I think that for the most part, we don’t include our race, or gender, sexuality, or any other form of identity because we assume that it wont make a difference in who we are, or how we developed. After the reading, and after class, I had left feeling uncomfortable with myself because I had no idea what was expected of me. I started to really think of where I came from. I grew up on and around reserves, went to school in a small place, didn’t practice religion, I never really thought that growing up where I did would have affected my way of teaching, or the implications it may have towards the class. I also came to the conclusion that our backgrounds and history’s are different for everyone, and those markers make us who we are.
I also realized that how people judge us depends on their initial markers they make on us. For example, I am white and female, therefore, the individuals who meet me for the first time are going to form impressions and opinions based on their perception of me. They will assume that because I am female, I will be hormonal, caring, and I will either be extremely nice, or I will be perceived as a horrible person. I am expected to be sympathetic and motherly, unless of course, I start acting outside of the norms constructed by society in order to assert my dominance as an equal to other people. Being white introduces the assumption that I am probably a good Christian, and that I am upper class. As a white person, there is also the assumptions that I have never been the victim of a hate crime, and whether true or not, I will always be the oppressor and never the victim. People will assume that I will never be able to relate to international or First Nations students, I will speak English. As a perceived white person, I would have never run into the law, or have been to jail, and if I have, it would have only been because I was having some ‘lighthearted fun’. The list of assumptions can go on and on, and unfortunately, we live in a society filled with stereotypes, prejudice, hate, discrimination, and so forth, which makes counteracting any of these judgments extremely hard.
Why do these assumptions matter? As I go into the classroom and teach the students, I will have to realize that these students will be basing their ideas and assumptions about me from what they perceive me to be. I also have to be aware that these assumptions are not just about me, but extend to every individual in the classroom. Whether I mean to or not, these hidden messages and assumptions re-create the classroom environment which can hinder the learning of others. I also have to realize that because of these identity markers we carry, it affects what we teach in the classroom, and what the students will get out of the lessons we teach. It is important that we understand where we came from and what we understand of the world today – we need to teach from both parts of the story. We also need to focus on multiple aspects of learning. Of course, my upbringing will be different from the next persons upbringing, and it is important that we as future educators, understand the different implications we may have when we stand in front of the classroom to teach our lesson about History, or English, or Health.
I think that Kumashiro is correct in his ideas where when we teach, we consider the students are learning only when they can reiterate what we placed on them. I hope this is not the case for me, and I would want my students to question and engage in their learning in my classroom. Hopefully, I can push past the political implications of the knowledge and skills, and encourage my students to be radical thinkers prepared for what society has to offer today and in the future.