toys now!” and his mother quickly squashed his excitement by saying, “You don’t want that.”

I think this is a very contemporary, pertinent issue. Some parents have their children extremely pigeon-holed into the toys, activities and clothes they THINK their child’s gender requires. Little boys can’t play with Barbies and little girls can’t use tools and trucks. Frankly, I think this is ridiculous. Toys are toys. They are offering the amazing educational opportunity of PLAY. What does it matter if your son likes to dress up his dolls if he is learning?

That’s why it makes me leery that the Kinder Eggs are marketed specifically for girls. I am sure there are little boys out there who would love to play with the toys that come inside them just as much as girls.

And on the other side of the argument, not only are these Kinder Eggs stopping boys from buying them because it ‘isn’t a thing boys would like’ but it is also giving a specific view on what girls should like to play with as well.

It was International Women’s Day on Friday and I think the whole point of that is to say that women aren’t just the homemakers anymore. We can do whatever we want and our gender shouldn’t hold us back from success and status. I am sure those Kinder Eggs are full of pink and frills and sugar, spice and everything nice, but what about the girl that wants to grow up and be a carpenter? Or a mechanic? Or the Prime Minister? Sure, girls can live both lives of the mom and the businesswoman, but by only presenting girls with the feminine view, we are telling them that this is what girls do, no questions asked.

And the problem with these Kinder Eggs is that bringing out a line for boys wouldn’t fix anything, it would hold the same double-standard. So let’s break through the notion that there are specific things for girls and boys, because there aren’t. I would like to live in a world where boys playing with dolls and girls wrestling in the dirt aren’t frowned upon or even second-guessed. Let’s give our children and students the opportunity to be whoever they choose!

let’s make gay mean “happy” again

In my Religious Studies class today, we started our section about Judaism. As the professor was giving her lecture, she was using the word “Jew” a lot (not in a rude way) and it really made me think about how a popular saying with teens nowadays is, “That’s so Jewish.” In these cases, Jewish is used as a synonym for something the speaker doesn’t approve of or finds useless or stupid (which is another arguably derogatory term, especially in the field of education). And it really made me think… Why Jewish people? Why does that specific religion get a bad rap? We can even see this historically; the Holocaust was one of the largest human tragedies, and it was all based on a certain group’s religion – but why?

You can see the same thing regarding homosexual people. Teenagers will exclaim, “That’s gay!” with the same connotation as “That’s Jewish.” It’s hard to imagine anyone saying “That’s so Christian” or “That’s just straight.” Is our society so against others who are ‘different,’ or don’t reflect the “normal,” straight, white, Christian identity that we must use them as synonyms to things that displease us?

I saw one of the pictures below on Facebook (and found the other one on Google) and I think they convey such a great message! The second one, which I saw on Facebook, was posted by an openly gay pre-service teacher at the university. I have always wondered what his experiences have been/will be with his students (he wants to teach high school English). In ECS 110, we read an article about how homosexual teachers are othered, and if any straight teachers stand up for homosexual teachers’ rights, they are automatically assumed to be gay or lesbian themselves (McKenzie-Bassant, 2007). I find this so upsetting and I truly hope that this particular Facebook friend finds an accepting and supportive community as he heads into his internship in the fall!

I know I will be censoring myself from saying “that’s gay” from now on! Isn’t it funny how a word that once meant ‘happy’ is now associated with something completely opposite? I hope that we can once again have a day where “gay” is associated with happiness and good things, rather than bad!

Sources:

McKenzie-Bassant, Claudette, “Lesbian Teachers Walking the Line between Inclusion and Exposure,” International Journal of Art & Design Education, 26 (1), p54-62, Feb 2007.

celebrating differences

The celebration of diversity and differences among classmates in my future classroom is fundamental part of my educational philosophy and I have made a goal to collect resources by which to do this. Today, in my ECS 110 class, the professor said something along the lines of: ‘Differences in our society should be celebrated, but they are not,’ and this instantly sparked some lesson ideas that I am scrambling to write down before they are lost inside my head.

