personal

Critical Response to “The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity”

Posted on May 29, 2019. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, Christian, Masters, personal, Privilege, Race |

A friend sent me this article on The Incompatibility of Critical Theory and Christianity. We both are believers in Jesus, both go to the same Acts 29 church, and both have studied critical theory through our Masters programs. By the time I had read the article and typed up my response, I figured I had enough information to do a blog post rather than just a text reply to her.

Please read the article first as I am only responding to what it says. If you would like to check out some of my other thoughts on anti-oppressive education, decolonization etc., please find the category links to the right. >

Things I liked/agreed with in the article

  1. I agree with the authors that critical theory can function as a worldview. I would say that I have seen some of my professors live, think, and act through this lens entirely. I also agree that without the gospel, this worldview falls short, as liberation from oppression will only truly come when Jesus comes back and we are made perfect in Him and through Him.
  2. I am so thankful that Shenvi and Sawyer chose to write out the metanarrative of Christianity. It is the gospel summed up in four statements when they say, “We are creatures made in God’s image, who have sinned against him, who need to be rescued through the atoning work of Jesus, and who are called to love both God and neighbor.” They seem to have a clear understanding of the gospel, and it shows when they speak about our identity as humans and our depravity as humans.
  3. I am happy that the authors asked their readers to be careful with language, and to do more research/reading before using the language… and sort of pretending they know what they are talking about. I did my Masters of Education with a focus on Anti-oppressive education, and I am still learning the language. These authors are far more educated than I am, so I definitely can’t say that the following disagreements come from a place of greater knowledge. In fact, my next statements come from a place of trying to be a critical thinker, and my own experience with how God used critical theory to change my life.

Things I disagreed/disliked in the article

  1. “In contrast, critical theory is associated with a metanarrative that runs from oppression to liberation: We are members either of a dominant group or of a marginalized group with respect to a given identity marker. As such, we either need to divest ourselves of power and seek to liberate others, or we need to acquire power and liberate ourselves by dismantling all structures and institutions that subjugate and oppress.” I agree that critical theory’s metanarrative is to move from oppression to liberation, but I don’t see how the first part is in contrast to Christianity; “to divest ourselves of power and seek to liberate others” is what I believe the Bible is calling us to do. In Philippians 2, we are called to imitate Christ by emptying ourself, humbling ourself, and to look to the interest of others. In Luke 4:16-19, Jesus quotes Isaiah- “He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives… to set at liberty those who are oppressed.” Verse 21 says, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” What did Jesus mean by that? He obviously didn’t mean that all oppression stopped in that moment. But I believe he did mean that THROUGH JESUS, that is what can happen. By looking at Jesus’s life, I do believe that freeing people from physical, spiritual, and societal oppression was part of his ministry, and as such, I believe that aspect of critical theory is not in contrast to Jesus’s call for us.
  2. “The points of tension are numerous. Invariably, we will be forced to choose between critical theory and Christianity in terms of our values, ethics, and priorities.”  I disagree, and this statement sort of rubs me the wrong way! When my eyes were opened to the oppression in this world, and my own White Settler privilege, I was not thrown into an anti-Christian worldview and mindset. In fact, I believe God was using my classes to teach me about his heart. He opened my eyes to my own privilege, and it caused me to run to Him, knowing how deeply I need Him and how broken we are. We need a Rescuer. There was definitely an acknowledgment that without activism we remain in a privileged position; I could undoubtedly show up at school and just learn about my privilege without doing anything about it. But as a believer, I knew that the Holy Spirit was the one that would work through me and produce fruit when fighting oppression. I wasn’t forced to choose between critical theory and Christianity, my priorities were being refocused through the work of the Spirit in my life.
  3. “Christians who embrace the paradigm of critical theory as a solution to racism or sexism often question a biblical understanding of gender roles, gender identity, sexual orientation, marriage, parental authority, and even the uniqueness of the Christian faith.” I feel like this statement should be referenced or backed up with research from a primary source.  I feel like I could just as easily say “Christians who take communion every Sunday often question a biblical understanding of gender roles, gender identity, sexual orientation and so on.” Is questioning these things even wrong? I am sure I questioned all of these things before I had ever taken a Masters class or learned what critical theory is. The Bible is our standard, period. That is where we go to find our identity, answer the hard questions, and we are under the authority of Scripture. But questioning some very real examples of what is going on in our world at the moment isn’t just for those embracing critical theory.
  4. “Critical theory claims that members of oppressed groups have special access to truth because of their “lived experience” of oppression. Such insight is unavailable to members of oppressor groups, who are blinded by their privilege.” The authors disagree that members of oppressed groups have special access to truth just because they are oppressed. My question would be- don’t they have special access to “their truth??” Haven’t they experienced systemic oppression and a suffering that myself as privileged White Settler has never and will never experience? Isn’t this why Peggy McIntosh’s Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack hits home with so many White Settlers because it opens our eyes to our innate privileges? Now, I might get eaten alive for inferring that truth is relative and that each person can have their own truth. In this circumstance I am not talking about the truth of the word of God, or that Jesus says he is the way the truth and the life. I believe these things!  But what I’m saying is that members of oppressed groups do live their own experience, and we do need to listen to and hear about the suffering they might experience. It is their truth, and because the systems in our society greatly benefit certain groups of people- male/White/straight/Settlers for the most part, members of privileged groups don’t share the same lived experience. I know for myself, I WAS blinded by my privilege; not to the gospel of Jesus Christ, but to the oppressed member’s truth and lived experience… Absolutely.

