How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn/work against these biases?
Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?
I grew up in a white working-class family here in Saskatchewan. Like most white, working class families in Canada, my family originated from Europe from counties including Ukraine, Poland, England, and Scotland. Unfortunately, my experience growing up, and still what I experience currently around my family is a lot of prejudice ideas, and negative biases. I like to think of my family as good, well-meaning people; however, I believe that they have some harmful ideas about society and certain groups within society. I believe that these ideas they have were passed on to them from their families and communities when they were growing up, and I believe it is a systemic societal issue that has to do with ignorance.
I also want to acknowledge that it was not just my family that was feeding me these ideas. I believe I was also surrounded by sexism, racism, homonegative beliefs, and other oppressive beliefs in my schooling- even if it was in indirect ways and through a hidden curriculum. When I think back to when I was younger and in elementary school, I can always remember teachers saying, “can I have two strong boys to come and help me move these____?,” or, classmates making homophobic remarks in the classroom and the teacher saying/doing nothing to address the remark that they clearly heard.
After learning about “single stories” that are often presented in schooling, I can think of many instances where the books read to us enforced negative stereotypes of certain groups of people. Additionally, the books were often only a story from the perspective of white privilege, as well as from the perspective of men and boys. I can only think of a few times where we read a book with a strong female main character, and fewer instances where we read books that were from the perspective of/included people of a minority. I imagine this was damaging for those who could not see themselves in the books we read, or when they did see themselves in the books, they saw the characters going through trauma or saw them in stereotypical and maybe unrealistic ways. I can see this being harmful as the years children are in primary school play a large role in the formation of identity.
I can acknowledge that some of the thoughts and unconscious biases in the back of my head in regard to race, class, gender, etc. were passed on to me from my family, my community and my schooling; however, I can recognize these ideas and thoughts as not right and something that I have to work on. I want to do everything in my power to learn what I can to be educated on these topics, so I do not pass negative ideas on to my future children or teach in an oppressive way to any of my future students.