self identify as ‘human’

Image

In our ECS seminar today, we participated in an activity regarding racism and the stereotypical way that we subconsciously put people into boxes based on their skin colour, eye shape, hair texture, etc. I highly recommend you try it for yourself here.

After sorting the pictures, you have a chance to click on each individual and learn how they self identify. As I was clicking through these pictures, one of the write ups really took me aback. It said: “Self identifies as: Human.” How eloquent and beautiful.

Just think how different our society would be if we stopped judging people and replaced the judgement with the notion that we are all equal in the sense that we are human.

Black        lower class      transgender       lesbian        nerd           loser

human         human             human          human       human        human

Just think about that next time you catch yourself labelling someone. I am human. You are human. Every single person who has ever lived and will ever live on our planet was or is human. We are all the same. So why must we focus on our differences?

race, history, and change

Reading just a few sentences of F. V. N. Painter’s History of Education (1886) tells you that things were very different at that time. Here were a few things that sounded off alarm bells in my head:

  • the use of “manhood” instead of “adulthood”
  • “the end of education is complete human development”
  • “education is not creative”
  • “Asia is the birthplace of the human race”
  • great problems will receive their solution in Europe and North America
  • uncivilized peoples’ education is too primitive to even be of note in this book
  • other countries’ approaches to education are viewed as “very defective” and inferior to those of the Western world

Seeing these statements in a book that is over 100 years old isn’t surprising, but it definitely makes me wonder how ludicrous everything we base our world views on today will sound in a century or two. It actually reminded me a lot of this picture:Image

The term ‘race’ in the book is confusing and incorrect. Painter uses ‘race’ to refer to the human race as a whole, but also specific ethnicities/nationalities (ex. “the Mongolian race”). First of all, the term ‘race’ is completely removed from being scientifically correct. There are NO human races, just one species who happen to have differing physical characteristics as a result of adaptations to the climate in the part of the world in which they live. Granted, I’m not sure Painter was aware of this, as he lived in the era of race being used as a way to legitimize slavery (because certain ‘races’ were superior to others and could, therefore, claim them as property, not actual human beings).

When I learned that this particular textbook was used in teacher education programs, it made me realize why it takes so long to change our ways of thinking in regards to social justice issues, such as race. Our society puts so much trust in teachers to portray the correct information to students, and if teachers are taught falsified ideas, these ideas will become perpetuated in an entire generation of society. Personally, I find it quite admirable that our society has made such strides towards equality when these things were being taught in schools for so long.

Educators teach who they are and what they believe in, and I find this to be a wonderful, yet very scary, thought. How does society continue to trust that their teachers are fostering ideas of equality in their students? How can those in charge of recruiting new teachers ensure that they are hiring someone who can portray these important notions? And if the teachers fail to do this, how can the damage be undone?

-KKF

challenging common sense

This post will be discussing Kevin K. Kumashiro’s book, Against Common Sense (Revised Edition).

against common senseKumashiro defines common sense as things everyone should know. These things are implicitly taught and learned from experience and exposure to a certain culture, society, institution, family, etc. Hidden curriculum (the things we learn in school that aren’t taught through specific subject area content, ex. raising your hand, lining up to leave the room, etc.) is a form of common sense.

The knowledge of common sense is important to educators because it can be restrictive and oppressive. It is based in tradition, doesn’t allow for new ideas, alternative perspectives or variety. Common sense can also privilege some, while marginalizing others. Common sense prevents people from questioning norms – why would we need to question something that “just makes sense”? We have always done something a certain way, and that way is always regarded as correct, so we have no need to think of other ways in which it could be done. For example, students sit in desks while the teacher stands at the front of the room, and this is seen as a traditional classroom set up which no one challenges.

Creating teachers that challenge common sense is a huge goal of the Faculty of Education. The school system I grew up in prompted students to know the answers to questions, but future teachers are encouraged to ask questions which they often don’t know the answer to, or may not be able to answer at all. I think this semester will involve a lot of asking, “Why do we do things this way?” and “Why do we think like this?” To be a successfully reflective teacher, you must constantly be asking yourself why your classroom and lessons are set up the way they are, and consider ways in which they could be altered in order to be more universally accessible.

desk

This reading has opened up my eyes to the possibility of having a desk-less classroom (as common sense tells us that a classroom must have desks in it). What do you think are the pros and cons to desks vs. a different seating set up, such as tables, or floor cushions? Let me know what YOU think!

-KKF

P.S. Here is a link to the full Kumashiro text.

year 1 done & summer goals

I CANNOT believe that I am finished my first year of university! It was a whirlwind year of learning new things, meeting new people and having great new experiences! I am definitely excited to go back in the fall and continue to work towards my degree (and I am also very excited because my roommate got accepted into the Education program after a ton of hard work!), but I am also happy to have a break for a few months!

Although I have summer holidays (although here in Saskatchewan it doesn’t even feel like spring yet, as the ground is still mostly white from the snow!), I want to keep my teacher mind sharp so have a few goals for myself just to keep fresh with the education world.

1. Read all of the Indigenous Education articles that my classmates in ECS 110 read and my professor posted a list of.

2. Keep reading my Instructor magazines that I get and post and reflections or ideas that spring up from them.

3. Tutor my “summer student” for the third summer in a row! Note to self: Go talk to his homeroom teacher for possible materials and suggestions of what to focus on!