Agree? Disagree? Feel free to comment with your thoughts below.

 

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I Got Rid of My Social Media

Posted on October 2, 2018. Filed under: Facebook, personal, Social Media, Social Networking |

This is my story about my positive experience getting rid of social media and taking a big step back from technology in general.

It all started after I was part of a local summer festival. I was doing a lot of the behind the scenes tech work; the social media accounts, emails, scheduling etc. I was on my phone A LOT. I had even downloaded an app called Moment a week before, because I wanted to know just how much I was using it. Here are my stats for that week:

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Yep, you got it. The LEAST amount of time I was on my phone was 4 hours 31 minutes. Isn’t that gross? Yes, I was doing “work,” but I didn’t love what I saw. I decided that I needed a technology break. I was going to get off my social media accounts, try to use my phone much less, and have a breather.

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Time to Quit- Photo credit: Marco Verch via Flickr

So what happened? Well first off, I realized I had fallen into some BAD habits. I wouldn’t call it a full fledged addiction, but it could have been pretty close! For the first week, I clicked on my “social” category at least 5-6 times a day, only to realize that I had deleted the social media apps. I kept the Twitter app, as I am a teacher and I have a class account that I tweet from, but I deleted my personal account from the app so I wouldn’t be tempted to check it. Gone was my Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. I decided to keep my Timehop app as it basically just brought up baby pictures of my daughter from the last two years which I love. I kept my Messenger app as I am part of some communities (like our small group from church) that only uses Messenger to communicate. I also kept my Pinterest app which I don’t use for social networking… More for the rare lesson plan idea. I am on Pinterest so minimally, I wasn’t worried about needing to delete it. But the goal was to not just be off those apps, but to be off my phone more period.

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This week marks one month since I’ve been off social media, and honestly, I am feeling great! I do not miss Facebook as much as I thought I would, even though I was spending quite a bit of time on there a day. I would mostly read articles that interested me, and then scroll scroll scroll through the newsfeed. I have quite a varied group of people on my Facebook, due to my desire to not surround myself with an echo chamber. See my post on that here. But I’m sorry to say friends, you guys just aren’t THAT interesting. Not enough to be spending the time I was on there, at least.

twitterThe craziest part is that I thought I would get off tech for a month and then go back on, but I’m not ready! I am going to slowly re-introduce my social media accounts back into my life. Yesterday I did re-add my personal Twitter account again. It’s funny to me that I missed Twitter the most. I don’t even know if “missed” is the right word. Maybe I felt like it was the most useful? My Twitter account is mostly for professional use, and I follow a lot of awesome teachers who share neat, encouraging ideas. Either way, it’s what I’m starting with.  Maybe next month, I will add something else back in, although I am getting used to being off of it…  Hmm, my life might just be changed forever!

