Secondly, I still have not got my audio blog to post... I think I am going to have to re-set my password and try again. Anyone out there with any ideas on what the problem could be? The system says I have successfully recorded the post, but it doesn't appear anywhere on the page so that you can see/access it. I don't see a "help" page anywhere, so any advice you might offer would be appreciated.
Thirdly, I thought it might be useful for me to reflect for a moment on some of what I've been thinking about since our last class and its focus on social justice in children's literature. And I'd also like you to feel free to comment on this posting by responding to some of my questions or musings on the topic.
One thing I am never sure about is how much of what I espouse as central to good teaching practice is already well canvassed by other teachers in our program. For example, the social justice question: for me, the role of social advocate and acting as an educator for social change is a central function of teaching. The obligation to represent the many expereinces and identities of the children we teach in order to have a fully inclusive classroom has been part of my own pedagogical beliefs for some time. As some of you know, my own research is centered in issues related to social justice, activism and student learning. But, if it is a topic already dealt with in a substantial way by another instructor, then I don't want to duplicate that effort, but simply add to your base knowledge by considering how children's literature and story telling might be tools for enacting this curriculum in your classroom. So anything you could offer in the way of advice about this point would be very useful to me.
One of the writers that has impressed me in thinking about social justice issues and our orientation to them as teachers is a person called Dei. He wrote in his 1996 book "As a society we can address questions of social justice, equity, and power sharing by first understnading ourselves and how we see our social obligations and responsibilities". For me, this means doing a lot of self reflective thinking, asking critical questions, and looking within my self to identify my own assumptions about race, ethnicity, gender, ability/ disability or other forms of "difference". And as teachers, we are one of the primary tools used by society to ensure such equity is achieved.
As teachers, however, we have the additional responsiblity for knowing how our own belief systems influence our teaching choices and how this reinforces particular understandings; or if it fails to adequately consider how our own priveleges as white, middle class Canadians are continuously represented in the curriculum (hidden and overt). As we began the dialogue in class yesterday about what equity means and how it might relate to our pedagogy and decisions as teachers, I felt the beginnings of a very powerful conversation that I hope you will continue to reflect on and consider as you prepare for your own teaching career. This is an ongoing process, not one that happens all at once. It often means asking hard questions of ourselves, and trying to see through the eyes of others how our words and actions are interpreted. It means being open to considering how issues of power, privilege, domination and tradition act as barriers to the full inclusion of "others". Gary Howard (1999) says it well: "We cannot hlep our students overcome the negative repercussions of past and present racial dominance if we have not unraveled the remnents of dominance that still lingers in our minds, hearts, and habits... We can't teach what we don't know, and we can't lead where we won't go... The function of education is to inculcate into the minds and hearts of each generation those fundamental values and principles that defind our unique character as a nation. The transforming function of education, on the other hand, is to critically interpret those founding values in light of ever changing social realities and to continually challenge the discrepencies between our stated beliefs and our national behaviour" (p. 4-5).