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Living curriculum with young children : the journey of an early childhood educator : the tangled garden Hayward-Kabani, Christianne 2000

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LIVING CURRICULUM WITH YOUNG CHILDREN: THE JOURNEY OF AN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATOR %fyt 3£angleb #arben by C H R I S T I A N N E H A Y W A R D - K A B A N I B.Ed. , University of Alberta, 1978 M.Ed . , University of Bristol, 1982 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R O F P H I L O S O P H Y in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S T h e Department of Language Education W e accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F BRITISH C O L U M B I A March 2000 © Christ ianne Hayward-Kabani , 2000 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department of ^GtM^xA^J^e^ CUACL ^AJ^/\6UC^ £dz<&&^cy?^ The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date DE-6 (2/88) Abstract Th is thes is chron ic les a journey for which there is no end. T h e journey is the author's search for authentic curriculum -- teaching and learning built around social ly relevant themes , des igned through an organic development process, and negotiated in relation to the interests of individual learners and the communities that support them. In struggl ing to find a "lens" that would allow chi ldren to navigate change in an increasingly compl icated society, the author shifted her focus from the substantive domain to the perceptual . Influenced by Case's (1995) d iscourse regarding the nurturing of "global perspectives" in young children, the author identified nine character ist ics of a "global/diversity" perspective. Rather than infusing curriculum with more information, teachers would nurture an approach to learning that permits chi ldren to suspend judgment, entertain contrary positions, anticipate complexity, and tolerate ambiguity. Through the use of "counter-hegemonic" children's literature the author found she could nurture the "seeds" of alternative perspect ives forming a strong foundation for understanding and tolerance in the c lassroom and beyond. It is important to emphas i se that the author had to internalise a "global/diversity perspective" herself in order to nurture it in others through a generative process she refers to a s "living curriculum". T h e research methodology of currere was employed a s a means of exorc is ing the unacknowledged biases , personal contradictions, and divergent inf luences that have fed the author's identity, and thus necessari ly informed her phi losophies and actions as an educator. T h e methodology of autobiography was a critical factor in permitting the author to recogn ise and take ownership of her own education. Autobiography led her into the tangled garden and compel led her to make sense of its organic cyc les . T h e method of autobiography typically rattles the comfort margins of educational researchers who s e e it as patronising sentimentality, rather than a r igorous ana lys is of self-knowledge within contemporary scholarship . It is important that autobiographical researchers demonstrate resonance of their lived exper ience in scholar ly d i scourse and pedagogy . T h e author d i scusses a number of possible criteria that cou ld be used to evaluate autobiographical research ~ the most important of these being that the work spawns reflection and stirs praxis 1 within the reader. 1 I refer to "praxis" in the same manner as Aoki (1983). Theory and practice are viewed as twin moments of the same reality: praxis. It is thus a practical way of knowing. ///' Table of Contents Abstract n A c k n o w l e d g e m e n t s VI Dedicat ion VII TEhe {Eangleb dlarben Overv iew: A n Invitation to the Reader & Walk t h r o u g h the <©arben in J fn l l P loom Key to Narrative Voices in this Work 9 $otfeet <&utbe to Wilb jflotoertf Journey Notes 11 Cbe <©arben $ l a n 1 Autobiography a s Education 13 &eabtng the <@arbener'jf Almanacs! 2 My Run With Currere 3 5 draf t ing ^pbrtbs; 3 Imaging a Global/Diversity Perspect ive 7 7 (Experimenting toith Hanbtftape &rtfattetture 4 Nurturing G loba l Perspect ives in the C lassroom 117 p lan t i ng the £&eebg 5 Rev is ion ing Socia l ly Relevant Curriculum 164 &eebtng anb Compositing 6 Living Curr icu lum 189 f i t t i n g in the Cangleb <@arben 7 Autobiography - Phenomenon / Methodology / Lifestory 2 0 8 Collect ing i&eebsi for J l ex t |9ear- Che #rgantt Cpcle References 2 2 2 Che <©arbener'«; &eeb Collection iv Appendix A 2 3 5 A bibl iography of children's books that raise "sensitive issues ." & a r e p l a n t s A c q u i r i n g imperial C a r e Appendix B 2 4 9 p A short summary describing books, activities and project work in the Pilot Study at the U B C Chi ld Study Centre ?&oto to p r e p a r e a <@arbett j&Seb v Acknowled Rements When the journey is as long as mine, the receiving line is long as well. I owe thanks to: My parents, Gordon and Bettianne Hayward for their continuing support and encouragement. Unlike many parents, they have fed the passions of their children even when they strayed far from their own. My four brothers and their families for reopening the school of my childhood and listening to my stories. Thank-you also for giving my children advantages I could not. My trade as storyteller, I owe to the eager ears of my nieces and nephews. My grandfather, Stan Blake who delighted in children with spirit. Dr. Carl Leggo for being someone who heard my heart beat, found places to linger in my narrative, and persevered in supporting me through my insecurities and hurdles. Dr. Jim Anderson and Dr. Marilyn Chapman who despite many constraints were determined to support my work and found time to listen. The members of my first committee, Dr. Hillel Goelman, Dr. Sharilyn Calihou, and Dr. John Willinsky, for providing intellectual challenge and stirring in me the conviction to go ahead. Dr. Goelman, in particular, for providing me opportunities to explore competing discourses. Dr. Janis Blakey, my mentor from the University of Alberta, who read some of the original drafts and encouraged me to be true to my process. The staff, parents, and children of the original UBC Child Study Centre for opening their minds to new ideas and joining in my dance with curriculum. Phyllis Simon, owner of Vancouver Kidsbooks and fellow bibliophile, and her staff for searching out the impossible and supporting my many ventures with children's literature. The children and parents of the story response groups and book clubs at Dunbar Community Centre who dared to join me in exploring books that stray from the traditional. Adrian Tse, a good friend, who helped retrieve data that was lost due to the theft of my computer. Verena Cootes for an open friendship during trying times and the invitation to hear the voices of her people. The Davey and Aspinall families, who fed, entertained and supported my children while I was married to the computer. The staff at Southlands Elementary School and in particular Gail Winston, who made me feel confident about my children's education while I was engaged in my doctoral work. A l l the people mentioned in my stories. I am grateful for the lessons they have taught me. Wendy Sage-Hayward for spreading blankets of calm amidst the storms. And especially, Anne Hayward for believing in me and so patiently typing and editing the drafts when I broke my arm. vi For my two most influential teachers, Jamil and Karim Hayward-Kabani it is an honour to be called your mother As Gramps used to say take a chance, pet - look through the crack in the wall tunnel through until you find the light - for 'the rose still grows on the other side of the wall,' and the broadening view permits you to see the old world anew" May you always be open to other perspectives, know your roots, and spread your wings. VII Overview: Invitation to the Reader A Walk Through the Garden in Full Bloom Any piece of knowledge I acquire today has a value at this moment exactly proportioned to my skill to deal with it. Tomorrow, when I know more, I recall that piece of knowledge and use it better. Mark Van Doren (1960) My first significant memory of school was "reading table" time with Mrs . Brown, my first grade teacher (spring, 1963). Nine of us sat around a long rectangular table at the back of the c lassroom. W e all knew the drill in which we were to proceed counter-clockwise around the table with each child reading a sentence, until all chi ldren had read twice. W e all hated this ordeal with varying degrees of pass ion . T h o s e who could read, knew that Dick and J a n e never did anything interesting, and found the waits for less skil led readers a good opportunity to manufacture spit balls or finger knit under the table. T h e pure torture of this activity for the less skil led readers was mirrored in Mrs . Brown's angu ished face . Although I w a s a good reader and came from a family rich in the tradition of storytelling and book reading, I was unbearably shy and spent every morning in anxiety until "reading table" was done. To read aloud in front of the group c aused a full body blush and a lump in my throat. In order to "cope," I would count how many chi ldren preceded me, and then count out the s a m e number of sentences in the text to be read leaving me at the start of my sentence. Quietly, under my breath, I would memorise this sentence, ignoring all that went on around me until my name pierced the air. At this time, I would dutifully spit out the sentence without looking up and begin counting for my second bout with hell . Th i s strategy served me fairly well, although Mrs . Brown never fai led to say, "Christianne, p lease follow the words with your finger!" O n e dreadful morning, before spring report cards, my specia l system fai led. I did the usual counting, and memorised my sentence, but Mrs . Brown did the unthinkable - she cal led on me to read Tyler's sentence for him s ince he was having so much trouble. Hearing my name, I spat out my sentence, even though I sensed something was wrong, because the child next to me had not read her sentence . I heard Mrs . Brown's ruler crack the table in front of her. "Christianne, will you p lease read Tyler's sentence?" There was no time to recount , no time to memorise. All I could do was stick with the plan and repeat my original sentence . Exasperated, Mrs . Brown finally cal led on another 1 c lassmate . T h e tears rolled down my cheeks despite my willing them not to. Mrs . Brown tried to test me alone after school, but it was no use; I stared at the text through tear-filled eyes, unable to utter a word over the giant lump in my throat. Later that week, Mrs . Brown was to report to my astonished parents that I was still not reading, and would shed tears without apparent cause . S h e a sked that my parents spend extra time reading to me at home, and see if they could rout out the cause of my unhappiness at school . Th i s news was a complete shock to my parents. They knew me as the budding teacher who inhabited their basement every afternoon in a c lassroom of my des ign (complete with a blackboard, teacher's desk, a table and four cha irs built by my father, a "library" shelf, globe, abacus, and cop ious schoo l suppl ies provided by my mother). I scrounged whatever student population I could (usually my brothers and their friends). I made up "real" story books to teach my pupi ls how to read and we learned about important things like how blind peop le read and deaf people spoke to their chi ldren. W e studied what insects ate which plants in the garden, how to draw maps and make supply lists for field trips to hidden cubb ies of the house. W e made plans to raise money to help those in need and counted any coins donated by my parents. T o learn their arithmetic, my pupils kept log books recording the numbers of var ious canned goods and preserves in the cold storage room adjacent to my c l assroom . I often did mini lectures to deconstruct the "secret" conversat ions our parents held in anti- languages at the dinner table. After that terrible spring day in Mrs . Brown's c lass , I c l osed my school despite the protestations of my parents. How could I teach if I was going to fail school myself? Early chi ldhood educators have come a long way in the methods they use and curricular materials they employ in literacy instruction. I tell this story b e c a u s e it stayed with me over the years and served as one of the lived exper iences that would fuel my motivation to change the way students in my charge would exper ience curricu lum. Whether teaching in the pool, on the ice, in the museum, in the art studio or in a school c lassroom, I tried to des ign social ly relevant curricula, taking inspiration from my students. In line with Dewey (1956), I conceived of curriculum as a negotiated process to grow out of the interests of the child and community. My teacher education (mid 1970s, Edmonton, Alberta), in both Early Ch i ldhood 2 Educat ion and Spec ia l Education programmes, was des igned to reflect different approaches to chi ld development, and to prepare teachers to make educational dec is ions based on psychological criteria. In graduate school (early 1980s, Bristol, England), it w a s emphas i sed that programme innovations were to be eva luated in terms of developmenta l appropriateness, which was measured using psycholog ica l criteria. At this time, Elkind (1981, 1987a, 1987b) hit a responsive chord in the early chi ldhood community with his message that Western societies were pushing chi ldren too hard and chi ldhood innocence was in need of protection. S o m e of my co l leagues s e e m e d to interpret this to mean protection from harsh realities, rather than a cal l for adults to help chi ldren take time to reflect, ponder, and explore. Although I w a s aware of the impact critical theory was making on genera l school ing (Apple, 1979; Freire, 1970; Giroux, 1983; Smart, 1983), it wasn't until doctoral stud ies (1990s) that I encountered critical theorists in the arena of early chi ldhood educat ion . Quest ions about the appropriateness of Developmental ly Appropr iate Pract ice were finally being raised and not solely from a cultural angle (Egan, 1983, 1988; N A E Y C , 1 1996; Pagano, 1990; Sil in, 1995; Short, 1991; Short and Carrington, 1987; Stevens , 1982). My rather belated introduction to feminist d i scourse (Greene, 1975, 1991; Grumet, 1981, 1988, 1992; Miller, 1990; Pagano, 1990, 1991; Witherell and Noddings , 1991), and autobiographical d iscourse (Aoki, 1992; Butt and Raymond , 1989; Egan , 1995; Pinar, 1988, 1994) in curriculum studies val idated my belief in the use of story and narrative as primary tools in educational research . In trying to make sense of these and other contemporary d i scourses in the curriculum field, I wa lked many paths before realising my trails interconnected. I d iscovered I had The National Association for the Education of Young Children adopted a new position statement on Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Practice based on new discussions and research findings reported in the early 1990s. 3 reached a position where the various d iscourses I had studied no longer s e e m e d to compete for primacy in my thinking: instead, I was able to celebrate the polyvocal nature of educational research . I felt a harmony overriding what might otherwise have been a strident and contentious assembly of academics and practitioners. Together, the educational community was testing and resisting a long tradition of hegemonic patriarchy in educational research . With this awareness, I began to bel ieve there was room for a dissertation that attempted to bridge the commonal it ies between various d i scourses that had establ ished themselves in opposition to this hegemony . Perhaps my work could contribute to a larger reflective awareness of teaching and curriculum. At a personal level, this reflective awareness placed me at a central point where my trails of academic study intersected. Th is central point was not a destination, but can best be descr ibed as the springboard to a new understanding. I have c o m e to refer to this a s a "global/diversity perspective," which I descr ibe in more detail in chapters three and four. In short, I'm referring to the nurturing of a lens through which to view persona l , local , and global interactions. Characterist ics of such a lens include: • embrac ing equality of opportunity, • seek ing more information, • examin ing information sources critically, • suspend ing judgment, • entertaining contrary positions, • anticipating complexity, • tolerating ambiguity, • empathis ing with others, and • overcoming chauv in ism. T h e deve lopment of these characteristics forms a strong foundation upon which to build the understanding and tolerance necessary for peaceful living in a d iverse society. Nurturing a "global/diversity" perspective and employing principles of generative curriculum, empowerment education, and story theming al lowed me to see 4 curriculum a s a living entity rather than a static structure. I bring many vo ices to this text, each with its own influence and baggage . T h e r e is the ded icated early chi ldhood educator, the specia l needs consultant, tutor and advocate, the eclectic children's librarian and her roving library (yes, it has a vo ice too), the doctoral student, the professional storyteller, the harried single parent of two boys aged 9 and 10 years , the artist of many media, the 41 year old woman of Euro-heritage background, and the lucky survivor of extended domest ic v io lence. T h e s e identities do not weigh equally in my exploration of curriculum, but are present in varying degrees according to context. In writing this work, I ce lebrate a p lace found through interconnected ways of knowing, where I can mediate the opposit ions of persona l and professional l ives. In the first chapter, I examine the scholarship relating to autobiographical text a s a research methodology in educational curriculum studies. Specifical ly , I look at the concept of currere deve loped by Pinar and Grumet (1976) as a method to gain understanding about curriculum and the way it shapes individuals. B a s e d in phenomenolog ica l , and psychoanalytical theories, currere benefitted by associat ion with other Reconceptual ist d iscourses , before it rose to popularity in the 1990s. In the following chapter, which spirals throughout the text, I study the contribution school ing has made to my understanding of curriculum through autobiographical accounts of key exper iences . I employ Pinar's four suggested steps of currere: regressive, progressive, analytical and synthetical to make meaning of my educational exper ience . 5 In chapter three, I d i scuss adding a fifth step to Pinar's method of currere that would encourage "visioning and action" as an outcome of "synthesis." It is not enough to understand the powers involved in curriculum development or even to deve lop a personal phi losophy if such learning does not act as a springboard for soc ia l change . Attempting to integrate the many competing d iscourses in contemporary curriculum scho larsh ip with my own understanding of the field, I moved from concerns regarding content and relevant materials to describing a fluid curriculum that would flow around the nurturing of "global/diversity perspectives" in young chi ldren. In chapters four and five, I descr ibe more fully how I envision global/diversity perspect ives and the body of written and oral literature I draw from in order to nurture these perspect ives . In chapter four, I share how abstract themes of contemporary soc ia l importance emerged naturally out of the "critical literature" explored in two pilot "global" programmes run at the University of British Columbia , Chi ld Study Centre . In this chapter, I a lso look at the fluidity and respons iveness of curriculum that is negotiated col laboratively between teacher and children in the language of story. T h e reader is a sked to examine how conceptions of knower and known impede or facil itate the creation of social ly livable curriculum. In chapter five, cons iderable attention is g iven to examin ing the developmental theories that have so firmly control led early ch i ldhood curriculum until recently. Developmental ly Appropriate Pract ice Gu ide l i nes were initially deve loped to improve practice and elevate the status of the early ch i ldhood educator . By defining and categorising children's capabil it ies, the guidel ines also created an unintended by-product: they left room for educators to underest imate children's intellectual abilities and their need to make sense of difficult socia l realities, in turn limiting the potential social growth and change in the c l assroom. Recent amendments to the N A E Y C position statement on Developmental ly 6 Appropr iate Pract ice acknowledge the danger caused by overgeneral isat ion in d iverse contexts . I also d i s cuss in this chapter the need to include vision and efficacy in curriculum des ign (Werner, 1999) so as to avoid overwhelming chi ldren with feel ings of insecurity and/or cyn ic ism. I descr ibe a body of children's literature that encourages critical m indedness , while illuminating messages of hope. An extensive bibl iography of children's books that stimulate vicarious experience with "sensitive issues," like death, street people, physical appearance, racism, gender, ecological destruction, soc ia l change , familial d iscord, the social power of literacy, and human conflict, c an be found in Append ix A. G iroux and S imon (1989) acknowledge the "substantial personal investment of t ime and energy" required in the practice of critical pedagogy and ask their reader if "it [critical pedagogy] requires the near abandonment of a teacher's private l ife?" (p.252) In the final section, I posit that by acknowledging interconnected ways of knowing, one synerg i ses the learning and work of private and public worlds. Persona l and public l ives are transformed and revitalised, creating unexpected spaces for reflection and illuminating routes to personal efficacy for both teacher and student. In chapter seven , I ask myself quest ions about possible limitations and implications that studies of this nature raise in the academic community. I have refrained from including a specific section entitled Implications for Practitioners, but have identified and descr ibed many personal implications for practice throughout the text. I feel it is very important not to give the impress ion that there are "instant pudding" instructions for internalising one's learning. T h e hard work of constructing, deconstructing, and rebuilding knowledge in a personal ly practical way cannot be prescriptively laid out. 7 Living Curriculum with Young Children is about my own struggle to find authenticity in curriculum for young chi ldren who live in a time of "posts," "isms," and "nounified" verbs . Uncertainty and cris is dominate our society where many individuals are overwhe lmed and desens it ised by the information explosion and cha l lenges to traditional ways of thinking. W e seem to have lost touch with our ability to imagine and seek out alternative ways of knowing and problem solving, so that we may overcome fear of ambiguity. Ultimately, this is a book about facing fears and finding the stories that will help chi ldren face their own lives with understanding, confidence, hope and a s ense of efficacy. I invite the reader to journey with me along the path that brought authenticity to the vo ice I use in "living" curriculum with both chi ldren and early ch i ldhood co l leagues . If I descr ibe the journey well enough, your stories will a lso c o m e forth begging ana lys is and synthesis within your understanding of curriculum and young chi ldren . 8 Key to Narrative Voices in this Work Pocket Guide to Wild Flowers I love maps of all types, poring over them with equal enthusiasm. Whether they are road maps, historical renderings of Roman Britain, or coded keys for understanding T h o m a s King's convoluted mind as it is represented in Green Grass Running Water. I shy from making a key or map for this work because to do such makes it s eem more than it is. I think of keys a s necessary for complex texts and maps a s reference gu ides for journeys on less travel led roads. I conceive of my writing a s a s imple recording of events, reflective thoughts, snatches of thought from others, and practical tips. P e rhaps it would be helpful to explain the various forms of narrative I draw on in pulling together my learning. Narrative of Autobiographical Research Th i s vo ice forms the main text of this work and incorporates all the other forms of narrative descr ibed below. I have tried to find the social forces that drive my story of "Living Curr icu lum" and to acknowledge the intrusion of my b iases in the tell ing. In the second chapter the reflective component of my run with currere is recorded in bold type. I did this in an effort to differentiate these attempts to fit my learning within a larger context from the main telling of my story. Poetic Ruminations T h e s e poetic, if you can call them that, ruminations - why do I write them? Why do they pop up when I am troubled about express ing a particular idea? 9 Upon reflection, I am most fluid and literate when I speak, I do not censor my speech the way I do in my writing. Ruminations are somewhere in between speaking and writing - they are more restricted than speech but freer than "writing." Clips from my Healing Journal Heal ing journals have character ised my moments of reflection s ince the mid 1980s. I used them to house odd scraps of writing that relate my feel ings and insights a s I l ived and progressed through the battered wife syndrome. I shunned support groups, denying that my experience could be categor ised a s a syndrome or anything but a set of unique c ircumstances . T h e s e journals represent moments I stole for myself to try to make sense of a life otherwise on automatic pilot. T h e first two of these journals were destroyed by my husband when he found them and the third was merely sheets of paper squirreled away in secret p laces . Eventually, a s I started my life anew in Vancouver (1992), the fourth journal evo lved a s a file on my computer. After a home invasion late in 1997, I am left with odd p ieces that I had printed from the file and the col lected p ieces of the third journal . Notes about Education I write in another journal I have kept since starting my doctoral studies in 1992. One of my classmates suggested it as a valuable data bank for future writings. Here, I keep notes on anything that relates to education, no matter how divergent from my thesis topic. For example, I have references to my first clashes with the various "isms" of education, reflections and observations that arose from my teaching (both children and adults), concerns regarding education that sprout from my sons' schooling, and general recordings of my views regarding the education system as a whole. Lived Experience Narrative For the most part, these windows into my past have been integrated into the main autobiographical narrative. In chapter two I attempt to follow the life of certain stories throughout my learning journey in a manner similar to Pinar's work. 10 Journey Notes The Garden Plan At one of my committee meetings, a question was raised regarding the actual focus of my thes is . O n c e over the initial d ismay that my committee members did not a lready know this, I was able to take time to discover why they were having difficulty. I real ised I w a s battling an old enemy: how to translate something that is for me integrated, encompass ing and fluid into a concrete, sequential format for my audience . I l istened to what each professor thought my thesis was about, and found myself both rel ieved and concerned . Each had been captured by the pass ion I felt about a particular theme. O n e commented on my approach to counter-hegemonic literature, and the way I had cha l lenged the borders of developmental appropr iateness . Another was taken by the use of autobiography and storying as educational strategies . Yet another identified the use of narrative as a tool in curriculum development and implementation. My committee had identified key areas of my study, but at the s ame time had missed what I was trying to communicate as a whole. It s eemed I was able to descr ibe the individual parts of my study, but had missed the whole, which for me, was greater than the sum of the parts. My committee had identified some of the fixed stars from the constel lation of ideas present in my thesis . But it is the fluid space between stars that actually creates constel lations. I real ised that it was this space that gave meaning and context to the ideas I w a s descr ib ing . Th is space between the ideas was the perspect ive I had tried to descr ibe : the necessary distance required to understand ideas in relation to one another. I had conce ived of this a s a journey, and perhaps that is still the strongest 11 metaphor for what I exper ienced. In moving between these ideas, I had deve loped a lens that a l lowed me to navigate change. T h e f ixed points within my thes is are the various d iscourses I c a m e up against in the course of my studies, and the principles I use in my teaching. T h e flexible s p a c e between them is currere -- the reflective time and space allotted for self-examination. It is the contextual space I weave through "storying" when I situate stories in meaningful contexts for chi ldren. It is the journey I undertake as an educator, which shifts and changes a s I move through it. T h e interrelated whole with its stars and space c o m e s together as the global concerns and issues that educators must contend with. In relating between the fluid space and the stars, I was able to sculpt the lens through which I cou ld view incidents from a global perspective. Of equal importance, however, w a s the ability to turn that lens and focus on local and personal i ssues . It a l lowed me to study the world in a tidal pool. Begin/Ending Reflecting on the comments of my committee, reviewing the body of my work, struggling to find sequential order, in something global, I am left with the perception -to read this work, you have to have read it. 1 2 1 Autobiography as Education Reading the Gardener's Almanacs A writer is an individual who does their education in public. Leonard Cohen, 1963 It is far more important that one's life should be perceived than that it should be transformed; for no sooner has it been perceived, than it transforms itself of its own accord. Maurice Maeterlinck, 1896 Introduction Strange a s it must seem to those who have experienced the red tape of large institutions, I found space at the University of British Columbia . I am referring to the academ ic freedom found in the loosely knit Centre for the Study of Curr icu lum and Instruction in the Faculty of Education. Th is space was teeming with possibil ities, positions, intersections, passages , detours, U-turns, dead ends, one-ways, etc. Too many possibi l it ies indeed - a chasm to indecisiveness, but a haven to "webbers" and storytellers. For me, the Centre for the Study of Curriculum and Instruction w a s one of the loopholes for "abstract random" thinkers in what I perceived as a largely "concrete sequentia l" Faculty of Education . It opened up pathways in other departments and facult ies with learning exper iences far richer than I had envis ioned in my narrowly framed statement of intent 2 that gained me entrance to doctoral study. I was encouraged to investigate First Nation resistance, political, post-colonial , post-modern, multicultural, intercultural, anti-racist, and feminist d iscourses . E a c h had evolved its 2 This statement of intent focused around an interest regarding the impact of culturally relevant curriculum materials on literary acquisition by First Nations children. 