Curriculum as Literacy

1. 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?

How I read the world has been heavily influenced by others. My parents, teachers, peers, friends, etc. have all contributed to the development of my thoughts, beliefs, views, and actions. From all the time that I spent with the people who are close to me, I was constantly learning from them and the information I gained shaped me into who I am today. Or in other words, they helped me to create my identity. For example, I had a friend whose dad worked in the Saskatchewan Penitentiary. A lot of the inmates were of Indigenous decent because the area that I grew up in had a high Indigenous population. My friend’s dad would pass on his biases that Indigenous peoples were criminals and to be wary of them to my friend and then she then passed on those biases to me. So, I made sure if an Indigenous person asked me for money, I always said I wasn’t carrying any cash on me, I kept my doors locked on my vehicle when I was driving through the “sketchy” and rundown neighbourhoods in my area, and just in general felt nervous being around Indigenous peoples. There were a few Indigenous students in my grade and classes and I think that spending time around them, helped reduce the bias that I had previously acquired. I feel like it’s important to note that I did not only get negative images of the world from those around me, there were positive images too, I think that an important message from my story is that people have a huge impact on how you see the world and it is up to the individual to believe or challenge what they are being told.

There are many biases that I bring to the classroom relate to what I have been taught about gender, class, culture, etc. For example, I see the world as a male-dominated or patriarchal society and strive for equality for women, the European worldview is widely accepted and taught in schools, the upper or middle class citizens are the ones who are going to succeed in life because they have the money to do so. These are just a few examples of what I have been told to believe, but it does not mean that all of them are necessarily true. A lot of comments that people make are unconscious, so I think that it is important for people to reflect on their past conversations and really think about the words that they are saying. Some questions that people can ask themselves are: “What did I accomplish by saying what I said”, “Did I offend any person/group with my words”, “Where did I get what I am saying from? Is it a reliable source?”. If people do not realize that their words have an impact, and make no effort to change it will be hard for them to remove their biases. Not to say that removing biases is an easy process for anyone, but reflect is the first step to remove biases.

2. Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

My school had a lot of European, specifically Norwegian, descendants, therefore, a lot of the content we covered in class was from the European perspective. I do not think it was until my senior year in my English A30 class when we really started to dive into, for example, Indigenous perspectives. There also wasn’t a lot of representation of people with disabilities, English as an additional language learners or exchange students, and immigrant/refugees in any of my classes. Additionally, my school was a K-12 school so a lot of my classmates have been together since Kindergarten and all of them had similar biases that didn’t oppose one another. We never felt the need to challenge or examine our beliefs because all of us believed in similar things.

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