“Just don’t go gay”- a conversation with a child 

It’s been a very long time since I have taken the time to blog. My life this summer has become so busy and exhausting, which is how I imagine a teacher’s life feels. I have been working two jobs and one of them is at a day camp. This job is really testing my ability to interact with children and how to deal with difficult situations, which is essential for the field I’m going into.  I’m also gaining skills with collaborating with coworkers, whether that is coming up with an activity together or asking for advice on what works for individual children that they have worked with. I didn’t make this post to talk about what I have been doing for my job, however.

I wrote this blog post because I wanted to talk about a conversation that I had with a child the other day. It started out with the child asking me if I was married and I responded by saying no and that I was not in any rush to be married. The child responded by saying, “just don’t go gay”. I then asked the child why they thought this way and explained that we need to be kind to everyone, even if their beliefs are different. I’ve thought about this situation quite a bit over the past couple of days and I wonder if I should say more. In my past classes, we’ve talked about social justice and how we can spread awareness and encourage acceptance. I’ve been so confident that I could do it, also, but I felt awkward in that situation. I can’t just change this child’s beliefs that they have had throughout their life in their catholic household.

So I guess I’m making this post to ask others about what they would have done in this situation. How would you talk about social justice if it goes totally against their religious beliefs?

Standardized Testing Does Not Encourage Diversity

standardised-testing-1

Standardized testing… What a topic!  I can only remember taking a few in my schooling years, but I do remember how frustrating it was to take one.  I briefly remember one in Elementary school and I found it to be really difficult because the language was different than what I was used to in my classroom.

Standardized testing goes completely against our “mosaic” multicultural view that Canada is supposed to have.  Bill Bigelow explains, “Multiculturalism attempts to uncover ‘the histories and experiences of people who have been left out of the curriculum'” (pg. 170).  With testing, aren’t we leaving out a large number of people? The system assumes that all students should learn and approach learning in the exact same way, which is far from reality.  Students have different learning styles, experiences, learning needs, etc.  If a student was not originally from Canada, they are going to hold different experiences, which will reflect in the way that they learn.  Bill Bigelow also writes, “Curriculum standardization is, as Berlak indicates, a way to silence dissident voices” (pg. 170).  This is so true because the tests are going to obviously reflect the dominant “common sense” ideals that are evident in our area.  This is not beneficial to students that don’t identify with the dominant way of thinking.  It’s almost like we are raising our students to become robots.

As a teacher, we are supposed to take into account the interests of our students.  How are we supposed to do that when we need to worry about preparing our students for standardized testing?  It’s not going to have questions for students to relate to and it’s not going to create a positive experience for all students.  The benefit of the teacher making a form of assessment–perhaps a test–is that the teacher knows his/her students and they can implement the language used in lessons, make relatable connections, etc.  In a standardized test, the language could be far off from what the students can understand.  Treating students as all the same is never beneficial.  We need to celebrate the diversity in our students and making them take these tests will not encourage this.

It’s almost like teachers are encouraged to treat their students as a prize or a measure of their ability.  Standardized tests do negatively affect students, but teachers are also very pressured to “produce” students to be what they are “supposed to be”.  In this way, we are implementing a factory model because students are trained and conditioned to prepare for these scheduled tests.  Students are all so diverse, whether that is from their race, gender, experiences, opinions, learning styles, learning needs, etc.  Instead, students will become subject to a ranking system from a life of standardized testing.  These tests do not adequately measure our students abilities or teacher abilities.  Humans are capable of anything as long as they are in the learning environment that encourages to their ways of learning.  We’re throwing out our goals of social justice out of the window with standardized testing!

How do you feel about standardized testing?  Do you have any negative or positive experiences with them?

Women as Objects

1619599_260741014085765_335527713_n

This will just be a quick little post, but I’ve been meaning to share my thoughts about this topic.  A couple of weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends shared the photo above onto her profile.  She used the picture as a form of empowerment, but it had the opposite effect on me.  I think this picture is further objectifying women, even if it was intended as an empowering statement.  The quote is pretty much saying, “Women are cars”.  The fact that there are women in the picture that look like they are from the fifties also gives me the impression that we are expressing the ideals from that time, which was not a time for women to shine.  You see so many commercials, magazine ads, billboards, etc. with uncomfortable images of women as objects.  For example, here are a couple of images where a women literally become a part of a product: 

budweiserad16

Even though the first image is not really painful to look at, I believe that it has hidden messages in it that makes it very oppressive to women.  I just feel like people are finding comfort and power in the wrong ways.  Yes, it is great to be proud of who you are, but comparing yourself to an object is not helping your situation very well.

I’m curious about other opinions on this matter.  Did you feel the same way I did? Do you feel empowered by this picture?

 

Technology and Social Justice?

technology-day54188n2

When I was in elementary school, the only thing we needed technology for was learning to type and researching topics.  New technologies over the years have opened up countless opportunities to engage learners and teach in different ways.  I believe that the changed nature of learning and the rise of technology is related to social justice anti oppressive education because we can connect to a larger audience to receive guidance and feedback.  Teachers use internet sites like Pinterest to get teaching ideas and they could also reach out to a community of educators through forums and Twitter.  Educators can connect with millions of people all over the world to create a support group or to have a discussion about ideas.  Collaboration is a big thing for education and the fact that you can post and access teaching materials is pretty great.  The internet offers another way to seek out help and support for your teaching goals towards social justice and anti-oppressive education.

We can use different technology tools to create digital stories with anti-oppressive content.  In my previous post about treaty education, Claire’s students used apps like Puppet Pals to portray their versions of the signing of Treaty #4.  The students also created songs and podcasts, which I assume was done by Garageband.  These projects offer a more engaging and fun way to learn about content in the classroom.  This also makes learning more memorable and we as educators should strive to make anti-oppressive content relevant and fresh in students’ minds.  Using the internet and other technology tools allows students and teachers to have their content seen and commented on by a much larger community.  These anti-oppressive ideas and projects will keep educators and others around the world aware and inspired to do the same in their own classrooms or households.

How do you think technology and new modes of learning are related to social justice and anti-oppressive education?