Part 2: Critical Response
Of the ten articles I found two, in particular, that stuck out to me both because I connect to them personally and I believe they have strong connections to each other. I connect to the article, “Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of School-As-Usual” by Gregory Michie, as a future educator. I specifically connected to the challenge of trying to teach anti-oppressive education while resisting being swept into the conventions of education. I also connected to the article “‘Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club’: Raising Issues of Race with Young Children” by Rita Tenorio, as a future educator interested in dealing with issues that maintain and recreate social injustice. I found that the article by Tenorio raised a specific goal that I need to keep in sight while I resist the “pull of the undertow” described in the article by Michie. In both articles I connected to the text through ideas that personally resonated with me, but I also looked at ideas that made me question what I know and believe. Together I have gained a deeper understanding of what I believe and how that will affect my education and future as an educator.
In “Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of School-As-Usual” I connected with the experience shared in the text through my own experience as an education student and what I am preparing to do. In this article Michie compares currents in the ocean to schooling, he does this by describing an ‘undertow’, which is unseen, but can pull you away if you aren’t consciously working to resist it (43-44). He says that schools can produce an environment that, especially for novice teachers, makes it easy “to be seduced by the pull of convention or expediency or outside demands” (44). I relate to this because it is difficult to enter a new place and new group of people and not get sucked into trying to fit in and be accepted. As a new teacher I imagine it will be difficult to feel confident in my resistance and the thought of doing things that go against the school culture and convention can be overwhelming. Michie also provides ways to resist that pull, which I can see as being manageable for a new teacher who is “working for justice” (45). From the article I find that taking time to see what I have been successful in will help me continue to resist oppressive conventions. Looking deeper at the text I ran into issues that I had to struggle with.
Some of the challenging or troubling ideas I had about “teaching in the undertow” were realizations about my beliefs and ideas of practice. First, as an introverted person, I find it difficult to fully accept the idea that I can’t do everything on my own. Connecting with colleagues is practical and helpful, but I recognize that it may be difficult to create supportive alliances in my first year, especially if none of the teachers share the same ideas I do. I wonder how much I would be able to do without a strong support system. In conjunction with this somewhat small issue I was trouble by another issue. What makes it so easy to go with the current?
I believe it comes from some deeply embedded issues. I have grown up in a multicultural country, but it is also a country that has a long history of systemic racism. Issues around race are a constant narrative we hear throughout our society. The current is powerful, because education has been pushing in certain direction since its establishment. In this way education has been used as a tool for oppression, which can be a hard idea to accept. Therefore it is easier to ignore. It is easy to believe that you are providing equality in education while teaching to convention if you don’t question the ways that schooling is oppressive. On the other end of a system that is oppressive for marginalized groups, is the privileging of another group. The dominant social group is favoured and actually benefits from a system that only speaks to one way of knowing in line with the dominant narrative. As a part of the dominant social group, which I am a part of simply because I was born white, I have been given privilege. Resisting the undertow will also mean giving up privilege, which is easier said than done. The idea of having unearned privileged based on race is hard for me to come to terms with. It is my responsibility and hope as a future teacher to work against the conventions that maintain oppression, which is why I found this article was interconnected to the article on teaching about issues of race.
From the article “’Brown Kids Can’t Be in our Club’: Raising Issues of Race with Young Children” I related to the ideas presented by Tenorio, because of the community I grew up in and the negative view about racial differences that are a part of that community and are more broadly a part of a racist society in general. I also connected with the idea that I will be able to make changes as long as I keep working toward social justice, building alliances with similar goals and expanding my awareness and understanding. More troubling ideas I dealt with were how the narratives presented in the playground bullying of different races in the article mirrored the narratives that played out in my community and thus (however unwelcome) play out in the back of my mind. I realized that part of being raised in a racist society means I can’t unhear those racist narratives supported by stereotypes and a complicated history. I can however challenge them and teach against them and provide awareness to my students about issues of race (Tenorio 83-91).
I found these two articles of particular resonance to me because they deal with an important part of my journey as a future educator. I connect to Teaching in the Undertow, because I am preparing to become a teacher and this article speaks to the issue of resisting convention while attempting to teach for social justice. And more specifically I can connect to teaching about issues of race in the latter article as it is an important part of learning to teach anti-oppressively and because issues of race are a prominent aspect of my society. I have been able to connect with both, but have also worked with some troubling knowledge that arose from both. Issues with why it will be so challenging not to teach to convention and how racist narratives are a part of the society I belong to help me form a goal of what to work on. I know my responsibility to both in the vein of teaching against oppression, but there is still troubling knowledge that I will have to work through.
Michie, Gregory. “Teaching in the Undertow: Resisting the Pull of Schooling-As-Usual.” The New Teacher Book. Ed. Terry Burant, Linda Christensen, Kelley Dawson Salas, and Stephanie Walters. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, Ltd, 210. 43-51. Print.
Tenorio, Rita. “‘Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club’: Raising Issues of Race with Young Children.” The New Teacher Book. Ed. Terry Burant, Linda Christensen, Kelley Dawson Salas, and Stephanie Walters. Milwaukee, WI: Rethinking Schools, Ltd, 210. 83-91. Print.