Have you ever gone off grid? How did you like it? Anything you missed too much? Anything that changed the way you interact with your digital world? Leave a comment!

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Parenting: The Calling (Ch. 1)

Posted on June 14, 2017. Filed under: Books, parenting, Parenting: Gospel Principles, personal |

I am currently reading Paul David Tripp’s book called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that Can Radically Change Your Family.  It is from a Christian perspective, and though not everyone will agree with all of the advice, here are some of the things I’ve learned from the chapter.

Chapter summary: This chapter was about how parents have an extremely high calling. The chapter begins with this quote:

Principle: Nothing is more important in your life than being one of God’s tools to form a human soul.

This chapter was pretty sobering in its reminder of how important parenting is. It started off by walking us through the stages of a child through little scenarios.

  1. The two year old won’t eat his peas.
  2. The Kindergarten teacher is sending home notes because your kid won’t stop talking.
  3. Your children are misbehaving and making the day extremely difficult to get through.
  4. You’ve just had one of the best conversations with your eleven year old… EVER.
  5. Your pre-teen is embarrassed by you and doesn’t want to be seen with you.
  6. You take your family to a movie, and the fun family comedy has way too many sexual innuendos that you will need to talk about with your kids later.
  7. Your kid moves away to college and doesn’t need your help anymore.
  8. Your child moves home from college while she is looking for a job. You have to find the balance of parenting an adult.
  9. You’re haunted by regret. (This is where I got emotional.) You remember the little promises you didn’t keep, or all the moments of failure.

Tripp points out that all of those little scenarios have one thing in common: they are all about a calling as a parent. He breaks down our calling into two categories: 1) Parents are treasure hunters, and parents are valued spiritually.

His first point about being a treasure hunter is that our choices and decisions are all reflections of our core values. Many things compete for our attention and to be on the “throne” of our hearts; possessions, recreational activities, people, etc. We often get overwhelmed with them and they hold too big of a spot in our life.

“Parents who are too controlled by possessions (houses, cars, lawns, furniture, artwork etc.) tend to be so busy acquiring, maintaining, financing, and protecting their possessions that they have way too little time to invest in their children in the way God intended. Or parents who love possessions too much tend to be so uptight about protecting their possessions that they unwittingly turn their home into an uncomfortable furniture and craft museum that their children are taxed to live in” (Tripp, 2016, p. 26).

Tripp challenges his readers to humbly look at their own lives and identify any areas that might compete with the value of parenting. What gets in the way of giving parenting the importance and value it deserves?

The second point explains how our high calling as parents is about getting to be “a principal, consistent, and faithful tool in his hands for the purpose of creating God-consciousness and God-submission in your children” (p. 30).  Parents get the amazing job of helping their children understand spirituality and pointing them to Jesus.

My take aways– After reading those initial scenarios, I thought to myself, “thank goodness my actual parenting hasn’t started yet.” But when I thought more about it, I realized that it has. I believe that my every day choices are reflective of what my parenting will be like in the future. If parents are truly treasure hunters, then what I value today definitely has consequences on what things I will value down the road.

Photo 2017-05-23, 12 40 28 PMThe ‘regret’ scenario really struck a chord with me.  I don’t want to make it all the way through my life and then look back and wish I had spent more time savouring the little moments. When Adelyn was first born, many people told me to cherish the time because they grow up way too fast. Cliche, I know… but I have actually tried to take that advice to heart. Jim and Pam were given this advice for their wedding, and I have been trying to do the same thing with Adelyn.  I am trying to live in/cherish the moments we are in. As much as possible, I am trying to be present when I am with her.

