My Saskatchewan

*This is a song that I wrote and a photo montage that I created in response to my feelings about Saskatchewan. The photography is all my own work.

Personal Art Response to Saskatchewan: Commentary

The inspiration for the lyrics to “Home” came from my personal feelings towards the farm where I grew up. I consider myself a city girl now but I believe I will always be a farm girl at heart. When I am driving away from the city towards my childhood farm, where my parents still live, I feel a sense of anticipation and cannot wait to get there. I have always enjoyed the scenery and I often take some personal time relaxing and decompressing in nature. The Saskatchewan countryside and the valley have a way of making me feel that is hard to describe. I wish there is a word for the emotions of love, wonder, comfort, and peace collectively. That emotion combined with the memories—good, bad, sweet, and bittersweet—are what draw me to Saskatchewan. I mentioned in the song that when I go away something feels wrong. Often when I am on vacation I get homesick, and I believe my homesickness stems from my love of Saskatchewan and the feeling that I get when I am at home. This quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes is a wonderful explanation of my home: “Where we love is home—home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts”. I have left my home for the city which is only thirty kilometers away. In the future I may even leave the city for places that are thousands of kilometers away, but my home will always be my home and always hold my heart.

Along with the song, I have included a collection of photographs that I have taken over the years. All of these photographs were taken at the place I call home and are what I love about Saskatchewan. Often when I spend time in nature out on the Saskatchewan country side I would also take my camera with me. These photographs are art works from times past, but they are also my own personal art response to Saskatchewan and what it means to me. Arranging and collecting these photographs from long ago proved challenging because I once had over ten thousand images stored on an external hard drive that I dropped and broke which resulted in losing all of my photographs. To come up with these images I scoured all of my past and present social media accounts. As well, it was a challenge to make sure I did not use the same photo more than once and as you may have noticed, there is one photo that shows up twice. I noticed after I had already published the video and it was too late to fix it. I also found it challenging to line up specific images with song lyrics and make sure that it made sense. The photos and lyrics are all specifically matched up to represent my own personal connections at that moment.

            I chose to write song lyrics to express my feelings because although I enjoy singing and making music I knew writing lyrics would be a challenge for me. Last year for a school assignment I was required to write a poem for an assignment similar to this one, which I felt uncomfortable doing. The process of writing that poem and the end result was so amazing and intense that I thought I would try something similar with song lyrics. I ended up giving the poem to my Dad as a gift because he was a major part of my inspiration, and he loved it. I was surprised at the positive reaction he had to it and that made me realize that writing does not have to be perfect to be powerful. My goal in choosing song lyrics this time was not necessarily to be powerful, but to try something out again that I am uncomfortable with and see what happens. As it turns out, I found that I could have kept writing more verses. There were so many specific things I love about my home that I could not find room for in the song. I knew that I would be challenged during the creation process but I would also be enjoying myself with the music.

            My first instinct was to create a piano composition to accompany my lyrics. I had practiced my song and tried to record it but the sound was awful. Previously I have used my phone to record a piano piece and it came out beautifully, but this time the recording was not usable. I came to the conclusion it was because I was using an upright traditional piano instead of an electric keyboard, which caused the sound to be loud and slightly off key because the piano needed to be tuned. Since I did not have access to a keyboard, I picked up my ukulele and looked up some chords on Google. I received my ukulele this past summer as a birthday gift and have not had a chance to learn how to play it yet. This project turned out to be the perfect chance to learn it, despite the sore fingers and cramped hand!

            As I was practicing and attempting to record, I was struggling to get a perfect run through in one recording and was getting frustrated. I remembered that I have an editing program on my computer that will allow me to layer recordings, so I tried recording the ukulele first, and then the melody, and finally the harmony. It still took me many attempts to get everything lined up correctly and sounding good. After I had this draft done, I thought I could add in a second harmony and maybe some percussion. So I went ahead and made a shaker with rice and recorded a simple beat and some more harmonies. However, when I went to upload them to my program I realized that the maximum amount of audio files I can layer is three, so I had to leave them out. My final project is still not perfect, but I am proud of how it turned out. The tempo of the Ukulele music is slightly inconsistent, but I was able to work around that because as far as I am concerned the metronome is my enemy! During my vocal recordings I was struggling with word placement and phrasing. I ended up changing words around a bit as I went along. I ended up completely changing out the last verse to make it flow better.

