On the Week 9 (October 28th, 2014) of our ECS 210, we were asked to read Kumashiro’s Chapter 3 of Against Common Sense which is about “Preparing Teachers for Uncertainty”. I remembered how colourful the pages became after I read the chapter as I enjoyed commenting on margins and marking several important notes with different highlighters. After our general class discussion last Tuesday, Mike asked us to reflect on page 41 of our readings and reconsider our autobiography.
This weekend, I re-read our book’s page 41 as well as my autobiography. Unlike the majority of our class, I have mentioned my class and my culture as part of my autobiography. However, I also failed to recognize my gender and how it may affect my teachings. I guess it is easier for me to recognize my culture, especially that my family can be considered as fairly new settlers. I even mentioned that I felt alienated and the process of accepting to plant my roots in this new milieu. This reminded of the discussion that Elisa, Audrey, and I had from our last seminar. The generations that emerged from many settlers over 100 years ago can easily “blend-in” and consider themselves as Canadians. However, it is harder for recent immigrants—like me—to consider ourselves as pure Canadians because we still have that fresh connection from our homeland. With this in mind, it can still be debatable and/or easier for us to be considered as “other” although there is a high possibility that we have learned to adapt the Canadian lifestyle into our lives. Being part of that “other” and the emotional factors linked to it easily allows me to recognize culture in my autobiography.
Another factor that I have mentioned in my autobiography was my class. I recognized that the reason why I have mentioned my class was because it was associated with my culture. To elaborate, I was able to consider my class because I witnessed how poverty can affect the education of the children in the Philippines. Being a middle class, I did not see my family’s financial status as a barrier to my education. However, I have friends who attended the same public high school and I know the barriers that they have to face every day.
Both culture and class are important factors that helped me to develop a general goal in my life: to have a degree, have a stable employment, and help my parents. However, I did not see my gender as a factor that influenced my journey to be a teacher. Maybe this is because I did not fall into the category of questioning my sexuality. As a result, I never know how it personally felt to be treated as “other” although I have gay friends. I never had an issue with LGBTQ because I learned to accept the uniqueness of everyone yet I failed to recognize how they should be part of my teaching philosophy.
Overall, there are several more factors that needed to be reconsidered and re-evaluated. As Kumashiro said, “there will always be hidden lessons in our teachings and the goal is to conscientiously make visible these hidden lessons and the various lenses students use to make sense of them” (2008, p 41). We do not only have to deliberately teach our planned curriculums but also, we have to be aware of the possible angles and lenses that our students may use—curriculum as lived—to avoid the invisible oppression that we may endorse throughout our teaching. There are important factors that we did not recognized and/or considered to be on our autobiographical work but I think that this is one of the flaws of an autobiography. We were asked to choose specific and limited factors which disallowed us to consider everything in our life. However, our autobiographical work was just a snapshot of our long list that keeps getting longer. Every day, we will be inspired by several people; we will always attain more knowledge; we will always learn to see the things we haven’t seen before and I think that they are all important in shaping what kind of teacher we will be. Thus, we must always be open in criticizing the knowledge that we have and be open in accepting how to make spaces for our students. There are more learning and unlearning to do to put front and center the things that we do not want and/or not even know.
I think that we cannot blame the mirror for my incomplete reflections. We cannot take away the fact that we can see many angles of our reflection when we are closer to the mirror. However, there are angles that we missed because we look too close to the mirror. We need to step farther and see what else miss. We might be surprise to recognize angles that we haven’t seen. It is normal to be uncomfortable as we face the reality that these are part of us but this will help us to see our full reflection. Seeing our full reflection was just the first step but this will affect what further actions we can make.