EDPS 360 (A2) Fall 2013

Racialization, History, Tension

In Uncategorized on November 5, 2013 at 6:51 am

(By Stephanie, Jordan, Anthony & )
In the review of Cole Harbour District High School this was mentioned:
The line between flexibility (treating people differently because they are different) and discrimination (treating people differently because of the group they belong to) is not always clear. An active teaching process is required to encourage an understanding of differences while also ensuring fairness.
This was an excellent reminder for myself. We touched last class on how students are using the “you are being racist
to me” card. Making sure we make aware the differences between flexibility and discrimination might help us as teachers show our students our awareness to their concerns. Maybe then they won’t feel like they are being punished over others for reasons other than for example too lazy to finish homework.

Another major point from this review was community and understanding the history of the community and where the students are coming from. I think this will help us to move forward in our efforts to remove the appearance of racism in our schools. Perhaps if we are aware of some previous events or issues we can work to stop the same things from reoccurring and have a better understanding of why things are the way they are.
I also liked that the review said it’s one thing to have a plan but it’s another to put it into place. I think if we as teachers have immediate responses and plans of action we can work better as a community to change history and the history of racism prevalence.

The video Black Nova Scotia was from 1992. I think a lot has changed since then but one point that stood out for me was that youth felt denied the opportunities to do things in society and that they were not taken seriously. I think this is still part of our system in some ways and maybe even switching a little bit. I think about basketball and volleyball at my high school. White kids played volleyball and black kids played basketball. But that is extremely stereotypical. Was my two good friends (who were white) looked at differently because they were on the basketball team? I think it is imperative that every single student feels they are welcome and able to join any club or group offered at every school.

From the video Africville I liked “I did not see the flowers. I see the sewage pipes leading to the dump”. This is a metaphor I hope that we as educators can move away from. It takes more than just painting a pretty picture for the community to see and simply ignoring the problems or issues. We need to figure out ways to put in to action fixing the problems and helping every student feel racialization is not negatively effecting them.

In the review of the Cole Harbour District School in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the general feeling I got from the article was that students, teachers, parents and the general community are sharing a feeling of hopelessness. It seems to me that there are many problems being pointed out by various people at the school, and fingers being pointed at various “culprits”including the “bad kids”, teachers for their apparent lack of intervention and parents for their own lack of commitment to the children. Of course we all can see that this stalemate is indeed detrimental to everyone involved in this school, particularly the students. But the question that the study is attempting to answer is: What are the most pressing problems present at this high school and which avenues are going to be the most effective to take when working towards solutions for these issues? After watching the Remember Africville video, I was able to gain a much clearer understanding of the history of the black community in Nova Scotia. In my opinion, the main issue and solution for this school is community. I am talking community in all senses of the word. First off, the school community, including students and teachers need to work together in order to help all students become successful. Once the smaller in-school community is established, outside support from parents and the general community should be welcomed so long as everyone is working towards the same goals. However this can never be accomplished without everyone involved becoming more educated with regards to what happened to the community of Africville in 1966. Even though the students at this school did not live through the uprooting of their community, if their parents or grandparents were living during that time, there is no doubt in my mind that many of these youth will carry with them the hatred and distrust from their older generations. I would also not be surprised if many of the newer residents or teachers at this school were, like me, unaware of this history. I truly believe that in any situation, and this one is no different, that education is the first step towards re-building bridges and finding workable solutions. Once all parents, teachers and students are aware of where the others are coming from, it will be easier to find some common ground to work from and from there, work as a united team to fix the underlying issues at this school. Of course, none of this is nearly as simple as it sounds when I put it on paper, but with a strong leader, or group of leaders whether this is a principal, school counselor, group of parents, or a mixture of staff and parents, I think that a great first step in improving communication, community and school climate can be taken.

Looking at the issues on the surface, the solution to the problem seems simple, but it is below that surface where the problem begins to rear its many layers. The Cole Harbour District High School is an urban school with a large rural population. The problem that arises here is the segregation of communities. If there is a problem, the central issue is focused on fairness. Each side separates into its representing community and a standoff ensues.

