Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Stories We've Learned

The stories we learn are the stories we teach.

 Never discovered astronomy
 Had no science or scientific discoveries
 Had no mathematics
 Made no medical discoveries
 Never had written music
 Only "figured out" a drum and a rattle for musical instruments

You can search my Twitter feed for the link to the letter that contains the above words.  Suffice it to say, the letter/op-ed/whatever goes on like this:  Have a history that is notable only for underachievement... Are they responsible enough to look after themselves... in reference to First Nations people.  Hopefully, by the time you read this, the newspaper will have removed it from their website, probably too late to hope it hasn't gone out in its hardcopy paper format.  I'm not going to reprint the web address, I've done that far too often, sharing with you the disturbing articles, letters and tweets I find, to highlight the need for Aboriginal Education.

I've written this post before.  More than once.  This is the standard "we need to improve Aboriginal Education for ALL students to combat this type of misunderstanding about the First Nations experience." Understandably the older generations may need time to unlearn these misunderstandings.

Reading this piece made me sad.  I thought that I would be angry when I read it but it turns out that I am just sad.  These are the stories we have learned.  These are the stories we have been taught and these are the ones we've been taught that we can repeat.  Generally, we have been careful to guard our tongues and our thoughts, that veneer of civility in our daily dealings, but those things that move us forward also open up our darker selves.  Social media has made it possible for us to communicate instantaneously, without filter and, often, without consequence.  This, coupled with the popularity in "speak your mind" infotainment, seems to have brought about a bleeding of our unfiltered selves into other areas of media and the public sphere.

Sadly, the stories we've learned are there, waiting to be repeated.  The means of communication, that has enabled the resurgence in Indigenous activism and self-identity, is also the means by which the unfiltering has taken place.  The stories we've learned are out there to be challenged, to be negated and destroyed.  It is time for new stories to be told, and this is where teachers come in.  You need to find new stories and tell them.  You need to challenge the stories we've learned when you encounter them, show the falsehood in them, teach why that story was told and decolonize by sharing a new story that is our story.  A good story.

FYI, amongst the many, many, many inventions created by First Nations people before first contact, you will find cough syrup, pain relievers and chewing gum.

1 comment:

  1. It indeed is sad. It stems from ignorance, discrimination and plain callous behaviour. We tend to shove racism under the carpet dismissing this ignorance and discrimination doesn't exist, but instances like these shake your core. Thanks for this reply - more strength and courage to you. Warmly - Anu