Thursday, January 31, 2008

Afrocentric Schools II

There are many factors that influence who we are and who we become. We are all work in progress and can only hope to be a positive influence on others.

In the 70s I did a lot of reading around the ethics of teaching from a WASP background. It occurs to me now, in my old age, that we must rethink who we think others should become. Here in Muskoka, for example, racism runs rampant in the minds, behavours and treatment by the citiots who visit us in the summer. Those who live here live and work with a large Native band that has demonstrated much success: water bottling plant, cranberry bog, a group of people who work and live and love and have brought a great deal to developing this area, creating a caring, responsible, participatory society. (

Those in crisis, the client of whom you spoke, are clearly only able to focus on their immediate issues. The ultimate question is: what does my client need from me?

This is the problem with curriculum-driven education (read Ministry of Education politics). Some of us need to learn different lessons. The big debate in Toronto is whether to create African-Centric ('black'?) schools. There are 5 million people over the age of 15 in the Toronto Census Area (2006). With 1.3 million speak a non-official language at home and they are creating Afrocentric schools? The parents whose children want to learn standard English are not able to speak for themselves.

The trustee/politicians are afraid to say no to those who are advocating for special schools. It is unethical to provide for one group and not another. Learning is learning. We are not there to make meaningful change, we are there to provide children with an education. We are here for our individual clients to take one small step at a time.

I have taught a fair number of a variety of students. We cannot spend time on Black history Month- Underground railroad, Asian history month – development of the railroad, Irish history month- potato famine, French & British month, Vietnamese Boat People month, Gulf War month, Afghanistan Refugees, Native Peoples month. For clients who have lived through such trauma, we must be aware of their life events. We have to help clients understand themselves first, and then to understand the bigger picture.

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