ECS-110 Summary of Learning

                                                                          Work Cited:

 

DiAngelo, R. & Sensoy, O. (2017) Is Everyone Really Equal?: An Introduction to Key Concepts in Social Justice Education. 2nd Ed. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

 

Tremonti, A. (2017) What does Canada 150 mean for Indigenous communities? CBC radio: The Current. Retrieved from https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10/

 

The Representation Project. (2013, December 18). The Mask You Live in – Trailer. Retrieved from http://www.easybib.com/guides/citation-guides/apa-format/youtube-video/

NA. (2015, May 14) Policy on gay-straight alliances in schools effective, says Wall. CTV News. Retrieved from http://regina.ctvnews.ca/policy-on-gay-straight-alliances-in-schools-effective-says-wall-1.2374502

 

DiAngelo, R. (2015). Why It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism. Huffington Post. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/good-men-project/why-its-so-hard-to-talk-to-white-people-about-racism_b_7183710.html

NA. (2016, June 22) Regina student says gay-straight alliances should be mandatory. CBC News. Retrieved from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/gay-straight-alliances-in-regina-1.3648153

 

                                                                         Other Sources used:

 

Writing the Self Blog Post #2

https://eportfolio6mackw.wordpress.com/2017/09/28/cold-and-canadian/

 

Writing the Self Blog Post #3

https://eportfolio6mackw.wordpress.com/2017/10/10/through-my-eyes/

 

Writing the Self Blog Post #4

https://eportfolio6mackw.wordpress.com/2017/10/26/genher-and-genhim-realization/

 

Class lectures, slideshows (slides), and notes written in class

 

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Learning in Relation: (Dis)ability

Assumptions are constantly made that we do indeed include the considerations of the intellectual disabled in ensuring equal rights, freedoms, education, and needs. Yet, by looking at another perspective such as the CDS, we can appreciate the need to question what constitutes norms. Society and its institutions are predominantly constructed on what it means to be “human”. It was noted in Goodley’s and Runswick-Cole’s article, Becoming dishuman: thinking about the human through dis/ability,” that people with intellectual disabilities were regarded as belonging to those “certain” people on the edge of what is human and ordinary life. “Disability inevitably disorientates normativity.” (Goodley and Runswick-Cole), and if that is the case, we need to be vigilant that we are addressing the oppression of dishumanizing people with learning disabilities. We need to advocate policies and practices that ensure that they feel human in contemporary society and that they have the status of human with autonomy, self-advocacy, citizenship, and a sense of belonging.

 

In relation to educational practices, inclusion is a priority. Everyone can learn. Differentiated instruction is essential to address the needs of all individuals. Having schools with integrated programming builds strong communities. Segregating individuals with intellectual disabilities leads to isolation, alienation, and a misrepresentation of their ability as worthy contributors to our society. By integrating those with intellectual disabilities into the “norm” classes, important relations are built and community assemblages are made. Both binary types of students acquire a “normalcy” that society needs to duplicate. It is extremely important to keep questioning our practices and to be ever open to change – “We want to move to a time when thinking about the human will always involve thinking about disability.” (Goodley and Runswick-Cole)

The Self in Relation

i) Normative Narratives

After looking at and reflecting on my fellow classmates’ blog posts, I found there was an abundance of perspectives that could be seen as relating to my own normative narrative. Often when looking at race I believe that a consensus normative narrative is that at a young age, people tend to be ignorant about race, but yet it has no affect on how we judge one another. That once we reach high school, our obliviousness becomes a more educated understanding of diversity. I look back to my understanding on the subject as a child in school. Although as time went on, I like the other students, became more educated and aware of the diversity around me, we continued to interact without bias. I believe Ben’s post “Writing the self #3” shares a key piece of the normative narrative I was trying so desperately to display. In his blog he writes, “His skin color never got in the way of us being friends.” The retelling of a specific friendship that started at a young age and over time only became stronger. Ben also mentions, “I never thought about how his skin color might affect his life and how people might treat him because of his skin color.” I relate to this in the sense that it demonstrates the timeline which I was trying to show in my own school experience. Going from being oblivious to the race of others around me to becoming more educated on other students’ diverse backgrounds and possible struggles. I also noticed that similar to my blog, this newly found understanding in no way changed the long lasting friendship of the students.   