It has been really interesting entering into this journey of parenting.  When people ask Photo 2017-05-12, 10 16 46 AMme what it’s like to be home with Adelyn, I have a hard time explaining how much I am enjoying it. You see, I am one of those people who has always been GO GO GO. I have been extremely busy and seemingly involved in everything. Being home with Adelyn has caused me to slow right down.  And let me tell you, there is beauty in the rest. I have really enjoyed this slow pace and spending time with my daughter. We work around her schedule and I’m at home A LOT. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I am.

 

It also makes me happy/excited for my choice to go half time next year.  I know this IMG_2564choice isn’t for everyone. Some would rather be home full time, some would rather go back to work full time… but I’m going to be half time, and I think it was the right choice for me. I am learning that my family needs to come first before my job; I need to practice
making my husband and daughter a priority as I LOVE teaching, and I know it can easily creep in as a higher priority if I let it.

Some people may wonder why incorporating a spiritual worldview while parenting is important. Tripp does a great job of explaining why our role as parents is to help our children see the Creator.

“Your children have the perverse and life-shaping ability to look at the world around them and not see God. They will consistently see the signs (the created world), but they will consistently fail to see what the signs point to (the existence and glory of God). And if you don’t acknowledge God… you will then insert yourself in the middle of your world and make it all about you” (p. 30)

When we make this life about us, we end up living for the unsatisfying flavours of the week. We keep filling our lives with things that we think will make us happy. Often times these things can be good like family, work, career, aspirations, love etc. But they never fully satisfy us. When we shape our worlds around ourselves we end up always needing more because nothing human/earthly can meet these deep needs.  I believe that it is only a spiritual relationship with the Creator that can give us ultimate purpose and joy. When we have that, we can rest and live in a state of gratefulness/contentedness because it is not affected by our shifting circumstances.

What I want for Adelyn is for her to have a steady rock to hold to. I will try my best to teach her to have a spiritual awareness that will outlast her day to day troubles.

Just for fun:

Parenting fail #4- There have been three times when I’ve got home and realized that I forgot to do up Adelyn’s seatbelt in the car. Oops…

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Parenting fail #5- I accidentally took her to her six month check up appointment when she was only five months.  I didn’t tell the doctor/nurses when I realized three minutes in. I just smiled and nodded at all the milestones. Thank goodness she is a big baby. She came out as 97th percentile for six months!

 

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Parenting: Introduction

Posted on April 22, 2017. Filed under: baby, Books, Christian, parenting, Parenting: Gospel Principles |

I am currently reading Paul David Tripp’s book called Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles that Can Radically Change Your Family.  We were given this gift when our daughter was

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Adelyn was dedicated Jan. 15, 2017

dedicated at our church. Now that I’m finished my masters, I actually feel like I have time to read it!  I will start reading some other novels as well, but I figured why not start with a parenting book while she’s young! Not everyone will agree or believe everything this book says, but I thought it would be good for me to blog my way through it and share what I am learning as I go. (Also a great place to post some of the pictures I have of Adelyn just sitting on my phone!)

Currently our daughter is just about 7 months old.  I started reading the book tonight, and though the chapter was already talking about behaviour, sibling fights, sports teams and academics etc. (which don’t apply to our current situation quite yet), I figured there’s no better time to learn about parenting then now. And sure enough! I was already convicted of some things in my heart that I feel I need to work on.

Chapter summary

The Introduction’s main point was that parents can either be ambassadors or owners. Tripp explains this as your worldview about your children; do you believe they are yours to own or is your job to ‘steward’ them as gifts from God?

“Ownership parenting is motivated and shaped by what parents want for their children and from their children. It is driven by a vision of what we want our children to be and what we want our children to give us in return” (Tripp, 2016, p. 14).

This is very similar to the marriage advice he gives in his book, What Did You Expect?
He said that we often use our spouse as vehicles or obstacles to get what we want. It can be the same with our children. It becomes a user/consumer mentality.

His alternative is ambassador parenting.  This is the view that our children are gifts from God and we don’t own them, but we steward them to the best of our ability.