            Seeing myself as an artist has always been a challenge because I used to think that artists had to be professionals. I have discovered such is not the case. I am an artist and when I make art it is in my own unique way for me to enjoy. If others enjoy it as well then that is just a bonus! I spent many afternoons practicing this artwork and I thoroughly enjoyed the process and found that it relieved my stress. I do not think I will keep writing songs and lyrics for fun, but I am glad that I faced the challenge and was able to come up with a piece of work that I am proud of.  

Connecting My Writing Prompts

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By: Kim Bateman

As Wade mentions, teaching for social justice allows all people regardless of ethnicity, gender, age, size, sexual orientation, religion, social class, or physical ability to have a valuable life in our world. Pamela George deserved to have her life considered valuable. Not only by her murderers, but by the public intellectuals and the defense at her trial after she was murdered. The woman in my art piece represents Pamela George looking up towards a wide open sky of endless opportunities. She is looking upwards to represent the future and how her story allows us to understand her injustices and make sure that our students in the future value all human life. Reading about Pamela and her injustices empowers me as a teacher to ensure that my classroom will have a social justice culture. This aligns with my own personal ideology that all humans have a right to be treated with equity and live together peacefully–all humans have a right to be valued. Although the woman represents Pamela, I chose to make the face out of many different skin colours because she also represents the minority groups that all have a place and an identity in my classroom. I don’t necessarily consider myself to be a public intellectual on a grandiose level, but being one at a classroom, school, or community level means that I will be known for caring about students. The heart in the center of my art piece was designed to protrude from the canvas and be the brightest point of the piece because it represents the care and love that needs to be the center of my classroom. Equity cannot happen without the teacher caring for the students and advocating for them as a public intellectual. The bottom of my art piece is made up of maps which typify the school system. As we learn how to use them, maps become second nature to us. As a teacher in the school system I feel responsible to ensure I help my students learn how to be naturally empathetic towards each other and understand social justice as second nature. I want to be part of making sure there are no more stories like that of Pamela George.

Razack, S. (2002). Race, space, and the law: Unmapping a white settler society. Toronto: Between the Lines. pgs 121-156

Wade, R. C. (2007). Social studies for social justice: Teaching strategies for the elementary classroom. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Writing Prompt 4

*In response to:

Razack, S. (2002). Race, space, and the law: Unmapping a white settler society. Toronto: Between the Lines. pgs 121-156

  1. What does Razack’s article make it possible for you to think about in terms of your own identity in this colonial space?  How might this trouble your sense of how you can be a teacher?

I was surprised at the amount of racism and prejudice I read about in this article that came from the “system”. By that I mean that I was appalled that the defense tried to blame Pamela’s murder on an Aboriginal man. I was appalled that the judge swayed the jury by confirming their likely already biased opinions that because Pamela was a prostitute and a First Nation woman, she had less human rights. It is intriguing how back in the early days the judge asked the jury to re-think Fisk’s innocence and remove his race to look at the evidence. Such the opposite happened to Pamela. Oppression such as this should be diminished and making all lives more valuable. Unfortunately, white privilege is real and racism runs deep in the thoughts and processes of people that are in power.

Personally, I view being a classroom teacher as a place of power in the school. I have the ability to make sure that white privilege and racism do not harm any students while they are in my classroom, and hopefully they will carry that with them outside of school. White privilege will have power over me that I may not be able to change, but in my classroom I can do my best to make students aware and act empathetically and respectively to all people. I want to take a part in educating society so that there are no judges and defense lawyers who will accuse people solely on the fact that they are First Nation or work as prostitutes.

I found it very interesting how Razack wrote that Pamela George was dehumanized. How very sad and true that statement is. Pamela’s murder was justified by the fact that she was a prostitute and consented to provide sexual services.  I keeping thinking about what would had happened if she had been there to defend herself and perhaps explain her side of the story. I do not believe that she would have said that she asked for murder by selling herself for sex. I think that a person does not sell their body unless they are desperate, and regardless of their desperation they do not ask for murder. I find it sad that in order for the men to even get a prostitute in their car, one of them had to hide in the trunk. This proves that Pamela and the other women know there was danger. They did their best to protect themselves, and these boys took advantage of it. It is never ok for someone to beat another human being. They left her face down in the mud and did not look back and for that they deserve a life sentence.