 

I was able to get reassurance when reading these blogs that my experiences throughout school were not the outlier. By this I mean trying to relate my own normative narrative to other students’ experiences, and see if in elementary school, are race and or racism left out of the curriculum. Often the answer was yes. An example of such is in Lily’s post “Writing to Self: Race, where she describes before high school, “Racism was never discussed in classrooms that I can remember.” I found this to be immediately interesting because she mentions going to school in a small Christian School, whereas I went to school at a large public school. My point is that regardless of where you went for elementary school, such talks are seemingly non-existent. She then goes on to say, “Once I got to high school I started to spend more time on social media and figuring out what was really going on in the “real world”. Similar to that of Ben’s blog, I feel as though her normative narrative ties into that of my own. Starting off with being aware of differences, yet having the mentality that we all did as kids at that age, “Ignorance is bliss.” This is followed by my shared earlier mentioned understanding that came from teachers beginning to go in depth on the subject more in high school or other factors available at an older age such as the influence of certain media. I saw a shared normative narrative throughout all of our stories, and although our understanding changed and we became more aware, we never lost that mindset we had as kids to continue to interact without bias.  

ii) Creating counter-stories: Disrupting normative narratives

Although my personal experiences that lead to my own normative narrative did not seemingly differ too much from my fellow classmates, I did find that Sara’s post “School” disrupted my perceived normative narrative, that at a young age people tend to be ignorant about race until high school, and act without bias. I found reading her own experiences to be very eye opening as she describes going to a small school in Sylvania and being taught as well as believing that, “Everyone was everyone’s friend.” Her story is one of innocence being crushed by a harsh reality as she acknowledges such an ideology to prove to be false. After the closing of her school she discusses starting to attend school at Tisdale elementary. It was there at a very young age that she began witnessing discrimination in the form of racism of one of her best friends, Jayden, because she had darker skin than those around her. She goes on to say, “It was apparent to me even in my young age that no one wanted to be Jayden’s friend.” It is that awareness of her own surroundings that not only peeked my interest, but caused me to re-examine my own disrupted normative narrative and how it was perhaps clouding my opinion.

 

After reading Sara’s story I was given the opportunity to reflect on my own normative narrative and how it differed from the experiences of her story. I believe my own story may have been clouded, but that simply was my own experience and understanding. With that being said, I can see it is not the only experience out there. Not all kids are as innocent to their surroundings as I had perceived. Education about race seems to have started much earlier for many kids than it did for myself. Along with that I alluded in my own blog post that understanding, enlightenment, and a need for positive action would be the result of being taught about race. That there is no bias and there will continue not to be. This is contradicted when Sara retells how her mother responded when she asked why the other kids weren’t playing with Jayden; saying, “Some children grow up around the idea that “children of other skin colors (that aren’t the same as your own) aren’t their friends”.” I did not consider how some kids would be taught out of school by their own parents so early, and that said parents would reinforce their own intolerant views on their child. This would create an uneducated and bias ideology for the child about the race of others around them.

 

Earlier I had mentioned that perhaps my own experience was clouded. As I examined the blog posts of others it seemed as though my own normative narrative fell into the category of being the dominate one. Yet as I implied earlier, that does not make it the right one. I believe through re-reading, “Why it’s so hard to talk to white people about racism” by Robin DiAngelo, I was able to get insight into my flawed understanding. “We move through a wholly racialized world with an unracialized identity (e.g. white people can represent all of humanity, people of color can only represent their racial selves).” I believe that statement can relate to myself in the sense that looking at race at a young age, and perhaps even today, I was only thinking through my own perspective as a straight white male. I saw my own experience and how I was treated, to be that of the standard or normality. I didn’t stop and take time to consider that such a perspective would perhaps most likely vary if you asked fellow classmates who were of a different background. I was just a kid, but even as I write this now I see it is here where my unintentional “Racial Arrogance” can conceivably be seen as it again prevented me from grasping the perspectives of not just a few, but rather all of my fellow classmates at the time.

