Finding Balance amongst Culture, Acceptance and Professionalism

dingle

(Bautista, Personal Photograph of Dingle Memorial Tower, Halifax Nova Scotia, September 2014)

I believe that my life calling as educator is being fulfilled now that I’ve listened to the voice within.

It was never about making money – it was about meeting genuine teachers who wanted to share experiences.  But until I arrived at this place, I was cycling through the belief that life was about making money and forsaking your true self to do so.  That to be successful, you had to “list your resume” to everyone – the unspoken “I have/you don’t” clause written in the invisible text of social status.

Once I realized that I could make a difference in my life by making a difference in teachers’ lives then my true teaching path seemed to just unfold before me.  I stopped caring about the things that would make me look successful – I focused on my spirituality for success.  And more and more kind teachers and I met along this path.

At this juncture of my career, I finally feel like the majority people I work with want the best for each other.  No undermining, no insincerity, no insecurities breeding self-doubt – just compassionate professionalism.

I am of service to them.

Recently, I completed a course with teachers and we discussed the ideas of culture in relation to the foundations of learning – it was a course in adult education and we exchanged such deep concern for the lifelong learning we need to sustain as educators at the forefront of negotiating culture and diversity for all.

For the sake of the marginalized, the oppressed, the persecuted – we, teachers, often need to set aside our own values and judgements in order to remind all of us that equality amongst all is what Canada tends to represent to the world.

We are not a perfect country but at least we aspire to be – no matter what you are – what difference sets you apart – there is a place for you in Canada – we hope that it is a safe one – and the teachers I worked with said that they will try to make it so.

I am going to share a few quotes that I shared with my class in terms of the cultural stories we tell others and ourselves in terms of what really makes someone different.  We may learn how to discriminate but as educators, we can teach new ways to accept others.

  • No aspect of a culture is more vital to its integrity than its means of education. As I have been taught nourished and sustained by my culture, so it is my duty and privilege to transmit it. (Hampton, 1993, p.267)
  • Nunez (2000) says, “When you open your mouth to speak, the very words you use, your references, your tone of voice, above all, your diction and your accent reveal your life story” (p.40).
  • Change where it counts the most—in daily interaction of teachers and students—is the hardest to achieve and the most important…To bring about improvement at the heart of education…will result in the future more from internal changes created by the knowledge and expertise of teachers than from the decisions of external policy-makers…[we should] enlist and honor teachers as the key people in reforming schooling. (Tyack & Cuban, pp.10,134)
  • There is an understanding, too, at some deep if unspoken level, that we’re all of us, one way or another, from out of town. Literally and figuratively. Each of which presents its own set of questions – for example, ‘What culture am I?’ ‘What culture are you?’ ‘And what is our – Canadian – culture?’ (Zola, n.d., Retrieved on May 31, 2004, from http://www.educ.sfu.ca/people/faculty/mzola/definitely.html)
  • I was intrigued by the idea that people would share stories of their experiences as research. After all, wasn’t this what it was like for me as a teacher in the school?…I learned from this sharing. We developed relationships through this sharing (Phillion, 2001, p.8).

As I am in service to the teachers I meet, these same teachers, too, have said they are in service to their students.

It is this cycle of compassionate professionalism I proudly welcome.

 

References

Hampton, E. (1993). Toward a Redefinition of American Indian/Alaskan Native Education. Canadian Journal of Native Education 20(2), 261-310.

Nunez, E. (2000). Writing For Effect, (Chapter 6, pp.40-5) In K. Ogulnick. (Ed.). Language Crossings Negotiating the Self in a Multicultural World. New York: Teachers College Press.

Phillion, J (2001). Landscapes of Diversity: The Autobiographical Origins of a Narrative Inquiry. Journal of Critical Inquiry into Curriculum and Instruction 3(2), 5-12.

Tyack, D. & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform. Cambridge Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Zola, M. (n.d.). Definitely Not the Chinatown Field-Trip to See the New Year Dragon Dance… Retrieved from http://www.educ.sfu.ca/people/faculty/mzola/definitely.html.

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