1. At the beginning of the school year, get students to pair up or go in groups and brainstorm things that neither/none of them have in common. Children often get to know each other through their similarities in interests, and lots of get-to-know-you activities are geared towards what is the same. By getting them to brainstorm differences, they can see how diverse they are from each other. You could even have them tally their ‘points’ and reward the group that came up with the most differences.

2. In traditional show-and-tell fashion, each child will get a turn to present something about them that no one in the class shares – something about them that is completely unique. This enforces the idea that all students possess characteristics that make them special. This should enforce that differences are things to be proud of, not hide. It will be a great way for children to tell others about something that is completely their own, something that no one else has!

*Prompt children to dig deeper than differing favourite colours. They can find lots of differences that are more creative than that!

Afterwards, you should always enforce that differences are good and that students need to not only accept and be proud of their differences, but be respectful and accepting of others’ differences as well. We do not single people out or disclude them because of their differences. 

Differences are a chance to learn, and that is what a good classroom is all about!

stereotype or not?

I took Indigenous Studies 100 in my first semester and it has really opened my eyes in regards to how the average Canadian views Aboriginal people. As budding teachers, we are told that a large percentage of the classes we teach will be made up of students of First Nation descent, so it is important for us to understand how a typically Westernized curriculum and school environment affects children who aren’t in the “normal,” White middle-class category.

I have found though, that I have more questions than answers after taking the course. Because I now view things so differently, I find myself questioning if certain images and depictions are stereotypical and racist, or historically accurate. And even if they ARE historically accurate, is it wrong to depict things this way because it paints Aboriginal people as incapable of evolving, when really, they dress and look like us on an average day?

For example, in my field experience as part of ECS 100, the teacher had a station that included a doll house with furniture and various dolls to choose from. There were 3 dolls (pictured below) that were clearly meant to be an Aboriginal family, consisting of a father with long hair in traditional dress, a mother with similar animal-skin-looking attire, and a baby, swaddled in the same type of material.

I loved the fact that the teacher had incorporated the Indigenous dolls but then found myself asking if this was giving the children the wrong impression about Indigenous people, who, to my knowledge, don’t generally walk around in animal-skin clothing on a regular day. So even though the attire may have been historically accurate, would these toys be considered as playing into a stereotype?

The reason I ask is because, in our INDG class, our professor brought up an issue about a child’s Halloween costume named “Sassy Squaw,” which of course, automatically sets off an alarm bell in my head because of the derogatory term it incorporates. On top of the name, the costume was rather revealing and short, especially for a child. This blatant depiction of Indigenous females as sexual objects is obviously racist.

But what about other girls who dress up in Indigenous costumes for Halloween (I knew a girl in high school who sported a Pocahontas costume one year, although that costume was also rather risqué)? If they wear traditional attire, is it still a violation of the race’s culture? Or is it just white people who can’t dress up in those costumes because it is something they’re not and would be considered to have a mocking undertone? Or should all costumes of this nature not be allowed because they carry so many misguided ideas thanks to television and films?

This is an issue I really struggle with because I am afraid that if I incorporate images or some other use of Indigenous culture or people in my classroom, that it will be misinterpreted as racist. I hope that in my continuing studies, I will find the answer to these queries.

an important lesson learned during xmas break

My Dad’s side of the family has a Christmas Eve tradition where we take turns planning games for the others to play. This year, my sister and I took the reins, and I found the experience to be a lot like planning a lesson for a diverse group of students with a range of abilities and interests. The differing participants in this occasion were my aunt and uncle, mom and dad, two cousins in their 20s, and Nana and Papa.

The thing I found hardest was finding appropriate games for my grandparents’ abilities. One of the games my sister and I decided on was a relay in which teams of four took turns unwrapping Hershey kisses while wearing mittens. Papa’s team decided to have him sit out and just eat the unwrapped kisses, but my Nana decided to participate, and she has enough trouble with dexterity in her hands WITHOUT mittens on, so this choice of game was a flop (while the other family members really enjoyed it and thought it was a cool idea!).