13 own identity and platform in an effort to raise distinctive i ssues that were otherwise lost in a traditional hegemonic approach to curriculum development. E a c h i l luminated a separate area , providing me with an exciting opportunity to learn from a distinct perspective . However, the experience was ultimately disappointing because the opportunity to integrate my divergent vo ices in any one d iscourse e luded me. Finding My Voice in Qualitative Methods For my doctoral research , I had originally planned to do an ethnographic study where I would descr ibe the characterist ics of emergent literacy as exper ienced and understood in the homes and daily lives of a First Nation community. Consequent ly , I was required to take a qualitative methods course which, in the summer of 1993, was taught by Sharon Merr iam, a noted scholar from the University of Georg ia . I found this professor to be someone I respected both a s an intellect in the area of qualitative educat iona l research , and a s a very gifted pedagogue. In the c l a s s following our midterm exam, she descr ibed a qualitative study that produced conflicting results. S h e then addressed the c lass with the question, "What do you do when your data does not conclusively prove or disprove your hypothes is?" W e started shooting back answers like: "Repeat the study," "Gather more data," "Double-check your findings," "Conduct more data triangulation using other sources . " After waiting, she replied, "Good, now what do you do if your efforts still render inconsistent f indings?" W h e n we looked rather stumped, she said, "This is where you stand back, like you do from a good p iece of art, d istance yourself from the data and look for s ome larger, more global explanation that encompasses findings from both ends of the spectrum." 14 I remember exactly where I was sitting when she said this, and the profound sensat ion of disappointment that I felt with what seemed a "less rigorous" approach to research . Her question did not oppose her previous teaching. Then why w a s I so upset? It took me a while to understand my reaction. The process began when I went home and pul led out that day's readings. I was arrested by the ideas Smith and Heshus i us (1989) presented on qualitative and quantitative methodologies . T h e y pointed out that s ome researchers , tired of the continual debate between supporters of each paradigm, had begun looking for ways to draw on both styles at appropriate t imes and in appropriate amounts (Cronbach et al., 1980). However, they caut ioned against a leap to compatibi l ity between quantitative and qualitative paradigms, citing convolution in the reading and evaluation of study results. They argued that when a claim is true to a particular world view, it can be evaluated as sound or not only within that frame of reference . By identifying with a particular paradigm, the researcher ab ides by estab l ished norms that guide her analysis . T h e d i l emma descr ibed in the readings originated in an inherent conflict between qualitative and quantitative methods. W a s this the source of my problem? Reflecting on this question, I began to real ise that while I was thinking, identifying and making mean ing within the qualitative paradigm, I was unconsciously rooted in quantitative methods of val idation as a result of my school ing and social context. I a lso real ised that I had heard this d iscuss ion before. I started thinking about my Master's thesis , completed in 1982 at the University of Bristol, in which I had investigated the effects of using literature as the stimulus for developing curriculum. During my research , I accumulated a longitudinal database on sixteen families, focusing on the involvement of nursery-school chi ldren in literature and emergent literacy. 15 That s a m e night, I was driven to search out the letter that my external examiner, Kathy Sylva , had written regarding my thesis . A light switched on as I slowly understood the import of the words that had so offended me eleven years earlier. Dr. S y l v a felt that my work was seriously f lawed by the application of statistical analys is to what was essentia l ly an ethnographic study. S h e chast ised the committee for failing to direct me to appropriate methods of analysis . S h e went on to say she was obl igated to pass the work based on the importance of the database, the creativity of the observation tools that were deve loped, and the practical application of the research findings. However, she had ser ious concerns regarding the inappropriate application of Ch i -squares and T-tests to what should have stood as "rich, thick description." In retrospect, I was c learly forcing a square peg into a round hole. At the t ime I received the letter, I couldn't hear what Dr. Sy l va had written, but only felt a tremendous sense of failure at somehow not measuring up to her expectations . A s I re-read the letter in the summer of 1993, her meaning was abundantly c lear. I had used quantitative ana lys is in an attempt to validate qualitative data . How cou ld I have committed what I now knew to be such a c lass ic error? In reviewing the methods course required for my programme, I found it heavily weighted in statistical ana lys is . In 1980, the Schoo l of Education at the University of Bristol offered no qualitative methods courses . (There were exciting seminars, often held in the Schoo l of Socio logy, that centered around longitudinal studies using smal l population samp les and ethnographic data collection methods.) I was trying to capture the socia l context of the nursery c lassroom through the observation tools I des igned, but I had no formal teaching that prepared me for appropriate analysis of my observations . Returning to Dr. Merriam's c lassroom, I could now understand my feel ings of 16 disappointment: she had forced me to confront a pervasive but unacknowledged assumption that had profoundly affected my approach to learning. I subconsc ious ly felt that in order for research to be legitimate within the academy, it had to pass the test of statistical s ignificance. Although I believed in my heart that some quest ions cou ld only be answered through qualitative methods, and I could address i ssues of predictability, general isabil ity and validity within that context, there was a part of me that still felt credibility was attached to measures of statistical s ignificance. M y school ing had reinforced the premise that valid, general isable research results were necessar i ly based on the scientific method. A controlled programme of hypotheses , isolated var iables and statistical ana lyses were my subconsc ious touchstones . A n exper ience completely removed from the world of academ ics and teaching became a metaphor for imperfections in variable control . T h e words, "Control Through Isolation," formed the title of a brochure that profiled the character ist ics of an abusive spouse . It was sent to me in the fall of 1986 by a women's support group. At the time, I couldn't hear the words and hid them in a file. It was only much later that they had any resonance. I needed distance from my own situation in order to perceive their meaning. And later still, the title inspired the fol lowing l ines: Control through Isolation.... I didn't realise it at the time, but it was ALL about control. Control maintained through isolation, severed family ties, severed friendships, severed freedoms of space. 17 His fatal error - my saving grace: imperfection in his control through isolation he couldn't bring himself to destroy my career space. After all he fell in love with my brain or so I prefer to think-I can't abide other people's theories of ulterior motives. Why else did he leave my work connections intact? Oh he came close-there were the mornings I'd address an audience with the kind of make-up no girl should wear, and the students who saw nothing but quietly asked if they could help, and the insidious web of lies told to cover a secret life. I have so many people to thank, but I'll always be grateful to him for leaving me with something that would pull me up, something I was good at a part of my life that was whole a tiny corner of empowerment. When I was teaching I was connected, I was strong, inoculated against all the insults and blows. His fatal error, my ticket out. What a gift. Entry in my "healing" journal - Oct . 5th, 1993 Any method of control is ultimately imperfect, whether in human relations or cognitive development . Control through isolation of variables brings clarity to isolated agents of educational activity, but it ignores the fluid, multidimensional whole that accounts for socia l context. Perspect ive is gained through integration, not isolation. Grumet (1992) summar i ses this point in terms which I had always known and yet somehow not internal ised until that day in Sharon Merriam's c lass : Although studies of the cognitive processes and the organisation of the academic discip l ines illuminate parts of the whole, they isolate one agent in the negotiation from others in order to study its activity. A n d if the world were exper ienced in discretely organised units by persons who could isolate 18 emotional responses from intellectual ones, past from present, present from future, I from me, and me from us, then programmed instruction, behavioral adjectives, and other products of the "divide and conquer" approach to learning might be justified (p.31). Having put to rest any feel ings that Sharon Merriam had counsel led us to a l ess legitimate form of research, I was able to go back and try to understand what she actual ly w a s say ing with respect to our need to "look for some larger, more global explanation that encompasses findings from both ends of the spectrum." What was it that she really meant? I was reminded of Riegel's (1973) work in which he posited a fourth stage of cognitive development -"dialectical operations" - in addition to the three in Piaget's developmental scheme . He bel ieved maturation at this stage of deve lopment would mean the individual would be able to live with contradictions, understanding them a s a necessary component of knowledge. T h e importance of Merriam's words was to resurface at later t imes in my educational development. Two specific t imes stand out in my memory. T h e first was during a conference on global education in a sess ion presented by Dr. Ro land C a s e . His m e s s a g e was that, rather than infuse an already burgeoning curriculum with more content, we cou ld ach ieve the same goal of helping chi ldren engage with significant soc ia l i s sues personally, nationally, and globally, by nurturing a perspect ive: a lens through which to approach pressing societal issues . Immediately, I thought of Sharon Merriam's counse l to stand back and see the larger picture. Up to that point, I had been struggling to understand how curriculum could possibly represent the d iverse interests of contemporary d iscourses I had come to appreciate in my doctoral studies . In other words, would there ever be time to properly represent First Nat ions concerns , res istance themes, feminist issues, diverse cultural perspectives, political inequities, racial prejudices, and other social i ssues in the daily implementation of schoo l 19 curr icu lum? By nurturing a global perspective through which to view these issues, we could move from a preoccupation with content to a focus on process : we could deve lop the tools chi ldren need to critically approach issues, rather than obsess i ng on how to identify and include every possible issue. T h e second instance where Merriam's words on the need for perspective c a m e back to me w a s during another conference, this time on "Lingering With Narrative ." During the course of hearing other's stories, I was reminded of my own educational exper iences and how these had shaped my understanding of curriculum. T e d Aoki's c los ing address s e e me d to direct me to stand back and linger in past lived exper iences long enough to understand how they inform my present journey a s an educator. For the first time, I believed that through autobiography I could make a legitimate contribution to the field of curriculum scholarship . Through the remember ing and telling of these lived experiences, I would gain a new vantage point from which to view curriculum, and learn to transcend curriculum a s p lanned, in order to live it with those I teach and learn from. Prior to this conference, where I was so moved by other people's personal stories, I would not have entertained the concept of using autobiography as a research methodology, or bel ieved that the recording of my journey would be of any consequence to other educators. I now could s e e that my vo ice would be added to many other voices, as I real ised that their stories resonated with my own exper iences . Through autobiography, I stand back and watch all the Impressionistic little dots of my different a reas of learning connect together in a fluid, ever-changing whole. T h e d iscrepanc ies , a s well a s confirmations come into balance character ised by a to lerance of ambiguity and narrated in the voice of story. 2 0 Red and blue dots distinct swatches of colour I stand back the lilac petal of a del icate flower I stand back a flower among many dotting a meadow I stand back a painting so fresh I can feel the dew I stand back a painting among many in a show I stand back dwell ings in a life story I stand back . . . Autobiography as One of the Reconceptualist Discourses in Curriculum Scholarship T o this point, I have used autobiography to clarify an essentia l turning point in my acceptance of qualitative research methods. In the following pages, I will explore the academic grounding which val idates the use of autobiography in scholar ly writing. I will cover the strengths of autobiographical narrative as an epistemologica l tool in curriculum scholarship , and some points of critique. In the 1970s a movement of curriculum scholarship emerged that would later be referred to as the "Reconceptual isation" of curriculum studies (Pinar et al . , 1995). A number of studies have detai led the history of the Reconceptual isat ion movement (Huber, 1981; Miller, 1979; Schubert, 1980, 1986; Brown, 1988; J a c k s o n , 1992; Lincoln, 1992), but Pinar has been the major force in documenting and mapping reconceptual is ing d iscourses in his effort to demonstrate a paradigm shift from positivism and structural ism. He tried to capture the interrelationships between individual theoretical perspect ives in the formulation of a col lective driven to understand curriculum in ways empirical research cannot. Whi le d iverse in their 21 subject pursuits, the Reconceptual ists shared : 1) a dissatisfaction with the Tyler Rationale, 2) the employment of ec lect ic traditions to explore curriculum, such as psychoanalytic theory, phenomenology, existential ism, and 3) a left-wing political b ias that drew on Marxist and neo-Marxist thought and concerned itself with such i ssues a s racial and ethnic inequalities, feminism, and the peace movement (Jackson , 1992 as quoted in P inar et al . , 1995, p. 39). Reconceptua l ist d i scourses sought to clearly distinguish "effects of social structure and educational or governmental bureaucracy" from the turns of human intention. P inar descr ibes the primary mode of scholarship and pedagogy in the movement a s a drive for "understanding" curriculum rather than "developing" curriculum. T h i s change in orientation would slow the school's overwhelming preoccupation with control over curriculum content, and make space to understand processes both explicit and implicit so that frozen structures could be transformed into more fluid and respons ive ones . T h e first of the Reconceptual ist d iscourses in the 1970s were political and autobiographical , with the political gaining the upper hand under the leadership of Michae l W. App le (1975, 1979). Buoyed by curriculum theorists such a s Made le ine Grumet , Janet Miller, and S a n d r a Wallenstein, feminist theory emerged by the late 1970s and quickly rose in force. Whi le autobiographical d iscourses , as descr ibed by Wil l iam Pinar (1974), took a back seat to mainstream feminist and political d iscourses , feminist autobiography evolved in the 1980s in an effort to reclaim vo ice and understand alternate ways of knowing. The influences of other Reconceptua l ist d i scourses in curriculum research (racial, phenomenological , post-structural, aesthetic, theological and global) were to further broaden and strengthen scho larsh ip in autobiographical research . Despite consistent writings by numerous scho lars s ince the 1970s, autobiography didn't really take hold as a significant contemporary 22 curriculum d iscourse until the 1990s (Pinar et al., 1995). Grumet (1991) recal ls this per iod : W h e n I first started working with narrative in the early 1970s, I was busy justifying it to the psychometric ians (Pinar and Grumet, 1976). That defense mounted, I turned to answer the Marxists who identified autobiography with bourgeois individualism, a retreat to interiority by those unwilling to don their leather jackets and storm the barricades, or at least picket Genera l Dynamics (Grumet, 1981). But finally the querulous visitors have left, and at last we are a lone (p.67). In 1995, P inar et al . (p.516) identified three major streams of scholarship which seek to understand curriculum a s autobiographical and biographical text. T h e banks of these streams are not high, and there exists a fair amount of overflow and running together of themes , methods, and aspirations between the following three streams . 1. autobiography theory and practice - major concepts include currere, col laboration, voice, d ia logue journals, place, post-structuralist portraits of self, experience, myth, dreams and imagination. - key researchers are Pinar (1974, 1988, 1994, 1995) Pinar and Grumet (1976), Grumet (1981), Noddings (1986), Miller (1990), Butt and Raymond (1989), Salv io (1990, 1996), K incheloe (1991), Daignault (1992), T a u b m a n (1993), and Doll (1982). 2. feminist autobiography - major concepts include community, the middle passage (persons are made present through contact with moving curriculum), and reclaiming the self. - key researchers are Grumet (1981, 1988, 1991), Miller (1990, 1993), P agano (1990), Witherell and Noddings (1991), Reiniger (1989). 3) understanding teachers autobiographical ly and biographical ly - major concepts include personal practical knowledge, teacher lore, co l laborative biography and autobiographical praxis, and biographica l studies of teachers' lives. - key researchers are Clandinin and Connel ly (1987, 1988, 1992), Butt and Raymond (1987, 1989), Schubert and Ayers (1992), G o o d s o n (1992). I find myself on a tributary between the first two streams: drawing on currere a s descr ibed by P inar and Grumet, and the interconnectedness of "the middle passage" 23 as descr ibed by Grumet and Miller. Currere Pinar and Grumet formulated the concept of currere as an autobiographical text in the 1970s. T h e y used the Latin infinitive of "curriculum," which means "to run the course ," to encapsu late one's "existential experience of institutional structures" (Pinar et al . , 1995, p.518). Individuals would then endeavour to descr ibe what they make of these exper iences . P inar (1994) uses the question "what has been and what is now the nature of my educational exper ience?" (p.20) to invoke the method of currere. Currere, running the course of one's education, is: a strategy dev ised to d isc lose experience, so that we may s e e more of it and s e e more clearly. With such seeing can come deepened understanding of the running and with this, can come deepened agency (p.vii). T h e words "deepened agency" stand out for me because they hint at purpose and poss ib le v is ions of change of the individual and society. Adherence to one's inner vo ices forms the bas is of new strategies and creative approaches to curriculum design that allow for shifts between private and public selves. In seek ing to understand the contribution academic studies make to one's understanding of her or his life, Pinar suggests four steps: 1. regress ive - recall lived experience a s a data source 2. progress ive - examine what is not yet present 3. analytic - phenomenologica l bracketing, biographic themes 4. synthetic - re-enter the present and find meaning in it I would add a fifth step of "deepened agency" to encourage visioning and action. In 24 the process of relating to old structures, new, more fluid ones are revea led . Pinar et al . (1995) quote Norquay as reminding scholars of the problematic practice of s imply using "memories of exper ience to explain c lassroom practice [and curriculum philosophy], without exploring the possibility of using memor ies as a spr ingboard for change" (p.566). Cr it ics of autobiography, which initially included myself, have d ismissed it a s a "narcissist withdrawal," referring to the mythic character, Narc issus , who d ies whi le pining after his own reflection in a spring. Th is characterisation leads to the incorrect assumpt ion that autobiography al lows for an interconnectedness only within the writer, rather than acting a s a means to connect to others. T h e autobiographer must remain connected with the ancestors who make up the plurality of her identity. Rushd ie (1980) tries to descr ibe the plurality of our identities when he expla ins the length of t ime it takes to tell of his birth in Midnight's Children. "To understand one life, you have to swal low the whole world" (p. 126). Hershlock (1994) also comments on the plurality of identity: [T]here is nothing that we are not responsible for, nothing which we can point to and s ay "that is not me." A s narration, our distinction of inside and outs ide is purely dramatic . In actuality, there is no outside, (as quoted in Rosenberg , 1996, p.58-59). Grumet (1989) s e e s the method of currere a s the wrestling of individual exper ience "from the anonymity and general ization that had dominated social sc ience and even literary interpretation in the heyday of structuralism and systems theories and returning it to the particular persons who lived it" (as quoted in Pinar et al . , 1995, p.521). S h e descr ibes her particular approach to currere as : ".. .an attempt to reveal the ways that histories (both col lective and individual) and hope suffuse our moments, and to study them through telling our stories of educational experience" (as quoted in P inar et al . , 25 1995, p.521). Grumet's (1981) use of the word "hope" resonates with Werner's (1995) address , "Teaching for Hope," that he presented to a group of "global" educators at the Imagining a Pacif ic Community Conference, University of British Co lumbia . He caut ioned that in our efforts to acquaint chi ldren with the realities of a larger interdependent world, s ome students may construct the view of "a cris is-r idden and confusing world created by adults who seem unwilling or unable to change it" (p.1). S u c h a view could lead to feel ings of insecurity or cynic ism about individual or col lective futures. Werner went on to d iscuss the important roles that emotion, information, vision, and efficacy play in strengthening young people's belief/hope in their future. Sailing the Middle Passage Grumet (1989) descr ibes teaching and curriculum as a middle way between public and private l ives: informed and a lways changing in response to exper iences of both lives. I have often felt like an errant cobweb in the c lean house of academia , when I dare to introduce personal experience to support a particular observat ion or thought in an academ ic paper. Oddly , I don't exper ience the same feel ing of al ienation when I introduce a scholar ly reference into a casual conversation with a friend. T h e reference lends credence to what I say, but lived experience does not support a scholar ly observat ion . Yet the relationship between what happens in schoo ls and the events that shape our l ives is precisely what motivates us to adapt curriculum and infuse it with the counter-visions that keep it moving. A s Silin (1995) argues, "curriculum has too often become an injunction to desist rather than an invitation to explore our life worlds" (p.40). Through autobiographical methods, the author makes peace "between 26 the individuality of his or her subjectivity and the intersubjective and public character of meaning" (Grumet, 1990, P .324) . Today's fema le scholar, cum teacher, cum mother, cum domestic surv ives through connected ways of knowing in order to conserve energy and respond to the multiplicity of wor lds she exper iences . Grumet c la ims that writing and reading of autobiography provide a means of connecting public and private worlds in a "coming to form." I will argue in chapter six that the act of "living curriculum," character ised by a will to understand in the face of conflict, a des ire to vision and revision the future, and a careful exploration of routes to enhance personal and col lective efficacy, c an facil itate a peaceful "middle passage" between private and public worlds. I want to clarify that I do not bel ieve this approach is exclusive to women, but agree with Gi l l igan (1982) that men tend to be directed toward separate ways of knowing. Legitimacy of Knowledge Achieved through Autobiographical Study There is no better way to study curriculum than to study ourselves. (Connel ly & Clandin in , 1988, p.31) T h e efforts of many scho lars to understand curriculum through autobiographical and biographical text have establ ished a growing contemporary curriculum d iscourse . Defense for the use of autobiography and biography as legitimate and authentic ways to research educational activities is substantial (Abbs, 1979; Aoki , 1988, 1992; Archiba ld , 1992, 1993; Butt and Raymond, 1987, 1989; Clandinin and Connel ly , 1987, 1992, 1995; Conne l ly & Clandinin, 1988; Daignault, 1992; Doll, 1982, 1995; Egan , 1995; Goodson , 1992; Graham, 1991; Grumet, 1981, 1988, 1991, 1992; Kincheloe, 1991: Miller, 1990, 1993; Pinar, 1974, 1988, 1994; Pinar et.a l . , 1995; P inar & Grumet, 27 1976; Rosenberg , 1996; Schubert, & Ayers, 1992; Witherell and Noddings , 1991). T h e work of these scho lars has been published over three decades , but real momentum as an educational research methodology has been felt in the past six years . T o make any statement about knowledge and curriculum, one inevitably c o m e s to "self," and the way that self makes meaning of the flux of exper ience lived, and yet to be l ived. Graham notes, "if all knowledge begins in self-knowledge, or is a function of self-knowledge, then we cannot be said to truly know something until we have p o s s e s s e d it, made it our own" (1991 p.3). Autobiographical work g ives the researcher opportunity to gain, reflect on, and rework such insight: an opportunity lost to those conf ined to empirical research . "Autobiographical work is a political, intellectual project devoted to transformation," not only of its participants, but also of the curriculum field (Pinar et al . , 1995, P .565) . Few would dispute the power of story and metaphor to inspire and influence change . Listening to the radio, one hears the statistics of homeless people on the streets with little more than surface interest. When a sensitive reporter tells the lived story of just one street person, we are moved - sometimes even into action. Using accounts of l ived stories in curriculum and research often provides the springboard for change , and more potential for change as the stories change. K inche loe and P inar (1991) point out, T h e appreciation of individual sensation can be the genes i s of larger political a w a r e n e s s — t h e refusal to deny restlessness, discomfort, moral ambiguity, and the impulse to reject. A s one struggles with the problematic nature of the lived world, he or she begins to sense the unity of self and situation (Kincheloe & Pinar, 1991, p 21). 