3 Things I learned:
“economic and power control is interconnected with cultural power and control” – Micheal Apple
Our education systems decipher what “legitimate knowledge” we perceive all Canadian citizens need to know. The subjects we teach in school are ones that will help students thrive in the Western culture. We also choose to base our holidays and school breaks on days that best suit individuals who conform to Western ideologies only.
“Common sense” in education teaches us that as long as you work hard in school and get good grades you will be successful. But as Micheal Apple said “they [educators] are part of a conscious conspiracy to ‘keep the lower classes in their place”. If a student is brought up in a lower class home they will automatically struggle to succeed in comparison to students who are brought up a higher class.
3: “Good liberal intentions are not enough” – Lisa Delpit
I think it is important to note that students of minority cultures are mostly inheriting their knowledge from people who are a product of White Settlers. I agree with Lisa that minority students should have the opportunity to receive authentic cultural knowledge from those who share the same cultural values. I believe that this is especially important when teaching students about Indigenous ways of knowing. There is no better teacher than an Elder who can appropriately teach our students about Indigenous culture.
“Those with power are frequently less aware of – or least willing to acknowledge – its existence” – Lisa Delpit
I believe that it is instances like this that make it so important for students to be involved in a classroom privilege walk/run. The privilege walk shows those who are privileged how their lives have been positively influenced by uncontrollable aspects. As rightly said in this YouTube Video “The Race of Life (white privilege)” “every statement I have made has nothing to do with anything you have done”. Every step a student takes is based on white privilege, social class, gender, sexual identity, etc. This race helps students visualize their privilege and lack there of in comparison to their peers. Which I believe helps students become aware and forces them to acknowledge its existence.
While reading Jean Anyon’s description of what occurs at a middle-class school I would assume that both my Elementary and High School would fall under this classification. I felt as though I was re-living my own education experiences because every thing sounded much too familiar. I strongly resonated with her description of the typical social studies class. I remember going through our history textbooks and being subjected to take it in as it was presented, no questions asked. If we were to question something in the textbook I remember being told “that’s just the way it was” and as Jean presumed “there was little attempt to analyze how or why things happen”.
We know that bringing in Elders is the most culturally appropriate way to inform students about Indigenous Ways of Knowing, but are there opportunities made available for classrooms to have such opportunities? Have the education systems considered hiring Elders to share their knowledge and stories in our classrooms?