Stories That Are Told

  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?

As mentioned in previous blog posts, I come from a small city without a lot of diversity. My biases come from both what I was exposed to and what I was not shown as a child.  I am not knowledgeable about many neurological or behavioural disorders because there wasn’t a large representation in my schools so I may have bias when a student who is already flagged comes into my classroom. I understand and hope that I am able to look directly at the student rather than their differences but it can have an impact on my original view of the student. I have very little exposure to Indigenous culture so I do not read the word using any Indigenous techniques.

I was raised as a white Christian woman in a primarily white church. It was not until I was a teenager that I realized how modern and accepting my church was. I never thought that Christianity was against the LGBTQ+ community until I read about it online, and I never had a bias or view against the church or the LGBTQ+ community. I have a bias towards those who do not believe in equality, which could impact my teaching if my students do not believe that I have should have the same rights as a man. As society grows closer towards equality I hope to educate my students that all people deserve to be treated as equals no matter race, gender or class.

Throughout this course I have realised that I live parts of my life through bias and I see the world differently than others. For example, if I was pulled over by the police I would not be afraid that I was in trouble for something that I cannot control, such as my skin colour. Though I may not be able to instantly change all of these biases I at least need to recognize them and understand how I can change my thinking.

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

My books within between kindergarten and grade 3 all books had cartoon characters, with primarily male leads.  In grade four, we started to have novel studies but many of the books were outdated with only white characters. It was not until the end of grade 6 when we read Underground to Canadathat the school presented a book with a women of colour as the lead. Last year I was looking back on the chapter book series that I grew up with: including Junie B. Jones, Judy Blume, Captain Underpants, The Magic School Bus, Magic Tree House and Judy Moody; there is a lack of diversity within these books. Though these books do send strong positive messages, such as women in science and healthy relationships, they all have white characters as the main person in the story. These were the books that were suggested to me as a child, but I now question why there wasn’t more diversity.  Though diversity in children’s picture books has increased, the number of chapter book series with people of colour is still lacking, at least in the community and schools where I grew up.

The concept of someone being viewed as smart can be viewed as a single story, such as the student that excels in math, English and science. Students who do not excel in these areas are considered by some as less than capable. The ability to memorize was demonstrated as superior to being able to understand the information being taught. Canadian history was only taught through the view of the settlers rather than both parties or a third party, as it was a way to make the European look less like thieves that stole the land.

It wasn’t until I started working at a public library that I saw how children pick out books to read. Children who were born in Estevan, mainly white, were more likely to read books with characters that looked like them but students who were from outside of Canada and North America were more likely to read books with cartoon characters since they did not connect to the character in the other books. Students who do not fit the societal norm can feel out of place, like an alien since they may look different, so they can connect to the cartoon characters that look different.


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