28 In so doing, the individual can confront that which is uncomfortable, struggle in the s e a of ambiguity and reconstruct a social vision and curriculum authentically her own. Grumet (1990) writes: Narrat ives of educational experience chal lenge their readers and writers to find both individuality and society, being and history and possibility in their texts. It is a brave company of educators who forsake simplistic polarities of the individual and society to write, to read and to do scholarly work in these ways . It cha l lenges feminists to encode the body and idioms of meaningful lived relations without abandoning the discipl ines of knowledge. It cha l lenges teachers to listen to stories and to hear their resonance in the distant orchestration of academic knowledge (p.323)! Limitations of Narrative/Autobiographical Methods W h e n critics approach autobiography needing proof of truth in s ome verifiable way, they have m issed the very essence of the method which accepts the representation of the author's consc iousness as a form of "defense against all the forces that make for conformity and prediction" (Graham, 1991, p. 17). Critique of the autobiographical method pools around the commonly held limitations of qualitative study: subjectivity and identity politics, true vs. fictional accounts, and practical implications of research observat ions (generalisabiltiy and predictability). Subjectivity and Identity Politics In the following poem, I tried to explore a small corner of my literary subjectivity a s so much of my life centres around story and literature. "You Are What You Read" Well now, who am I? My favourite novels. . . the ones I've read more than once, are 29 Green Grass, Running Water T h o m a s King Shark Dialogues Kiana Davenport Jitterbug Perfume Tom Robbins The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan The Strength and Delicacy of Lace J a m e s Wright and Lesl ie Marmon Si lko The Storyteller Lesl ie Marmon Si lko The Book of Jessica L inda Griffiths and Mar ia Campbe l l Midnight's Children Sa lman Rushd ie The English Patient Michael Ondaatje The Evening Class Maeve Binchy Hmmm, I guess this means.... eclectic, brancher, weaver storyteller artist activist shapeshifter, incurable romantic. Reflecting on the poem now, I find the common thread linking these novels is that the storyl ines defy chronological sequencing, requiring the reader to tolerate s ome ambiguity before the story unfolds. Also, all of the authors confront difficult socia l i s sues without rendering didactic prescriptions. Autobiographica l d i scourses are not preoccupied with development of standards, but are unified around a preoccupation with understanding an inter-subjectivity that exists within. 30 Every text is an articulation of the relation between texts, a product of intertextuality, a weaving together of what has a lready been produced e l sewhere in discontinuous form; every subject, every author, every self is the articulation of an inter subjectivity structured within and around the d i scourses avai lable at any moment in time. (Sprinker, 1980 a s quoted in Graham , 1991, p. 146) By ask ing tough quest ions originating in politically transformative epistemology, autobiography scho lars can work to confront the contradictory power relations that make up the plurality of their identities. A by-product of Reconceptual isat ion has been the accepted practice that researchers d ivu lge sufficient information about possib le personal b iases, so a s to a id a critical reading of their work. Typically, the reader would be treated to a short list of categor ies like: Euro-heritage, middle-class, male, etc. Rather than encourage a critical reading, this pract ice can encourage stereotypical general isations regarding particular group b iases . Apple , in address ing the politics of power relations, c la ims that "[A]ll of our d i scourses are politically uninnocent. They occur within a shifting and dynamic socia l context in which the ex istence of multiple sets of power relations are inevitable" (quoted in Lather, 1991, p.vii). By acknowledging this ambiguous position, we begin to guard against stereotypical general isat ions and encourage critical c onsc i ousness in the reader. Grumet has given extended thought to identity politics and admits: I would be naive if I refused to admit influence in what we notice, what we choose to tell, and in how and why we tell what we do. Neverthe less autobiographical method invites us to struggle with those determinations. It is that struggle and its resolve to develop ourselves in ways that transcend the 31 identities that others have constructed for us that bonds the projects of autobiography and education. (Grumet, 1990, p.324). Scrutiny of "place" (Kincheloe & Pinar, 1991) brings the particular into focus, and at the s ame time e x p o s e s embedded social forces which have shaped our subjectivities of self. Whi le we cannot help but be framed in the categories of our time, we can use self-reflexivity to promote gradual subjectivity shifts in the direction of our longing. Fictional Accounts Butt and Raymond (1989) raise the issue that individual autobiography can be limited by the use of b iased or incomplete data and marginal ised by the "entropic tendency to 'over-fictionalise'" (p.414). They place value on autobiographical accounts accord ing to the extent that they can be checked against some previous accounting, such as a peer observat ion record. A large part of Butt and Raymond's (1989) research is around what they term collaborative autobiography. Th is method al lows for other teachers' stories to act as counter-biographies, thereby ensuring that one's stories are grounded in current reality. It is true that autobiography reveals personal bias and selective recall , s hapes stories according to dispositions, creates coherence where there may be cracks , flaws, and problems, and reshapes the nature of how exper iences are known and understood (Graham, 1991), but such interpretation is profoundly human. I have found reader-aud ience to act a s a control on biased, fictional, or incomplete account ings of a story. There exists a strong drive to present events as accurately as possible, so a s to be true to other p layers in my stories. Grumet warns of the risk involved in telling stories and how self-disclosure to teachers 32 and/or researchers can compl icate relationships, and in turn affect content of future story tell ings. A s Graham pointed out in his book Reading and Writing the Self, this is a drawback of autobiographical research and must be addressed frankly between writer and reader so as to minimise fictional constructions made in response to power relations (many students put great effort into researching what they think the teacher or professor wants to hear, and then attempt to produce what will p lease) . G r a h a m puts forth that "the intuitive appeal of autobiography is justified by its results rather than by the sophistication or theoretical acumen that had gone into providing the warrants for its use" (1991, p.116). O n the other hand, Lather fee ls there is room for "a theory grounded in the 'hunkering down on detail"' that would lend s o m e direction for the task of producing coherence and continuity from "regimes of meaning ." P inar and Grumet (1974) have attempted to lay that grounding with their narrative on currere. Generalisability and Predictability "Good narrative must go beyond reliability, validity, and general isabi l ity: a 'plausible' one tends to 'ring true'" (Pinar era/. 1995, p.560). While fantasy may be des irab le in fictional narratives, the more plausible an autobiography, the more weight it carr ies in scholarly d iscourse . Resonance inspires a sense of agency within the reader, a characterist ic which would seem to mark a strong autobiographical study. Conclusion In this chapter I have explored curriculum as process . Grumet (1978) descr ibes curriculum a s the process of persons coming to form ; in other words, a process of understanding and reflection that leads to personal transformation. S h e further 33 descr ibes autobiography as the method by which curriculum can do its work. Through autobiography we chronic le significant events from our l ived exper ience , v iewing them from a temporal d istance that affords us clarity and perspective. By unearthing stories of my experience, I gain new perspectives on the interplay between differing identities, differing paths of learning, and differing p laces of context. Ana lys i s of how these stories transform and inform my understanding of curriculum spurs me to recover the volition I need to create fluidity in a "living curriculum" - a p lace with space for me and the storied lives of those I teach/learn from. A s Gordon We l l s (1984) said in an address to Early Chi ldhood teachers , we exper ience our l ives a s a ser ies of stories. His message a lways rang true with me, but it h a s particular s ignif icance now a s I make storying my methodology. T h e phenomenon and method have merged -Autobiography/Lifestory. 34 2 My Run with Currere Grafting Hybrids Each man must look to himself to teach him the meaning of life. It is not something discovered: it is something moulded. Saint-Exupery, 1939 One of the difficulties in seeking to develop new perspectives is the obvious and oft-pointed-to distinction between theory and practice or, to put it in common sense language, merely understanding the world and changing it. Apple, 1990 Introduction T h e need to understand curriculum is a recurring theme in the landscape of my lifeworld. A s a child, university student, teacher and mother, I have a lways been interested in what we learn and why, as much as what we don't learn. W h o dec ides what is important and what isn't? What are the political c onsequences? W h y can't learning be more social ly relevant? A s an education student, my interaction with curriculum cou ld be l ikened to the rebell ious teen and her parent. M y rejection of what I saw to be static structures with little room for teacher creativity c aused me to shun any courses or seminars that emphas ized the words curriculum and instruction. What I learned about curriculum development was in spite of any consc ious des ign on my part. Nevertheless , the bulk of my teaching experience and academic research has focused around creating social ly relevant curriculum. After reading P inar and Grumet's (1976) work on currere, I was inspired to draw on lived exper iences that seemed to be key in directing my educational life story. T h e 35 exper iences I have drawn on for this chapter were carefully se l ected . 3 E a c h one was an important part of the context in which I developed a global/diversity perspect ive myself, and played an important role in awakening global/diversity perspect ives in others through re-tellings. T h e s e stories also helped me face the overwhelming spectre of multiculturalism and embrace generative curriculum. They were later to inspire me to find avenues of empowerment and routes for efficacy with my chi ldren and my students. P inar suggests that the central question of currere asks, "What is your exper ience of educational institutions?" Understanding experience involves a process of reflection, which incorporates the stages identified by Pinar as regression, progress ion , ana lys is and synthesis . Whi le I certainly incorporate these steps in my exper ience of currere, I find it somehow difficult to present what I experience as fluid, in sequentia l units of analysis . I have chosen an organic approach that more reflects my ways of knowing. In recall ing the lived exper iences that are central to my run with currere, I have paused at significant points along my journey where I can see that my educational practice and persona l phi losophy have been affected. I found that each of these key lived exper iences intersected with my journey more than once. By "bracketing" these exper iences - by isolating, examining, and analyzing them -1 was able to extract meaning that in turn translated into practice. Educators borrow the technique of "bracketing" from phenomenologica l scholarship . 3 While I say these stories were carefully selected, it is also true that they could have been other ones. Why did I choose these? They represent difficulties that forced me to realise boundaries and horizons. Next year, I might choose different ones. At this time, these particular lived experiences stand out as the building blocks I used in developing a global perspective, and in nurturing such a perspective in the children I work with and learn from. They also link a diverse group of characters in a colourful community of learners. 36 Th is technique is employed to connect with one's lifeworld or "experienced context" (Greene, 1973). To "bracket," one reflects on the "taken for granted," in order to understand exper ience profoundly and authentically (Pinar et. al . , 1995). O n c e in touch with one's lifeworld, the researcher has a place from which to ask quest ions and shape her learning. Bracketing - [The Usual Becomes Unusua l ! [Killing a Moth ! - Thoughts That Run Through My Head Another moth, another hunt. What are they infesting now? It's a never ending battle every speck of food encased in Tupperware (thank G o d for those desperate days - singing the Tupperware song) Has this one already laid its eggs or am I in time to prevent the dirty deed? Perhaps the boys need a raise 10 up to 12 cents per larva 15 to 18 cents per moth 18 x 4 is 4 x 8 at 32 plus 4 x 10 at 40 ; yes 72 cents that should stretch their mental math. Ah , the goal ie judge following a tiny speck of rubber I follow a flitting speck of wing dust The hunt is on, I force her high, spend her flight reserves, she rests, I raise my hand, whop she's dead . (Seven Years in Tibet monks carefully transferring worms the guilt - oh why do I do it I must perfect a method to trap them live.) Wait a minute -wow, a chance discovery ! Her little corpse drops into the cage below 37 Snuggles , the mouse, rushes to the scene Snugg les savours the taste of wing dust. I am no longer the savage moth "waster". I am merely a catalyst in one of nature's food chains . I wrote the above poem when I got up from reading van Manen's paper, Practicing phenomenological writing (1984), to kill a moth. At the time, I remember being somewhat taken aback by the number of associative thoughts and images that flew through my head in that two minute bracket. T h e s e were: • our kitchen infestation of moths and my subsequent study of their different stages of life • my down and out days, sell ing Tupperware • my commitment to encourage mental math skil ls in meaningful settings • hours spent at the rink being a hockey mom • expert ise in killing the moths • impact of Buddhist teachings and an image from the movie Seven Years in Tibet • recol lection of Biology c lass , in which we d iscovered mice enjoy eating insects . T h e mundane is so exotic under the microscope. A s I reflect on these images now, I am also struck by the shift in perspective: moth waster to nature's catalyst, and how this symbo l i ses my exper ience with curriculum -- learning to s e e things in new ways . What fol lows is an account of the central lived exper iences relevant to my run with currere. E ach one is bracketed: it is followed by a ser ies of vignettes depicting other settings in which the exper ience lived and changed . T h e s e vignettes can take the form of re-tellings, reflections, and poems. Finally, I reflect on how these inform my present understanding of curriculum. Although these exper iences do not offer genera l isab le data, I hope to kindle in the reader memories of like exper iences , thereby sparking reflections relevant to self. 38 T h e structure of each lived experience follows the same format, loosely ba sed on the stages of currere identified by Pinar: • Lived experience: the original experience recal led as a data source (regressive); • Retellings: the examination of latent meanings that surface from the original exper ience through re-tellings (progressive, analytic); • Reflections: contemplations on how these meanings relate to teaching and curriculum, and how they might be integrated into practice (synthetic, agency). To preserve the autobiographical flow of currere I have kept the Reflections succinct. However, the continuing significance of how these stories impact on educational d i scourse and practice is raised where relevant throughout the remainder of the text, particularly in chapter three where I examine my academic search for inclusive relevant curriculum and in chapter four where I look at practical impl ications in the c l a ssroom . LIVED EXPERIENCE ONE Hating Math with Mrs. Sturbv, (Edmonton -- Winter 1964) It was G r a d e Three , and another morning of multiplication facts with my teacher, Mrs . Sturby. Mrs . Sturby had a prosthesis, which meant some kids cal led her "Peg Leg . " I lived in fear of the distinctive sound of her uneven footstep up the aisle, and the heart-stopping crack of the yardstick that she a lways carried - a dreaded combination . You see, even though I knew my multiplication facts from doing them with my dad on the way to and from skating each day, for some reason I'd freeze at the front of my row in Mrs . Sturby's c lass . I remember writing down each equation, but by the time I made it to the equa ls sign, Mrs . Sturby was already starting the next question. I had to dec ide whether to write down the answer or go ahead with the next equation. My brief moment of indecision caused me to miss the first number of the second t imes fact. A n d then that leg would make its irregular rhythm up my aisle. That morning in 1964, I was just writing down 3 x 1 2 when Mrs. Sturby's ruler cracked across the corner of my desk . "Christianne, you haven't written a single answer." Th is was true: I was at least 6 or 7 l ines down, with nothing but blanks beside each equa ls s ign . Someth ing snapped in my head, and I hated Mrs . Sturby. 39 W h e n the recess bell went, I took a tack off the bulletin board by her desk and put it, point upwards, on her seat. I then went outside to join my fr iends in C h i n e s e skipping and let out a sigh of relief. My revenge was so complete that I never cons idered Mrs . Sturby actually sitting on the tack, or even remembered what I had done when I c a m e back in from recess . I was lost in the euphoria of getting to "hipsies" in skipping. It was a spine-straightening shock when I heard Mrs . Sturby yell and turned to s e e the colour in her face . Her skin had that ruddy colouring, that g ives a blue tinge to a red f lush. S h e was wearing a tartan skirt that f lapped as she stamped her good foot helplessly, demanding to know who had put the tack on her chair. My face went cr imson with one of those ear-burning b lushes which I thought was a sure g iveaway of my guilt, yet I was dumb with fear and couldn't say, "It was me!" I fully expected that at any moment, one of my c l a ssmates would tell on me. Would it be Todd M a s o n ? I mental ly went through each one of my c lassmates . In her exasperation, Mrs . Sturby ass igned us something to do and d isappeared down to the office, grimly saying, " W e l l s e e about this!" T h e next thing we knew, our c lassroom "snitch" h issed that Mr. Ramsay , the principal, w a s coming down the hall with Mrs . Sturby. Mr. Ramsay spoke to us about the ser iousness of the crime, and assured us we would be better off if we admitted our guilt. Nobody said anything. I maintained a brilliant tomato red. (In retrospect, I was probably seen a s far too shy a child to do such a thing and my more boisterous male c l a s smates were receiving the usual scrutiny.) When nobody would say anything, Mr. R a m s a y tried to conv ince us that this was such an important incident that it would not be cons idered tattling (although I remember thinking, what e l se could it possibly be?) Finally, half an hour past the final bell, Mr. Ramsay said he had to let us go a s he didn't want our parents to worry over our late arrivals home. But before d ismiss ing us, he warned that he would see us the following afternoon and every day thereafter until one of us confessed . I remember feel ing that my world had ended, that I'd done a very bad thing and that the trouble would never go away. T h e clear options I had were to run away, or to appeal to my parents for help. I avoided the subject until I had to face the dark in my room alone, and I cal led to my dad . While my dad seemed to understand, he sa id the honourable thing to do was to confess, and counsel led me that things would be eas iest if I a sked to s e e the principal before school - that way I could concentrate the rest of the day. I m issed that opportunity, but gathered my wits at the recess bell and headed to the office. T o this day, Mr. Ramsay remains one of my educational mentors. He didn't strap me, a s I expected he would. He simply asked me why I thought that Mrs . Sturby would have cracked the ruler across my desk, and asked me what I knew about Mrs . Sturby. T o make a long story short, he told me about her brave battle with bone d i sease and her belief in the cornerstones of learning. He acknowledged that the t imed element of her mathematical drills was nerve-wracking, but asked that I try to understand her 40 perspect ive at having to teach the largest c l ass of grade threes multiplication facts by the provincial exam date (we had 31 kids in our c lass) . Mr . R a m s a y did c o m m e n d me for my honesty and braveness, and as a reward, he sa id he would speak to Mrs . Sturby and that the matter would not be brought up in c lass . His parting words were that I should c ome to see him in future, if I had a problem. I felt a s if I had a friend. There was a l ightness in my step as I headed outdoors. It was as if I was party to two important secrets : the principal was really a nice guy and the sergeant drill master was quite human ! Nothing was ever said to me about the tack incident by Mrs . Sturby. A short while later, she attached a note to my drill sheet saying I need not write down the equations. Strangely, after sitting in Mr. Ramsay's office, I lost the jitters during timed math drills and very soon after was managing both equat ions and the answers, within the allotted time. Did Mrs . Sturby slow down or did I s p e e d up? Retellings: * Student Teachers in a Methods Course at University of Alberta -Spring of 1984. Whi le engaged a s a Kindergarten teacher, I was asked to address an Educat ion c l a s s at the University of Alberta. The professor who invited me was particularly impressed with my system of individualised programming, and asked if I'd be interested in talking to his students about integrating individual ized programming into c l ass curriculum. When I spoke to his students about the benefits and drawbacks of having some students perform different tasks , I had to dea l with their concern that such differentiation somehow al lowed certain students to "get away" with less. I used Mrs. Sturby's story to illustrate that this need not necessar i ly be the case . I explained the arrangement M r s . Sturby and my parents had reached, where I was permitted to write down only the answers without listing the equations like everybody else. Mrs . Sturby recogn ised my anxiety difficulties and made what she felt was a significant concess i on . S h e worried that chi ldren lost their place without writing down the questions, which she felt provided a reference point. However, she real ized -- and also taught me -- that individual ized training is more about equal opportunity, than about everyone getting the same treatment. * Storytelling Club, Southlands Elementary School - Fall of 1996. Chi ldren from grades Two to S i x c ame together once a week to l isten to m e read/tell stories. A rash of tattling began to spill into my story hour. W h e n it began to get out of hand, I used Mrs . Sturby's story, focusing on the the cho ice my c l a ssmates made not to tell on me. I explained how this action in the end gave me the room I needed to turn my own self in to confess . I let the story c lub members know my feel ing of disbelief and euphor ia at not being exposed by kids who would normally get a rush from telling on me, especia l ly with the 41 encouragement of the principal. T h e s i lence of my c l assmates a l lowed me to save face , and gave me the sense that I was part of the student body, even though I w a s unbearably shy and only ever spoke to two or three chi ldren in the c lass . In finishing the d iscuss ion with my story-telling students, I asked , "as long as no one is endangered, what harm would it do to give a c l assmate a little s pace to dea l with one's own misdemeanour?" W e d i scussed the importance of establ ish ing an environment that affords space to individuals without jeopardis ing the c lassroom community. I did not expect my counse l to the chi ldren to be internalised that day. I had merely planted the seed with the knowledge I would need to water it many t imes afterward, and with the hope they would come to appreciate what Mr. Ramsay had known that day. * A school discussion with my niece - Fall of 1997. My n iece w a s complaining bitterly about a teacher at her junior high schoo l , who s e e m e d to be underestimating the abilities of his students. In her opinion, h is cho i ce of curriculum content was not appropriate to their level of understanding, and he spoke in a way that was better suited to a younger audience . My response was, once again, to tell the Mrs . Sturby story, this time focus ing more on Mr. Ramsay's chat with me in his office. Mr. R a m s a y had taught me that teachers are really only human beings and I expla ined to my n iece that I would never have seen Mrs . Sturby as the gardener Mr. R a m s a y said she was, or as someone who had suffered tremendous personal l o sses and yet still bel ieved in the ultimate importance of chi ldren develop ing good math skil ls. I had fallen into the comfort zone of branding her with a stereotype, a s my peers had done. I a lso related to my niece how a simple analogy that was used to expla in an observat ion could play a part in simplifying a much more difficult concept . I urged her to give the teacher a chance to explain why he used such a s imple example , which would help demonstrate a wil l ingness to share in the responsibi l ity for her learning. * Jamil in the car on the way home from school — March 1998. My ten-year-old son, Jami l , was beginning to develop an appreciation for history that went beyond names and dates. For a project on "explorers of Canada , " he had just composed a detailed diary imagining himself as a cook on J e a n Cabot's ship. I felt this developing interest jeopardized when Jam i l asked , "Mom, for our soc ia ls test tomorrow, why do we have to know all the exact dates, like when people landed and left? Why can't we just write about what the people d id?" He was quick to remind me that even his uncle, the ultimate trivia buff, couldn't produce the exact date of Pierre La Verendrye's last expedition to the Mandans . I wanted to uphold my son's respect for his teacher, yet, I c learly understood his 42 di lemma. In responding to his question, I began by sharing my personal belief, which was in line with his: if you need to know a specific date, remember the reference source you can turn to for locating that exact information. T h e emphas i s in learning history is to understand the nature of historical exper ience, not to memorize specific dates. However, having sa id that, I told him s ome exerc i ses at school were important for reasons which were not immediately apparent. Somet imes it's hard to see what you're getting out of an ass ignment -- it may not make sense to you. I explained this was part of what I had learned through Mrs . Sturby's story. The things we learn are part of a more compl icated picture which takes time to appreciate. Mrs . Sturby felt that the timing element she used in teaching multiplication tables was critical to our deve l opment . It required us to use speed, which in turn led to automaticity -- a critical skill for higher mathematical operations. In the meantime, the actual exerc i se of memorization strengthened the associat ive l inks necessary to move items from our short term memory to our long term memory banks . Th i s clearly made sense to Jami l a s his next question was, "Do you have any tricks for remembering dates?" For the rest of the evening Jami l and I put our col lective creat ive ju ices into drawing links between explorers and dates . Reflections: The message reminding educators of the need to treat children individually is a strong one in this story. The space Mrs. Sturby and Mr. Ramsay afforded me was unusual for the day, but it freed me up to confront myself and in the end, meet their original demands regarding math drills. Their actions not only left a lasting impression on me, but they have impacted on those I work with. Themes of this story and its new lives in other contexts cause me to encourage myself and those I work with to develop a problem-solving approach characterized by the need to seek more information, avoid judgments, and anticipate complexity rather than try to confine myself to the most simple, black-or-white, right-or-wrong configuration. It also reminds us how important it is to take responsibility for one's own feelings, actions, and learning. 