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.