Final Meta-Reflection

ESCI final

On the first day we were asked to define environment, but right away I knew this class was more than what meets the eye. I knew the answer was always going to make us think deeper and continue to ask why. Why do we think it’s this and not that? Why are we so easy to accept certain way of knowing but when that thought is shifted we get defensive?

This was the first creative journal I did and it not only described my environment but also could describe a “city wilderness”. Wilderness, it is commonly thought of today, variously implies a space of rejuvenation, of peace, of wild danger, of inspiration, and of adventure, this is how Newberry first describes it. I can relate to this, as my thoughts about wilderness always meant I had to go somewhere else. Away from people and where it has been “untouched”. Many times, I did this by going on trips throughout Canada, just this year I went to Banff and Kelowna. These trips are to find adventure somewhere that I cannot find at home. As I discussed in my second blog “Canoeing: Techniques or Tradition?” how I thought that at the camp I worked at, was for us to explore and was that empty space Newberry talked about. Throughout this class, this topic was the one that hit home and I think the realization about white people is that we do not see that wilderness is someone’s or something’s home, regardless if that is an animal or a plant, that is their home. We see it as empty space for ourselves to enjoy.

When I wrote my blog “Escaping the Wilderness”, I did not identify as a Treaty person or hardly touched on my eco-identity, even though this year I would consider myself more eco-literate or environmentally friendly than any other year. Did I not say I identify with those because they are new terms or is it because I don’t want to make myself seem like such a good person? Or do I think that I am still not good enough to identify with these strong terms?

In my life and the way I see wilderness and environment creates this tension between wanting to incorporate EE into the classroom and not knowing how or if it matters since wilderness can’t be in the park. But as Orr states, “overcome the idea that learning occurs exclusively in the classroom”, I used this quote in my forth blog and when I started to see a shift in my learning. Learning deeper and looking for those tensions instead of staying away from them. A lot of this has to do with talking to Collin and how he connected with us on a personal level, even though he has done this amazing thing with Take Me Outside Day. Hearing soemone’s experience but it into reality for me and showed how I can do it to. My visual for that blog was all about my learning, about jumping into the next step or just staying stuck. I didn’t want to be stuck anymore. Continuing to ask myself why can’t wilderness be in the park and how those thoughts can impact my students.

Then, we read Barret and this set me back and brought back all my fears about teaching. The fear of being a female science teacher and wanting to incorporate environmental education, although these go together well, the mindset behind them do not. These discourses clash and as I struggled in “Uncertain” do I try to fit into two opposite categories or do I just say screw it and do my own thing, a thing that even if others do not agree, it makes me proud to be me.

From this class, I am more aware of my surroundings, I am aware that I am on treaty 4 land and that wilderness is all around us everyday at any moment in time. I am aware of the assumptions around teaching and the expectations of teachers and how we do not need to fit into categories to be good at our job, maybe schools don’t need more teachers fitting into categories.

I have never been forced or pushed to look at my ways of thinking more than this class has asked me too. All this tension is hard but liberating, I feel more at ease with myself than ever before. These new thoughts bring me back to the first article we read “Braiding Sweetgrass” and the vivid images of braiding and how you need to pull tight but not too tight and weave the strands intertwining each other, eventually creating something beautiful. This is how I have thought about this class and pushing myself to feel the tensions around certain topics and eventually my mindset will be where I want it to be. This is something I am going to take with me it every class and continue to be better.

 

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Thrown In

I’m going to discuss a personal issue that when reading Yi Chien Jade Ho’s article I kept thinking about. For almost the past 2 years now I have been immersed into a culture that is unfamiliar and strange without leaving Canada or Regina. How might you ask? Well, my current boyfriend was born in Germany and his parents are from Russia. They speak German and Russian at home, eat traditional Russian food and listen to Russian music, TV shows etc. Over the time I have been with him I have felt extremely uncomfortable at family gatherings and sometimes around his parents as their English is not strong. This uncomfortableness has not only been felt by me but also by his family, I know that when I am there they try to talk to me in English or translate for me to make me feel comfortable. I appreciate their efforts, but this natural process of feeling tensions also get tied to our learning of unlearning our norms. As Ho says “We need to understand this is unsettling work that compels us to ‘settle’ in that unconformable place” (14), for myself the reason why I feel uncomfortable is not because I do not understand the language or because of the food, it is because I have never felt uncomfortable in this country. In a place where white, blonde, blue females are more than accepted, I have never felt the “other” side of things. I have never felt like I was the outsider in Canada and now I have, even in saying this though his family still tries to include me. So I maybe feeling this tension that many non-white individuals feel everyday, they still adapt to me which doesn’t happen usually.