43 Perhaps an even stronger implication for curriculum is the wide-ranging benefit of bringing lived experience to the classroom. Stories can easily raise moral dilemmas around which children can begin to develop and test the tools necessary to deal with such experiences in their own lives. If I were to tell this story again in a classroom of young children, I would develop "What if..." questions, in order to explore the fuzzy areas so characteristic of moral dilemmas. What if Mr. Ramsay had actually strapped me? What might have happened if I had written "PEG LEG" on the blackboard? What might have happened if I was an outspoken child and admitted my crime in class? What might have happened if one of my classmates told on me? What if my parents had either taken my side against the teacher, or given me the strapping Mr. Ramsay didn't? What impact does a student's fear have on her ability or inclination to learn? LIVED EXPERIENCE TWO A Subtle Lesson from Two Wise Elders, (Edmonton and the Tvendinaga Reserve. Ontario -- Spring 1978) In my final year at the University of Alberta, I wrote a paper titled Children's literature by and/or about native peoples. It was well received and Dr. J o n Stott, my professor and a children's literature expert, suggested I publish it. In the end, I never got around to publishing because I started addressing one of the main themes of the paper - "the lack of suitable Native legends available to children." I had written that teachers of young chi ldren found already publ ished legends awkward, either because of advanced content (sexual references) or the anthology format (rather than picture book). A s an artist without a project, I had found a mission: I would illustrate the legends from var ious anthologies I had col lected. In my naivete at the time, I did not understand the significance of appropriating someone else's cultural property. Th i s is surprising because earlier that year, I was one of the few Provincial museum staff who supported the return of a Blackfoot medicine bundle to its place of origin. W a s it my pass ion for illustrating that blinded me in the one instance and not the other? Did I 44 allow myself to be seduced by the Dr. Stott's words of praise, to the detriment of what I knew to be right? I was particularly taken with the collection, Sacred Legends of the Sandy Lake Cree by Car l Ray and J a m e s Stevens . I dec ided to start by doing a book with two legends and il lustrations modeled after Car l Ray's distinctive style. I used India ink and colour washes on rice paper with italic lettering for the text. Each page was 10" x14" with text a long the bottom and a large illustration taking up the top two thirds of the page. I d iv ided Geen-go-hongay's Bath and Wee-sa-kay-jac and the Weasel into ten sect ions each , so that with end pages, an author's note page, and a title/contents page, I had the 24 frames of a picture book. Shortly after finishing this first book and reading it to several groups of kindergarten chi ldren, I visited my grandfather, Mr. W. S . Blake, on his Pr ince Edward County farm oppos ite Tyend inaga in Southern Ontario. I showed him the book, and he had some quest ions about permiss ion which made me squirm, but basical ly compl imented me on the il lustrations and overall appearance of the book. T h e next day we were going to Tyendinaga , a s we often did, to visit Chief Maracle . G ramps insisted that I take the book, even though I protested saying that the legends were Cree , not Mohawk . Mr . Marac le we lcomed us and showed interest in the book. He didn't open it, but began exchang ing stories with my grandfather and I was treated to a brief history of J o s e p h Brant's historic victories and how the Mohawk people were split between C a u g h n a w a g a and Tyendinaga . When it was time to go, Mr. Marac le still had not opened the book and he asked if he could keep it for a few days to show the schoo l staff. T h e book was never returned, but I went back to Edmonton with a pair of moose hide gauntlets from Mr. Marac le . W a s he really keeping the book for the schoo l or w a s it his diplomatic way to get it out of circulation? He and my grandfather had been fr iends for a long time - was he trying to protect my feel ings? W a s my grandfather part of the p lan? I'll never know what both he and Mr. Marac le were thinking -- they have both passed on -- Is it selfish to pray that Mr. Marac le had a good fire that night? Perhaps , the book has been kept to illustrate forms of appropriation. I c an live with that. If I can't own up to my mistakes and then reframe them as lessons, I haven't really internal ised my teacher=learner phi losophy. Retellings * Meeting with Verna Kirkness, Director of NITEP, University of British Columbia Spring 1992 I arrived at the University of British Co lumbia with definitive ideas about the focus of my doctoral study. My previous consulting work with Pe igan and S i k s i ka in A lberta (1988 - 1992) had contributed to high levels of frustration regarding the lack of culturally appropriate curriculum and in particular, the 45 paucity of publ ished children's literature written with Native content. There was even less material written or illustrated by First Nations. My study intent was to research appropriate materials and test effectiveness through an experimental and control group study with First Nations children. My background areas of expert ise in literacy, children's literature, and culturally d iverse early ch i ldhood curriculum development fueled my confidence that I had something to contribute to the development of culturally relevant First Nat ions curriculum. My conf idence w a s put in check when I sought out Dr. Verna Kirkness, then director of the First Nations House of Learning, to ask for adv ice regarding the appropr iateness of my study focus. Dr. K irkness was direct in her manner and a s k e d that I answer the following questions in writing before speak ing with her aga in : "1) What is your burning 'passion' to work with First Nations peop le? 2) What background do you bring to the research? 3) What exactly do you want to do? 4) What do you need from me? 5) What does the community get out of your work?" (Personal Communicat ion , 1992). A s I laboured over answers, I slowly became aware of how disrespectful I had been : prescribing curriculum des igns without first having asked the peop le involved what they needed and the particular constraints and c i rcumstances they faced . Even though I often spoke of the importance of curriculum evolving from those who use i t , I was caught in the dreaded "White" c l iche - talking without first having carefully and respectfully l istened. I had even read o n e of Dr. Kirkness's papers (1991) which referred to the 4 R's of educational research : Respect , Relevance, Reciprocity and Responsibil ity, and stressed the importance of listening. O n c e in Dr. Kirkness's office and twice while trying to answer her questions, my mind spun back to those two legends I had illustrated, had appropriated. I had lacked respect then and not l istened carefully enough to what Native peop le were saying about cultural property. I burned with shame and guilt inside and tried to bury these emotions in volunteer activities at the 1992 Mokakit (First Nations) Conference on campus and by enrolling in courses taught by First Nations that addressed issues in First Nations Education . I tried in earnest to listen. * Listening to Maria Campbell, Metis author, Vancouver Writer's Festival -- Winter 1993 I am a great admirer of Mar ia Campbell's writing and storytelling, and so when I heard she'd be at the Vancouver Writer's Festival , I made the effort to attend her sess ion . It was only when I entered the Arts C lub Theatre and saw her sitting 46 with a panel of two others under a sign indicating the topic was "Appropriation of Native Stories," that I real ised she would not be talking about her books . T h e words on the banner seemed to come out and wrap themse l ves around me: "Appropriator of Native Stories." A friend tried to engage me in conversation, but my "Sacred Legends" secret w a s choking me --I couldn't speak. Mar i a Campbel l 's vo ice pierced the air with a plaintive, "Save me from people that mean well !" (Lutz, 1991). Cou ld she hear the vo ices in my head? ! Did Chief Marac le forgive my transgression because he thought I meant wel l? I tried to think of all the well-meaning people Mar ia must have put up with to be so exasperated . I cr inged. Why can't I bury this story from my past? Neither G r a m p s or Mr. Marac le is here to make me confess . * Dinner with Renee, Manager of Chief's Mask - Spring 1993 I was a frequent customer at the Chief's Mask Bookstore and Renee , the manager, and I often d i scussed the chal lenges First Nations faced when trying to publish their work. W e chatted about books, how to use them, and First Nations traditional curriculum. Now and again we went for coffee and I tried to be a good listener. I respected Renee's knowledge of Native literature and I wanted to see what she thought of some of the books I was thinking of using with chi ldren in a pilot study. I invited her for dinner and brought a bibl iography of the books in my Native collection. I hit a hot wire. S h e w a s visibly angry when she asked , "Don't you think it would be appropriate that you reference the bibl iographic sources that you used in compil ing your bibl iography?" I didn't know what to say. I hadn't used any sources ; the bibliography I shared with her w a s merely a catalog of my collection, yet I didn't want to say so - it s e e m e d so unfair that I would have this amazing collection when many schoo l s make do with 10 - 20 titles. Perhaps I failed to defend myself, because even though I had not done what I was being presently accused of, I had done something that to me s e e m e d even more insensitive. R e n e e and I got embroi led in a d iscuss ion about appropriation which unearthed all my ugly memor ies about the stories I had so naively lifted. I was about to confess to R e n e e when she remembered she had another appointment she needed to get to and I remembered Maria's words about those who mean well . I suddenly real ised that I was trying to get forgiveness from this woman ~ I wanted her to heal me. How absurd ! Did I expect this woman to not only heal with her own people, but to find room to look after me as wel l? No, I needed to work things through myself and save my confess ing for someone who might learn to avoid similar mistakes. I needed to tell this story to my own people. That night I felt compel led to rethink the focus of my research . I had no bus iness trying to do for First Nations what they needed to do themse lves . I could best help by giving them space and taking responsibi l ity for 47 my mistakes and subsequent learning. * A chat with my son, Jamil, regarding good literature - February 1998 I read Jami l an excerpt from Bettelheim's The uses of enchantment whi le we were eating dinner and asked if he thought that all the good stories he knew were fairy tales, a s Bettelheim suggests. At first, he answered that s ome of his favourite stories were fairy tales, and then he corrected himself by running a list of favoured stories that were not fairy tales. Then he asked , "Mom, why do all the really good stories have such sadness in them?" W e reviewed a number of the titles he had mentioned (The Snow Goose, Pink and Say, Jacob's Story (in Stories From the Road Allowance People), Star of Fear, Star of Hope, Sadako) and I reminded him of the hope in each of them. 4 "I know Mom, I learn to never let such mistakes happen again, but they still make me sad . " I a sked him what parts and he said, "just to know my people did those things." I took a breath and tried to remember when it was that I took ownership for my people, certainly not when I was ten. How did he carry this great weight of guilt and yet love all of his relat ions? I clearly recall managing historical stories of injustice by careful ly d istancing myself -- "those terrible things were done long before my grandparents and none of my relatives would do such things," and then doing everything I could to correct the wrongs. But because I refused to integrate the bad with the good in my own ancestry, my efforts to correct injustices were a lways done from a place of power. I shared my thoughts with Jami l and tried to show him that my methods of coping with past injustices had led me to d istance myself from the very people I so wanted to help. I told him that by feel ing sorry for others without acknowledging my part in their oppression , I w a s not respecting them as equals. I braced myself to tell him the story of how my renditions of Geen-go-hongay's Bath and l/Vee-sa-/cay-y'ac and the Weasel ended up in Tyend inaga with Chief Marac le across the bay from Gramps ' farm. I let him tell me what I did wrong -- "you copied their stories and didn't ask permiss ion !" It didn't take him long. Why did this 10 year old child understand what I m issed as a young adult? Why was he also able to acknowledge that his ancestors had been involved in social and cultural injustices, c ope with the sadness , and learn from it instead of running the other way? After sitting quietly for a few minutes, Jami l suggested that I write to Carl Ray and apologise . I expla ined that Car l had died, under tragic c ircumstances, three months after I had made the book. Together, we dec ided my mistake would make a good story to tell others so that they would not make the same one. Jami l remarked on the way out to the car, "Those gauntlets sure have lasted a long time, M o m ; you should take them with you when you tell the story." W h y after all these years did I tell my son? W h y w a s I not concerned about 4 Bibliographic information about titles mentioned in this section is included in the extended bibliography in Appendix A. 48 losing f a c e ? Renee had shown me a way I could help. It was my responsibil ity to listen not only to her, but to my own heart and to share what I learned in the way Coyote would - through stories of my own cultural ignorances . Four "A's" of Indian Control - Four "D's" on Our Report C a r d Assimi lation -oops that didn't work; they're more different than we thought Acculturation -take them from their families break the links with teachings strong and true, but somehow, as the aspen, they survive. Anthropology maybe we better study their ways learn the names of the diseases we passed on figure out the roots of all this resistance. Heh, there's truth, spirituality, and healing happening here! Appropriat ion (the world's a pretty bad place right now) How can we get some of this healing for ourselves? Let's get some of those fetishes, dream catchers, sweet grass, spirit stones and oh, some of those real traditional s-t-o-r-i-e-s Dishonour, Destruction, Degradation, Duplicity Reflections: As I sit here, I know what I must do: send a copy of the above to the Sandy Lake First Nation. I can at least apologise. Printed and mailed -wow, 20 years late! One may ask what my true motivation is in doing this. Is it to assuage my guilt - not really - I know I am guilty. I do it because it needs to be done. Over and over I hear First Nations expressing frustration that we deny 49 culpability for land grabs, abuse in residential schools, acculturation, and appropriation. Am I looking for forgiveness - not really. In telling Jamil the story that day, I began my expiation in the manner of Coleridge's Ancient Mariner. In confronting and admitting our mistakes, we open the door to personal growth and enhance credibility in what we attempt to communicate. We also encourage an environment where teachers can be learners and learners can be teachers. Children are freed to confront their mistakes and learn from them without fear of judgment. If a teacher you will be, by your students you will be taught. Other themes of relevance to curriculum emerge as I reflect on my decision to illustrate the legends. We need the opportunity to engage with sensitive cultural issues in the classroom, so that we can prepare children to anticipate complexity, seek more information, listen with respect, and accept diversity. In order for there to be reciprocity between cultures, we have to come to understand our personal position in the oppressed/oppressor cycle. I learned that by trying to address the lack of Native children's literature, I was thinking as an oppressor. I had not sought shared understanding through dialogue. Instead I had taken the role of "helper" to those who did not seem to be able to help themselves. I was wrong, as is shown by the burgeoning number of First Nations authors and illustrators. As 50 educators, we foster equality in the classroom when we promote dialogue in a spirit of reciprocity and personal responsibility. Would these lessons have been as powerful, if Chief Maracle had confronted me on my act of appropriation? LIVED EXPERIENCE THREE Margaret Meek and the Politics of Rabbit Warrens, Spring 1981, London, England My M . E d , research centered around the benefits of literary theme development in the nursery c l assroom . Th is involved my using longer selections of literature to allow for a three to four week extension of the literary theme into the various activity centers . Severa l people quest ioned my use of books like Charlotte's Web, The Secret Garden, The Wizard of Oz, and Watership Down with preschool chi ldren. M y academic superv isor at the University of Bristol suggested that I make a trip to London to meet with Margaret Meek in the Reading Centre at the London Schoo l of Educat ion . S h e w a s a noted authority in the area of emergent literacy. My supervisor sa id that she thought we both would have many things in common to d iscuss . In retrospect, my superv isor was not strong in the area of children's literature and may have wanted me to work through the difficult i ssues of developmental ly appropriate literature with s omeone whose opinion would count. I clearly remember Dr. Meek's aghast look when I d i s cussed using Watership Down with preschool aged chi ldren. S h e a sked if I had read the book and then excla imed that with all the excellent picture books avai lable, she couldn't understand my decis ion to use chapter books . In a chal lenging tone she sa id "Watership Down is a political commentary on society, not a nursery story!" Her countenance made it c lear that this was a bad thing and I reacted defensively, saying that I hadn't found it to be political, but instead, ce lebrated it a s a tightly knit story about the natural habits of rabbits. S h e responded by saying it was a book intended for adults and I countered by saying that Adams , the author, had written it from the rambl ings he shared with his two children while walking the downs on weekends . I read/told the story rather than reading it word for word, staying true to d ia logue and summaris ing wording settings. I finished by drawing her attention to the children's picture plate edition I had brought with me. S h e responded by say ing her schedu le w a s tight, and she felt she could best help me by giving me a copy of the latest Read ing Centre approved bibliography of children's quality picture books . I found myself outside her office doors 20 minutes after arriving. I had a long train ride back to Bristol in which to think through my deviant behaviour and come up with some kind of rational accounting for my committee of my visit with the great Margaret Meek . 51 W h y did I use chapter books with Kindergarten chi ldren? I was searching for texts with some grit, that we could get our teeth into. I needed stories where characters were complex, rather than over simplified to make a point. I used short picture books daily during a second reading time, but I built curriculum around stories of substance that fuel led meaty d iscuss ions . Watership Down was perfect . W e could ana lyse the root of evil behaviour in the villain, Genera l Woundwort, contemplate the price of freedom with Haze l , and feel with Fiver, the soothsayer, the fear that accompan ies people's right to remain ignorant of the forces that control them. My favourite part has a lways been the chapters describing Cowsl ip's warren. T h e lead characters arrive at a strange smell ing warren in need of shelter. All but the soothsayer we lcome the shelter and the del icious food acquired from the nearby farmer's garden . Fiver is suspic ious of the human smell everywhere and the strange rule about not asking questions starting with where, why, or when. There are a lways g a sps of shock and s ighs of disbelief when the children in my c l a s s e s d iscover that the farmer g ives the rabbits food, because he is actually raising them to eat them. He is cleverly by-passing the chore of maintaining man-made hutches. Cowsl ip's warren is a society of rabbits that make the mistake of embracing ignorance for short term gain. W h e n I read my thes is from the University of Bristol, I s ee the impact of Margaret Meek's comments that day in her London office. Her words estranged my academic appreciation of what I intuitively knew to be crucial to effective curriculum. In defending my use of chapter books, there is no mention of the opportunity to work through sociopol it ical i ssues over an extended period and to deve lop multidimensional appreciation of characters -- even though this is what I firmly bel ieved. I don't talk about using texts to confront a problem or issue so that the chi ldren may c o m e to know their own boundaries and horizons. Rather I defend the use of chapter books because they provide continuity, and allow teachers to adapt and use curriculum theme materials over a longer period. There is no mention of the advantages chi ldren stand to gain from the use of more conceptual ly chal lenging texts. Retellings * Defending My Use of Watership Down to the Local Advisory Committees, Edmonton Autumns in 1983 and 1984 Whi le I read this story to many c l asses of kindergarten children, two particular groups stand out, because of the concerns parents raised about perceived undertones of the text. I had an extremely supportive principal who announced to parents that the book would be read as planned, but I would meet with concerned parents to demonstrate how I would be read/telling the story. A s with Margaret Meek, I defended the text a s a realistic window into rabbit behaviour. I explained how I developed individual characters and how I encouraged chi ldren to accept diversity in character sketches , rather than cast characters in stereotypical roles. But not once, did I mention sociopol it ical 52 awareness ! ! * 601 seminar in Curriculum and Instruction at the University of British Columbia -- Fall 1992 I w a s intrigued by a c lassroom discussion regarding Michae l Apple's study of hegemony and ideological forces in curriculum. W e were exploring the need for ana lys is and greater understanding of the latent assumpt ions that create h idden curriculum. A scene from Cowslip's Warren (chapter 13 in Watership Down) c a m e to mind, where the rabbits were gathered underground to partake in the cultured activity of listening to poetry while nibbling on the spoi ls from the farmer's garden . In order to maintain this lifestyle, they had to shut out knowledge of how the carrots got there and the loss of life that was necessary to support their luxurious tastes. Suddenly, I saw Watership Down a s a political text and I understood its deeper hold over me. Th is s ame story had provided the moral d i lemmas around which to develop d iscuss ions in my kindergarten c l a s srooms (I have read and worked Watership Down with 8 groups of chi ldren and each group responded differently to the moral d i lemmas raised) . * Using the Image of Cowslip's Warren as a guide in selecting books - 1992-1998 I use the words "Cowslip's Warren" a s a code name with my favourite booksel ler to refer to books that encourage children to shift gears on an accepted perspect ive and entertain alternative perspectives. I also refer to books of this kind a s counter-hegemonic, and markers of decolonisation. By col lecting and using such books with children, I hope to "rattle their cages" enough that they may g l impse the meaning behind "false consc iousness" and avoid finding themse l ves "underground with Cowsl ip ." Chi ldren are encouraged to wonder what have been erased and written over in the making of the modern world (Willinsky, 1998, p. 52). * Feeling the night time hunger in downtown east side Vancouver — November 1997 I had done a lot of work at understanding the homeless and poverty-stricken in Vancouver . I also had a fairly substantial collection of children's books that human ized street people and made them approachable . Yet when my laptop computer and backup d isks were stolen, I was forced to confront downtown and east s ide Vancouver . I went with my two boys to the pawnshops, flop houses and neighborhood bars to post notices about my stolen computer, and advertise a $ 5 0 0 reward for the back-up disks. Through this experience, I rea l ised I had much to learn about what downtown life was really like. T o begin with, I was preoccup ied with my own concerns : the urgency of recovering the lost data, and the expense of replacing the stolen equipment. Yet in searching for my own needs, I became increasingly aware of the environment of overwhelming need that surrounded us. I said to my children, "Feel the hunger. Fee l the need . Th is 53 is here when you go to school . Th is is here when we go to the beach . T h e s e people are stealing to support habits that started a s ways to cope with severe hope lessness . " I compared the feeling outside the doors of our car or a s we wa lked through P igeon Park, to Cowslip's warren in Watership Down . I talked about how, when we were in our apartment eating dinner, these people were out here and that as long as we and the government ignored their need and the reality of their hunger, the robberies would continue. T h e boys and I have spent many hours trying to envision avenues for efficacy. W e thought of making quilts, but Karim asked, "What if they don't want them?" I said, "You're absolutely right. What we need to do is ask them what they need." Jami l a sked querulously, "Can we ask them in the daytime, M o m ? " W e dec ided to take batches of cook ies to Pigeon Park and give them out to people . Over time, perhaps we could ask what would be appreciated, what we cou ld do to help. T h e key thing about Karim's question was what pulled me up by my bootstraps --1 had to really think about the fact that people aren't asked what they want. They are a lways told by someone in an office with a degree in social planning, who is coming up with schemes to solve their problems. A s we prepared to make our apartment as secure as poss ib le following the burglary, I kept thinking that no matter what we did, there would a lways be ways to get in -- just a s rabbits would always die in Cowslip's warren -- until we faced the reality of the social cr is is festering and boiling over downtown. * Explaining to my children the dependence of educators on casinos - Winter 1998. I was asked one day, in front of my children, if I could volunteer s ome time to work the cas ino that had been applied for as a school fund raiser. I dec l ined and if the boys had not asked me why, I probably would have m issed out on an excel lent d iscuss ion with my children. I would also have avo ided having to write a letter to the parent advisory committee. I expla ined to my sons that the reason I couldn't help the schoo l with this project w a s that I didn't support fund raising through cas inos . Th is nice, easy way of getting funds is strongly addictive. Many of the Lower Main land schoo ls have been dependent for years . What are the long term ramifications? W e are actual ly no different than the casino employee who picks up our friend Shei la's seventy year old mother in her bathrobe and sl ippers so that she can gamble away the last of the money she and her husband had put as ide for their hand icapped son, who will soon have to live off the state. A whole generation of chi ldren has been raised hearing the word "casino" in the s a m e vein a s "Santa C laus . " My boys got the point, but I continued, "Schoo ls justify their position, because they've been told people will gamble anyway. T h e y might a s well make good out of bad . But they unwittingly contribute to others' addiction 54 through their own. T h e provincial government couldn't pull out of cas i nos now; they themse lves are dependent, and now so are we." I told them that at the parent advisory meeting, the predominant feel ing was that fund-raising is a drain on family time and that no other activity cou ld give the s ame return for as little effort as the casino. I lamented to my boys that I hadn't sa id what was bursting to come out ~ "I've got a great fund-raiser! Let's go out and rob some of the homes in Southlands. That's minimal effort and it's fast. You'll get tons of money - a whole bay of computers - free hot dog days and more!" I expla ined that the reason these people couldn't s e e anything wrong with cas i nos is that they were removed from the event and like Cowsl ip's rabbits, put off thinking about future implications in return for short term gratification. Kar im s a i d , " But Mom, you've got to tell somebody about this !" That night I had to write a letter to the school parent advisory executive committee, outlining the concerns I had raised earlier with my boys. In reading the letter to them the next morning, I explained one of my suggestions: To slowly wean ourse lves off "casino dependence , " by asking for less money in our annual appl ications, would not constitute a cop out. I l ikened our dependence to the smoker . M a y b e we would be more successfu l if we asked people to reduce gradual ly . Jami l was still for the "cold turkey" approach. But then, he hadn't seen the f a c e s of the parents and staff when confronted with the consequences of their addiction. I f in ished by cautioning that when people criticise, they must be ready to c o m e up with alternatives and be prepared to roll up their s l eeves accordingly . Reflections: Sometimes "walking your talk" can be very time-consuming. How am I to write a thesis, if I have to stop to write these letters; where do I find the time to go to the school parent meetings and try to present an unpopular view? On the other hand, if I don't respond to these opportunities as they arise, they may never recur and I lose the relevance of the situational context. I am reminded of the saying, "pay now or pay double later." I realise now that Margaret Meek unknowingly gave me a precious gift. 55 She had difficulty dealing with the concept of innocent children being exposed to adult politics. In effect, she forced me, albeit belatedly, to confront my own perceptions of how socially relevant issues do get introduced to children. In a democratic society, it seems particularly important that we start early in encouraging critical thought as part of the ongoing process of individual growth. The challenge becomes the how and when. I have found that by using literature that engages children, we can create non-threatening environments in which to face sensitive social issues. Here children can develop and test skills needed to live in today's diverse society. They get messy with alternative perspectives, they learn to cope with levels of ambiguity, and they get practice making pro-active decisions. LIVED EXPERIENCE FOUR A Taste of Empowerment with Dr. Colleen Stainton. 