Image

Now that I look back on it, I want to treat it as a lesson that didn’t go the way I planned and make ideas for how it could have gone better:

-have Nana do the challenge WITHOUT mittens, to even the playing field
-get the grandparents to have a different task, such as counting the kisses that were unwrapped, handing their teammates kisses, eating the kisses, lining the unwrapped kisses up to get to a finish line, etc.
-have them relay the unwrapped kisses to the next player’s mouth

Another game we played was Family Feud (like the popular TV game show). My Nana found this game difficult and frustrating as well, because she couldn’t hear the question or answers so my sister (the “Host”), was always repeating everything. I could have made this easier on her by printing out the questions so she could read them and let her write down the previously given answers.

In short, the games were lots of fun for most of the family, but it isn’t good enough for me. I want ALL of my students (or, in this case, family members) to have equal opportunity for success!

I never thought I’d still be learn important lessons about Education during my Christmas break! But the sayings “You learn something new every day” and “You are never done learning” were definitely proven for me during the holiday season!

diversity

In education, we hear a lot of buzz words. An important one is diversity. While cultural diversity is the one a lot of people (including myself) think of first, I think an up-and-coming type of diversity is regarding sexuality and sexual preference.

I came across a channel on YouTube made by a transgender female (who was born a male) who posts videos about her transition and daily life. I found her videos about transgender people fascinating and eye-opening because I have personally never met someone who is transgender. After watching a couple of her videos, I feel like I now do!

Seeing these videos was a huge epiphany for me because we tend to judge others when we don’t know anything about them. People who are different make us uncomfortable, but at the root of it all, we are all human beings who want to be loved and happy.

These videos have really inspired me to step back and think about my views on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. As a future teacher, I will have to be fully accepting of every single student I encounter and I feel like these videos have allowed me to come one step closer to achieving an open mind towards all types of diversity that I previously was unsure or unaware of.

I find this extremely relevant because my ECS 100 lecture today was centred around diversity and inclusion. Too many times, teachers mistake diversity of their students for cultural diversity. However, diversity is every aspect of a child that makes them who they are. Their culture plays a significant role, certainly, but it also includes their religion, socio-economic status, home situation and family life, sexual orientation, abilities, interests and personality (among others).

The first step in embracing diversity in my future classroom will be to get to know my students and help to strengthen their talents and work towards improving their weaknesses. I want to foster an attitude for ALL of my students in which differences are okay, encouraged and even celebrated!

My topic exploration paper for this class was also about diversity, more specifically that of culture, but it also touched on diversity in learning styles and personal strengths. The articles I read allowed me to realize that as a white-privileged citizen, I can never truly understand the hardships that students from minorities encounter.However, it is my responsibility to ensure that my classroom is a discrimination-free zone and it brought to light attitudes that I didn’t even know I had.

Pre-service teachers often view the cultural minorities, or children with disabilities, or any type of ‘other’ student with pity or sympathy. However, these attitudes do not help to change the situation. Children who are different do not need sympathy, which gives them the idea that their difference makes them hard done by. Instead, teachers should view diversity with an open mind and think of it as an opportunity for enrichment, not a hindrance or obstacle. The misconception that “all students should be treated the same” is addressed in my personal Educational Philosophy because it denies differences. Students should be equals, but not treated or taught in the same manner. This is denying specific needs of your individualized students that are a teacher’s responsibility to meet.

I am excited to be learning so much about diversity. Coming from a small town, diversity wasn’t overly present. As a pre-service teacher, I am ecstatic about the chance to work with students that possess all types of diversity (because as my story about the YouTube video in the beginning of this post shows, there are so many amazing qualities that diverse people have which I am unaware of because my view is clouded by lack of education. A unique individual isn’t recognized for their personality or strengths because it is all overshadowed by the label they carry)! I hope to continue breaking down the views I didn’t even realize I had so that when I step into my own classroom, I can handle diversity with care and acceptance.