As many people. feeling uncomfortable is not ideal and we try to undo that uncomfortable feeling by immersing ourselves more. For myself, I have tried to learn more German so it is easier to communicate, I also push myself to try new foods even if it looks unappetizing. Doing this I still get frustrated and sometimes find myself saying, “are we going to have a Turkey for Christmas dinner like everyone else” or “why doesn’t your dad want to learn more English”(14), as Ho states, ” recognize the dominant oppressive ways and provide a space for processing and finding alternative”. This dominant ways that cloud my judgement come from a Western worldview and instead I am trying to find alternative ways to make it better for each sides, even if the step starts with me. If you are not happy with something, ask yourself why then turn it onto yourself and see what you can do.

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Uncertain

For many years it has taken me awhile to find out who I think I am, and this is still a constant battle, but being in this faculty has given me a easy self-identity. I believe that this identifies are easy to accept because of what most people think future teachers are supposed to be and the personalities we are suppose to have. Having his discourse already set out for us, makes it effortless to fall within these categories of caring, loving children, passionate,  nice, selfless, female etc, I can go on and on as to what teachers are supposed to be.

As the word female comes to mind it is unsettling that the majority of people assume that teachers are white females, this assumption also goes along well with the other characteristics that are given to teachers. These discourses are hard for some like myself to fit within to because of my role of being a science teacher. As Barrett says the discourses of a science teacher clashes with the discourses of a “normal” teacher, as we of my kind have to be objective evaluators, rather than caring and motivation to act. These discourses push me to believe I need to be an expert in my field already while still learning it and being a very factual and objective evaluator but also still trying ensuring that all my students are learning adequately. These discourses pull me in two separate directions although should I try fitting into those discourses in the first place? But if not will I be accepted as a female science teacher? If I don’t fit into these certain discourses will my students take me seriously?, a young, petite, female trying to be a serious teacher, am I cut out for this? These questions go through my mind more and more each day and the nerves grow as I continue, more questions go unanswered than answered.

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In the Middle of Things

Looking back at my previous blogs, I can see just from the fist blog to the forth blog how I have grown and how my perceptions have shifted. I can start to see how I avoid some topics or try to distance myself from myself or my culture. As a white person and a newly uncomfortable term used a settler invader, I try to distance myself from my skin colour and try to make it seem that I am doing all this great stuff for the environment such a recycling or gardening or taking the bus but, when in reality I am still a white person who takes advantage of the earth and has an anthropocentric world view. Knowing this isn’t the ideal world-view for me, I have grown up with this and it is embedded into my way of life.

Common themes that I have noticed in my posts have been about my past but not so much about my life right now, I talked about needing to go back to our roots (blog 1) and being able to escape (blog 3) from reality and the city to a place that is easy to become eco-literate. Not until my forth blog did I talk about my future endeavors and how everything in life has struggle and without struggle there is no push to grow (blog 4).

The feeling I have when writing these blogs is a lot of guilt and shamefulness, although you tell us in class that there shouldn’t be room to be guilty I can’t help it. When we read McLean’s The whiteness of green, guilty was written all over my face. Growing up learning how to canoe and then going on to teaching canoeing to other young white children, I felt ashamed. In that moment it really stuck with how ignorant I was and am still, I used to say, “yeah white people are so ignorant, but not me, not this white person”. As a person who used to canoe a lot in the summer months and knew the ins and outs of the strokes and paddles, I thought I was an amateur expert, I now know that settlers use canoes to reinforce whiteness and to make us feel good and innocent in the environment (McLean 2013). After reading this piece I felt that one of my favorite past time was ripped away from me and replaced with a negative connotation.

Moving forward I need to be more conscious about talking in present terms and move away from the past, because all that is doing is holding me back and not allowing me to really jump into what is next fully. Throughout this class and in my blog posts I have seen resistance in ways that I am trying to hold onto my roots and make it sound like I am doing my best and being a good person. In reality and my everyday life that is far from the truth, I am not nearly putting in enough effort as I could and I know I can be more aware of the everyday choices I make that affect the environment, that being said in Capra’s article it discusses that change is a community and knowing that I understand that it can be difficult to change alone but I know think that it has to start within ourselves. We need to have the desire to change in order to actually change and in doing that we need to be honest with ourselves and catch our wrongdoings, this is something that I have been avoiding throughout the semester especially in my blog posts. It is easier to write about what we are doing right and making ourselves sound better rather than writing about our mistakes and flaws, this concept of being able to admit and talk about what we are doing wrong in our lives I think would be beneficial to me and this process of becoming a treaty-person or becoming comfortable with the term settler invader or being an eco-literate person, first we need to recognize all the wrong we are doing and ask ourselves if what we are doing if enough or are we making excuses for it to be enough? Currently, calling myself a treaty person is not reasonable nor is being considered eco-literate or a settler invader but hopefully by the end of this semester or year or two years from now one of those will be within my identity comfortably, as for now it is all about the learning curve and unlearning process.