1988 and 1989, Calgary S h e w a s different from all the others -- she was the only one who heard my story without exclaiming, "You've got to leave him." I was referred to Dr. Co l leen Stainton by the high-risk obstetrics unit for consultation regarding stress on the fetus I was carrying . I was not only deal ing with unusually high levels of stress, but also had to cope with the possib le outcomes of the violent domestic situation I lived in. I had been to a string of counse l lors before, but had experienced little more than frustration and a huge dent in my bank account. Co l leen saw me every two to three weeks during the last three months of my pregnancy and three t imes after Karim's birth. At the end of each sess ion , she would ask me, "What would make your life more satisfying?" Without the pressure of having to defend my husband, or my decision to try and work things out from inside the marriage, I was freed to reestabl ish connections with reality rather than sink further into the surreal environment I had come to accept a s my due. I entered a place where I could look in again at my life and take ownership of my feel ings about it. I was empowered to see the part I played in sustaining the 56 relationship. T h e space and respect Col leen gave to me, rekindled my conf idence as an individual capab le of making informed decisions, and al lowed me to reconnect with my responsibi l it ies a s a mother. O n e of my biggest fears was that the cyc le of violence would repeat in my sons . Co l leen asked , "What do you see as your position in preventing that from happen ing? You're an early chi ldhood educator: this is your field, Christ ianne." Back in my field of expertise, I was able to re-vision my future and take steps to make it happen . Retellings * Lunch with Dr. Debra Anderson, Oreste's in Calgary — Fall 1991 W e knew each other through our work a s a consulting team helping "gifted learning d isab led" chi ldren succeed in public and private schoo ls . D e b r a gradual ly learned of my personal situation because my required court appearances necessitated explanations for my absences . I feared that I would lose credibility a s a professional because of my domestic situation. I a lso worried that Debra would lose respect for me as a friend -- she is a fiercely independent woman. Her profession, a s a psychiatrist, naturally left her cur ious about the counsel l ing I had received. One day over lunch, I found myself telling her about Col leen's approach and why it was so empowering to me. I hoped she would s e e that I was taking positive steps to ensure the safety of myself and the boys . S h e was fascinated that this counsel l ing style had brought about such empowerment -- a resolve to change that was unusual for women in my situation. S h e was so taken by what I had to say, and why I found this approach so helpful, that she asked me to record what I could remember of Col leen's quest ions and counsel l ing approach. T h e aspect of Colleen's approach that affected me most profoundly was her approach to empowerment. Without directly saying so, she encouraged me to take responsibil ity for the ways in which I reacted to my situation. S h e asked me for my own judgments without judging me herself. Her goal was to help me gain i ndependence from her as a counsellor. S h e pointed to my strengths, rather than my weaknesses : instead of chastising me for taking the abuse, she would tell me, "You are strong for making it through this week." Others , who prescr ibed a course of action for me, either made me feel defens ive or contributed to my feel ings of guilt, and in the end only made it harder for me to leave. Her approach was not to tell me what I had to do, but to help me define what w a s right for me, and this kept me in touch with reality. * Lunch with a sessional instructor colleague, University of British Columbia -Spring 1992 Th i s was a difficult meeting, partly because I was so unprepared for the direction it took, and partly because I let myself become defensive . My 57 co l league had set up the meeting to thank me for teaching a c l a s s of hers and to plan future l iaisons. Th is instructor seemed truly appreciative of my knowledge regarding literary theming in early chi ldhood programmes and was anxious to explore other opportunities for us to share expertise. A s the d iscuss ion turned more to personal chit-chat, I had difficulty shaking the polite references to my "husband." Finally, I explained that I was on my own with the chi ldren, and she exclaimed, "Oh I'm so sorry!" I hastened to explain that things were improving and she need not feel sorry. Before I knew it, I was telling this lady more than I intended. However, I snapped to attention when she uttered, "I just can't understand a woman like you taking it?" O ld defenses regarding stereotypes of the abused woman overwhelmed me. I exper ienced resentment for the position in which I found myself. I also s ensed a marked change in the way this woman perceived me and what I might have to offer. Coincidental ly or otherwise, no further d iscuss ion of future c l a s s e s I might teach took place. I was angry and hurt by what I sensed was a condescending attitude, and felt an irresistible urge to shame her into realising her own ignorance and insensitivity. I dec ided to descr ibe how an insightful individual might dea l with the s a m e topic. I went on to relate my experience with Co l leen Stainton, but the impact of my story was lost because through temporary co l lapse of self-confidence, I had neglected to show compass ion for my listener. I had much time later to ana lyse how pride had got the better of me and how much self repair I still had to do. A s a pedagogue, I knew it was my responsibility to contextual ise my learning so that others might find links to understanding. I first had to c ome to terms with my own feel ing of shame, before others would be able to see past it. * Speaking with Margot about Death - Spring 1996 Margot and I were graduate students in the field of early chi ldhood education, both conducting research on controversial topics. W e worked together in the library of the Chi ld Study Centre, and Margot c a m e to refer to me a s her storytelling mentor. S h e originally approached me with concerns about the introduction of sensitive themes, such as death, in the early chi ldhood c l assroom . I responded by pulling out my materials around the theme of "Finding Life in Death ." W e had many extended d iscuss ions regarding the appropr iateness of using lived exper iences to put stories in context. Her own mother had recently died, and I remember her insecurities about using her persona l exper iences of death as a point from which to open d iscuss ion . I pers isted in cajoling her to integrate her lived experience in her teaching . Upon rereading Margot's thesis and once again engaging with her intense inner wranglings, I am reminded that while I deal with many so-cal led sensit ive issues, I have only just recently been able to address the issue of domest ic v io lence with children in the c lassroom. I thought of Co l leen and her faith in my 58 ability to steer my own path. I seem to have set as ide misp laced emot ions of shame and can finally repay her investment in me by investing in others. Together we knock down stereotypes and build understanding. * Chatting with my friend, Dunbar Community Centre - Winter, 1998 A friend at work w a s lamenting about her girlfriend who was in a very abus ive relationship. S h e was frustrated in her he lp lessness because her friend wouldn't accept "leaving as the only answer." I could feel her fear and intense pain at having to stand by and watch her friend "self-destruct" in her indecis ion . A n d then, after all these years, I felt the pain of those who had to stand by, watching me. I passed on what I had learned from Col leen, but this t ime I internal ised her words and made them my own. To Those Who Love Me Don't feel sorry forme.... I think I can understand how you must feel then again, maybe it is impossible to feel another's pain I know you love me and ache to put your protective cloak around me to make it all go away. I know you feel help less just standing by I understand your need to feel you tried, but I need to do this myself I need to know that I can do it, to find strength in my choice, know that I'm strong enough to break the cycle that I deny exists You can help by showing your trust in my abilities Don't feel sorry for me.... I use so much energy defending him, our marriage, and cultural misunderstandings there is little left to entertain other perspectives. He once levied I would help the drug addict or alcohol ic -"Why can't you help me?" H e said the high from the adrenal ine re lease of v io lence was just another addiction. I never had the nerve to say I could not help as long as I was part of the cycle . Oh , how I fought the syndrome label, 59 the suffocation felt in being pigeon-holed, a woman blindly defending her man through a veil of bruises. You can help by giving me space to see Don't feel sorry for me.... I can't stand the pity, I am not a helpless victim. If I let myself think that way I will fail to gather the strength I need to get out Yes , things are tight and I often worry how I'll hold things together, but what of those who do not have the supports I d o ? How do they get up each day? You hate that I give when others seem more able, but the boys and I are rich in ways that really count and we need to share such wealth You can help by letting me give instead of always owing to others Don't feel sorry for me.... W h e n you leave, I cry tears that refuse to slow it's so hard to do it on my own, but if I hide inside your protective arms I'll never last the pleas to come back, once I'm out I must take ownership for my decis ion He will know if I was coerced and lever the thin edge of the wedge Both he and I must know that I alone make my decis ion that I remember the love even as I choose safety Now that I have children of my own, I think I can understand how you feel / don't know if I could do what I ask you to do * Personal Journal Entry -- May 11th, 1998 "Thesis" was on Jamil's spelling list today. It was one of his 10 "student - choice" words, to be matched by the teacher's 10. The impact of my doctoral work on • my boys is huge! When I pick them up after a day at the computer, they spill out 60 all their school concerns. Then, they turn their attention to me and always ask the same question. "Did you write any of your stories today, Mom ?" Both boys love to have me read from the computer the very tales they were suckled on. Well, last night was different -- Jamil saw three new files on the computer (The Moth - Poem, Don't Feel Sorry - Poem, and Book Talk - Poem) and asked me to read them to him. Karim had already fallen asleep. Jamil loved "Book Talk" because he knew the books and I've often referred to the "conversations" of my library. He was troubled that he couldn't remember Emily and wouldn't stop until I dug out the book for him. He enjoyed it on a completely new level. He laughed at "The Moth" as something so familiar in our household. His countenance was completely different when I read "Don't feel sorry for me..." and he quietly said "that one's about Daddy." I nodded, and then he asked, "What are you using these for, Mom?" Trying to flush him out, I countered, "What do you mean?" "Well, are these going in your thesis?" I could feel he was troubled about my putting in the one that referred to his father, so I waffled. "I don't know yet, maybe...maybe not..." He interjected, "Oh well, I like the 'book talk' one best - it's really neat -- just like what they do." Long ago, my children and I came to the understanding that as storytellers, our lives were open books, except for what we agree is private. In Jamil's reaction, I could see I was stepping over a line by mentioning his father. I must talk with him and explain more fully the autobiographical process -1 must show Jamil that "Don t feel sorry for me..." is about me, not his Daddy. It reflects what I've learned. Reflections: The lessons I have learned through my contact with Colleen and subsequent developments encourage me to create opportunities for children to discuss and gain understanding of the complexities inherent in victim cycles. This helps them to avoid taking judgmental stances. The impact of Colleen's counselling approach followed a progression from the direct experience of empowerment, to its gradual internalisation, and finally the ability to empower others. Her approach reinforced what I already knew: individuals need acknowledgement of their integrity and some area of personal strength if they are to turn the tide of 61 defensiveness and free themselves from reminders of their weakness. Only then can they take responsibility for their own part in whatever challenges they face. Until you see yourself as an active participant, you cannot take ownership for your own learning, or be a truly equal partner in others' learning. Pity serves only to introduce a hierarchy, when true negotiation between differing parties requires them to meet on an equal plane. I learned from Jamil that sharing personal experiences and reflections does have a cost. How can I deal with the potential for exposure and embarrassment? I must always bring balance to the characters I portray, and grant them the dignity of complexity. Storying is a responsibility, not a right. My own sons stand as a reminder to not underestimate the ability of young children to deal with complex social issues. Often, it is the adults who are uncomfortable in answering the questions that children are comfortable asking. It seems to me, that as long as children are involved in visioning possible futures of hope, they can cope with difficult subject matter and a measure of ambiguity. Despite the pain involved in making mistakes, there is much to be said for the depth of learning that derives therefrom. If this is true for adults, the curricular implications for young children cannot be ignored. LIVED EXPERIENCE FIVE My roving library speaks. Vancouver. Winter 1994 I had a lways cons idered myself an open minded, culturally sensit ive individual . It was 62 only when I d iscovered , and deliberately analysed, a phenomenon at work in my private children's library (6,000 books) that I real ised I still had work to do in claiming a g lobal perspect ive Be ing a chi ldren's book col lector for over three decades , I have deve loped an extens ive "working" children's library. (I say working because my books are used widely by teachers , chi ldren and famil ies. T h e books I collect reflect my phi losophical approach to education, and the values I live by.) A s Canad ian society began grappl ing with multiculturalism in the eighties, children's picture books depict ing characters from a variety of cultures ebbed into my library. I set as ide a "multicultural" section for these books, while the rest of my collection was categor ised into themes that mirrored my teaching curriculum interests. Th is area of my library grew so rapidly that I w a s soon subdividing it according to cultural groups. By the early nineties, I had 58 head ings including Ch inese , American-Chinese , Jew i sh , European immigrants, Cree , Dakota , Lakota, Blackfoot, and Haida. I began putting together bibl iographies on this section of my library, and giving presentations on how these books could be used to make curriculum more culturally relevant. I encouraged student teachers to think in terms of "inclusion curriculum" rather than using the more traditional isolated units depicting a particular culture. I use the term "Inclusion Curricu lum" to mean the use of a broad, encompass ing theme to connect books and d iscuss ion topics from a wide spectrum of perspectives . A n examp le might be "Persona l Cha l lenges . " Even as I espoused this approach to curriculum, I still kept my multicultural section and its subdivisions very separate from the rest of my library. L ike many Canad ians , I had been caught up in the movement that branded Canad ian multiculturalism as the creation of a mosaic or quilt rather than the melting pot of our southern neighbours. In my desire to avoid assimilatory ideas, I had in effect ghettoised my library. Even though Grandfather's Dreams by Holly Kel ler c learly be longed in my "Conservation/Preservation" section, it was kept with its As i an compatriots . Similarly, Fire on the Mountain was filed with "Ethiopian Literature" rather than under "Persona l Chal lenge." I remember having difficulty with s ome books that c rossed cultures, but I quickly solved that by setting up yet another subdivis ion for "intercultural" books. T i m e p a s s e d and I concentrated on my studies, chas ing down elusive "isms" and looking for their reflections in curriculum. My library was left to fallow and I made little effort to force categorisation on particular books that seemed to have wills of their own, in that they were never in the section they were meant to be in. In the fall of 1993, I was invited to give a presentation highlighting books appropriate for multicultural E C E programmes. A s I began to pull titles from my shelves, I w a s surprised to find many "multicultural" titles missing. Confident that I could not have lost such a large number of books, I began searching neighbouring she l ves and slowly unearthed the miss ing titles. It would seem I had unconsciously begun to view and 63 she lve my books according to story lines, rather than by cultural group represented . I found my "multicultural" books in abstract theme categories such a s "Persona l Cha l lenges , " "Little Peop le Make Big Changes ," and "Judging Others by Appearance . " A s I struggled to ana lyse this roving library, I began to see correlations between my consc ious efforts to deve lop inclusive curriculum themes and my unconsc ious "de-ghettoizing" of the multicultural section of my library. W h e n faced with the task of reshelv ing these books after the presentation, I distinctly remember a feel ing of shame that I hadn't internal ised the message of inclusion I was teaching others . I ce lebrated that no one w a s in my house while I ripped out the red coroplast div iders and finished the job of reorganization that I had unconsciously started. In the end, my "multicultural" section w a s left with books like All the Colors of the Earth by She i l a Hamanaka , Everyone Cooks Rice by Norah Dooley, and This Is The Way We Go To School by Edith Baer . Retellings * Presentation to the Parents' group at the UBC Child Study Centre- Fall of 1995. I clearly recall coming to grips with my feel ings of shame regarding the discovery of Chinatown and Little Italy in my library. It occurred to me that the sharing of this story might ring true with others as it demonstrated the lag time between academic understanding and active engagement of knowledge and beliefs. T h e first p lace that I tried out the story of my roving library was in a presentation des igned to educate parents about the literature avai lable for their preschoolers and primary-aged chi ldren. I c h o s e to talk about the sharing of literature as a spawning place from which to d i scuss i ssues of socia l concern within a family unit. W h e n referring to the difficulty involved in respecting diversity, I used my library story to demonstrate how easy it is for us to categorise according to difference: to descr ibe a person a s As i an rather than as an individual wearing a brown coat. T h e response to my story lifted feel ings of guilt and convinced me I had a powerful new teaching tool . * "Lingering with Narrative" Conference at UBC - Spring of 1996. Again , I found a p lace to tell the story of my roving library. Th i s time, I a lso spoke of the noticeably different way I had treated my First Nat ions col lection. W h e n I had dismantled my multicultural section, I left my rather large section of First Nations books intact. I explained how this mirrored my bias regarding First Nations' need for a time of separation and healing, and for self-government to cement before they could negotiate equally with the nation of Canada . I learned from my studies in post-colonialism and aboriginal anti- languages that I was one of the people who, through my counteract oppress ion , was over-compensat ing and in doing so, inflicting another kind of oppress ion (Hayward, 95). Through children's picture books such as A Coyote Columbus Story by 64 T h o m a s King, Onkwehonwe-Neha by Sylv ia Maracle , The Ghost Dance by Al ice McLerran , We Are All Related by George Littlechild, In Honour Of Our Grandmothers by Re i s a Smi ley Schne ider and Garry Gottfriedson, Stories of the Road Allowance People by Mar ia Campbel l , and many many others, I c a m e to appreciate that my well-intentioned attempts to overcompensate for cultural m istakes of the past were impeding a powerful force of res istance and revisionist writing. The cultural mutilations of the past are still manifest in First Nations' culture today. Miss ionar ies stole their religion, politicians stole their land, and residential schoo ls stole their language. Education b e c a m e the weapon used to force assimilation, yet aboriginal peoples have survived as distinct cultures. First Nations mastered resistance, and through its d iverse forms, eventual ly overpowered colonial intentions (Call iou, 1992; Archiba ld , 1992, 1993). T h e message that over-compensation carried with it smothering and stagnation was one I had learned years earlier with relation to spec ia l needs chi ldren, yet somehow it had eluded me until now in this context. Gradual ly , my First Nations books a lso found new homes accord ing to story-line rather than culture. * Presentation on Global Curriculum as created through my pilot programme at the UBC Child Study Centre, Spring of 1997. At the 1997 B C Early Chi ldhood Education Conference, I made a presentation titled "Moving Toward Global Curriculum." A s part of this presentation, I told the story of my roving library. Th is time, I was able to stand back even further and reflect on the exodus of books from my Specia l Needs section to other she l ves in my library. "Book migration" had affected all areas of my col lection that were grouped according to diversity characteristics. W h e n I was preparing the bibliography for this sess ion , I exper ienced more frustration than usual . Th i s stemmed from having to either ass ign books that fit severa l themes to one particular category, or further lengthen the document with cross-references . I felt compel led to offer an apology, explaining that the list of books and the way they were arranged was appropriate only to that day's presentation . T h e document and the list of books would change on another day, depend ing on my subconsc ious thinking and the subsequent movements of my library. I a lso expla ined my observation that in accepting generative curriculum in my teaching, and through encouraging the tolerance of ambiguity a s part of the learning process , I a lso had gained a comfort level with the roving nature of my library. In the past, I had envisioned cataloging my books when time permitted, and a lways carried a certain sense that the col lection lacked credibil ity without a formal catalog. I now real ized that I couldn't teach the way I do, or work as tightly with my library as I do, if it were organized in a static way. I say this because I learn so much from the reflections I make regarding the movements 65 of my books . By articulating this subconsc ious process, I was able to find new ways to link books in the c lassroom and share these links with my students. * Children in Dunbar Storytelling Class, Spring of 1998. I was telling stories around the theme "For every action there is a consequence . " T h e storytelling format is for me to use four or five picture books to deve lop a theme. Whenever I use the story, Miss Rumphius, I ba lance it with The Story of Rosy Dock, The Queen Who Had Bees In Her Hair, and The Ladybug Garden. W h e n preparing to do the c lass, I was unable to locate my copy of The Ladybug Garden, but I decided to tell the story anyway. J e n n y asked why I didn't bring the book, and I explained that I couldn't find it in the section of my library I thought it would be in, and didn't have enough time to find out which book it was chatting with. In response to the puzz led look on her face , I descr ibed a library of books that get up from one set of fr iends and move on to chat with another set that they may have other things in common with (sometimes they even mingle with books just to get in an argument). O n e little boy, who was particularly attentive during the telling, c ame up afterwards and asked me, "Is that true? How do you know they really walk -- have you seen them?" I sa id to him, "I haven't actually seen them, but I bel ieve in many things that I can't see -- like love. All I know is that I don't remember moving the books, and they're not where I put them." Book Talk I know someone e lse who suffered the taunts of others, you remind me of her. Who? Emily, the recluse I was talking about the other night the one who writes poetry on scraps of paper. You should go visit her, she'd learn a lot from you and your poetry might improve. I doubt that, but where does she live anyway? You have to go down to "Friendships C a n be Difficult" and just hang out. S h e doesn't open her covers easily, but her little friend who lives across the street loves company . Heh , Rose , remember that old lady who abuses her dead husband's c a t ? You'd have thought no animal could forgive what he went through true blue he was, true blue. No I don't, but I did go see that old dancing bear poor thing! Next Door, the Hutterite Colony was all abuzz, 66 English teacher sprung a trap, freeing an old coyote. Elders don't know what to do punish or praise the boy -trapping's not against their ways. Coyote saved by a human ! ! She'll lose her nose laughing so hard. Speaking of Coyote, did you hear all the commotion down in the "Human Conflict" section? N O o o o ? ! Ghost Dance was flapping about some scraps of paper disappearing from inside his front cover. (Personally speaking, I've never had rags inside my covers, don't know what all the fuss is about -Aida strutting by with tattered ends showing beneath her skirts recycled trash as far as I'm concerned.) You shouldn't talk like that --those bits of paper are just like books with real stories, and some of us get real c lose to them. Anyway, every book on the shelf was being interrogated for those bits of paper Guess who? Coyote ! W h y ? Oh, she's been out for attention ever since the Columbus screw-up. Well, there you have it, Anise, we saved the salmon and a little of ourselves on that hot summer night in the middle of Coney Island. Wow, my kind of story, making magic happen in real life, breaking the rules, people who haven't died inside. You know it sort of reminds me of Pearl --now, there's a woman who ain't the least bit frightened by rules. Who's Pearl, is she down your end? I've never ventured west of "Personal Challenge and Growth." Oh, she hangs out with the green people, although I saw her out this way last year chatting to that poor trainer of the elephants the ones starved to death in J a p a n during the war. 67 Oh I know the chap you mean, very sad really. Have you ever looked at the back of his cover? I can't believe that someone of Japanese heritage would actually "tell all" like that!! I don't know, makes his tale stronger, don't you think? C o m e on ,1'H take you and my little friend C indy here over to s e e Pear l . I feel like some of that homemade lemonade she makes . I don't think we've been introduced. O h sorry, Cindy's from "Pets Have Rights Too" She's been putting pen to paper to change the way people treat animals. You know - the power of literacy. Now, I want her to meet the power of women . Pearl is a woman who knows her bottom line, and is not afraid to act on it! ! Sometimes I don't understand the Big Mama! She's moved poor little Louise back to "Human Conflict" again, don't she know the girl's tight with Fritha? Who's Fritha? Fritha and her beloved Rhayader forever confined to "Finding Life in Death"? Why do you think the Big M a m a moves them when she is so free and easy with the rest of u s? She's stuck in a rut, thinking only of Louise's father. She likes that sentimental stuff -Churchill's speech, the Dunkirk evacuation. She gets to thinking war and back Louise goes to "Human Conflict." On Louise's part, no one's got the time o'day for her accounts of what she saw. The village folk and soldiers too say "no girl crossed the channel with Stuka's in the air!" On the other hand, it's just what Fritha wants to hear she's powerful tired of listening to folk mourning, mourning, moaning. She needs to talk of love with someone who was there. The two of them find solace in each other. M a y b e Louise could leave her cover in "Human Conflict" 68 --as a sort of "cover" ~ and carry on with Fritha over in "Finding Life in Death." Do you remember the little kitchen maid? the one in love with the gentleman of the roving e y e ? Yes, well you'll never believe it, I heard her chatting to the young widow who took a shining to Jonathan Toomey. You mean the woodcarver who lost his wife and ch i ld? Well, the maid and widow are planning a double wedding in the common outside Jonathan's shop, oooohh. . . You haven't heard it all! Jessie, the child the rabbi treated as his prodigy, who took his place in the new world? Well, she's going to marry them! Both couples! No Way. . . now, that's news! Breaks with tradition, impossible, I don't believe you ! Well, I've seen a lot of rules broken up here! Tradition - where does it start? where does it end? I guess they're starting a new tradition of their own, and I, for one, am going to be there to witness it. Oh, oh the big mama is waking up hold your p laces everyone ! I do wish she'd follow the age-old rule - turning out the lights at night. As someone who pontificates about the environment, you'd think she'd be more concerned about saving energy. Oh, I don't know -I quite like being able to visit in the light, sure beats the bookstore I was in last month. There , the pesky workers seem to have nothing better to do than break up friendships all day long. I think we have it good here ! 