Friday, February 20, 2015

Provoking my Living Curriculum

So here I am in Vancouver at the Provoking Curriculum Studies Conference sponsored by the Canadian Association of Curriculum Studies and the Faculty of Education at UBC.

I've just listened to Lisa Taylor of Bishop's University and Mario di Paolantonio of York University address "Hope, Optimism, and Neoliberal structures of Feeling in Education Under Late Capitalism". I'm looking forward to hearing Lesley Tait of the University of Calgary consider "Older Adults Provoking the World: Life Writing, Life Reading, Life Weaving" followed by Kym Stewart of Simon Fraser University and Capilano University muse "Metissage, Mouse Woman, and Media Education".

I think I'm the only practicing classroom teacher presenting at the conference, and I'm struggling with the question, what do I hope to add to this distinguished discussion? What do I really know?

I know I'm happy to share my song, my pictures, my Treaty Walks story. I'm happy to be in a safe place where it's okay to say I'm "provoking my living curriculum" and not have my colleagues look at me with there-she-goes-again eyes. At the same time, I'm proud that I'm "in the classroom" everyday. I'm proud of my school, my students, my colleagues, my community.

I titled this session way back in the fall of 2014, having just bonded with the Decolonizing/Indigenizing buzz word "Unsettling", so I've had five months to consider just what I might have meant in the title: "Treaty Walks: An "Unsettling" Journey From Bully to Benevolence and White Back Again".

I am finally coming to grips with my Treaty Walks experience and the ambiguity of it all. Treaty Walks has been both Decolonizing/Indigenizing and Disturbing/Destabilizing.

I have been committed and thankful to Treaty Walks in the various incarnations for the last three and a half years; however, I'm realizing Treaty Walks has also been a very upsetting experience for me. I stopped blogging for over a year, nearly burnt out, needing to learn to relax. I have struggled with my unsettled identity; a colleague told me I was a bully, my students often demonstrate frustration "resistance" to the topic of Treaty Education (which, in Saskatchewan, has been mandated since 2008 in every subject) and at the same time I was always have to be on alert for my temptation to act as Lady Bountiful, seeing myself as a hero. I know this navel gazing is part of my privilege, my whiteness, making the quest for social justice all about me.

But, I know I am on to something with Treaty Walks. I trust my teacher's heart.

Treaty Walks has been an informal Action Research project,  looping and looping through questioning, acting, and reflecting. My work as an ally is just as real as my identity angst. The victories are just as true as the navel gazing. I may be perceived as a bully, as Lady Bountiful, as self-white-tious; I may be tempted to lean into those identities or accept others' perceptions of me. I may be humble, infuriating, ruffling and kind all at the same time.

I am happy to be in this "third space" where I am not at home, but I'm also no stranger. I'm happy to be estranged from what is familiar and everyday. (Pinar, 2011). I am happy to practice my discourse as I learn to be useful.

What's important to me is that I keep walking with Treaty, sometimes sitting with Treaty, sometimes meditating, singing, crying, laughing... I keep provoking. I keep "learning how to live well and wisely in the world".

Part 3 of 4 at "Treaty Walks: My Unsettling Journey from Bully to Benevolence and White Back Again" at Provoking Curriculum, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Follow me on Twitter @treatywalks

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