I don’t feel uncomfortable or angry with the comparison of the two normative narratives, but rather educated and thankful that I was able to gain a new understanding. However I was disheartened after reading Sara’s story in the sense of hearing how in certain situations kids can hold such bigoted bias towards their fellow classmates, and at such a young age. Yet it was that disheartening that stood out and caused me to truly question my own blog and normative narrative. There was no moment of willful ignorance in which I tried to hold on to my limited view and didn’t learn from this story. I learned from what I simply didn’t consider beforehand and now I am able to think in a less superficial way when talking about race. As a future teacher I think I need to take into consider situations similar to that of Jayden. It raises such questions as what can I do in terms of creating a less segregated classroom/school? How can I prevent bias views that can lead to seclusion of students? Does this mean proper/tolerant education on race needs to have a higher priority in the curriculum at a young age? The answer will not come overnight, however I can enhance my overall knowledge on the matter by taking action. Hopefully by asking the perspectives of credible people well versed in such topics, educated readings, and events/functions that help spread awareness, I will be a few steps closer to some answers.

DiAngelo, R. (2015) Whys It’s So Hard to Talk to White People About Racism. HuffPost. Retrieved from

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/good-men-project/why-its-so-hard-to-talk-to-white-people-about-racism_b_7183710.html

GenHER and GenHIM Realization

The shrill ringing of the bell has me jumping from my desk. I feel as though I will never get used to that sound, but regardless, it’s time for recess. The whole class scatters outside around the playground. Seemingly without thought, boys and girls separate into their gender groups. Although there were times when we would all come together and play, more often than not, the boys would be off playing their own games, as were the girls of the class. This seemed to be similar on the days of show and tell as well. As kids we usually just managed to bring our favourite toy from home. Although not always the case, the vast majority of boys would usually present their newest action figure and the girls, their latest barbie doll. Again there were always exceptions, yet the differences were apparent.

Those were the normal occurrences of my kindergarten classroom, and of course as kids, we thought nothing of it. My decision on what game I played at recess, who I mainly played with, or what I chose to bring to show and tell, were more based on having an older brother and the influence of my parents. As a young kid I seemed to always follow the lead of my older brother. If he was playing with dinosaurs on a certain day, I wanted to be playing with dinosaurs. I would play with the same toys, dress similarly, and my interests were essentially modelled by his behaviours. That influence carried over and I associated those experiences to that of the classroom. I believe this was true for many of my friends who also had older siblings.

Perhaps students simply looked around at what their own gender had brought to class. Maybe the assumption was made that it was the norm of their gender and to not follow would somehow make them outcasts. Thus, reluctantly, some boys felt stuck playing with trucks or action figures and the girls with dolls or stuffed animals. At that time, obviously none of us thought or even considered for a moment that we were following some sort of binary opposite in which we were all gendered. Kids are just defined by their toys at that age and it is rare that you can look at any toy and describe it as being gender neutral. It is not as though this division is limited to students of a young age. As we all grow older, and go into higher education such as high school, we begin to find something new that divides our gender.

The shrill ringing of the bell has me jumping from my desk. I still haven’t gotten used to that sound, but regardless, school is done. Those who have after school activities or play sports quickly scatter to those events, to be on time. Seemingly without thought, the guys go join their own basketball, soccer, or football team and the girls go to their own basketball or soccer team. Once again we are all divided; however, now it is through sports. The idea of being gendered continues to be reinforced.

Treaty Ed Camp

This past weekend I attended the Treaty Ed Camp and it proved to be a remarkable experience. I found the variety of different sessions and the keynote speech I attended to be a great educational opportunity and it did wonders for shedding necessary light on a variety of topics that I hadn’t really considered before. This included students and adults not only not considering themselves to be treaty people, as well as not knowing what treaty they were located on. Throughout every province in Canada the topic of treaties can be a delicate one, as many teachers have a tendency to simply shy away from the subject. Some don’t want to acknowledge the happenings of the past and use the excuse of it not being in the curriculum to avoid the topic altogether. As a future teacher myself, I find this very interesting. If we choose to continuously ignore such topics because they make us uncomfortable, we will only digress as a society and maintain a state of ignorance.

 

I was very fascinated by one of the speakers talking about how after becoming more informed with topics such as the lack of follow through with treaties, or the happenings at residential schools, white people can create self-hatred. Yet this guilt does little in terms of any action being taken. It is appropriate to feel disgust for the actions that have taken place; however, this should be followed by acting upon those feelings in a progressive manner that helps work towards change and reconciliation.

