why am i (really) here?

I wrote an autobiography about what moments in my life led me to become a teacher and now, in true teacher fashion, I am going to reflect on what I wrote. The main aspect we were to focus on was our aversion to addressing our race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexuality. 

In my autobiography, I did address these parts of my identity, but I took a questioning lens. Here is an excerpt of what I wrote:

“Was I unknowingly steered into this field by society because of my identity as a white, middle class, heterosexual female? While I like to think that my passion for education is all my own, I can’t deny the fact that a large portion of the teacher population is made up with those who identify themselves the same way.” 

(I also addressed this question in a previous blog post, “just a little tuesday afternoon thinking…” from March 19th, 2013 if you want to hear some more of my thoughts on this matter) 

So while I did let the reader know who I am in regards to these identifiers, why didn’t I include an outright proclamation of these things as the very first sentence, or in the first paragraph? When we introduce ourselves in real life, we usually don’t have to say, “Hi, my name is ______ and I am a white, middle-class, heterosexual female.” And my question is, why not? We can’t determine any one of these things just by looking at someone. There are people in the world who may self-identify as black even though their skin may look to be a lighter shade. There are those who feel they were born in the body of the opposite gender of who they really are – so while they may look male on the outside, they self identify as a woman. We can’t judge socioeconomic status or sexuality by merely looking at someone, either. So why don’t we introduce these things about ourselves?

Obviously, it is not a cultural norm. But WHY not? Is it because only privileged people who are close to us get to know some of these deeply personal things (like sexuality)? Is it because we are embarrassed of a part of who we are? Is it because we expect people to know these things without us saying them? It is interesting to think of an alternate universe in which we are open about these fundamental parts of our identity. While this (most likely) will never catch on in society, it does make us question if we are hiding pieces of our identity from ourselves for some reason.

As a future teacher, I think that uncovering these pieces of ourselves is an important stepping stone into truly knowing yourself – which is the first step to realizing and appreciating differences as a window to anti-oppressive education.

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

ipads and cheerios

Just a quick little catch-up post here everyone:

1. No tutoring Tuesday or Thursday this week, BUT I have 4 sessions next week to make up for it. I am going to be a lesson planning machine this week and #1 is done! Sticking to my previous goal of adding more technology and interactive activities, I made the ENTIRE lesson with only iPad apps! I am very excited to try it out and see how it goes!

Here are the apps I am using:

Sight Words 2, Word Monsters, Dog Story, Phonics Genius

Maybe in a later post I can give my likes and dislikes about these apps and their functionality, but I am gunna take them for a real test drive first (because I don’t count my experimental playing of all these games, which I have to say, is actually a lot of fun… haha. The perks of this occupation are endless, I tell you!)

Wish me luck!

2. As an avid YouTube watcher, I spent the last day of my holiday catching up on all of the uploaded videos I had missed over the past little while. One of my favorite series is the _________ React by the Fine Brothers. There are many different groups of people who react to videos and internet sensations chosen by viewers. Teens, Elders, Kids, YouTubers all give their insight.

The newest Kids React is about an allegedly “controversial” Cheerios commercial. Why is it controversial? You’ll have to watch it and see.

I myself was waiting for something terrible to be said on the commercial. But the only reason that this commercial is turning heads is because of the mixed race parents. This seems like such a joke to me because this is an everyday, normal situation for so many people.

While the fact that Cheerios is getting heat for displaying a realistic family situation made me angry, the children’s reactions really brightened my day. THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is the reason I am ecstatic to spend my career with children. They truly give me hope for a brighter tomorrow. It reminds me a lot of my favorite quote:

See life through the eyes of a child: Everything being beautiful.

So let’s all try and adopt the view that these kids had. They didn’t see anything wrong. Because there wasn’t.