69 Talk ing Books include: Aida by Leontyne Price, The Catfish Palace by Haze l Hutchins, A Coyote Columbus Story by Thomas King, The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by S u s a n Wojciechowski , Eleanor by Barbara Cooney , Emily by Michae l Bedard , Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya , The Ghost Dance by Al ice McLerran , The Goodman of Ballengiech by Laszlo Ga l , The Gentleman and the Kitchen Maid by Diane Stanley, The Little Ships by Louise Borden, Mr. Bear and the Bear by F rances Thomas , Coyote Winter by Jacque l ine White, Pearl Moscowitz's Last Stand by Arthur Levine, Salmon Moon by Mark Karlins, The Stone Dancers by Nora Martin, The Snow Goose by Pau l Gal l ico, The Tunnel by Anthony Browne, The Very Best of Friends by Margaret Wild, and When Jessie Came Across the Sea by A m y Hest. Reflections: "Hearing" my books talk in the above poem validates my rationale to avoid static catalogue referencing. Being able to tolerate fluidity in my library opens exciting possibilities for re-visioning themes of social influence. Accepting my library as being in a constant state of flux helps me to appreciate the value of fluidity in the creation of curriculum. I liken listening to the teachings of my library to listening to the teachings of my students. LIVING EXPERIENCE SIX Inviting curriculum into mv home. Global Issues Summer Programme. UBC Child Study Centre -- Summer 1996 (I give a detailed description of this programme in Chapter 4: Nurturing Global Perspectives in the Classroom.) In the following account, the lived exper iences evolved in the process of developing curriculum rather than as independent daily life events which one later reflects on in order to draw connect ions to curriculum. It was because I had to create curriculum about themes that I had little personal knowledge of, that I was forced to gather relevant lived exper iences . 70 In an effort to ba lance the "human conflict" and "oppressor" themes in the programme with c o n c e r n s about Mother Earth, I dec ided to develop two sub-units: "conservation/ preservation" and "pollution and recycling." It was important to me that I c h o s e i ssues that would raise controversy in c l a ss d iscussions . I would have an excel lent literature base for both subjects if I col lected a few more materials presenting perspect ives from the forestry s ide. Although my two boys and I col lected many exper iences a s we created curriculum, two stand out as particularly relevant: our adventure in the C a r m a n a h Va l ley and the power of the pen in deal ing with a large corporation . I. Carmanah Valley: S o m e people might think I was crazy to take two little boys, 7 and 8 years old, subs istence camping for four days in the Carmanah Val ley. After reading the Carmanah - Artistic Visions of an Ancient Rainforest, publ ished by the Western Wi lderness Committee, the three of us were bound and determined to s e e Randy Stoltmann's "Carmanah Giant," the tallest known spruce in the world. R a i s e d a camper, I felt confident I could handle this adventure. Before I could teach about conserv ing watersheds and old growth forests, I needed to understand what was being protected. I was in for a small awakening in that the rainforests of British Co l umb ia are quite different from the boreal forests of my chi ldhood. T h e c lear-cuts on the way into the Carmanah helped to conjure an image of the logger a s a big bad guy in the minds of my boys. A s a bibliophile and user of wood, I felt uncomfortable letting this image stand unchecked. W e needed to ba lance our G r e e n p e a c e feel ings with perspectives from the forest management s ide . I s e i zed the bull by the horns and drove straight into a MacMi l lan Bloedel logging c a m p about 25 minutes from the Carmanah . I doubt that a nuclear reactor plant has a s many security measures as one of these camps . A truck beetled over to us a s soon a s I stepped under the entrance gate. Luckily, the driver was an older gentleman interested in chi ldren and ready to take a couple of hours to answer our questions. He was a non-union logger who had enough silver whiskers that he could tell stories of the change in the industry over the last three decades . He certainly had the interest of my two boys. Both boys were particularly impressed by a large sign announcing that the c amp had ach ieved 5 accident free days . Our logger friend talked of the old days when three va l leys over, they often had records of 60 days and higher. I could s e e Karim's image of a ruthless monster raping the forest shape-shift into a somewhat smal ler Pau l Bunyan figure with a bandage on his head . Our friend also expla ined s ome of the difficulties in contemporary forestry, and stood Karim against a tower of code books . They measured over h is head and we all marvel led at how comp lex the industry must be. W e left with substantial reading material, a R E A L map identifying all the logging roads, a few funny stories and a more friendly image of loggers. After six hours of hiking down into the Carmanah , it was nearly five and a lready getting dark, s ince the density of the forest occ ludes late evening rays of sun . I had five feet with bl isters and only four bandaids. Both boys were wet, we were in a rainforest after all, and I had to make camp on a gravel bar bordering the creek, with no fire. W e had 71 not seen anyone (and no chi ldren whatsoever), s ince Ten Person Hol low T r e e two hours back, and the towering sitka spruce c losed in around us. At the trai lhead, we had s e e n a bear warning and I was faced with somehow caching our food 10 feet up with trees that had no lower branches . That night, we cheated and lit a meta l-encased cand le ins ide the tent until the boys fell as leep . T h e trail to the Carmanah giant had been c losed because of loss of human life and the des ire to protect the tree. When we had come in, we d iscussed breaking our own trail and whether this was wise or not. After we lived and conversed with those old trees for two more days, our decis ion not to go to the Carmanah Giant was based more on the need to protect the tree itself, than on the inaccessibil ity of the trail. W e could love it without see ing it - we cou ld love its story. Th is was a very powerful real isation, that would provide an excel lent seeding for the global i ssues programme at the Chi ld Study Centre . W h e n it c a m e to choosing projects to support with the money the chi ldren ra ised in a "conservation fair," the c lass sponsored two Doug las Fir trees and donated $ 4 0 for trail making, so that people could find out what they were working to save . T h e y also donated $40 to the Seymour Demonstration Forest, to support research on respons ib le forest management. A good ba lance ! 2. The Power of the Pen What started as curriculum preparation for this global i ssues programme ended up becoming our life. I w a s compel led to confront i ssues of recycl ing that had long been put as ide because of time and money constraints. I felt a responsibil ity to "walk the talk" that was circulating in the class, but the reality was that recyc led toilet paper cost more that the regular kind and checking packaging for the right recycle logos was t ime-consuming . F ie ld trips to the recycling depot and landfill cemented a family commitment to create only one bag of garbage a week. W e built a homemade composter and learned to a c c e s s the appropriate personnel to follow-up on the use of items recyc led . W e learned that the rethink part of the recycl ing motto (reduce, reuse, recycle and rethink) was the most difficult to incorporate into fast paced living. B e c a u s e I w a s motivated to teach my children, I did things I wouldn't normal ly do, l ike ask to speak with the manager at Safeway . I needed to purchase some ju ices for the field trip to the Seymour Demonstration Forest, but I could only find tetra-paks (non-recyclable at the time). T h e store manager was short in his manner and stated he had stopped carrying bottled juice a year ago. I remember Jamil's frustration, "Mom, why don't we get the tetra ones just this time, so we can go home." I was tired too, but if I didn't model perseverance, then I knew I would slide back down. W e found s ome bottled ju ices in a little fruit store on the way home and the next day wrote a c l a s s letter to Safeway before going on our trip. W e received a letter two weeks later, thanking the chi ldren for their concern and assuring them that bottled ju ices would be on the she l ves the following week. T h e power of literacy was understood in a most tangible way ! 72 Retellings * Evening Presentation to Southlands Elementary School, Vancouver -- 1996 T h e topic w a s "Family Story Sessions: A Socialising Process" and I had prepared a list of books that spark d iscuss ion of contemporary socia l i ssues . I ta lked about the difficulty schools face in covering the diversity of i ssues today's chi ldren will need to negotiate and live with. Construct ing opportunities for fami l ies to engage difficult subjects through select children's literature was the theme of the address . I emphas ised the importance of building in hope when d iscuss ing difficult i ssues with their chi ldren. Th i s w a s done through visioning and exploring routes for efficacy as a family. I a lso underscored the importance of parents modelling the kind of problem solving and critical thinking skil ls we want to encourage. I told the above two stories to illustrate these messages . Whi le I w a s putting away the books I had brought, one of the schoo l staff c a m e up and said that my presentation had rung true with her in a different way. A s a teacher, she had fought the first 15 years of her career to keep her private life separate from her teaching and to leave her c lassroom in the schoo l . If required, she would stay late rather than take things home. S h e sa id that through c ircumstances similar to those I had descr ibed, she was faced with teaching something about which she had little resource material . By develop ing curriculum at home, she was able to invigorate a lacklustre domest ic life and actually got an energy boost at schoo l . * My Son, Karim, Internalises Lessons from a Global Summer Programme at the Child Study Centre, Vancouver —Winter 1998 I was at a weak point, hating the whole lunch-making ritual when a coupon for Lunchmates , a ready made lunch marketed by Schne iders , turned up in my house . I bought four packages as a treat for my boys and as two lunch-making -free mornings for myself. I did so without examining the packaging, a s had become a family practice. My son, Karim, c ame home from schoo l excla iming how much he loved his beef taco Lunchmate, and then in a quieter voice, a sked if I had noticed that the packaging was not recyclable. Recal l ing the letter about bottled juice, Karim said he would write a letter if he cou ld use the new writing programme on the computer. A family friend helped him organ ise his ideas for the following letter: 73 D e a r S i r or M a d a m e , I a m n ine y e a r s o l d a n d I really like y o u r L u n c h M a t e T a c o s a n d p i z z a . M y brother a n d I eat them o n c e a w e e k for a treat. W e want to k e e p o n b u y i n g a n d ea t ing y o u r p r o d u c t s . T h e p r o b l e m is y o u r p a c k a g e s a r e not recyc lab le a n d w e fee l guilty e a t i n g t h e m . A l s o w e h a v e to b e g our m o m to get them, b e c a u s e s h e ' s pretty f u s s y a b o u t recyc l ing . S h e s a y s s h e will b u y t h e m for another eight w e e k s a n d t h e n if w e h a v e no n e w s about possibi l i t ies for recyc l ing , w e don't get a n y m o r e l u n c h M a t e s . P l e a s e he lp u s b e c a u s e both m y brother a n d I love y o u r b e e f t a c o s . Y o u r s s incere ly , K a r i m H a y w a r d - K a b a n i P S I wrote this letter before I r e a d a b o u t your terrible p r o b l e m with f o o d p o i s o n i n g . I'm sor ry for all the t roubles y o u h a v e , but I think it w a s really g o o d of y o u r c o m p a n y to take the p r o d u c t s of the s h e l v e s b e f o r e y o u w e r e a s k e d to. I h o p e y o u sort things out s o o n a n d that while y o u s o l v e the c h e e s e p r o b l e m y o u c a n a l s o think a b o u t r e c y c l a b l e p a c k a g i n g . After six months of waiting, Karim had yet to receive a response, and mai led a second copy in c a se his first letter was misplaced or lost in the mail. Reflections: These experiences indicate to me, that as an educator, my comfort level with difficult subjects can be immeasurably enhanced through first hand experience. Educational systems might consider facilitating such 74 experiences through existing professional development programmes. Controversial issues have at least two sides to them and even if it is difficult or politically incorrect, curriculum must allow for balanced presentation of differing perspectives. Students deserve access to the tools they need to make informed decisions. Readiness of the MacMillan Bloedel logger to spend some time with my boys, begs the question of whether or not educators might make better use of guest speakers to present issues with which they themselves may not be comfortable. Presenting children with what sometimes may be opposing viewpoints, can lead to student inertia and frustration. It is not enough to merely open a can of worms, educators and their students need to work together to vision and revision responses to the issues raised. Karim's letter to Schneiders causes me to reflect on other ways I might have guided him. Would the response of Schneiders have been different if Karim had taken his letter to school to be signed by all of his classmates? Would the response have been different if I had called to get the name of the company president and his address? What if he had sent a copy of his correspondence to the editor of a local paper? Concluding Remarks T h e process of synthesiz ing previous lived exper iences with my present approaches to curriculum reinforced specific characteristics of the lens I call global/diversity curriculum. I didn't appreciate at the time how effective this process would be. In 75 reflecting on what I have written, I see this journey has helped me real ize that in order to engage respectful ly with others, I must first take responsibility for my own learning and behaviour. Only then can I model the values and principles that underpin my teach ing . It is the difficult exper iences in life that galvanise learning and cha l lenge us to s e e the broader implications for other aspects of our lives. Through storying and books, I have attempted to create situations that expose children to sensitive i ssues and provide them with the opportunity to get muddy in exploring oppos ing perspect ives . Soc ia l ly and culturally relevant contexts can ensure that these v icarious exper iences help them approach new situations respectfully and sensitively, but with a sense of their own agency . My intuitive understanding of curriculum through lived exper iences was severa l years ahead of my grounding in academic theories. In my doctoral studies, I was search ing for synthes is between intuitive knowledge and intellectual understanding. It is this juxtaposition that I will address in the next chapter. 76 3 Imaging a Global /Diversity Perspective Experimenting with Landscape Architecture "There is no longer one right answer to any question worth asking." Pearson & Stephens, 1998 If a narrative account is to contribute anything worthwhile to curriculum d iscourse , it must be situated within a broader context of educational phi losophy and instruction. L ines of applicabil ity to theory and practice need to be establ ished between persona l exper ience and academic discipl ine. A n attempt at establ ishing re levance is to locate my narrative within the fields of tension existing within contemporary curriculum scholarship . T h e s e fie lds of tension are created by opposing viewpoints and phi losophies that permeate the discipline of curriculum development and instruction. My formal study of curriculum and instruction at the University of British Co l umb ia led me through a ser ies of dialectical tensions. I began to explore the var ious d i scourses that had been tugging for my al legiance -- First Nations education, feminism, post-modern ism, post-colonial ism, multiculturalism, interculturalism, and anti-racism. In so doing, I began a convoluted journey that would eventually il luminate connect ions between my experiential knowledge and discourse in the contemporary field of curriculum and instruction. In an effort to assist the reader, I have included a simple v isual representation of that journey on the following page. 77 A n Academic's Search for an Inclusive Approach to Curriculum Studied Culturally Relevant First Nations Curriculum Explored Contemporary Curriculum Discourses Multicultural Anti-Bias Post-Modem Post Colonial 4 Phenomenologcal, Anthropological Feminist* X Identified Key Dialectics in Contemporary Curriculum Discourse Oppressor/ Separatism/ Infusion/ ^Generalist/ Oppressed Pluralism Inclusion Specialist Advocacy/ Conflict/ Neutrality Consensus Broadened Understanding of Unequal Power Relations in Diverse Society G Visioned Global Diversity Perspective J 1 Dive Internalised Global i rsity Perspective Personal Philosophy Guide to Curriculum Development Lived Experience 78 Studying Curriculum and Instruction through First Nations Issues My initial approach to the academic study of Curriculum and Instruction w a s to explore ways of making curriculum more social ly and culturally relevant. Respond ing to adv ice that my study would best be served with a tighter focus, I dec ided to narrow my research to culturally relevant curriculum for First Nations chi ldren. I had worked with Cree , Blackfoot, Siks ika , and Pe igan peoples in Alberta . Most recently, I had given a presentation on early literacy at a First Nations Educat ion conference in Brock, Alberta (1991). There, I felt the frustration First Nations educators had with a system that not only did not meet their needs, but was actually harming their chi ldren. I was sobered by a pervasive sense of anger and betrayal exhibited by these teachers over inappropriate curriculum content and materials. T h e y emphas i zed the need to engage communit ies in the act of creating those meanings and va lues they wanted to be presented in the education of their chi ldren. Tightening my research focus to examine culturally relevant curriculum for First nations chi ldren s e e m e d a good fit. I bel ieved that my background experience working with Native people, my extensive col lection of First Nations literature and my interest in early literacy behav iours would leave me well positioned to work with First Nations communit ies in develop ing culturally relevant curriculum. In my desire to effect change, which I perce ived a s positive, I v isual ised myself as a researcher/facilitator without an agenda . At the s ame time I was attending a doctoral seminar in which c lassroom participants were cha l lenged to uncover their hidden agendas . Reflecting on what might be mine, I was forced to confront my interest in getting a PhD. I would get the acco l ades and prestige derived from helping these people, which would further contribute to my image as an 79 expert. I rational ised that the First Nations community I would work with would benefit by receiving a l iteracy curriculum organic to their community. In recal l ing Freire's analysis of the "helper" relationship, I real ise I was caught in the "expert-recipient" cycle, which put me in a position of advantage over those I w a s working with. Fair negotiation c o m e s of equal opportunity to participate in d ia logue and reciprocity within the relationship. I am reminded of Verna Kirkness' (Director of First Nat ions House of Learning) suggestion, early in my programme, that I enroll my own 2 chi ldren in the First Nations school with which I would work/research. In this way, I would be getting something out of the system that I was contributing to. Slowly, I began to internalise the ideological foundations of First Nations control over First Nat ions education, and I was forced to reflect on the appropr iateness of Euro-heritage individuals doing First Nations research . I dec ided to d i scuss my concerns with my department head and ask what he knew of mutually successfu l col laborative research models . At the time, he questioned whether Euro-heritage individuals should implement a moratorium on research in First Nations education. My ideal ism impeded my hearing his message or querying the assumptions beneath his advice . He felt that a moratorium would give the time needed for healing and revisioning, without premature intervention. My view was that it wasn't fair to children currently in the system to have to go through a period of waiting which would further al ienate them from an impaired education system. I also felt my good intentions could be a catalyst in the healing process . What I did not appreciate was that First Nations needed a complete break to d issoc iate their thinking from European hegemonic structures and ideologies . T h e y needed time to heal, regroup, and revision a way to transmit their own morals and va lues to their children. Th is was the same space and time that 80 Co l leen Stainton knew I needed in order to reframe my own life of abuse from a position of strength. Only when I had had time to regroup and revision, was I able to identify what help would best address my needs and those of my chi ldren. My ideal ism led me to think I could offer sensitive help in an area greatly d isadvantaged . Just the fact that I was thinking in terms of First Nations a s d isadvantaged led to two problems: looking through deficit eyes c au sed me to miss out on strength of resistance and prevented me from treating First Nations a s equal . I would easi ly get caught "doing for" rather than "listening to," wanting to make things better, but lacking true respect. Despite my good intentions, I w a s thinking more in product terms than about process . I was thinking in terms of adapting an establ ished system rather than giving First Nations people the space and time to create something new that would reflect their own values, perspectives, and beliefs about education . I c a m e to real ise that the crux of the problem lay in the imposition of my own cultural va lues on a journey that was not my own. Although my plan had been to act a s a "facilitator" rather than "director," I increasingly saw even this role as interventionist. Also , at this time, I w a s reading The Book of Jessica: A Theoretical Transformation about a painful col laborative piece of work between Mar ia Campbel l , Met is activist and author, and L inda Griffiths, Euro-heritage actress and playwright. T h e reader is thrown into some of the most explosive issues facing First Nations and non-natives today and cannot fail to s e e that the authors are trying to heal a wound sooner than is poss ib le . Mar i a Campbe l l stated decis ively in her interview with Hartmut Lutz: I don't need to read books written by white people about my people that show me a s being oppressed and poor and colonised. I know that, and I can talk about that. It might take me a while, but I can do it, thank you. If you really are my friend, then get out of the road and let me do it. A n d if it takes 2 0 years, it will take 20 years. W e will tell our own story. (Contemporary Challenges, p. 60) 81 Campbel l 's words struck home for me. Even though I felt the urgency of chi ldren presently in need, it was not my place to change priorities and rush time l ines within another culture. Whi le I might discern a need for culturally appropriate curriculum material , it w a s not up to me to define either the problem or its solution. My place in the process was "to get out of the road" so First Nations teachers (contemporary and traditional), students and famil ies could do the hard work of reflecting, heal ing, revisioning, and finally, problem solving. Trying to facilitate this process w a s at best misguided, and at worst, presumptuous. Th is doesn't mean turning my back, just stepping as ide . I could be ready to work collaboratively when the time w a s right, but at this point, First Nations must take whatever time they need. When a man does what needs to be done, he does not know the meaning of time. -Chief Dan George Appreciat ing that my original study plans would leave me "teaching and research ing on stolen ground" (Calhoon, 1997), perhaps I was better to follow Mar ia Campbel l 's suggest ion to Hartmut Lutz when he asked what non-native people could do regarding native oral and written literatures. S h e said that "border workers" with privi lege in the "mainstream" educational community could work to promote First Nations storytel lers and literature by First Nations authors in a sensitive and inclusive manner. With a recent surge of children's literature by First Nation authors, this would be eas ier to do now, than it has been previously. My study moved from a specific First Nations focus to a generic need to understand unequal power relations and how these are, or are not, presented in the c l assroom . T h e reader may question why after investing three years of study in First nations literature and education issues, I would take a "leave of absence" from something that has influenced me so profoundly. Had I not made this initial investment, I doubt that 82 the insights I have achieved could have occurred. I also feel in a better position to ask the kinds of quest ions that need to be asked . Listen and Observe I went to the First Nations community and offered my help They responded: "but you don't know the issues" I countered "please teach me, I want to learn" They said, "listen and observe" After listening and watching I learned that my education would unravel as a story without end. What seemed succinct and graspab le before, is now every bit as convoluted and fluid a s other communit ies How can I reciprocate the investment of my teachers? I cannot teach what is clearly theirs to teach I can tell my story to help break down hegemonic barriers that keep others from hearing First Nations vo ices Exploring Contemporary Curriculum Discourses and Identifying Key Dialectics A s I wrest led with quest ions of relevance and privilege, I tried in practical terms to v isua l ise "what inclusive would curriculum look like, and how it would be implemented 83 and maintained." I began in earnest to explore the "isms" and the "posts" of contemporary scholarship and was, in turn, excited and disi l lusioned. T h e cha l lenge to try to unlock a new code word, was a lways a thrill, fol lowed by the sense of col legia ! belonging, and ultimately, the disappointment in discovering limitations and exc lus ionary terminology. A s Dewey (1938) said, .. .in spite of itself any movement that thinks and acts in terms of an 'ism' b e c o m e s so involved in reaction against other 'isms' that it is unwittingly control led by them. For it then forms its principles by reaction against them instead of by a comprehensive, constructive survey of actual needs, problems, and possibil ities (p.6). T h e var ious curricular d iscourses I studied (multicultural, anti-racist, anti-bias, post-modern , post-colonialist, phenomenological , anthropological , feminist) were all struggling with the s a m e dialectics and the implications of inherent methodologica l confl icts. My exploration of the field became an attempt to situate my exper ience within these dialectics. In the following pages, I descr ibe a little of my interaction with key d ia lect ics l ike: oppressor/oppressed, separatism/plurality, infusion/inclusion, generalist/special ist, advocacy/neutrality, and conflict/consensus. W a s there an ideological stance that would bring inclusivity to this exploration? Struggl ing to find this stance furthered my progression toward imaging a global perspective . Oppressor/Oppressed - Is there a way to break away from this insidious, self-affirming cycle? Although I had come to understand something of the oppressor / oppressed cyc le from my interaction with First Nations education, I found it to be a theme that pervaded my future learning. Oppress ion was a cycle that I wrestled with in my exploration of multiculturalism, interculturalism, feminism, anti-racism, post-colonial ism, and diversity education . All were about power relations. 84 Educat ion is never neutral. Implementing any curriculum is a political act, making the need to encourage dia logue and reciprocity between learners an essent ia l counter-ba lance (Ted Aoki , 1983). I was to rely heavily on Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed in learning to s e e how I personal ly carried out roles of both oppressor and oppressed . In particular, his demystification of "helping" relationships made c lear for me the need to break free of old cyc les of charity and to create new partnerships of reciprocal empowerment . "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house" (Lorde, 1984, p. 112). I renewed my commitment to the importance of dialogue and began to review the importance of reciprocity from a different vantage point. Take for examp le a quick note I wrote to the registration committee for a Mokakit conference on Sept . 