 

I was able to participate in a variety of different sessions at the camp. One that stood out was titled, “Making Indigenous Language Trendy.” I enjoyed how the speaker was very personal and gave us background into his own dealings with stereotypes when it came to him speaking Cree as a young man. His ideas on using games in order to teach the correct pronunciation of the language as a different style of teaching was very interesting. It took into consideration what the students were most likely to gravitate to. Another session revolved around what transpired at residential schools and the loss of identity that it caused. This is something that I have studied before and focused on in school in the past; however, the session also gave advice on how to implement such a subject into the curriculum. This could serve as a useful tool to guide any teacher wanting to approach the topic of residential school, who is unsure of the correct approach.

 

I believe the whole day was very professionally done. Every speaker I listened to, regardless of whether there were 383 students in an assembly hall or just a handful in a classroom, were able to connect with all those listening as they were very passionate about their specific speeches or sessions. I think it is very motivational and has given me added incentive to go seek out other ways in which I can get more involved as well as continue to educate myself. I have already been able to find a variety of events across the province to attend, and readings that I can use to further my own understanding.

 

Through My Eyes

It is the first day of Kindergarten. Naturally I am anxious as this is one of the first times I will be separated from my parents in my early life. The morning, of I think of every excuse under the sun why I shouldn’t go, to no avail. On the car ride to school, both my parents calmed my nerves and told me, “Not only are you going to learn, but you’ll have more fun than you can imagine and you will make so many new friends.” All of a sudden the car stopped and I looked out the window to see what seemed like a behemoth of a structure. Still nervous, I said my goodbyes to my parents and took my seat in the classroom. I spent the whole time just repeating the words my parents said to me. By the end of the week everything they said had already proven to be correct. It all proved to be right throughout all of elementary school.

 

Now you might be thinking to yourself, what did that have to do with my earliest memory of noticing my own or others that have a different colour of skin than I do? There was no mention of race. Exactly. As a kid my mind was focused on being in a school for the first time. By this I mean that like my classmates when we looked around the class we were well aware of the abundance of different races, most likely immediately; however, we never gave it a second thought or a mention. It didn’t change who we befriended or who we had fun with. It wasn’t a topic of discussion brought on by the teachers. As kids we were more focused on having superpowers, possible monsters under the bed, and making friends at school. It is not that we were ignorant to race, but rather innocent to any new discussion about it. So although as a kid I did essentially notice race, I was oblivious and innocent to recognizing any true meaning behind it.

 

I remember as I grew older teachers gradually started to bring up the subject of race. They began to ease us into the conversation as they thought we were now mature enough. This is when a more educated realization of my own skin color took place. It could be seen as essentially the beginning of losing our innocence as kids. I could no longer be oblivious. A light was now shone on race that we had never payed much attention to. I, like my fellow students in my class, became more aware about one another’s diverse backgrounds. We started studying as well as celebrating our differences. Yet now there is a change. Not in the friendships we have created or the way we view one another, but in our world view. We have transitioned from simply being innocent in our worldview, to knowing we can’t have an “ignorance is bliss” mentality. In order to create change and gain understanding of others we must not ignore our surroundings.

 

Cold and Canadian

It’s -30 degrees outside. My boots are filled to the top with snow and I can barely see ten feet ahead of myself as each unique flake falls from the sky. For as long as I can remember, this is how it has always been. I remember making my way through an arctic wasteland as a kid on Halloween night just to get the candy I so desperately craved. I remember ringing in the new year morning by creating the latest edition to the snowman family I had made with my own family in the backyard. Coming back from outside to see a cup of scorching hot chocolate and just before I could burn my mouth on it for the hundredth time, seeing another relative had arrived. This is when I truly felt Canadian. I know what you’re thinking already. A few sentences in and this Canadian born boy has already gone on about the snow. Well sorry. Snow plays a big part in my own image of Canada. Yet it is a far second to those I spent the time with.

