I will start off by saying that I grew up in small-town Saskatchewan in one of the most conservative areas in Canda, any Conservative party could run a blue mailbox in my riding and it would win. This political landscape really shaped my life in and out of the school. I was taught to see the world through an agricultural lens and anyone not from this lifestyle was not of the right lifestyle compared to the locals; especially if you lived in “the east” part of the country or happened to be a Liberal supporter. The attitude we farmers were the only “real hard workers” and the rest of the country were lazy. But I only caught some of that attitude, mostly outside the school, for the most part, my school was very positive and the whole community was very positive and accepting. I also was told the rest of the world isn’t as great as here and who would want to leave Canada or within a 5-hour drive from home, I am reminded of my Grandfather.
My school atmosphere was pretty normal for a school of around 200 students. I was fortunate because we had a large immigrant population, mostly Philipino. This allowed me to be exposed to aspects of a culture different from mine. Whether it was the food they ate or the holidays they celebrated. This lens allowed me to see what diversity would look like when I came to University is when I was really hit with the diversity lens.
From a young age, I was very inquisitive and needed answers to questions I had and needed to develop a deeper understanding. So when I would hear people saying how they preserved the world I always had questions. I now understand that I was and still am challenging the lens I have superimposed on me.
I do bring these lens’ into the classroom, however, I don’t think that these lens’ are exclusive to my part of the world. Drive to any rural place on the prairies and the view of the world will look very similar. Through my work in city schools and through the university, I have discovered I have a tougher time relating and understanding the problems some of these students face, because of my life experiences. I also grew up in a middle-class family and I was always well looked after and most of my friends were in the same situation. I was also taught that if someone wasn’t successful and on government assistance then they must be lazy. So another lens is the privilege that I was born with as a white male, the privilege of being middle class and having a stable home and school life. I looked up to my teachers that happened to be all white because I respected them and understood they had expertise that I nor my parents had. Combating and unlearning these bias’ will not be easy, I feel the key is to keep an open mind and be a lifelong learner. By doing this we help to learn new perspectives that will help to mask over old bias’. the old bias’ can be reshaped and used as an asset to further my learning and ability to be a great teacher.
In my schooling, the single-story that excised was the learning mostly about the negative parts of history and the negative effects on the present day. The truth that mattered was the white Europeans perspective and how this perspective saw all history and present events even when they had business telling an event through their lens.