Razack makes mention that the white man visits the inner city with the purpose of gaining and keeping control as a white person. The murderers travel into the inner city and back out again and “can survive a dangerous encounter with the racial Other and who have an unquestioned right to go anywhere and do anything” (Razack, 2002, p. 127). I have never thought about that before and I both agree and disagree. How does a population of white people start to disintegrate that border? My best guess is to integrate ourselves into the life and culture of the inner city and start crossing those lines without feeling like we need to go back across to where we belong. . The political aspect of this is so overwhelming to think about because right now society demands separation. I believe the societal pressures to keep segregation alive can be challenged in schools. Although it is true that a child’s family and home life are obviously influential on their values and beliefs, I think it is also true that a large portion of those can come from school as well. As a teacher I plan to teach my students empathy and love for one another. All humans are equal and deserve to be treated with respect. Starting at a young age in early childhood classrooms is the way to start changing society for the better. Statistics shows that for the first time in 50 years the population of children ages 0-4 in Saskatchewan has increased by 19% since the 2006 census (2011). This means that even more children will be going to school, and even more children can become children that can make a difference in society.

Writing Prompt 3

  1. In two pages, write your own personal definition of social justice. Bring in some of the characteristics of social justice education discussed in Wade, chapter one.

Social justice to me, is giving everybody a fair chance to succeed. However, what does successful mean? There are varying degrees of factors that hinder or promote people to be successful. Socio-economic status, family status, and health are just a few. How can the world make it fair for everyone?! As teachers I think we can start in the classroom. I have the chance to influence 30 children in the school and make a difference in how they can live in a socially just way.

The point that Wade has in chapter that has the most impact for me is that not all students will be treated the same. Some specific students may need to be given more attention to be successful. When I was a kid, I was always mad when the teacher did not choose me when my hand was up, or always helped other students. I did not understand social justice. I was privileged and did not need the extra attention, but when I was in the classroom the teacher did not teach in a way that helped me understand that. Even now in my pre-internship experience I see it with my kindergarten students. There is one particular girl who is very bright and does not often need academic support, but she is constantly pretending she “can’t do it” because she wants the same attention I give to the under-achieving students even though she does not need it. In one specific situation I struggled with how to tell her the truth that my teachers never told me. I think a solid lesson on social justice would benefit a young student like her and perhaps give her the enlightenment on social justice that I was missing. Kindergarten is not too young to start creating awareness around social justice issues.

In his preface, Wade (2007) writes that social justice is “preparing [children] to be stewards of their world, develop the skills, knowledge, and values to make our world a worthwhile and livable place for everyone, regardless of one’s ethnicity, gender, age, size, sexual orientation, religion, social class, or physical ability” (pp. xiii-xv). Children can learn to be aware of social justice at such a young age. I recently watched a Youtube video of a Kindergarten class that designed wheelchair ramps for the businesses in their town because they went for a walk and discovered their peer in a wheelchair was unable to go some of the places they passed by. They noticed that something was unfair to one of their classmates and they wanted to do something about it. Such a beautiful story about social justice! The teacher empowered the students to make change at the young age of five. They began to understand the difference between equity and equality. This is only one story of so many young activists there are in the world.

Caring about the students in my classroom will be easy because that is one of my natural abilities. That is why I am choosing to become a teacher. I also believe that creating a caring community in my classroom is creating a socially just community as well. Teaching my students to care for one another will in turn be teaching them to care for those outside of the classroom community as well. Social Justice needs to happen right at the school level to even plant the seeds for social change, as Wade mentions. (2007, pg. 3) Although I am quite comfortable with classroom and school level change, it seems overwhelming to me to get primary students on board with world level change. How can a group of grade one or grade two students affect poverty in third world countries or find a cure for Aids? I think if I at least make my students aware of social justice issues and prompt them to think about possibilities then I will be creating a social just classroom. I will be giving my students the tools to possibly develop into adults that can make big change. My only hope is that after they leave my classroom they will be able to carry their ideas and thoughts with them to their next classroom and eventually into their life after school. I hope to plant the seed for greater social justice in the future.

