My Hardest (And Most Unresolved) Questions As An Educator

My whole life (living in an affluent area with predominantly white, middle-class kids) I’ve been plagued with comments of “why do we have to learn about First Nations” and “We learn the same things every year”. I have struggled with teaching and learning treaty education for my whole life. I love learning treaty education: I love the perspectives and the crisis of learning that it puts me in, but I can see why lots of others don’t bother. I struggle to be authentic. I really have no answer for the questions emailed to Mike because I haven’t found a way to approach this myself. I found that in terms of Treaty Education, we’re always told as preservice educators to teach treaty education but no one sits us down and tells us what students should know or how to approach it. I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with my boyfriend about not only Treaty Education but the treatment of First Nations, Metis and Inuit in Canada. I struggle to express why Treaty Education is important to someone who believes that we should do away with treaties when I don’t even understand them fully. It’s hard to express the many cases of indecent acts towards the First peoples of our country. I’ve come to terms with my white guilt, my part as a white settler and how I play into the narrative and inequality within our social systems. How do I help someone understand this who doesn’t understand these basic and fundamental inequalities and who really isn’t in an open mindset to understand this yet? How do I bring them to a place of learning properly? How do I cite my facts in an order and with a purpose that specifically starts that journey? How can I open someone’s mind who isn’t ready to take that journey with me? These are the hardest things I’ve encountered in regards to education. I can understand the journey that I’ve been on but how in the world do I do what my teachers helped me to do? I wish I could bottle people like Shauneen Pete, Mike Cappello and Katia Hildebrandt and take them with me and channel them when I speak on topics of identity and social justice. I want to be able to open minds, but I understand that not everyone wants to or is open to taking that journey with me. I’ve quoted it before but on Grey’s Anatomy they once said “say it loud and go from there” and that’s how I’ve chosen to go about social justice. If I bring these ideas into my life, practice them and lead by example maybe I will rub off on people in everyday conversations (I’ve had some wonderful discussions about identity with some pretty open minded bank tellers). Every chance I get, I  deconstruct my own thinking and raise critical questions about our social systems with other people because I hope that one day I will make enough points to bring enlightenment. Of course, because this is the thing that I worry and care about the most makes me want to be better and do better out of interest. Even if I’m alone I will find allies and I can agree to disagree with many people but at least I bring it up. Resources like #treatyedcamp will be vital in moving forward. I would also love to see some elders in my ECS classes (as we always teach that but we never actually bring them in to talk in our class). Ideas like the Project of Heart and the TRC calls to action are great springboards. Just ask around. Speak loudly and go from there and you will find allies and resources and people who back you up. To this preservice teacher who wrote the email: who cares what your co-op says (well, you probably should, but in this case, your co-op is wrong). You are backed by the curriculum. It’s a requirement for you to teach treaty education whether your co-op likes it or not. Justify yourself through the curriculum. Approach it through the curriculum. Follow your outcomes and you cannot be called out for it.At the moment, while I write this, I am watching Super Soul Sunday (on the Oprah Network) and Gloria Steinem talks about a quote (possibly from Sojourner Truth and many others) that unless all of us are free, none of us are free. Change comes from the bottom. As educators, we teach the next generation and we can enact this change and be this change for our students. If we don’t how else will we know that they are getting this information. Obviously don’t force feed it to them but read your class and know what they are prepared and comfortable for before creating crisis in a controlled manner. So to answer the prompt, I really don’t know, but I’d love to find out.

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