I always loved the first sight of snow as a kid. Ignoring the need to shovel the driveway five times a week, the snowfall brought family and friends together whether it was for the holidays or not. Although it also meant once again I would be trapped and struggling to make the slightest movement in the hundreds of layers of sweaters my mom had forced me to wear on each of those cold days, I was happy. I embraced the freezing weather for those moments. Being able to look back on the moments I experienced as a kid, I am thankful. I am thankful for having friends to go trick or treating with. I am thankful for family to have a day in the snow with. I am thankful for loved ones making the long journeys they did from across the country just for the opportunity to see one another. Again you’re probably thinking about how this guy went from snow to talking about being thankful. He really must be Canadian. Well sorry. I will always be grateful for the experiences shared amongst my family and friends, because it’s when I truly feel Canadian.

Knowing that through every blizzard or case of frostbite I made the most of each moment I had with family and friends is what made me feel truly Canadian. That along with my seemingly complete ignorance to the teeth chattering weather. How I saw myself as a Canadian is more than likely drastically different than many other people’s perspectives. Ironically most people seem to be frozen with fear when they see winter is coming, but not me. Perhaps you’ve just been thinking that it all sounds like a bunch of the many stereotypes given to Canada and Canadians. Well to that I say sorry. Reflecting on my time in Canada, I wouldn’t change a thing. I have never acted more Canadian, than with time spent with family and friends.

 

The Foundation of my Family

There is no specific structure or certain place in the world that I claim to be home. Rather it is and has always been the confidence instilled in me by my family in knowing they would always be there for me. Their guidance and devotion throughout my life has always served as the foundation that kept the columns of what I consider to be my home strong. Looking back and reflecting on all the memories and moments of events they attended, or the time spent helping me in hours of stress, and the advice that was given, that is how I would define home.

Home is the memory of my parents showing up to every sporting event I had. If it was football and the forecast called for it to be hotter than hades or you could see your own breath in the frostbite like weather, my parents were there. I would walk onto the field just before a game, heart pounding and letting my nervousness get the best of me; but when I looked out into the bleachers and saw them supporting me it was better than any rallying half time speech ever could be. It always quickly made me realize it never mattered how well or poorly I played, I would always feel at home because of their endless support.

Home is the memory of my dad teaching me how to drive. As I desperately wanted to learn, he was there ready in the car to teach me. Despite every red light I went through, every missed stop sign, and every abrupt stop that made you almost launch out of your seat, he was there every day to teach me the proper way. He always understood, even when it came at the cost of his car. I progressed and learned solely because of his patience and guidance. The same can be said for my mother consistently helping me with my homework, no matter the subject. Whether I was a kid coming to her the night before about having a big spelling test the next day or as a high school student trying to wrap my mind around the meaning of the story “Beowulf,” she was there to help me overcome every educational obstacle that stood in my way.

Home is the memory of growing up with my brother by my side and the guidance he gave me. I will always remember the hours he spent trying to teach someone like me, with no rhythm, how to play guitar. It may not have resulted in me becoming a professional musician, but it did create fond memories to look back on. Even with him now living a thousand miles away, he is still able to give me advice. When I decided to try stand-up comedy, he skyped me frequently and reviewed my material and gave me inspiration for new jokes. Without him it is very likely that once the big lights shone in my face on stage I would have heard crickets.

My family created the phenomenal rendition of how I personally view home. Without their impact on my life I feel as though it would be very easy to believe that when hearing the word home all I would imagine is four walls and a roof. I am simply fortunate to say that this is not the case. The influence of my family is not lost on me and once I have a family of my own I aspire set a similar environment. I would want my kids to know that home will always mean family.

About Me

My name is Mackenzie Williams and this is my ePortfolio. I was born in Saskatoon and I moved with my family to Regina at age three to be closer to my dad who had been working in Regina at the time. Since then I have attended elementary school at W. S. Hawrylak as well as high school as Campbell Collegiate. Growing up I have always been positively influenced by teachers as my mother, aunt, and uncle were all teachers. I credit my interest in education to getting to listen to their own views and philosophies on teaching. From this I realized at a young age just how much of an impact a teacher can make on their students lives. I am currently in my first year of the Education program at the University of Regina. With that being said I am still uncertain on what grade I would like to teach.

My objective as a teacher is to be very understanding of the students needs. I would like to create an environment in which all students feel safe to share their ideas and opinions. I want to help all of them reach their full potential as learners.