Connecting My Writing Prompts

20161206_111338

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.

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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 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.

Treaty Education

This past week I have focused on treaty education 3 out of the 7 days. I know treaty ed is important, and now I am much less intimidated by the thought of teaching it! I was given so many awesome resources and examples of how it fits right into the classroom. It really is something that is integrated into every subject, and not taught in its own lesson.

One session I attended that really hit my heart was a panel of three young high school ladies that attend Martin Collegiate. Hearing them speak about being First Nation in school really opened my eyes. One girl started crying when talking about her experience with bullying and racism. After she spoke, one of my colleagues spoke up, and it was exactly what I was thinking. She told the young ladies that there is hope, because we are getting educated, and we are going to change things. We are the first educated generation that will be able to educate the students we teach, and hopefully eradicate the racism and unfairness that these girls were talking about.

A reading assigned in ESST (http://www.ctf-fce.ca/Research-Library/ABORIGINAL-Report2010-WEB.pdf pg 40-48) reinforced the need for change. First Nation teachers are being interviewed, and they don’t say very nice things about their non-First Nation co-workers:

“The discounting of the historical oppression and colonization of Aboriginal people and the devastating effects of that history was also regarded as an example of racism. Participants said their non-Aboriginal teachers could be quite insensitive about how colonization has negatively impacted Aboriginal people, including “making jokes about what happened,” (42-1) or suggesting that whatever happened, “happened in the past, so get over it” (46-4, 49-Curriculum). One Aboriginal teacher described her non-Aboriginal colleagues “publicly mourning the removal of a residential school building, claiming that nothing bad happened there” (41-1)” p.42

I graduated high school in 2006. I took a “Native Studies” class in grade 12 because it was required, and I almost failed the class because I didn’t care. My teacher didn’t teach it from a First Nation perspective. He taught “white settler history” and I basically forgot all of it because he was falling asleep teaching it. My point is, I was uneducated about the First Nation perspective of history until I entered the Faculty of Education two years ago. My eyes have been opened, and my heart has been touched. I am not going to be one of those teachers quoted above!

Between hearing personal stories, or just seeing teachers outright passion for what they are doing for their First Nation students, I fought back tears in each and every one of the sessions I attended at Treaty Ed Camp 2.0.

Am I a Public Intellectual?

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 teacher (or will be true soon). I also think that they would be strong-willed and have strong political views, 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. 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 don’t like confrontation. I think those two things I don’t particularly enjoy must be important to an actual public intellectual. I also don’t 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.