Reading Responses

ECS 100

Jagged Worldviews Collide – Leroy Little Bear

The text Jagged Worldviews Collide really outlines the differences in Aboriginal and European worldviews.  This is very important to realize when the idea of colonization is brought up.  There are very distinct differences between the two worldviews that will clash when they meet.

I never realized how much First Nations people valued certain aspects of personality, like honesty and kindness.  One thing that really stood out to me was how liars will be treated differently and different things will be given or received from a liar.  This goes to show how much they do value honesty within their culture and within the worldview in general.  Honesty also goes beyond what is caught which is also very interesting when you compare it to European culture.  Typically, we assume that if we don’t get caught for doing something wrong, then that makes it generally OK to dot. But in Aboriginal culture, there is an emphasis on being truthful and being true to yourself throughout your everyday life.  This includes acting appropriate and being honest to your peers, but also to yourself.

Another thing that stood out to me was how there is a major focus on the four interrelated “petals of a flower” in First Nations culture. This focus helps connect things emotionally and spiritually which is really valued by the First Nations people.  This includes the idea of how children are to be educated which is a very interesting concept when compared to European culture.  Children in First Nations cultures are taught by their relatives, but on relative is responsible for the majority of one child’s learning that is done.

One last thing that was interesting to me that I never realized before is how singular European culture is.  This idea involves many binaries like right/wrong when it comes to many aspects of daily life.  An example of this is how it is often thought that there is only one answer to a problem or one right way of doing something.  This idea often goes unseen throughout our culture as it has become a societal norm.  It is clear that we strive to become society’s form of what is “right” rather than focusing on becoming the best version of ourselves like it is seen in First Nations culture.

One question I still have from the reading is how have our cultures become so different from each other? Specifically, what made European culture become so static and singular? Since this is a major focus of European society, it is a valid question to ask ourselves.

Something that puzzles me is how Europeans expected our cultures to come together and make a single nation without realizing the consequences of our clashing worldviews.  It is clear through this article that they are very opposite of each other, therefore that would make it almost impossible to live in harmony with one another.  I just don’t see the logic behind making our nation united when European people believe there is only one way to do things, assuming their way is right.  How can we be united with this perspective?

Shattering the Silence

When reading “Shattering the Silence”, there were many things that I expected to be said, but also a few things that shocked me or that I have learned about the very sensitive topic of Residential Schools in Canada.  Throughout my education in elementary and high school, I learned quite a bit about what Residential Schools were and how they operated in very traumatizing ways.  This reading opened my eyes about the reason for Residential Schools and how absurd it is to be classified as “civilizing”.  The text goes on to ask the question, ‘What does it mean to civilize?’.  The answer to this question outlines all the absurd acts that the Canadian Government took part in to so call ‘civilize’ the Indigenous peoples and their culture. As the government refers to Indigenous people as ‘savages’, they go on to act as savages in several ways to destroy this culture.

Another thing that I learned from this reading was how sacred and special Indigenous people viewed their hair and how the cutting of their hair had such a negative toll on their lives.  The hair on their head spoke deeper meaning to their culture than it does to European culture.  The loss of hair traumatized the new children that were just welcomed to their new school.  This is the beginning of when they realized their knowledge they have received from their community and Elders was considered wrong.  Something so small to some, like the importance of hair, has such a bigger impact on others, and that is truly incredible to me.

Lastly, I learned that the traumas not only are being passed through generations of Indigenous people, but are also being recovered in unforeseen circumstances.  The text outlines how a possible friend’s father could have had a stroke.  This stroke could have changed his whole outlook on his life, even considering the fact he had been through the Residential School experience.  His love for life has been returned, and he begins to practice his spiritual and traditional ceremonies.  It had never before occurred to me that this was even possible.  I was structured to believe that the only way of healing from an experience such as Residential Schools was through therapy sessions or through government funded programs aimed at Residential School survivors.  This example goes to show that recovery from experiences like this will be different from person to person, and that there is really not just one single answer.

There is always one question that I don’t think I will ever get an answer to regarding Residential Schools, and that is why did it take such a long time for people to finally realize what was being done in Residential Schools? Why did this system get to the point it did? These questions remain in my head.

I constantly struggle with the TRC and its calls to action.  This huge document is aimed at the Government of Canada to reconcile for what has happened, but I just don’t see many of these calls to action being applied in society.  There are still so many problems that need to be addressed and I just feel like nothing is ever truly happening in concern to the call to action.

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

White privilege is a fairly new concept to me, as I have only studied it in my university career so far.  It is something that never really came to mind when we discuss racism or anything related to race.  With this being said, I have made many realizations when reading this article.  First, I realized how many situations I could be in without having my race come in to question, but if I were of a different race, these same situations may be treated differently.  For example, if my card got declined at the gas station or grocery store, I most likely wouldn’t be accused of being poor or trying to steal.  This situation may turn out different if I were not white.

