We Teach Who We Are

We teach who we are

 

*I sketched this picture to represent the quote, “teaching holds a mirror to the soul”

In a previous lecture, I remember hearing, “we teach who we are”.  This idea is also expressed in Parker Palmer’s, “The Heart of a Teacher“.  Palmer writes, “As I teach, I project the condition of my soul onto my students, my subject, and our way of being together” and “teaching holds a mirror to the soul”.  To me, this reflects a connection between the teacher and their students.  Thinking of this in Palmer’s terms makes the experience sound very personal and intimate because it’s a transfer of your own values and teaching.  I think that this has a similar effect, also, if you switched the role of the teacher to the students.  Children and youth have an amazing ability to teach you new and intriguing things everyday and the things that they choose to share is an extension from their own thinking and a reflection of themselves.

These words really resonated with me and I never thought about how true this is!  It made me think about past teachers and professors I have come across over the years.  I’ve wondered about why certain educators teach the way they do and I’ve realized it’s just because they are portraying themselves in the classroom.  Since no one is the same, different teaching styles and attitudes will emerge.  I’ve had silly teachers, serious teachers, laid back teachers, you name it!  If an educator is having a bad day, it is reflected in their teaching.  If they are excited, then the classroom environment changes.  If emotion can have this huge effect in the classroom, imagine how views on social justice will be reflected.  If we aren’t careful about the messages in the hidden curriculum, we could potentially raise students to be racist, sexist or generally oppressive.

Do you have an example of how a teacher’s identity is expressed in the classroom?  Has there been any problems with incorporating anti-oppressive teaching?

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Addressing Gender, Sexuality and Race in Our Identities

We created an autobiography for ECS 210 and we are now looking back on them and reflecting on what we included and what we did not.  We were asked: “What does it mean that you did not address your gender, or your sexuality or your racialization as important or constituitive of your identity?”  I did talk about the privilege I receive from being white and also from being Aboriginal, but I did not mention my gender or my sexuality.  Now that I think about it, I’m quite shocked that I didn’t mention the fact that I was female in my paper.  I have been a feminist for a few years now and I feel empowered being a woman. I think this comes directly from my assumption that these facts are “common sense” based on how I write and the dominant narrative.  This sounds absolutely horrible, but the message of this “common sense” model is definitely not what I intended to put across in my paper.  This is very interesting to think about because Kumashiro writes, “the goal is not to rid our classroom of harmful hidden messages since such a goal is unattainable” (pg. 41).  I feel the pressure already of saying the wrong things or portraying an oppressive idea through the hidden curriculum, but Kumashiro is suggesting that our students need to develop a critical lens to make sense of these hidden messages.  This allows students to think deeper about what they are being taught and it also encourages them to bring up questions that you may not have thought of before.

Name: Ashley

Gender: Female

Race: White, First Nations

Sexuality: Heterosexual

These are not typically the things we find out about people when we first met them.  This partially stems from the fact that a lot of us do not share our life stories right from the beginning.  I have to feel comfortable around someone before I share personal things about myself.  This might be a result of the fact that I feel better in my comfort zone and that I’m reluctant to go outside of that zone.  Kumashiro writes,  “After all, our hidden lessons demonstrate how it is that oppression can play out in our lives unnoticed and unchallenged, and our lenses of analysis demonstrate why it is that we often desire making sense of the world in only certain, comforting ways” (pg. 41).  This quote stuck out at me while reading this because I need to really think about how I make sense of the world and why I choose to live in more comforting ways.  The only way I will truly become comfortable is by doing the things that make me uncomfortable.

How do you identify yourself to others? How do you encourage students to use this critical lens that Kumashiro mentions?