“The only thing an ambassador does, if he’s interested in keeping his job, is to faithfully represent the message, methods, and character of the leader who has sent him” (Tripp, 2016, p. 14).

An ambassador parent’s job would be to try their best to reflect godly principles and messages to their children.

My take-aways

1) My identity does not come from Adelyn. Period.  “Owner parents tend to look to get

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‘Auntie’ Ashley having fun with some Snapchat filters!

their identity, meaning, purpose, and inner sense of well-being from their children” (p. 17). Funny how I used to find myself struggling with getting my identity from my job!  Have a kid, and sure enough… that can be easily replaced by a little one.  Now, I know I can take great JOY in my daughter.  I can love how cute she is, how good she sleeps, how well “behaved” she is when she is tired etc. but this does not, and should not reflect my true worth. The point is, that if my worth comes from her appearance and behaviours, then I will be the most proud parent one minute, and the most discouraged, disappointed parent the next.  It’s the “Saviour” complex.  Looking to Adelyn to have her make or break my day is not a role she was made for.  Ambassador parents are “freed from asking family life to give them life because they have found life and their hearts are at rest” (p. 18).

2) I don’t have to dread Adelyn’s awkward older years. I am a primary teacher for a reason. I love the cuteness of kids ages 3-7. I find them adorable, funny, clever, and their

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Photo credit: Laura Barberis via Flickr

imaginations are magical.  I’m not going to lie, I find 9-13 year olds kind of annoying. I do want to eventually teach that age group as I love that they are getting to be more independent and critical thinkers at that age.  (They also behave way better for their teachers than their parents)… but to be completely honest, I find them awkward and sometimes irritating.  My husband Jon and I have already joked about how those years with kids are going to be terrible.

This chapter totally convicted me of my selfish desire for my child to always be cute and funny for MY selfish wants. Owner parents “struggle with the crazy, zany phases that their children go through as they are growing up. They’re not so much concerned about what that craziness says about their children, but what it says about them” (p. 20). On the other hand, ambassador parents “have come to understand that parenting will expose them to public misunderstanding and embarrassment somehow, someway. They have come to accept the humbling messiness of the job God has called them to do” (p. 20).

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Speaking of messiness…

If I am to honour Adelyn in every way that I can as her parent, I need to allow her to grow into the little human God has called her to be.  I can release her from living up to my expectations, and I can try my best to impart knowledge, grace, and love to her. She is already an awesome baby DESPITE me, not BECAUSE of me. I’m doing my best, but have already had so many parenting fails! I need to remember the truth and strive to be an ambassador parent.

Just for fun share time. I keep track of many of my parenting fails in a note in my phone. It keeps me humble 🙂

Parenting fail #1

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First week of parenting: I thought breastfeeding was going great! I figured she was perfectly latched and that the milk was going, I don’t know, into her mouth?

Parenting fail #2- I spelled her name wrong on the invitation to her church baby shower. Oops!

Many more fails to come! Anything connect or resonate with you? Do you struggle with ownership parenting? Comment below and share your experience!

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Can you use breast milk on your own face?

Posted on April 12, 2017. Filed under: breastfeeding, parenting, personal |

I think these were the exact words I googled about 4 months ago. There wasn’t a lot of info out there, but I did find one girl’s story about using her sister’s breast milk on her face for her acne so I figured I would try it!

When I had my daughter 6 months ago, she basically scratched herself as soon as she

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The breast milk used here was colostrum, so it is quite a bit thicker and left a residue.

was out of the womb. The nurses told me to just rub a little breast milk on it, and it will heal the scratch extra fast! Sure enough, they were right! The breast milk made the scratch go away within a day!

But… the magical properties of breast milk didn’t stop there! I kept hearing that breast milk was this magic formula (no pun intended) that heals all a baby’s ailments; eye infections, ear infections, diaper rash, and the list goes on! There was even an article I read that had multiple uses for breast milk. But none of the suggestions mentioned using it on an adult’s face, so I thought, “what the heck! I might as well give it a try!”