4. Use Twitter and Pinterest as ways to stay connected and get great new ideas.

5. Update my portfolio.

I have always been an avid goal setter and I think that summer holidays are a great time to re-evaluate your goals! I will let you know how I do on accomplishing these (and don’t worry, I still hope to post frequently during the summer!).

Wishing university students a great four month break and teachers, elementary and high school students a happy summer holiday once it comes!

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?

final ecs 110 class

I just got back from my final ECS 110 class, and, I have to say, I am really sad! That class has taught me SO SO SO much! Part of the reason I found this class such a surprise was that everyone I had ever talked to said that ECS 110 was very dry and boring compared to the fun field experience aspect of ECS 100. However, my professor was such an amazingly inspiring lady that I feel like I learned 3 times as much in her class – not that I didn’t enjoy ECS 100, I just feel like this class was the first time that I really stepped back and looked at myself as a future teacher in a critical way. 

There are now only 3 more classes between me and… final writing. But after that, I am home free for the summer and have to say that, while I absolutely loved my first year of university, I am really excited to head out of the big city and back into my small town with no stop lights (which my roommate found shocking – haha). 

I am thiiiiiiis close to being 1/4 done my degree (CRAZY!) and while I feel like I have learned and grown a huge amount, I also feel like I have a long way to go (I used to think that 4 more years of school seemed like a long time, but now I am amazed that they can squeeze the basics of being a teacher into only 4 years!) I am already so excited to see what comes next! 🙂

give me 5’s

It’s amazing how many little activity ideas I come up with when I’m in the shower. Is this anyone else’s place for thinking? Anyways, this is what my shampoo rinse routine gave me today:

Learning to count to 100 by 1’s, 2’s, 5’s and 10’s is an important math skill that is worked on early in elementary school. I thought up a fun way to help kids learn their ‘counting by 5’s’ and it is called Give Me 5’s!

The common expression “give me 5” refers to a high five, and I thought this would be a fun activity to incorporate into a math lesson on counting.

I picture this activity with a big hundreds chart at the front of the room and maybe even some smaller ones for the students. Basically, the gist of it is giving a high five every time you say a multiple of five. It would go like this:

5 *high five* 10 *high five* 15 *high five* 20 *high five* and so on and so forth.

You could mix this up in a lot of ways. After you have explained the activity to the students, you could practice with them sitting in their desks facing you. They will all count out loud with you and give an air high five to you as you say the multiples. After they get the hang of it, you can get them to go into partners or small groups and do different combinations. For example:

1. Count to ___ using your right hand/left hand only.

2. Count to ___ using both hands.

3. Count to ___ using alternating hands.

4. Count to ___ using your feet!

5. Make up your own body part to count with.

6. Clap your own hands once and then your partner’s for each alternating multiple of 5.

7. Stamp your feet, jump, spin, etc, for each multiple!

(There are so many variations you could use with this activity. It’s always nice when you can get kids moving during math!)

You could also mix it up by having slips of paper they could draw that had differing values they had to count to (15, 40, 75, etc.) so they weren’t counting all way to 100 every time. This also helps them find different multiples.

Another more advanced idea (that is a bit of a bridge into multiplication) is having one partner count up by fives and the other count how many high fives it took to get to a certain multiple. For 20, one partner would could 5, 10, 15, 20 and the other would count 1, 2, 3, 4 high fives to get to 20! You could get them to draw different numbers and record how many high fives it took them to get to that number each time.

Have fun and high five for having fun in math class! 🙂

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!

i think i need to watch juno again

ImageToday in my ECS 110 class, we looked at some videos of successful culturally responsive schools that create environments in which their Aboriginal students can achieve academic success. One of the schools had a day care right in the building and some of the video clips showed teen mothers with their children at the daycare.

I can’t say I am proud of this, but it is the honest truth that I immediately caught myself looking down on these teen mothers. In true teacher fashion, I quickly stepped back and thought, “Why do I feel this way?”

Any mention of teen pregnancy in my schooling presented it as shameful, irresponsible, a HUGE mistake, etc etc etc. Shows like ’16 and Pregnant’ and ‘Teen Mom’ don’t always present the situation in a positive light, either. TV shows involving characters who think they are pregnant or get pregnant are scandalous incidents. Media urges teens to ‘abstain from sex’ and ‘use protection.’ So is it really any wonder that I reacted this way? Feel free to disagree, but I think that many of the representations of teen pregnancy in our world today have TAUGHT me to think of it like this. 

I don’t condone teen pregnancy and this post isn’t meant to promote unprotected sex. All I am trying to say is: What can we do for/what supports can we offer to girls who do get pregnant?

And this is exactly why the day care at the school is such a genuinely helpful thing. A mistake or bad decision shouldn’t affect the ability for a young mother (or father) to experience success in their life. Yes, having a baby at a young age is a HUGE responsibility and will change your life immensely, but that doesn’t mean that the mother/father should lose their right to an education. 

At first I thought, “I don’t plan on teaching high school students, so why should this even matter to me?” But teen parenthood can affect elementary school teachers as well because students’ parents may be very young. I want to ensure that I am open minded and understanding towards any potential parents who did have teenage pregnancies. 

In closing, I have learned a lot about myself through this experience! I cannot look down on people who have been in these situations that society portrays so negatively. Each person I interact with as a professional deserves my respect. I can’t judge them until I have walked a mile in their shoes. Which is why I am interested in watching Juno again and finding other resources that can allow me to see things through a teen mother’s eyes.

 

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…