My Educational Biography: Ripped open my chest and found a pen
Our first home, our mother’s womb, is the vessel that carries our bodies before we are thrust into life. I was born in a storm. We were children of war.
Born from a storm and 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 four different schools. As refugees, we moved often. My parents were adamant to place me in French immersion, and I'm grateful they did. That said, I was repeatedly asked, ‘where are you from?’ A loaded question - considering I was born in Canada, returned to my country of ethnic origins which is a colony of France, only to be displaced again due to political conflict. At the time, I didn’t know how to say “Lebanon” in French. Still 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, or 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. Writing became a way of survival. Fortunately for me, my elementary teachers used non-formal educational approaches. This included song, skits, craft projects, and field trips that the class fund-raised for together (ie. selling our hand-made crafts). In a sense, they demonstrated Egan’s point on knowing “what the curriculum should contain” and “what contents are for” (2003). To them, it was essential we communicated our ideas and developed community, without reliance on school funds. One even paid the difference when we didn’t meet the target. After my certification in conflict resolution, I worked alongside marginalized, racialized and underserved youth for five years. I worked mostly out of high schools and community centers, with young people dealing with a variety of issues and circumstances. Non-violent communication and artistic expression like that in spoken word, hip hop pedagogy and the visual arts, helped organize their experience, as experience (like people) is not merely “chaotic” (Dewey, 1938). Miscommunication is one of the primary catalysts to most conflict, and education is the acquisition of knowledge that requires effective communication, transparency, recognizing privilege and the willingness to listen, so why isn't conflict resolution an integral part of the curriculum? For Vanderbilt and Augustyn (2010), successful interventions “involve school wide approaches that involve multiple disciplines”. In other words, learning is multifaceted and interconnected, and the curriculum and schooling experience should be too.
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.