Fairness is the issue, stemming from a history of separation in the communities due to socio-economic status (high unemployment rates, seasonal job opportunities) and racism. Because of this the school examines each case from “the historical, social, political, and econmoic environment of the area and the local, provincial and even global communities of which it is a part” (Blye, Schlatman, Johnson 3).

The mission statement of Cole Harbour District High School is to expand the knowledge and skills of its students, so that they may become responsible and contributing citizens within their communities. The importance and relevance of this mission statement is that it also includes providing these young students with the knowledge “to be adults in what now seems to be an increasingly fragemented world” Blye, et. al. 6). This seems like an acknowledgement of the socio-economic and racial segregation issues within these communities and a plan of attack in how to deal with these issues within the realm of the education system.

What an amazing concept. The school acknowledges that many of the altercations between students, teachers, administration, etc. are stemming from socio-economic and racial issues, due to people from many rural (separate) communities coming together in one large urban school. The school then acknowledges that the issue reaches further than the walls of the school.
These issues persist within each community and their interactions with other communities. Full-fledged “adults” are passing on these ideals/ideas and the problem is becoming intergenerational. Their solution: teach the students about social and cultural differences to create a safe learning environment pulled together through bonding and positive relationships. The goal: knowledgeable, caring, open-minded citizens, all with the capacity to contribute to the world, whether they stay within their separate communities or venture forth to the rest of the world. The plan: to implement the appropriate staff and supporting staff through hiring and/or teaching existing staff.

The underlying issue is highlighted in the “Remember Africville” video. Lack of government support. Africville homeowners paying taxes and contributing to the government of Canada. What do they receive? Unpaved roads and no running water. Society turns their noses up to Africville when they see a community on the edge of garbage dump with people living in poverty, seemingly in squalor. However, as the film states, the ratio of people collecting unemployment in Africville when compared to the rest of Halifax shows a higher rate of unemployment collection in Halifax. The people of Africville are making the best of what they have and with the support they are given. Seems like a clear case of the oppressed vs. dominant society. Cole Harbout District High School seems to be providing and promoting an avenue of education for the oppressed and the oppressors by educating everyone equally and promoting open-mindedness in relation to society and culture.

In the Cole Harbour District High School review, most of what is being said can be applied to various other districts that surround us today. Although the article is specific to this particular district, the issues addressed are prevalent in the majority of schools. It seems as if all of those in the Cole Harbour District do not see a feasible solution to their problems as being attainable. The issue at hand seems to be larger than any single member of the district. Changes need to be made at the community level. This can be said for any school district that faces challenges of racialization within their school walls. These issues are brought into the school due to the ideas and views of others that students and teachers have of those in their community. I feel that the most important way to deal with this issue is to have a greater deal of parental and community involvement within schools. Lots of the views that students have of their classmates stem from ideas that have been passed on to them from their parents. Therefore if changes can be made in the viewpoints of students and their parents, the schools will not need to focus on getting rid of the difficulties facing them in schools, but change will naturally follow as a result.
One thing that stuck with me from the Remember Africaville videos is when a participant said ‘sometimes we’re ignorant ourselves of our own heritage’. This is evident as it was indicated that large and often important parts of a nations history are ignored and disregarded when it comes to schools and curriculum. It is clear that people need to be more aware of their own history so that they can push for it to be introduced into the school’s curriculum. This has led me to think who should be in charge of leading such movements towards more inclusive curriculums. Should the teachers be leading movements towards getting changes made in the curriculum, or should the parents and students take it into their own hands?

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  1. I think as future teachers it is our responsibility to establish a community within our classroom that builds relationships with the students, student-teacher relationships and parent-teacher relationships. Further we need to work on extending this community outwards to encompass the entire school so that it is a safe place for students, parents, teachers and staff to work together and build relationships to better the future of the students and community members.

    It is through these relationships and sense of community that meaningful change may be brought about. Through these relationships all members can work together to achieve a goal that may otherwise seem unattainable. By building the strength and heart of the community in this way then true, beneficial changes may be brought forth.

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