Sense of Comfort

In this blog, I want to expand more on what Collin said, as well as touching on Morgan. Collin inspired me to take a deeper look into our action learning projects as well as other parts in my life. When I see people takes risks in their lives and the adventures they are willing to take, I always see it as a breeze and how you need to be a certain type of person to be able to up and leave to live somewhere new or run across the country. Hearing Collin talk to us about the struggles that he faced and is still facing and what he had to sacrifice to do what he did. This talk about struggle applies to almost everyone in any aspect of their life, it makes me look back on my life and even on working on this project and how I think that I want this to be easy and want it to come to me easily. But as Collin emphasized things come as a struggle and struggle is apart of tension and growing forward as a person comes with struggle.

Bringing this into what Morgan said, I assume that her interdisciplinary teaching didn’t come to her right way when she started having her own class, like she said her teaching philosophy has changed from when she was still in school to now and will probably change again in another two or three years. Seeing an actual teacher struggle with being a multidisciplinary, gives me hope to grow and give myself a reality check that it’s okay to not know what to do yet but just to keep trying and put that effort in to change just as Collin also said. Touching on my personal teaching philosophies something I need to work on is that I need to “overcome the idea that learning occurs exclusively in the classroom” (Orr p.98), by doing this I think it would really allow me to take the leap into constantly believing that interdisciplinary teaching is possible. Although this is a norm that is embedded into my thinking, I have to unlearn this way and just because I was taught this way doesn’t mean it is the only way or the best way!

In my visual, the first picture is deciding whether to take the next “jump” and the second picture, I decide to jump and continue on my journey instead on being stuck where I am. In the third picture I decide to stay where I am and continue to be stuck.

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Escaping To The “Wilderness”

I drew a picture representing a place from my childhood. I had gone to camp since I was 6 years old, stayed on every cabin, was without my parent for 1-3 weeks at a time, met new friends and re united each July. It was a place that focused on being Eco literate without knowing it. If it was yellow let it mellow and brown flush it down which saved water, we learn how to make a fire without the use of litre fluid and we ate what we took and knowing that we could go back for seconds but wasting wasn’t an option.

The memories I have at this place are positive and was an way to escape from the city and from my parents and be me and be free. The woods were our playground, a place we could be loud but it was also a place to collect your thoughts, a quiet place. The fire pit was for gathering and singing but then to give thanks for all that we have on life and appreciate what we have. The lake at the bottom of the hill was where I spent my last years, teaching the kids about canoeing and the safety of water.

This was the place that I grew and became who I am. A woman, a child, an adult, a role model, a friend,  a learner and a grower.  Learning more about who I identify as and what I want to identify as.

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Canoeing: Techniques or Tradition?

Treaty Walks

I used to work at a camp in the month of July in the summers, while I was there I was one of the canoe instructors. We taught basic strokes of paddling and the different parts of the paddle. Also we were responsible for water safety and making sure no children drown. I had never been taught about treaties nor knew what a treaty was until I was in high school. I did not know what treaty land I was on or knew that I should be relevant to my life. I wish I would have known about treaty when I was younger so I could have been teaching it to the children attending the camp and already furthering the next generation, but because I lacked that knowledge I missed an opportunity to teach something that would have been significant.

Shifting away from Western ways of thinking, is instead of thinking about empty land as wilderness which is how Newberry describes it in Canoe Pedagogy, instead think that something lives here. All land is someone/somethings home. This way of thinking stuck with me because I believe this is how Indigenous people live, they respect all land as if you were in someone’s home or space. Treating it with care and how you would want someone to treat your home. Newberry points out that Indigenous people preserved the wilderness by living there, this is how they took care of the land/someone’s home. This makes a big difference in thinking that its just empty space and is there for looks and places to explore. We have to keep in mind that it is not just a place, but a home for some living or non living thing.img_7086