Creative Journal #5

Now Who Am I as an Educator and What Does it Mean to Educate?

I have grown up in a poststructuralism school setting where my teachers teach and expect a regurgitation through examination and assessment from their students. I learned that math is math, science is science, social is social, and so on and I have always pictured myself teaching in these same ways. I have always identified teacher as someone who teaches subjects and life lessons to their students, who stands in front of a classroom and shows a sense of superiority over the younger people in the classroom. I have been “[trapped] in “conventional meanings and modes of being” (Barrett 2005), but it is time to break this way of being. It is time to challenge my ways of being and understanding education, to disrupt discourses. The question is how? How do I change my view? How do I expect my students to be comfortable when I am uncomfortable with this “new to me” concept of teaching? Where do I begin?

I suppose some of these questions will take time and practice, they will take a conscious effort while teaching and lesson planning, I need to be challenging myself to allow my students (and myself) to break discourses. I have grown up believing, through adult influence that I am “coming from an independent consciousness or core, essential self, notions of who one is and what a person is supposed to be and do are socially constructed” (Barrett 2005) and I want my future students to create their very own identity and for myself to find my own identity that is not set by society or by mainstream beliefs and expectations.

My first steps in the right direction came from lesson planning for Morgan’s grade one class at Ruth Pawson Elementary. My group tried hard to incorporate a multidisciplinary lesson that did not just focus on math, science, health, or indigenous studies, but rather we incorporated all aspects into our lesson without making a point to subjectize them for the students. We also tried to disrupt discourses by allowing the students to think, explore, and explain their choices around what a teepee ring can be made of. We gave them the opportunity to discover possible solutions for themselves. I think that this activity was very simple, but demonstrated how children can be given the opportunity to create their own learning and solutions. Can I allow this freedom all the time in the classroom? Is there always going to be a “right and wrong” in learning? How do I avoid giving them what I believe is the “correct” answer? Am I supposed to avoid this?

Feminist postsructural research “allows for different ways of knowing, includes the body as a site of knowledge, and questions the researcher as one who might ever know” (Barrett 2005) this is a completely uncomfortable thought for me. Possibly never knowing the answer, constantly questioning yourself and your ways of knowing; this is not something I will adopt with ease. I have always been focused on grades, on the “right” answer, on memorizing course content as knowledge. Is this wrong? I do not think so, but I do think that a feminist poststructural approach could be rewarding and could help gain a lot of new self-identity and expand learning and ways of knowing.

So I am left after reading this article wondering, have I been taught wrong all this time? Could I have grown up with a more in depth self-identity? Would I or a future students become more confused with themselves by using these ways of knowing and learning? Would it perhaps benefit them? Is not having the “right” answer OK? These questions make me uncomfortable and full of tension. They make me slightly scared for future lesson planning and teaching. Disrupting discourses and feminist poststructural research has brought me to a place where I am now questioning my own identity, my own beliefs about teaching and learning, and what I thought I knew about environmental education.2016-11-22-1

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Meta Reflection- In the Middle of Things

How Far I Have Come, Where I am, Where I Am Going

I had no idea what it meant to be eco-literate, I did not know what environmental education/ learning is, and I honestly still do not think I truly know what these things are or what they mean. But what I do know is that I am beginning to understand, I am beginning to create an eco-identity for myself, and I do not ever want to stop building my understandings and my identities.

A common theme that I had found in my blog posts was that of developing and building my understanding of environmental education/learning, eco-literacy and eco-identity. My first blog post, Strength of Trees, shared my first ideas of what environmental education is and it included only the typical trees, water, and dirt type of answer. I tried to relate the trees to myself, in a way to identify with my vague definition of nature, I said, “they [trees] taught me that with proper care and nurturing, and by sinking your roots in deep, you will be strong and you will stand tall with confidence.” I believed that somehow the trees were much like myself, and I still do. And I still do believe trees and the earth are parts of environmental education. But, I began to expand this understanding farther in my Letter to Emily that explained what I thought it meant to be eco-literate. I believe it to include recycling a lot, decreasing fuel consumption, reusing materials, and being energy efficient. But I now believe it is more than that too.I developed a deeper understanding and added to my definitions with the help of Shyla and Vanessa in my Eco-Literacy Braid, I added composting and grass/ land preservation and how to sustain the environment and its importance. While I thought I was being thoughtful all this time, I later realized I missed a huge factor to what it means to understand the environment, the base of how identities are shaped, and the foundation of environmental learning. The history; all the people who live here and have lived here before us and their actions, including the Indigenous people, who I so rudely overlooked.

It was not until Treaty Ed Camp and my second creative journal, Wilderness Beyond our Senses, that I realized how important it is to try to understand the way of life on the land before us, the history. I am now realizing it is important to further just “knowing the history” but asking, how did they treat the environment? How did they shape the land we use and occupy now? My third creative journal, Prairies with Millions of Stories, was the same idea, knowing the stories or the history of the land and how that is important. But I failed to question it further, to question what that meant to me? Or how that affected the land? Or if the land really then belongs to my family?

I touched on my identity in my third creative journal as well, I stated, “all of it [our family ranch] makes me feel part of the wilderness, part of something bigger than just my identity as a student and a girl, and a farm kid”, but I never once expanded on what this meant, or questioned what kind of identity our ranch created for me. I failed to relate and question how all these other people’s stories of our ranch has shaped my identity. How it has affected my story, or why it is important. I never questioned my part in sustaining the beauty there.

So, what have I been silencing in my posts? What have I been ignoring to include in my understanding and my development of my eco-identity? I believe I have been failing to address and accept that there are more ways of knowing than the Euro-Canadian and Western-European ways and learning about environmental education. I have been having a hard time accepting the new way of learning my teacher, Audrey, has been trying to show us and has challenged me to open up to. Am I comfortable with it? No. Do I want to try to learn this way more? I am not sure. Do I think it helps people create their own definitions and identities about the environment? Yes, maybe? Moving forward with my understanding and my identity about environmental education/ learning I hope to try to be more open minded and to try hard to complicate things more by asking questions about the “whys?”, “hows?”, and the “what could this means?”. I want to challenge whether I need a definite answer or if leaving it complicated and open ended is OK. I appreciate the push to question what the environment is and how it is. But am I willing to change my thought processes and my demand for definite answers? Maybe, but it will not be easy, thanks to Collin and his reminder, “that that [to make wrong choices] is OK. That struggles are inevitable.” I feel confident moving forward that I can try to stop this silenced way of knowing and learning about environment, in order to expand my thoughts and definitions further in the future.