Well, what do you know? It works on adults too! Not surprisingly, all the vitamins and health benefits it has for baby’s bodies also works for adults! The first night I tried it, I was starting to get some zits on my face around my chin and on my nose. The girl who’s blog I read put it all over her face and then washed it off, but I figured I would try it as a spot treatment. I usually pump right before bed anyway, so I just used some of the milk left over inside the funnels, and rubbed it on my nose and chin.

I didn’t find the breast milk sticky or weird smelling (which is more than I can say for the kate somerville anti bacKate Somerville anti bac blemish cream I normally used before bed! Man does that stuff stink! My husband literally won’t even kiss me before bed if I’m wearing that stuff!). The breast milk dried quickly and just made the skin feel sort of tight. In the morning, any zits that I thought were appearing the night before had disappeared.

I have used breast milk on my face almost every night since then, and my complexion is probably the best it’s ever been! Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not getting rid of any fine lines or wrinkles or anything, but it really has made a difference with my zits and blemishes!

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No makeup selfie

^ I just took this selfie right now while writing this post. I am not wearing any make-up or foundation. The lighting is from our bedroom window with the blinds closed, so natural light definitely helps, but if you zoom in,  you will be able to see that my complexion is not perfect by any means. BUT, I also don’t have any visible zits I don’t think! I went out like this today, and didn’t feel like I needed to use any cover up.

Now… I know how gross and weird it sounds. I’m even one of those people who is kind of creeped out and scared when people encapsulate their placentas. So I would not consider myself a “granola/hippe” type person who does stuff like this. I am just a new mom who happened to wonder, if breast milk is good for babies and their skin, wouldn’t it work for ours too?

Are you breastfeeding? Go ahead and try it! Let me know if it works for you as well!

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How Indigenous Learning Stories Can Combat Colonialism

Posted on March 27, 2017. Filed under: Anti Oppressive Ed, baby, cultural, eci814, educational, First Nations, Masters, Privilege, Race, Unsettling the Settler |

Mary Caroline Rowan discusses Indigenous learning stories in her article, “Resituating carol rowanPractice through Teacher’s Storying of Children’s Interests.” Rowan believes that learning stories can be a device to impart Indigenous knowledge and practices. The “learning story” derives from Aotearoa/New Zealand and is a structured, narrative style observation story that documents children’s actions and incorporates them into a story that walks through a child’s interests, ideas, and emotions.  In her chapter, Rowan uses the learning story model, and incorporates Indigenous vocabulary words that support Inuit culture.

(Warning: understatement of the year…) Colonization has had a strong impact on the Canadian Inuit’s culture. Through strict policy and violence, the Inuit people were forced to attend Residential schools where they were taught White ways of knowing and denied access to their language, culture and families.  “Inuit approaches to living have been systematically undermined in relationship with a southern society that believed that it knew best how to use the north, how to develop its economic potential, and how to improve the moral, intellectual and material lives of its inhabitants” (Rowan, 2013, p. 175).

The Inuit language and culture have been silenced through years of colonial policy and forced assimilation. Rowan’s approach to her research is rooted in the understanding that “locally based social and cultural knowledge(s) provide a foundation for meaning, understanding, and strength at the community level” (Rowan, 2013, p. 174).  She journeys down the path of decolonial theory to find ways to incorporate this local knowledge and disrupt hegemony in her early childhood education action research. Through the practice of transformative pedagogy, “which recognizes the value of home and community knowledge” (Rowan, 2013, p. 180), Rowan chooses to write two learning stories that use traditional Indigenous knowledge and language.

Rowan uses Hugh Brody’s research (1975 & 2001) many times in this chapter. hugh brody Brody was a British anthropologist that visited the Canadian Arctic in the 70’s. Much of his work influences Rowan’s theoretical approach. Brody (1987) wrote, “The voices of the people must be heard; their words breathe life into our understanding. We cannot know other cultures by looking at them; we must hear their accents, absorb their intonations, and enter their points of view” (p. xv). This is vital to Rowan’s work with Indigenous children.  In her learning stories, she enters an Inuit child’s world and writes about kamiik, (sealskin boots) illu, (a snow house/igloo) and a play structure on a local playground.