9, 1992: T o whom it may concern ; I am a student at U B C and appreciate you making your conference affordable to students ! I would like to volunteer some time, but am not interested in having my fees waived. I'd love to help with signs, d isp lay layout, or anything artistic. I have a vehicle (not new) and would be willing to pack, carry, or just c lean up. It sounds like a wonderful conference and I am very much looking forward to the Sunr i se ceremon ies ! Yours truly, Christ ianne Hayward-Kaban i A s I reflect on this note now, I sense my unconscious message of being more equal than First Nat ions students. I say this because were this not an aboriginal conference, I most certainly would have taken advantage of the offer to waive f e e s for vo lunteers (after all, I am raising two children on my own). I felt guilty taking from a people who I saw as needing the sca les tipped to their side. What I missed was how my note could 85 sound condescend ing and how it could also be seen as marginal ising the efforts of First Nation student volunteers who had their fees waived. My well-intentioned action was actual ly based on seeing First Nations as disadvantaged, a belief that encourages deficit thinking rather than respectful thinking. I had yet to own my past - I kept trying to d istance myself from a history I didn't trust or like by giving to the d isadvantaged . If I was so concerned about giving to an organisation I be l ieved in, I might have been better to convince one of my Euro-heritage co l leagues to attend the conference . In guiding students' approaches to issues of conflict, educators must be sure that all learners, including themselves , are equal parties with equal opportunities for participation in reflective action. Mov ing away from the tradition of equating difference with deficit may be one of the most formidable chal lenges of our times, not only for deve lopmenta l psychology but also for education and other human serv ice disc ip l ines and professions. (Marfo, 1993,p.7) In the s a m e vein, it is important for educators to demystify the teacher/learner relationship and acknowledge that learning is reciprocal in order to nurture equal participation in praxis . Non-reciprocal relationships have an implicitly oppress i ve character . A r e there ways to help children exper ience reciprocal relationships and guard against cyc les of oppress ion both inside and outside the c l a s s room? Both teacher/learners would need to ana lyse personal phi losophical s tances in order to unearth ske letons that may be concea led in outward presentations (Derrida, 1982). Opportunity to face and get to know personal negativity in a non judgmental environment guards against the temptation to get rid of it by punching s omeone in the face, by s landering someone, or by repressing it altogether (Chodron, 98). Th i s hard work can be facil itated through the staging of problematised situations in the 86 c lassroom using story. In working through these di lemmas, a process to increase self knowledge, to communicate across difference, and to encourage reciprocity would evolve. T e a c h e r s can then help children develop the tools necessary to d issoc iate themse lves from hegemonic structures and to negotiate a learning path flexible to chang ing perspect ives . Wrestl ing with this dialectic made me loosen my concerns about content, a s I recognised the overriding importance of process . El lsworth (1990) and her doctoral seminar students came up with a statement that descr ibes a kind of communication across differences: If you can talk to me in ways that show you understand that your knowledge of me, the world, and 'the Right thing to do' will a lways be partial, interested, and potentially oppress ive to others, and if I can do the same, then we can work together on shaping and reshaping a l l iances for constructing c ircumstances in which students of difference can thrive (p.115). Th i s understanding that we all have only partial perspectives of an issue sets a natural buffer against oppress ive formations in the c lassroom. Separatism/Pluralism - Dilemmas and Directions O n e of the ideological problems I have struggled with regarding multiculturalism is the tendency to stash aboriginal cultures under the equal ising umbrel la of being Canad ian . Th i s umbrel la image, while being more palatable than a melting pot, did not dea l with the very different i ssues of First Nations a s opposed to immigrants and refugees . O g b u (1978, 1991) drew his readers' attention to the marked var iance between non-establ ishment cultures, not just along racial or ethnic l ines but also along the d imens ions of historical c ircumstance, demographic peculiarities, socia l mobility aspirations, and orientations and attitudes regarding perceived minority status. Immigrants c o m e with a purpose or run from oppression, but they know they c o m e to a 87 deve loped country with an establ ished government. Embod ied in "being Canad ian" is the responsibi l ity of contributing to and living in accordance with the Canad i an government and social justice system. Refugees come with a different set of i ssues because of the forced exit from their country of origin, but still acknowledge their "freedom" will be in a country with an establ ished government and social justice system. First Nations, on the other hand, had establ ished systems of government when C o l u m b u s red iscovered North Amer ica . They did not leave or reject their governments , but had another imposed upon them through colonisation . Clearly, First Nat ions i ssues don't fit under the multicultural umbrel la in the s ame way a s other cultural groups . T h e Guswentha or Two Row Wampum treaty belt provides a metaphor used by some Nations even today. It features the image of two c anoes travell ing down the s ame river, each with its own set of "neha" or gu ides for living (Skonaganleh:ra , 1994). Whi le there may be times when one pulls up bes ide the other, or one pulls the other through the rapids, they remain separate c a n o e s on the s a m e water. They share many of the same chal lenges of life, but the "neha" they each use to meet those cha l lenges may be different. First Nations have been fighting for self-government and self-education, first as their right, and now a s a way of promoting cultural heal ing, maintenance, and retention. A Declaration of First Nations W e the original peoples of this land know the Creator put us here. T h e Creator gave us the laws that govern our relationships to live in harmony with nature and mankind. T h e laws of the Creator defined our rights and responsibi l it ies. T h e Creator gave us our spiritual beliefs, our languages, our culture, and a p lace on Mother Earth which provided us with our needs . W e have maintained our freedom, our languages, and our traditions from t ime immemoria l . 88 W e continue to exerc ise the rights and fulfill the responsibi l it ies and obl igations given to us by the Creator for the land upon which we were p l aced . T h e Creator has given us the right to govern ourse lves and the right to self-determination . T h e rights and responsibil ities given to us by the Creator cannot be altered or taken away by any other Nation. -Adopted by the Joint Counci l of Ch iefs and E lders December 1980 T h e recent Nisga'a treaty settlement in British Co lumb ia al lows for a form of self-government which will allow Nisga'a control over education and socia l serv ice and taxation, but does not exc lude or d isp lace provincial and federal laws. S o m e descr ibe this a s yet another form of prejudice through segregation. I question whether we can ach ieve equal participation of First Nations at the governing negotiation table without a period of segregation, whereby First Nations can reconnect with values, beliefs, attitudes, and behav iors that shaped their cultural heritages before the damage done by residential schoo l s and government assimilation policies. Chang ing res istance energ ies back into self-governing action will take time, but it would seem necessary to build the cultural strength needed in order to negotiate fairly with establ ishment cultures. In 1995/96, I was invited to do some background research regarding Aborig ina l H e a d Start programmes and participate in the imaging work being done for a Vancouver based Aboriginal Head Start programme. Early in the planning stage it was acknowledged that the staff positions should be held by those of First Nat ions heritage. However, difficulty in setting criteria for determining First Nations heritage was the source of much d iscuss ion . Prior to getting involved with this project, I was against segregation programmes on democratic grounds. I also felt it was advantageous for all students to be in culturally and economical ly mixed groups. After attending these 89 planning meetings, it became clear to me that this programme was needed, at least temporarily, to offset the social ills suffered because of assimilation efforts by Canad i an society. Whi le I still bel ieve cultural diversity in the c l assroom is preferable, it d o e s not supersede the need to promote social justice. In order to be equal at the finish gate, you may need to give unequally to some groups along the way. T o ba lance the slate for First Nations preschoolers, these children need an earl ier start. That start should be given by the very people whose va lues and morals have been den ied to them by Canad ian society. C o o m b s (1986) descr ibes a "Socia l Multicultural Education" that s e e k s to prepare students for respons ib le cit izenship within a pluralistic society whose most fundamenta l commitment is to social justice. He maintains that the s u c c e s s of a culturally pluralistic society l ies less in the unequivocal embracing of diversity than it d o e s in each individual embracing equal rights. S o m e groups may need spec ia l i sed c i rcumstances in order to participate on equal terms with members of other groups in negotiating soc ia l justice. C o o m b s argues that a pluralistic society must assure equal opportunities, thereby, requiring institutions within that society to b e "culturally sensitive, a s opposed to culturally neutral" (p. 6). In May 1993, I attended an Early Chi ldhood Educators Conference on Multicultural ism. T h e keynote speaker, Kofi Marfo, spoke of reconstructing traditional approaches to multicultural education to support what he co ined a "national macroculture." Al l cultural groups would contribute norms and value systems to be incorporated in the national macroculture. Marfo emphas ised that "at the heart of this macroculture will be a phi losophy of valuing and celebrating diversity" (p. 17). Whi le I certainly s e e merit in celebrating diversity, I feel the heart of such a macroculture must first be the 90 embrac ing of equal rights. Appleton (1983) cautions against over- general is ing in our exuberance to honour diversity. H e descr ibes pluralism as, an ideology to free individuals from social impositions based on ethnic heritage. If adopted, it would be illegitimate to coerce individuals to g ive up their ethnic cultural traditions and life style, to discriminate against individuals who did not give them up, or conversely, to force individuals into an ethnic identification they wish to abandon. . . . T h e condition of relative equality and opportunity would entail that we do not discr iminate against individuals on the bas is of their ethnic heritage, nor do we impose any such heritage upon them (p. 63). Susta in ing a national macroculture would require much dialogue, negotiation and most importantly acknowledgement that it is a process without end . In November 1993, I attended the Fifth National Conference of Multicultural, Intercultural and R a c e Relations Education and heard the keynote address by W e n d y Grant, then Ass istant Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. Wendy held her aud ience spe l lbound with her commentary on education, race relations, and First Nat ions youth. O n e theme of her talk was to leave a lasting impression on me: "Rather than trying to reduce d ifferences under broad categories of s ameness would it not be more helpful to concentrate on building bridges or sites for intercultural connect ion?" S h e a lso used the term "intracultural" to address the many subcultures (age-elders, gender, rel igious belief, sexua l orientation, occupation, cross-cultural marriages, appearance/abil ity, etc.) within a culture and indeed within an individual. T h i s more inclusive interpretation of culture broke down some of the barriers I had c o m e to s e e between "multicultural" and "anti-bias" scholarship (Kehoe, 1984). Perhaps we could ce lebrate "connections" between and within cultures, thereby furthering the embrac ing of "equal rights" within a "macroculture." Taking my cues from Coombs , Marfo, and Grant, I felt I had an approach that cou ld 91 support separatist actions in the pursuit of social justice within a macroculture. It s e e m e d that I had found a philosophical grounding, but practical appl ication in curriculum des ign and material preparation still e luded me. I knew I would use story as my primary instrument to build connections and deconstruct wal ls of misunderstanding . Narratives help us negotiate and renegotiate connect ions within ourse lves , to those around us, and to our environment (Bruner, 1986). Yet, I still battled with whether educators were best to infuse new material into estab l ished curriculum or start over with an inclusive approach from the start. Infusion/Inclusion - Difficult Questions in Approach In the late 1980s and the 1990s, much of multicultural and anti-racist curriculum d i scourse centred on the implementation of culturally sensitive curriculum material . T h e traditional educational responsibility of schools to transmit the culture of the dominant group from one generation to another had been cha l lenged by culturally d iverse populations. Acknowledging the importance of exper ience and environment in the formative years, education systems tried to provide s ome continuity between home and schoo l that took into account the cultural reality of all learners . Educators were a sked to abandon tourist (food-costumes-customs) approaches to multicultural education , because research indicated these methods were actual ly reinforcing stereotypical perceptions (Zachariah, 1989; Schuncke , 1984). T h e words "detached," "infusion" and "inclusion" emerged to descr ibe approaches to implementing cultural diversity curriculum. A detached model would involve learning about particular cultures a s separate units of study. Unfortunately, this approach can separate cultural knowledge from other areas of curriculum for which cultural knowledge has relevance. A detached curriculum 92 study of culture subliminal ly encourages segregation through isolation of cultural knowledge into distinct units, stunting both intercultural and intracultural l inks. Ch i ldren learn "distinction" through study of separate cultures, rather than learning ways to negotiate socia l i s sues prevalent in pluralistic societies . Kofi Marfo(1993) suggests an infusion model as a strategy for cultivating cross-cultural competence where educators can "take advantage of content from across the curriculum to provide the context for addressing issues and pract ices pertaining to cultural variation" (p. 22). In this way, appropriate material can be infused into a curriculum base as appropriate. Although this approach is preferable to the detached model in that culture is recognised as an integral part of all learning, I still have difficulty with this approach, because the curriculum base into which cultural knowledge is infused is built on an Eurocentric scaffold. Marfo argues that educators must make efficient use of that which is already developed, but I wonder if we can truly appreciate diversity, when mainstream ideas form the underlying structure from which we learn. T h e image that comes to mind was a lecture in Bath, Eng land (1981) where Shir ley Hughes , a renowned author and illustrator, talked about the early attempts at multicultural children's literature where white faces were painted brown in primer reading materia ls . C h u d and Fah lman (1995) refer to an Inclusion model where diversity (cultural and otherwise) is one of the criteria incorporated in the curriculum planning process from the beginning. T h e y descr ibe diversity, "as a fundamental theme and approach within early ch i ldhood education, [and] diversity issues must be incorporated as underpinnings to all a reas of study." They continue to say that, "[r]ather than adding curriculum about diversity issues, our efforts must be directed to integrating diversity 93 i s sues throughout curriculum" (p. 14). Th is "fresh start" approach seemed to me to have the greatest chance of imparting a respect for diversity among both educators and students. Stil l , one is a lways faced with the d i lemma of which cultural groups to privi lege with representation and how to respect intracultural variations. T e a c h e r s are often overwhe lmed by the magnitude of diversity i ssues and feel i l l-equipped to des ign curriculum that is inclusive. Chr istensen (1993) underscores this observat ion : C o n c e r n has been expressed by teachers in multicultural settings about their level of preparation for the realities of multicultural c l a ssrooms (Kehoe, 1985; S a m u d a and Kong, 1986). Similar concerns have been expressed by consumers of education throughout Canada . In particular, concern has been expressed about whether: teachers are sufficiently knowledgeab le about cultural ly-based roles, expectat ions and learning sty les which affect student-teacher relationships and student progress (Buchignani , 1986); teachers hold b iased v iews and stereotypical expectat ions of different groups (Singh, 1986); historical and current contributions to C a n a d a of groups other than the British and French are recogn ised appropriately and adequately. ( p. 2) Min imis ing teacher b ias and resolving i ssues around the difficulty of finding appropriate resource materials still chal lenge educators trying to keep up with the ever increas ing demands of contemporary schools . Teacher Bias - Journal Entry - April 12th, 1995 A practice that I found useful as a beginning step in combating teacher bias was to disseminate books that I wanted to use in the classroom to individuals whose cultures were represented in the stories. I was not looking for a rubber stamp of politically correct approval, but rather for the contextualising "support stories" that would breathe life into the books I would share with my students. When I was teaching at Menisa Elementary School in Edmonton, a parent of a newly immigrated Indian family asked to speak with me privately. She quietly explained that the books I had asked her to look at, representing East Indian cultures, gave the impression that there were no Christian Indian families. This woman explained the ostracism her nuclear family had experienced from other extended family members and leaders in her community, and how the move to Canada was in hope of escaping such prejudice. Here she experienced a reverse sort of prejudice in that her outward cultural practices made her religion invisible. This woman's story made a deep impression on me and while I still do 94 not have any stories that represent Christian Indian families, I always remember to tell her story when explaining the dangers of making cultural generalisations. T e a c h e r s using "emergent" and "generative" approaches to curriculum have the flexibility to integrate relevant i ssues a s they arise. T h e s e highly interactive approaches respect students a s full partners in the teaching/learning process and thereby force a certain attention to diversity. Aoki (1993) talks about " C & C landscapes" where teacher/learners live and work in the s p a c e s between Curr icu lum a s P lanned and Curriculum a s Lived. Respons ive curriculum mode ls such a s these reduce concerns about content and concentrate more on processes that incorporate community (local and global) strengths, traditions, and knowledge as living e lements of the curriculum. A n inclusion approach to working with diversity i s sues w a s easi ly incorporated with my overall approach to curriculum development. It s e e m e d to me that in order to respond to the "curriculum as lived" by my students, I would not only have to be a good listener, but I would need to be a generalist with contacts to many specia l ists . By nature, I am a generalist, in that I am reasonably successfu l in a number of discipl ines, yet I am repeatedly told that to excel , one must specia l ise . Generalist/Specialist - Can one be a "generalist specialist"? I remember winning my grade 9 public speaking contest (at Stratford Jun ior High Schoo l in Edmonton) with a speech about how in my generation, peop le wou ld change careers at least three t imes and that "broad base" education and adaptabil ity training was still necessary in a time of heavy special isation. Twenty eight years on, I find myself singing the same tune. I have found it difficult to be a generalist in a university setting. I refer not to any one university in particular, but draw on my experience of three. In my undergraduate 95 years, I w a s told I had to choose between Early Chi ldhood Education and Spec i a l Educat ion --1 could not do both. I was likewise told to choose only one major, not the four I wanted. I s eemed to spend all my time wheeling and deal ing with the Assoc i a te Dean in order to pursue my interests. S h e repeatedly warned me "that by chas ing everything, I would do nothing well," and then would proceed, against her better judgment, to support me in my quest. Over and over, I have been counse l led to narrow my focus in graduate study and while I acknowledge that one needs to chop branches in presenting a tight argument, this is of little value if the tree cannot branch to the sun in the impossibly diverse world we live in. It must be shaped a s part of the group within the context where it must grow. That is not to say, that there haven't been attempts to weave schoo ls of thought together or that there aren't pockets of study where compatible l inks between research methods and theories are explored. It is to say, that the systems upon which the institution is administrated are reinforcing of individuality and indirectly of exclusivity. G e o r g e Posner (1989) writes: R e s e a r c h efforts should complement one another whenever poss ib le . Of course , we feel a competitive pressure to promote a particular approach to curriculum research and to denigrate others. W e get impatient with our co l leagues (competitors?) because they are not doing what we are doing. The ir work represents other value systems, and we compete against them as if we were in a marketplace. However it is doubtful that there is one "best Buy" in this enterprise (p.360). V iews on curriculum that may be compatible with each other struggle against each other as researchers battle for attention and financial support through grants and scho larsh ips . 96 Struggling for Attention and $$$ Am I guilty, too? In my quest for this degree, do I not need to prove, at least at some level, original ity? - distinct from and yet somehow connected to the field. How big is the step from originality to exclusivity? (I fear I may not meet the test) Why, why then do I struggle against all odds to get this "b lessed" degree? Sure ly it would be enough to do the learning and somehow make it fit with my view of the world? Why, the degree? S o m e rite of passage? Is there an education within the process or is it a desire to be taken serious ly? (It adds credibility in the eyes of some) Is there no way to escape the pull of this isolating cyc le? Grants, S S H R C s , tenure, promotion all play a part in promoting exclusivity in a diverse society that must promote compatibility. Is it not in the best interest of institutions to encourage the scholarship of compat ib le indiv iduals? Not if they want the $ $ $ $ (After all, competition is sa id to improve the product) No I don't want to stand out, or keep others out What I write about is nothing new to the curriculum club It is merely a new vantage point for me that helps me understand the spaces in between 97 It is not a template but could be inspiration for others to oil the dials on their vantage scope and examine how and what they see Narrative a l lows us to explore the spaces between establ ished schoo l s of curriculum thought, to listen to the s i lences and to appreciate how these p laces of in-between are a s vital to understanding as the curriculum theories themselves . P inar and Reyno lds (1992) conce ive of storytelling "as a firmament in which the s p a c e s between stars are a s crucia l to acknowledge and portray as the stars themselves ." Th i s f irmament is in a state of constant flux, meaning that stories are never-ending and what s e e m s prec ise and conta ined from one angle is changed when viewed from another. Story teaches us the use of metaphor and irony, which in turn, allow us to create similarity (Egan 1997) in the act of making fresh connections and acknowledging what is absent . Getting to know these spaces and developing a comfort level with the ambiguity that accompan ies "lingering with the connectors" is the job of the general ist specia l is ing in being a general ist. Advocacy/Agency/Neutrality In my doctoral course work, it was made very clear that indication of agency or advocacy in one's writing would be frowned upon by the academic community . W h y I quer ied? B e c a u s e the researcher must aim to be as neutral a s possible, thereby minimising contamination of their arguments. T h e more I studied of Daignault and Derrida, the more I c a m e to understand that there are no primary texts (texts without human mediation), only interpretations and interpretations of interpretations. P inar and Reyno lds (1995) contend that "original purity of exper ience cannot be ach ieved ; 98 while it is implied, it does not exist in text" (p.4). All writing is political and to insinuate that academic arguments can be free of influence is to put one's head in the sand . W e would be letting down our guard and reneging on our responsibil ity to be critical readers . O n c e one begins to deconstruct discourse, the connotations or "secondary meanings" that character ise human language are illuminated. A s Pinar and Reyno lds (1992) wrote, "Any text is l aced with human purpose and cross purposes, motives and counter mot i ves-what is stated and what is not" (p. 6). Somet imes what is not sa id d o e s more to highlight the bias of the speaker/writer than what is sa id . A responsibil ity is p laced on the reader to ba lance what she reads and develop strategies to uncover author bias. Respons ib le authors reflect on and bring to the fore their b iases and va lues . Overzea l ou s efforts to remain neutral only serve to cloud the real vo ice . Is a hint of advocacy reason to d ismiss the thesis of a "scholarly" paper? T o aspire to write a text that is devoid of bias would likely result in a text without pass ion . Without pass ion , we influence little change. In an article about the importance of building hope back into curriculum, Werner (1999) wrote that learning is emotion/full -- what students feel passionately about, they tirelessly pursue. W e need to set an atmosphere where writers are not only encouraged, but expected to reflect on their b i ases and values. Twenty years ago it was by far the exception for authors of children's books to include a note to their audience . Today, these notations giving a brief evolution of the story and background information about the author are expected by publ ishers and are by far the norm. W h e n we acknowledge that some level of advocacy exists in every p iece of writing and when we appreciate the fragility of truth, we negate s ome of the 99 damag ing features of bias and can take measures to ba lance our learning. At this moment, we leave the fa lse security of certainty to step onto a never ending roller coaster ride of differing perspectives, competing causes and ambiguous directions. A s teachers , we must support children in learning to research the context in which the material they are studying was written and the particular b iases of the author. Th i s responsibi l ity is even greater with the explosion of unedited, unscreened and often unreferenced material on the Internet. Anyone can publish on the net; there is no editor to get past, no reviewers to appease, and no hegemonic structures of the publ ishing world to s ide step. It is a great equal iser and also a great abyss if chi ldren are not supported in developing the tools they need to be critical users . T h e global isation of the net al lows students to a c c e s s material from a variety of sources , thereby expos ing them to multiple perspectives on any one issue. A r m e d with strategies to research bias and accountability, students can aim to ba lance their vesse l on the waterways of the web. At the end of his book Learning to Divide the World, Will insky asks, "What d o e s it mean to be held in the throes of a past that we can no longer trust or be comforted by?" (p. 249). H e refers to a past (not yet past) where knowledge is shaped and val idated by a British imperial system which divides the people of the world as superior and subordinate, worthy and unworthy, master and pliant servant. Quest ion ing the authenticity of our past, a s it has been taught in school , and accepting the possibility of multiple truths is a disarming and disorienting exper ience for which we are i l l-prepared by our educat ion system. School ing has traditionally presented an "official" vers ion of knowledge and d o e s not reinforce critique regarding the origin of that knowledge and the possibil ity of alternative perspectives. Chi ldren are taught what is "right" and 1 0 0 partial truths are avoided because they compl icate the teacher-student dyad , where the teacher is all-knowing. Yet, a s already mentioned, all texts contain bias. Schoo l ing is the t ire less chronicler of what divides us (Willinsky, 1998 p.1). Aga in , it s e e m s to come down to finding comfort in fluidity and opening our minds to revisionist stor ies tainted with e lements of agency knowing that there will be revis ions within revis ions. Reflective awareness and responsible action are lifelong journeys . What Are My Biases, What Divides/Connects Me from/to Others? I bel ieve every child has a right to an education in the public system I a lso support there being options avai lable in alternative schoo ls I put developing a social consc i ousness on the top of my list of teaching priorities I believe a commitment to equity must be the grounding of all teaching I bel ieve teaching and learning are like reading and writing - one cannot be separated from the other the same is true of teacher/learner I believe curriculum that evolves as it incorporates and cha l lenges the lived exper iences of c l ass participants is relevant curriculum I bel ieve we under chal lenge chi ldren in our efforts to shield them from the less savory aspects of life I bel ieve those who answer the call of teaching must be prepared to toil in "watchfulness" and "thoughtfulness" fuel led by an insatiable curiosity 101 I do not believe there is one way to teach anything I continually check out alternative methods T h e "Mary Poppins bag" is a lways ready so that I can swap tricks to connect with a child I believe literacy is best caught through the contagion embodied in a love of literature I bel ieve in ba lance scholar/practitioner nature/humanity art/technology security/freedom Conflict/Consensus - Can we agree to disagree respectfully and peacefully? A s I b e c a m e more comfortable working with dialectics in curriculum scholarship , I started to question whether early chi ldhood curriculum had to be accredited through consensus , or whether it could grow out of conflict? Much of today's early chi ldhood curriculum has been des igned around consensus over "developmental ly appropriate" (by