My second realization from this article is that although being white gives me many privileges that I may not be aware of, I also cannot control these privileges as they are societal creations.  I cannot help the fact that I am white, but I can start to realize how everyday things come along for me very easily and take into consideration how hard these things might be for others.

My last realization is that white privilege goes so unknown for many people.  I think it is important for people to realize how easy they have it in many situations compared to others.  I am in no way saying that people need to feel sorry for others all the time, but I think putting a little effort into thinking about and realizing how society treats you different when you are of a certain race.

One question that I have after reading this article is: why do we as a white society put so much effort into covering up our privileges? If we admit to our privileges maybe people wouldn’t take them for granted so much.

One last thought that I have about this reading that I struggle with is why society has given white people these privileges that aren’t the same for any other race.  Why do only white people receive these types of advantages in society?

The Heart of a Teacher – Parker Palmer

There are many ideas that are presented in this reading that help us understand what individuals present and how they present it for them to be thought of as ‘good’ teachers or educators.  It is obvious that every teacher is different in the way they present their knowledge, but it is also obvious which teachers truly love and devote their time and effort to make their knowledge meaningful for them and their students.  This is a concept that has never occurred to me.  I always had my favourite teachers growing up, but I never thought about why they had been my favourite.  In high school and university, I always prefer the teacher or professor that makes the material the most interesting, while also being easily approachable.  Looking back at it now, my preferences mostly related to the teachers that truly love what they teach and make it the most interesting for me to learn.  Their hearts were fully engaged with what they were doing and it is clear that they are passionate about both learning and teaching.

Another thing that I learned from this reading is that even though two very similar individuals who have very similar qualifications in an area can be so different in the way they teach because of their lack of awareness of their ‘true self’.  Being aware of your sense of self is clearly very important when it comes to being an educator as it influences your experience and your students experience with you.  Without this awareness, your knowledge and teachings will be considered less important to you and your students.

One last thing that I learned from this article is that even though you can dedicate your life to knowing one subject area, your knowledge will always only be considered ‘partial’ and teaching this subject area might help you realize this.  Because knowledge is so diverse and different for everyone, there is no way you can know everything. Growing up, I always assumed my teachers knew everything that they would talk and teach about, but it is clear to me now from reading this article that they in fact can’t know everything about a certain topic or subject no matter how much time and effort they put into it.  I have always feared being a teacher in front of students and getting a question that I don’t know the answer to.  This fear of not knowing something has always been with me as I have become passionate about teaching.  But this article reinforces the idea that no teacher can know everything and that is just a part of life as a teacher.

One question that I have after reading this article is how can you truly tell if you have a good sense of self? Will you be able to see it in the children that you teach or is it an internal feeling?

One thing that I struggle with after reading this article is finding the balance between personal and public life.  How can you ensure as an educator that you do not cross one of these boundaries, especially the public life? How can you tell what is too much information to share with either your students or your colleagues that will not put you in a vulnerable position?

Oh, Canada: Bridges and Barriers to Inclusion in Canadian Schools

With little background knowledge about the idea of inclusive education, this article brought forward many interesting points for me.  The first thing I learned is that inclusiveness  was nationally legislated to be included in school systems and legal systems across the country.  This would ensure that everyone would be treated the same within these systems.  With that being said, obviously some provinces and territories responded to this legislations faster than others but it is interesting that the smaller provinces seem to have higher success rates, which makes sense since there is a lower population.

Another thing that I learned from this article is that the idea of inclusive education training is not universal and is often focused on within school divisions, schools, and even teachers themselves.  I find this flawed as inclusive education training is something that should be more universal across provinces and even the country so that many teachers are capable an trained to handle more inclusive classrooms.  Even then, the article states that teachers are free to choose which courses they want to take relating to inclusive education and many of these courses offered weren’t related to the idea of inclusive education.  I believe that there should be a universal standard that teachers should follow when being trained in inclusive education.

One last thing I learned from this article is that mental health issues are more prevalent than physical health issues in Canada.  I figured that mental health has become a very common factor in today’s society, but I never thought that it would outshine any other health related issue.  This is interesting to think about when it comes to educational settings.  Since mental health is often something that goes unnoticed for many people, it is still a huge concern that many teachers and students may not consider.

When the article states that national legislation has been put in place about inclusion and inclusive spaces, something that I noticed is that Saskatchewan was not mentioned once for having implemented strategies within the schooling system.  This bothers me as this is the province I have lived my entire life in and also where I hope to teach.  Since inclusive education is becoming more important in today’s society, I would have hoped to hear that Saskatchewan has been contributing to this idea in a noticeable way.

