March 22, 2019
Out of all of the readings that have been assigned this semester, I found this week’s reading, chapter 7 from Against Common Sense: Teaching and Learning Toward Social Justice by Kevin K. Kumashiro, William F. Pinar, and Gloria Ladson-Billings to be one of, if not, the most influential and in my opinion, most significant article to date. The information provided within the book’s chapter is of the lens from which individuals view various aspects of our world, and how having a certain lens or perspective can greatly affect the ways in which we perceive people, culture, politics, education and more. It is through these lenses that we all ‘read’ the world, and this ‘reading’ tends to reflect the ways that we were brought up, and reinforces the various ideas brought forth to us during our impressionable youth up until our adult years. I think that this chapter is especially significant because it asks us to consider our own, perhaps hidden, preconceived notions and biases that we have taken as a lens to view our world, and consider how our lenses as educators can affect our students. It is important to move past one single lens view, and try to incorporate a number of perspectives in order to allow our students to do the same.
In my experiences growing up and through my school system, I think that I have been greatly influenced and it has certainly shaped how I ‘read the world.’ My family has always attempted to be very conscious of all people, and I have many relatives who have married people from all across the world. Being influenced in my home life by a vast number of people from places that I had never even been gave me a greater perspective of the vastness of our world, and allowed to get a better understanding of a variety of cultures and experiences. I think that this has shaped the way that I view other cultures than my own, with interest and curiosity that others may not necessarily possess. My schooling was more biased I would say. Most of our learning focused on Indigenous culture, so I gained an excellent amount of knowledge and glimpses of Indigenous perspective throughout my elementary and high school careers, including workshops with Elders. Otherwise, most of the information we received came from as Kumashiro says “[w]hite, middle-class men” (Kumashiro, et. al. 71), as the books that we read and the information that was given to us was mainly from one perspective and one group of people that share a mindset. This did not allow for as much diverse thought or a multitude of perspectives.
I hope that as an educator there won’t be any biases or lenses that I bring to the classroom, but I know that is likely not the case, and is highly improbable. As Mike once said in a lecture “we are all recovering racists” (Cappello). Little thoughts may squeeze their way into our brains, as they do to all, but it is important to realize that these are just conditioned biases gained from years in schooling that did not recognize the detrimental affects their lens might have on their students. I think that it is likely impossible to fully unlearn these biases, however not impossible to work against them, and work towards a more accepting and diverse lens that accounts for a variety of perspectives. Though I have biases of my own, I will not allow them to affect my work as an educator, and I will ensure not to pass any of my learned experiences of particular lenses on to my students. I want to be the kind of educator that brings in books and more from a number of groups rather than one dominant narrative that I received in my schooling.