Through her stories, children were spurred on to wonder and question about other traditional cultural practices. One child “really wanted to see the quilliq (stone lamp) lit.qulliq This eventually led to an important event that involved the lighting of the quilliq” (Rowan, 2013, p. 182). I believe this is the magic that an engaging story can hold for a child. It begs them to enter into the story, and wonder and question in much deeper ways. The amazing thing about a learning story is that the children reading it are the centre of the story. It is their behaviours and actions that are documented.

When I decided to write my own learning story, I decided to centre it around my five month old daughter.  I am currently on mat leave, and do not have a classroom where I can use my students in the story.  I decided to take pictures of important events in Adelyn’s day where I saw her learning and engaging with her environment… AKA my home.  Because I didn’t want it to only be applicable to our family, I tried to use objects or experiences that could transcend culture. I openly admit however, that by being a White female settler, I am already working within a privileged, dominant discourse.

However, I tried to write the learning story in a way that allowed the opportunity for other languages and cultures to insert their own local vocabulary/understandings. On each page I underlined a word that I thought could be traded out for something more culturally appropriate or local if applicable.  For example, I wrote about Adelyn sleeping in her crib.  I know that many other cultures use moss bags, boxes, bassinets, parents bed, etc. Those reading/translating this story are encouraged to switch the vocabulary when necessary.

On the topic of translating, I guess I should mention that I had some friends/family translate the learning story for me into their own language.  I am so privileged to have acquaintances from many cultural/linguistic backgrounds, and thankfully many of them were willing to help me translate the story into their own tongue.  By the time the story was finished, it was translated into 7 (almost 8) other languages: Inuktitut, French, Korean, German, Mandarin, Spanish, Swahili, (and Cree is on the way). But considering Brody’s quote about “hearing their accents and absorbing their intonations” (Brody, 1975, p. xv), the story was not finished yet.  Through technology, we now have the capacity to actually HEAR other languages being spoken. I asked each friend to also record themselves reading the story in their language so I could import the recordings into the ebook.  This was successful, and now beside each translated line, there is a button one can click to hear the sentence being read in the corresponding language.

Again, I know there are still many faults with this process and product. By inserting other languages over a White, privileged experience, I am inviting minority groups into my dominant narrative rather than the reverse. I realize that this project is occurring because of a chapter I read while taking my Masters degree at a University. (The ivory tower image can’t be much stronger than that.)

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“Ivory Tower” photo credit: Billie Grace Ward via Flickr

I also realize that it is quite problematic that the book I have made is available in ePub format which is best read on an iPad, eBook reader, or a computer with the correct software installed. I know this type of technology is not accessible to everyone, and by doing this, I may just be perpetuating a very privileged group’s access to these materials.

That said, in offering this story in more than one language, I hope to accomplish some inclusivity.  I am sending a copy of my story to each of my friends/family that helped me translate it, and I hope it will be read to their children and children’s friends in their home language.  I am also hopeful because of my story’s ebook format. Because it is an ePub, it can be opened in the Book Creator app so that the pictures can be changed.  Perhaps someone would like to take out the picture of my daughter, and insert one of their own child in their own environment.  This ePub format also allows the story to be printed for those that may not have access to an iPad, ebook reader or computer.  It does lose the ability to hear the languages being spoken, but the written text in the different languages will still be there.

 

I will leave you with a few questions that I have pondered throughout this work.

  1. How can I (you, we) ally with other Indigenous peoples who are wanting to “breathe life into their understanding.” What does it look like for me (you, we) to support the amazing work already being done by Indigenous people who want to keep their traditions, culture and language alive?
  2. In what ways can I, as a white settler woman help disrupt hegemony and colonial thinking among settlers? In what ways can I infuse Indigenous ways of knowing into my teaching, or my every day life? What stories will I read to Adelyn that don’t have her (or people like her) as the central focus?
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