One last thought I have about this article and the idea of inclusive education is that obviously with the rise in physical and intellectual disabilities along with attention disorders, will there ever be a fully inclusive classroom?  Would this ideal classroom meet the needs of every single child? Would it challenge everyone in their own way?  Is this idea really something that can become a reality, or is it simply a goal?

TV Bullies: How Glee and Anti-Bullying Programs Miss the Mark

This article suggests many things in which are a true reality for many people attending public schools within North America. Bullying is an unfortunate reality for many students within the school system and has escalated rapidly with technology and with the rise of the LGBTQ community. Throughout this article, it is explained that homophobia is being defined under bullying, even though it holds different characteristics.  This is a very new idea that I have never encountered or thought about deeply.  Although all forms of ‘bullying’ may seem to display the same message, homophobia is considered to have a deeper message being sent to the victim.  At the moment, I am quite conflicted at how I feel about this statement.  Although I have not looked in to this idea very much, I think it would be beneficial for myself as a future educator to learn more about this.

One thing that was mentioned in the article that I also never thought about is how the media is gaining a profit off the idea of bullying.  Bullying is the theme and focus of many movies and television series which in turn means that people are gaining money to portray bullying in their shows.  This is a sad reality because it is supposed to enhance the advertising of how detrimental bullying can be, but is it really helping the anti-bullying campaign?

The last thing that I learned from this article is how homophobia is considered to be a personal problem rather than an institutional problem.  This is an interesting statement to me because I have never considered it to be true.  Growing up in a small town myself helps me to relate to this article very well.  I do believe this statement to be true because people are raised in different ways which can influence their perception on political things like homophobia.  When someone is raised in a small town with little variation of personalities and differences, one comes to believe that anything abnormal to them must be stopped.  This needs to come to the institutions to prevent and overcome these negative ideologies.  I do also agree with the article when it states that administration plays a major role in having a positive impact on these problems.

One thing that I still am bothered by after reading this article is how gender roles are so prominent in today’s society and how society has constructed ideas of what it means to be a man or a woman.  These are the hardest constructs that face our society today and are the ultimate reason why homophobia exists.

My last thought about this article is questioning how long it will take society to realize that gender roles and beliefs about what is acceptable of each gender need to be removed completely in order to end many disputes of today’s society.

‘Currere’ to the rescue?  Teachers as ‘Amateur Intellectuals’ in a Knowledge Society

This article outlines the importance of using ‘currere’ as a form of becoming an ‘amateur intellectual’ rather than a standardized educator in such a changing society.  There were a few things that caught my eye within the introduction portion of this article.  First, I had to realize that we are living in what is considered a ‘knowledge society’.  To me this means that our society is very knowledge based and that knowledge in our society is the most important aspect.  Within this knowledge society, the article states that the gap between wealthy and poor is widened.  To me, I think this gap is widening because of the reliance on wealth from knowledge.  I think because of my age, I don’t quite understand the affects that this has on people.  As I grow older I hope to realize that this gap exists for a reason and it may have to do with the fact that we treat knowledge as such a high standard to achieve wealth.

Secondly, the idea of “soul-less standardization” is a concept that I have never heard of but immediately connected to.  Personally, I think this term is referring to the fact that many school settings are focused on standardized testing and memorizing facts to be tested on.  Throughout my elementary and high school years, this concept was very present in many of the classes I was situated in.  I think that the article is referring to this idea because as a society we value knowledge, but we also value other things like communication and also things like sympathy and passion.  These other aspects are not reached or taught if the only focus is on how well one performs on a test or how much one can memorize in general.  There is a lost connection between these ideas and they will grow more distant from each other if this knowledge society increases the focus solely on being knowledgeable only to be tested on.

Lastly, the article stated that teaching in a knowledge society is a paradox.  This idea of teaching being a paradox in our society is a new concept for me.  I never realized the disconnect of the knowledge being taught and what is also expected of us in society outside of schools.  When students are solely focused on memorizing and regurgitating facts as forms of knowledge, there is a loss of sympathetic feelings and senses of community, which was outlined in the article.  I think that this will increase if society pushes for more standardized testing and standardized teaching methods.

One thing that I still struggle with is why standardized testing became an ideal way of testing ones capabilities and overall knowledge.  There are so many problems with it and many students struggle with it, which is unfair if they hold the knowledge of other, possibly more social aspects of life.

One question that I still have about currere is how it will be implemented and how will it be made aware of? Obviously through this course we practiced the idea of currere, but overall, there are many teachers in the world, so how will everyone come to terms with becoming ‘amateur intellectuals’ rather than standardized educators?