My Educational Biography: Ripped open my chest and found a pen
Note: This entry of an "educational biography" was submitted as a classroom assignment for a Masters course. My first home, my mother’s womb, is the vessel that carried my body before I was thrust into Life. I was born in a storm. We were children of war.
Born from a storm, I rumbled with a hunger like thunder
strikes a crack in the ground what I found is to rise
with a gleam in your eyes. I arrived to the "Canadian" school system three months late, having initially attended at least four different schools. As refugees, dispossessed and displaced peoples, we moved often. My parents were adamant to place me in French immersion, recognizing the importance of being multilingual in a diverse world. Growing up, I was repeatedly asked the nagging question many of us have come to hear, ‘where are you from?’ A loaded question - I was born in "Canada" as an uninvited guest, returned to my country of ethnic origins (a colony of France), only to be displaced again due to political conflict. To this day, my identity is a constant negotiation of here and there. Chambers (1994) depicts the reductionist quality of labeling in describing herself as “a kind of nomadic schizoid... a multiplicity of subjectivities that cannot be captured by any one single identity”. Do I create my sense of self? Is my sense of self created by the multitude of labels imposed on me? I am reminded of a quote from Franz Kafka:
“I am a cage, in search of a bird.”
According to Lam’s multi-disciplinary perspective (2000), current structures do not provide insight into the work of human action, choice and value. At age eight, I found solace in poetry and novels. “Prose, verse, creative non-fiction and fiction are all interested in truths, be they localized and partial, or universal” (Chambers, 2004). Poetry became a non-violent way in resisting my own oppression, and writing became a way of survival. Fortunately for me, my elementary teachers used varying forms of educational approaches that centered the arts, including song, skits, crafts, candle-making, beadwork, painting, and field trips that my class fundraised for together (selling our hand-made crafts, for example). Looking back, it was clearly important to some of my teachers that we had access to communicate and express our selves and ideas [read: even without reliance on the school or government for funds]. One teacher even paid the difference out-of-pocket when we didn’t meet the target. A love language: women who modelled radical love and care in the face of disproportionate resources and funding. In turn, the students fundraised for our teachers to return the love and express our gratitude where/when we could. An art-full education helped organize my experiences, as experience (like people) is not merely “chaotic” (Dewey, 1938). It reminded me that our past, present and future were interconnected. For Vanderbilt and Augustyn (2010), successful interventions “involve school wide approaches that involve multiple disciplines”. Simply put, learning is multifaceted and interconnected, and the curriculum and schooling experience should be too. Why isn't emotional learning, creative expression and emotional regulation integral to the curriculum and within our schooling experiences?
Photo Credit: Poetic Praxis, Beirut, Lebanon, 2011. Image of local graffiti art by the sea. All rights reserved. REFERENCES Chambers, C. (1994). Looking for Home: A Work in Progress. Frontier: A Journal of Women Studies, 15(2), 23-50. Chambers, C. (2004). “Research that matters: Finding a Path with Heart.” Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 2(1), 1–19. Dewey, J. (1938). Experience & Education. New York, NY: Free Press. Egan, K. (2003). What is curriculum?. Journal of the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies, 1(1), 9-16. Lam, Y. L. J. (2000). Reconceptualizing problem-solving and conflict resolution in schools: A multidisciplinary perspective. International Journal of Educational Management, 14(2), 84-90. Vanderbilt, D., & Augustyn, M. (2010). The effects of bullying. Paediatrics and Child Health, 20(7), 315-320.