Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why Do We Teach?

It was with frustration that I read this article today:

 “For at least the past two years, many residents — including in some cases, multiple generations of one family — in the community have been living in makeshift tents and shacks without heat, electricity and indoor plumbing.

At least 90 people have resorted to living in two construction workers' portables equipped with only two washrooms and four showers to use among them.

Others are using buckets as washroom facilities and sleep in fear of fire because of wood-burning stoves in their homes, the chief said.

The families have been living in these conditions because they had to move out of deteriorating 40-year-old homes and also to accommodate a rapidly growing population.

The province has acknowledged the state of emergency declared on Oct. 28 but has not put any plans in place to renovate or build more housing, or as a last resort, to temporarily evacuate residents to safer accommodations.”

Why do we teach?  If not to prepare our children to be responsible, honourable, critically-observant adults, than why? 

Why do we teach?  If not to show our youth that the world has the potential to be a fair and just place, than why?

Why do we teach?  Listening to the chatter about the need to improve graduation rates and see success for our students and then you read an article where First Nations people are gearing up to spend another- ANOTHER- northern Ontario winter in tents.  We worry about the learning outcomes and listen to teachers and administrators and government officials complain about attendance, and the children are living in tents in NORTHERN Ontario this winter with no running water and no toilets.

Why do we spend so much time focussing on Aboriginal people as a problem in Aboriginal Education discussions?  I do not see Aboriginal people as a problem when I see articles like this.  I see the continuation of the blaming the victim for the issue and the refusal to take responsibility and actually do something.  Aboriginal education should focus, not just on Aboriginal people, but on everyone else as well.
Something needs to change.  I have been watching a short documentary with my Psychology class on the Stanford Prison Experiment, where students became both guards and prisoners, and serious abuses of power happened and serious dehumanization occured.  One of the comments from the researcher in the documentary was telling.  He showed another psychologist around the experiment and commented at length on how exciting it was and how much they were learning about human behaviour and he argued with her when she was objecting so much to the experiment.  Finally the objecting psychologist essentially said, "But they are suffering.  You are letting them suffer!"

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