Writing Prompt 2

  1.  Do you consider yourself a public intellectual?  Do we have an obligation as public intellectuals to our children?

 

When I hear the term “Public Intellectual” I think of someone who is very smart, has a lot of worldly knowledge, and knows what is going on in politics, education, health, etc. Do I consider myself a public intellectual? I am not so sure. I think I am smart, but smart can mean so many things. I think to be a public intellectual it means that you influence many citizens with your knowledge or words, which is true in my case as a pre-service teacher and soon to be teacher. I also think that they would be confrontational and have strong political views that they are quite outspoken about, which is definitely not true for me.

I found a definition of a public intellectual from the Collins Dictionary: Public Intellectual: an intellectual, often a noted specialist in a particular field, who has become well-known to the general public for a willingness to comment on current affairs. In that case, I do not see myself as a public intellectual. However, I think that I may be a public intellectual in my environment. I am not well known to the general public but once I am in a school teaching I will be well known in the school; to the students, parents, and possibly the community will know who I am and what my role is. I am willing to comment on current education affairs, studies, strategies and so on, but I do not feel prepared to comment on political affairs in any way shape or form. I often avoid the news and do not like confrontation. I think those two things I do not particularly enjoy must be important to an actual public intellectual. I also do not view myself as a specialist. I am still learning what it means to be a teacher, and how best to apply my knowledge as a teacher. I am not an expert!

The students in the classroom deserve the best. That is what I believe. Is the best having a teacher that is a public intellectual? Perhaps. Or in a way, a loosely defined public intellectual as opposed to the Collins Dictionary definition. I believe I will be demonstrating values, ideas, and opinions that I have; if that is so, then I could be a public intellectual in my classroom setting. I think there may be some teachers who are public intellectuals, but that is not me. Perhaps it will be something I can define myself as in the future, but definitely not right now, especially according to Collins Dictionary.

Writing Prompt

  1.  Should teachers bring their ideological and/or political views into the social studies classroom?

 

I do not consider myself an activist teacher. Personally, I think politics are boring and have no idea what is going on. However, I think this may be a bad thing. If I do not care about it, who is going to fight for my best interest as a teacher? Who is going to ensure the students in my class know how to fight for what is right? There are so many questions that my own statement brings to me. I have a lot of work to do in this area because I believe that in a way all teachers need to be activists to be good role models to students. Teachers need to show students that there are good things worth fighting for.

In the classroom I think that it is important to teach students about what is going on in politics, wars, and the news (both good and bad). Learning about these things will make them think and start to learn their own personal opinions. As the teacher, I think it is important to be open to any views and opinions the students may have and lead effective discussions. That being said, my own personal ideological and political views do not necessarily have a place in my classroom. I believe that I am there to make them think and not to impress my own opinions into their impressionable minds.

As a person who is not interested in politics and does not care to watch the news, I might have to make some changes. It is important to know what is going on in the world in order to talk about it to my students. I am unable to live in a happy bubble any longer. I think it is time to start subscribing to news feeds on my phone and reading the newspaper once in a while. I need to get knowledgeable, and although I may not like it at first I am sure that I will get used to sifting through what I do not like to see and what I can use as educational pieces for my students.

PRE-INTERNSHIP DAY 8

Bittersweet

Today was my last day teaching at Arcola until next March! Today came with it’s challenges, but it was also wonderful.

With the morning Kindergarten group, my lesson didn’t happen until after recess which also meant after snack time. Today was also their ice cream celebration, and Chloe and I also brought them rice krispie treats to celebrate our last day. Needless to say, they were hyped up on sugar and had a lot of energy!

My lesson today was using mini whiteboards and flashcards. I taught the students that when we write we always have spaces between words so that what we write makes sense. I started by writing two lines on my own white board. The first line had words together with no spaces, which I read to them very fast and got some giggles out of them. Next I read properly spaced words to them, and I really feel like they understood why spaces between words are important.

Next, I had them copy words from flashcards onto their own white boards and asked them to make sure they put spaces between the words. Although I believe the students all understood what I was talking about, putting that understanding to practice was another task all together! This turned into printing practice for many of the students, and the concept of spaces seemed to be lost. (As you can see from the pictures!) I still believe this lesson proved to be a valuable beginning literacy session, and although I feel like they did not necessarily learn any knew knowledge, they were still learning about written language, which is so important in Kindergarten!

“F” in the red shirt is working so hard to learn English, and was doing a great job copying the letters! This is the first time she has done that!

“A” has a visual impairment and is doing the same activity, using his braille printer!