Euro/Ameri/heritage standards) goa ls and objectives. P repackaged and prestructured materials based on "developmentally appropriate" constructs strongly influence the everyday look and feel of early chi ldhood c lassrooms . (I will d i s cuss cha l lenges to developmental ly appropriate theory in chapter five.) Is the use of Eurocentric support materials consistent with our desire to create curriculum that e n c o m p a s s e s d iverse va lues and goals for chi ldren? Even multicultural components of prepackaged curriculum are developed and taught from a place of c o n s e n s u s regarding what is "politically correct." T h e push has been to draw commonal it ies and hope that by avoiding differences, conflicts based in diversity i ssues would diss ipate . S o m e of this has changed s ince Louise Derman-Sparks began promoting anti-bias 1 0 2 early chi ldhood curriculum in the 1990s. Louise maintained that chi ldren need gu idance to deal with differing and sometimes conflicting viewpoints that rise out of the tough socia l realities they grow up in. Derman-Sparks (1989) also takes the perspect ive that activism has a place in early chi ldhood curriculum: Ch i ldren learning to take action against unfair behaviours that occur in their own l ives is at the heart of anti-bias education. Without this component, the curriculum loses its vitality and power. For chi ldren to feel good and confident about themselves, they need to be ab le to say, "That's not fair," or "I don't like that," if they are the target of prejudice or discrimination. For children to develop empathy and respect for diversity, they need to be able to say, "I don't like what you are doing" to a chi ld who is abusing another child. If we teach children to recogn ize injustice, then we must also teach them that people can create positive change by working together. Young children have an impressive capacity for learning how to be activists if adults provide activities that are relevant and developmental ly appropriate" (p.77). B a s e d on this thinking, it would seem important to develop curriculum materia ls that invoke i ssues of struggle - giving children opportunity to practise ways of relating to confl icting v iewpoints. In my exper ience a s a student, teacher and educational consultant, I have encountered a certain resistance among educators to address difficult quest ions with chi ldren. T e a c h e r s tend to avoid subjects which raise questions for which there are no c lear answers , and side-step ethical d i lemmas that might raise controversia l i s sues in the c l assroom . Yet chi ldren come face to face with these i ssues through the media , and increasingly through personal experience. In the educational contexts I have exper ienced in my work, educators provide young children with few tools to help them negotiate a meaningful and balanced path once this inevitable confrontation occurs . (Many schoo l s do have "second-step" programmes where chi ldren are counse l led , through story and simulation exerc ises , how to deal with playground squabbles , 103 bullying, and angry feel ings. Unfortunately these sess ions are quite structured and rarely integrated into the generative curriculum of the c lassroom.) Freire c la imed that in order to "dissociate ideas" legitimised by mainstream populations, educators need to teach through conflict rather than consensus . To be critically and socia l ly consc ious , chi ldren require opportunities to get muddy with difficult issues, in safe settings with the support of trained adults. I believe the time to start mixing the water and dirt of diversity i ssues is in the early years (preschool, primary, and intermediate), so that chi ldren are equipped to deal with the peer pressures that exert themse lves more forceful ly during their teenage years. Th is observation is reinforced in educational theory, where researchers are increasingly pointing out that involvement in soc ia l i s sues is more constructive than avoidance (Bruner, 1996; Derman-Sparks , 1989; McLaren , 1989; Neugebauer, 1992; Werner and Nixon, 1990). A s Sil in (1995) writes, Within psychology itself, a multivocal concept of subjectivity has emerged in the last decade, one that posits the individual and the socia l not a s binary opposites but as parts of a single reality and that a sks us to rethink our ideas about age-appropriate curriculum, (p. 104) With practice and self-confidence, I believe that even young chi ldren can learn to "agree to d isagree" in a respectful manner. Teachers/ learners need a framework for reaching a common understanding of a problem, but not necessari ly one that imposes agreement regarding strategies for resolution. Chi ldren need to be assured that it is possible to understand alternative opin ions without necessar i ly judging them. They are capable of learning about a viewpoint different from their own, and understanding the conditions that nurture it. C a n this approach leave chi ldren with the impression that every point is permissible, in turn making it difficult for them to make dec is ions? I feel that chi ldren can benefit from 104 learning that dec is ions need not be permanent. You can make a dec is ion acknowledging that it is for the moment only, conditional on the context pecul iar to that i ssue and subject to further information. Chi ldren can learn to listen and empathise , temporari ly suspend ing their judgment in order to understand another viewpoint. At the s ame time, they are free to acknowledge that they are not comfortable adopting that viewpoint themselves . For example , in the 1996 summer programme at the U B C Ch i ld Study Centre , the chi ldren ra ised funds through a "Conservation Fair." A s the chi ldren investigated var ious c a u s e s that they could support, it became c lear they d isagreed on approaches to conservat ion . T h e larger group was anxious to donate to watershed preservation, while the other favoured supporting forest management education . Rather than force the chi ldren to reach consensus on a single approach to conservation, they were a l lowed to debate their positions. In the end, they agreed to d isagree on approaches to conservat ion , but compromised on a division of their funds, so that they cou ld each support the c a u s e of their choice . The lesson learned was that you can acknowledge differing perspect ives and not have to fall in line with one or another. W e need to find ways to teach chi ldren to accept variance in beliefs and va lues brought to the problem-solving table . S o m e will argue that such acceptance may cause insecurity in young chi ldren who s e e things in terms of black and white. It is our chal lenge as educators to reframe the elusive greys, so that they represent the security and strength of to lerance rather than the insecurity and weakness of indecision. If we follow Freire's enjoiner that effective problem-solving rel ies on a dialectic that grows from praxis and generates theory, curriculum is grounded in exper ience rather than detached theory. Theory and practice become a simultaneous, reflective action. 105 It seemed I was spending a lot of time getting no place, but being everywhere. I needed to stand back... In seek ing to understand curriculum through academic study, I wanted to g l impse a whole -- an approach that was inclusive, yet respectful of diversity. Eventually, I c a m e to s e e that the whole was in no one method or approach, but instead res ided in a perspect ive : by standing back, it was possible to see the intersections between various approaches to curriculum. Th is perspective encompasses diversity, and a s in the evolutionary process of the biological world, makes for a stronger organ ism. My engagement with var ious dialectics within curriculum d iscourse taught me that the background of a picture needs to be attended to as much as the foreground. Then , ways in which the two are differentiated and blended can be noted. W e c a n teach chi ldren how to stand back, get in touch with their own biases, and in so doing empower themse l ves with the knowledge of how they make meaning . On ly then will they be ready to accept individual responsibil ity in furthering inclusive behaviour and action. Visioning a Global/Diversity Perspective It was attendance at two conferences that helped me pull together an inclusive approach to curriculum that centred around the nurturing of a global/diversity perspective in young chi ldren. Th is involved the development of a flexible lens through which to view personal , local, and global interactions. I briefly outline the influence of both conferences in the following paragraphs. 1) "Imagining a Pacific Community" Conference, UBC (April 1995) This conference had a broad cast of presenters and some high profile participants, but 106 one speaker in particular was to pluck several strings that resonated with my exper ience . Ro land Case , a co-presenter with Walt Werner, introduced the idea of global educat ion with young chi ldren being more about the deve lopment and nurturing of a perspective, rather than being about the presentation of specif ic content. C a s e (1995) descr ibed a "global perspective" as the capacity to s e e the "whole picture" whether focusing on a local or an international matter. A s he w a s descr ib ing the character ist ics of this global perspective, I saw p ieces of my puzz le coming together in how I could approach inclusive curriculum in the c lassroom. It s e e m e d a workable way to implement diversity of curriculum by helping chi ldren to deve lop a lens, a c ode of behaviour, and a method of attack through which to approach problematic situations inherent in diversity education. C a s e (1993) c la ims that one can more fully appreciate "global education" by distinguishing between two interrelated d imensions of a global perspect ive -- the substantial and the perceptual . He refers to C o o m b s explanation of perspect ive : [H]aving a perspective implies: (1) a "point of view" - a vantage point from which, or a lens through which, observations occur, and (2) s ome "object of attention - an event, thing, person, place, or state of affairs that is the focus of the observations. For example, to speak of various perspect ives on school ing suggests looking at schools - the object - through the eyes , or in light of the concerns or interests, of various people - the points of view, (as quoted in Case , 1993, p.318). C a s e used this definition of perspective to support his own distinction between substantive and the perceptual d imensions: the substantive dimension identifies the objects of a global perspect ive -those world events, states of affairs, places, and things that global educators want students to understand. T h e perceptual d imens ion is the points of view - the matrix of concepts, orientations, values, sensibil ities, and attitudes - from which we want students to perceive the world (p.318). It is the perceptual d imension that I find most interesting in relation to curriculum. In my 107 experience, it doesn't matter how much exposure an individual gets to the substantive d imens ion ; they cannot internalise responsibility if their minds are not open to alternative perspectives, trained to accept complexity, and committed to recogn ise equal rights of all members of the human family. Lamy (1990) expressed that "developing appropriate conceptual and moral lenses through which to view global interactions may be more crucial than acquiring extensive information" (as quoted in Case , 1993, p.319). C a s e descr ibes e lements of the perceptual d imension as, (1) open-minded -suspend judgment - entertain contrary positions, (2) ful l-minded - anticipate complexity - resist stereotyping, (3) fair-minded - empathise with others - overcome chauv in ism. (conference handout, 1995) In this description, I felt C a s e was getting at e lements of the hidden and null curr icu lums I was anxious to address , and I used his framework to build my own approach to nurturing global perspect ives in young chi ldren. 2) "Honouring Diversity within Child Care and Early Education" -(November 1995) I attended the inaugural (3 day) training programme/in-service for honouring diversity, put on by Early Chi ldhood Multicultural Serv ices and the B C Ministry of Ski l ls , Train ing and Labour. T h e workshop was des igned to train early chi ldhood educators in methods of promoting diversity education. I was p leased that this training sess ion concentrated more on building an ideological framework for diversity educat ion than the more usual practice of deal ing with the accessor ies of a "diversity" c l assroom . Early chi ldhood theory and practice that respect cultural commonal it ies are abundant. However, theory and practice that respect diversity have taken more time to evolve. 108 Being that we are surrounded by cultural and social diversity, this inservice put on by G y d a C h u d and Ruth Fah lman was timely. They reminded us that we have to generate "new expectat ions for respecting human variety and furthering equality, human rights, and social justice." (1995, p. x). I found this inservice particularly interesting because it incorporated the phi losophical s tances of multiculturalists, anti-racists, feminists, and social activists into an all-encompass ing fabric. T h e carefully guarded turfs I knew from academic study did not exist ~ the s imple words "honouring diversity" al lowed battle-weary advocates to put down their armour and work together. T h e faci l itators were able to accompl ish this by working through two key principles with the participants. First, they recognised the importance of knowing and owning one's own roots. T h e y created a neutral environment that legitimised each phi losophical group, al lowing individuals to take responsibility for their own intellectual position. Second ly , they fuel led the creative drive that spurs continued learning, encourag ing participants to spread their wings and explore different ways of understanding the rich diversity of community life. Th is foundation is critical if educators are to play their part in creating an equal society. Through understanding their own roots, educators are better ab le to perceive the impact their bel iefs have on the way they v iew diversity issues, in turn leaving room for them to fulfill their creative role in educating chi ldren. C h u d and Fah lman (1995) advocate two criteria essential to diversity education . T h e primary one is the commitment of learners to self-reflection: "The cha l lenge of honouring diversity in the teaching and learning process is to do our best to practice what we preach" ( p. x). Th is appl ies to teachers and students alike, whether they are 109 new to diversity education or long time supporters. T h e second criterion is the acknowledgement that learning is a fluid process . "Diversity education is forever 'in process' and def ies c losure . Tomorrow, there will be new thoughts, further insights, more research and greater refinements. Such is the nature of the theme and the work." (Chud and Fahlman, 1995, p. x). One must truly internalise this fluidity, in order to dea l with the ambiguities that necessari ly arise from this approach . Diversity education must be inherently reflective: actions need to arise from reflection, and further reflection must follow on what is done. T e d Aok i (1983) refers to this reflective e lement a s "praxis" and argues that "praxis has at its main interest further praxis" (p. 26). T h e two vo lume instructor's guide compi led by Chud and Fah lman (1995) embod ied both my v iews on inclusive curriculum and my belief that such curriculum is a reflective process , ever in motion, ever evolving. What it was lacking was a good bibl iography of children's books that help to raise sensitive issues in a non-didactic manner. Having just done a pilot study on emergent curriculum to nurture global perspect ives at the U B C Chi ld Study Centre (summer 1995), I was able to contribute a book list titled "Books that Cha l l enge Chi ldren to Deal with Sensit ive Issues," to be added to Chud's and Fahlman's resource listings. A n updated version of this bibl iography is included in Append ix A of this text. Internalising Global/Diversity Perspective as a Personal Philosophy and Curriculum Guide I am reluctant to go to great lengths to define, clarify, and standardise what I have found to be a very effective approach to inclusive curriculum des ign . I s ay this because I bel ieve that the very e s sence of this approach is its fluidity and its 110 requirement of reflective action. Loosely defined connect ions between ideas allow what might otherwise be disparate factions to find areas of compatibility. Yet, s ome descript ion is necessary for the reader to get a feel of what I mean when I speak of a curriculum that nurtures global/diversity perspectives in young chi ldren. (In the following chapter, I give more attention to describing practical a spects of global/diversity curriculum.) After l istening to Ro land C a s e speak about nurturing a global perspective, I felt supported in my belief that inc lus iveness is more about how one approaches an issue, and l ess about encouraging study of specific issues . T h e cha l lenge w a s how to deve lop curriculum around process rather than content. Important to the s u c c e s s in nurturing a global/diversity perspective in the c lassroom is a fastidious determination to present a ba lance of viewpoints. It is important to go beyond both the teacher's own perspect ive and those expressed by the dominant culture in prepared curricular materials . G iroux and S imon (1989) reiterate the need for multiple perspect ives in structuring a c lassroom that respects lived difference: ... [Creating such a classroom] does not require teachers to suppress or abandon what and how they know. Indeed, the pedagogica l struggle is l essened without such resources . However, teachers and students must find forms within which a single d iscourse does not become the locus of certainty and certification. Rather, teachers must find ways of creating a s p a c e for mutual engagement of lived exper ience that d o e s not require the si lencing of a multiplicity of vo ices by a single dominant d iscourse . (P- 243.) T e a c h e r s must develop this space around a commitment to equality of opportunity. Curr icu lar materia ls must engage chi ldren and reject detachment from so-ca l led sensit ive i s sues like death, victim cycles, AIDS, street people, human conflict, or disfigurement. Commitment to global education means a commitment to equity. 111 T h e separate e lements that characterise what I refer to as the "global/diversity perspective" find their roots in Case's description of a "global perspective ." I v iew these e lements a s foundational characteristics to be cultivated in educators and learners : • embrac ing equality of opportunity, • seek ing more information, • examin ing critically information sources, • suspend ing judgment, • entertaining contrary positions, • anticipating complexity, • tolerating ambiguity, • empathis ing with others, and • overcoming chauv in ism. I added the first three characteristics to Case's list in order to more fully descr ibe the lens a s I understand it. Whi le the characteristics listed together compr ise a lens for a s sess i ng and understanding complex situations, each one d o e s not necessar i ly play a similar, or equal role from one problem/issue to the next. O n e may c o m e to the fore in working through a particular set of c ircumstances, and yet recede into the background in another. W h y did I use the phrase "global/diversity" a s a refinement of Case's "global" perspect ive? By adding diversity, I found a better description of my interpretation of global a s "unity in diversity." However, I could not simply replace global with diversity, as diversity on its own did not incorporate the concept of unity embraced in global. Only by using both terms together could I convey both aspects of the perspective . I inserted a s l ash to give the two terms equal weight in the way I envis ion curriculum. I found this phrase represented my ideas more fully, and was less confus ing to those who s e e "global education" more as a study of other countries. T o me, "global" connotes the practice of studying broad issues within a microcosm that h a s immediate 1 1 2 re levance for a given group of learners. See ing the "world in a tidal pool" a l lows learners to observe in detail at c lose hand, and then extrapolate to broader i ssues and contexts while retaining the vitality of that c lose observation. S o m e e lements of the "global/diversity" perspective may seem to be contradictory or even mutually exclus ive . I have been asked, "How do you critically examine a situation while suspending judgment?" In fact, this is the task ass igned to the "impartial courtroom judge." To maintain a critical outlook, you have to continually make the effort to suspend judgment. For example, in the courtroom, the judge must suspend judgment and project an open mind as he critically examines the ev idence given. E v e n so, he rea l i ses he has his own b iases and any judgment taken is subject to the process of appeal . New evidence/information may be just around the corner. T h u s any dec is ion is only as good as the currency of the information on which it is based . My Lived Experience and Global/Diversity Perspectives Case's character ist ics of global perspective were the s ame character ist ics that I found at the very core of the exper iences that drove me to find a new approach to curriculum. With Mrs . Sturby, I learned the importance of suspending judgment, a s well a s the need to seek more information, and empathise with others. I a lso c a m e up against the power of chauvinist thought with respect to her exc lus ionary approach to skill development. With Margaret Meek, I learned to entertain contrary positions, and to critically examine accepted practices. I a lso gained new exposure to chauvin ist thought in her rejection of my definition of developmental ly appropriate literature. Co l leen Stainton reinforced for me the importance of suspending judgment. In her ability to live with my indecision, she also i l luminated the need to tolerate ambiguity and empathise with others. 113 My exper ience with Chief Marac le and my grandfather gave me perspect ive on anticipating complexity, tolerating ambiguity, and critical reflection. It reinforced my commitment to equality, while at the same time exposing my own chauvinism, evident in a misguided effort at cultural intervention. With my "roving library," I learned to tolerate ambiguity and entertain contrary positions. I again became aware of my own chauvinism, expressed in a narrowly conce ived classification of children's literature, and my ability to overcome it. Our sojourn with the logger at the MacMi l lan Bloedel camp, near the C a r m a n a h Val ley, underscored the importance of suspending judgment in order to critically examine information sources. Through hearing the contrary positions of G r e e n p e a c e and the forestry industry we learned to anticipate complexity around i ssues of social concern . Reflecting on my lived experience, I recognise the characterist ics of that global perspect ive to which my academic studies have led me. W h e n I juxtapose my intuitive knowledge with theory and scholarship, I arrive at the s ame place: a persona l i sed approach to curriculum which I characterise as nurturing "global diversity perspect ives . " T h i s conjunction of experience and analys is is what P inar refers to a s synthesis, the fourth step in his definition of currere. Visioning and Action Earlier, in the overview to this text, I mention adding another step to Pinar's four, to be label led "visioning and action" a s an outcome of "synthesis." After making meaning of one's own exper ience of curriculum and juxtaposing this learning with one's pedagog ica l practices, educators are ripe for visualising soc ia l change . A "visioning and action" stage of currere would mean: • understanding the power struggles involved in implementing curriculum as praxis, • integrating lived exper ience with social ly relevant curriculum, • building in time for reflection and reflective action. 114 A s the teacher v is ions an approach to inclusive curriculum and takes the action necessary to make it happen (sometimes an uphill grind), s h e 5 must a lso build in opportunities for her students to explore routes of efficacy in the wave of socia l change . Lou ise Derman-Sparks (1989) was thinking along the s ame vein a d e c a d e ago : Through activ ism activities chi ldren build conf idence and ski l ls for becoming adults who assert, in the face of injustice, "I have the responsibi l ity to deal with it, I know how to deal with it, I will deal with it" (p.77). In encouraging chi ldren to act, educators need not, and in fact should not, direct them towards particular avenues of efficacy. Th is is especial ly important when learning opportunit ies are presented through problematised situations that centre on an inherent conflict. A s I mentioned earlier, resolution of conflict need not necessar i ly result in consensus . Chi ldren can be successful ly introduced to comp lex situations if multiple facets of a problem are seen to offer multiple avenues for efficacy. T h e key point here is that students do not need to make exclusive cho ices in attempting to resolve complexity. Part of the chal lenge is to teach children to tolerate levels of ambiguity while continuing their process of exploration. Th i s permits a cl imate within the c l assroom where students can think beyond consensus . They can even c o m e to appreciate that socia l instability lies at the heart of social change . I will deve lop this further in the following chapter, and give specific examples of how to guide a c l a ss through the process of assess i ng and supporting various alternatives for eff icacy and advocacy . A s I sit adding my formal study of curriculum to my earlier dance with currere, I s ee that I have been struggling to demystify my own experience of hidden and null curriculums 5 Wherever the words "he" or "she" are used to refer to either a child or adult, no gender exclusivity is intended. 115 and to connect it to similar struggles others have faced . I don't have any prescriptions a s a result of my work other than the observation that getting muddy in complexity, and tolerating a little ambiguity isn't nearly as "derailing" as I thought it would be ! Further to this exper ience, I am committed to helping children become comfortable with the necessary period of ambiguity that accompan ies responsible decis ion-making . In the following chapters, I will endeavour to take the reader into the primary c lassroom and share what global/diversity curriculum might look like. I will a lso share my thoughts on children's literature, "working" stories, and i ssues of Developmental ly Appropr iate Practice, both in a global sense and as they relate to my practice. 116 4 Nurturing Global Perspectives in the Classroom Planting the Seeds "If he Is indeed wise he does not bid you enter the house of his wisdom, but rather leads you to the threshold of your own mind." Kahlil Gibran, 1923 A s a teacher , my reason for working with young chi ldren and their fami l ies is to further chi ldrens' ability to thrive within an increasingly diverse and complex society, not just in their public life, but at a personal level as well, jn other words, I s e e education a s a humanis ing process . A s I d i scussed in the previous chapter, I bel ieve that this is best ach ieved through the use of a fluid curriculum that p laces greater emphas i s on the perceptual domain , stressing the importance of how information and i ssues are approached rather than focusing on content. Whi le teaching in both the substantive and perceptive doma ins is necessary, I feel that a focus on the perceptive enab les us to concentrate on the process of developing viewpoints on i ssues of social concern and to encourage the envisioning of a range of possible actions toward resolution. Th i s is particularly important as we negotiate our way through the Information Age , and face an unending supply of information that is both overwhelming in quantity and undifferentiated in bias. In order to nurture a global/diversity perspective in young chi ldren, teachers need to create a supportive environment. The following three considerations are important in achiev ing this : • T h e c lassroom cl imate must support and reinforce equality while at the s ame 117 time supporting diversity. 6 • Opportunit ies must be provided for children to gain direct exper ience with global/diversity perspectives . Th is can be done through develop ing problematised situations for children to resolve, and facilitating d i scuss i ons that allow chi ldren to explore visioning and social action either at the conceptua l or experiential level . • O p e n d iscourse must be facilitated on an ongoing bas is in order to help chi ldren deve lop their rational and analytical abilities. Th i s is particularly important in teaching chi ldren to navigate global diversity issues, which by nature are fluid and contextual . In the following chapter, I will descr ibe curriculum that nurtures the deve lopment of "global perspect ives" in the c lassroom. A s a foundation, I will first descr ibe the principles that gu ide my teaching and curriculum planning. T h e s e are really phi losophical statements that expose my beliefs and values, giving the reader a framework on which to hang my comments regarding global/diversity curriculum. Particular attention will be given to the practices of nesting literature through storying, and of using l iterature-based inspirational themes to integrate multiple subjects . Then , using descr ipt ions of two "global programmes" I set up at the U B C Chi ld Study Centre , I hope to give the reader a feel for how I visual ise global/diversity curriculum for young ch i ldren . In reviewing the bas ic pedagogical practices on which I base my teaching and approach to curriculum development, I have found five fundamental precepts to underlie my work: 6 The following reference guides provide important background reading for teachers interested in supporting diversity while forging a classroom community - Honouring Diversity within Child Care and Early Education - An Instructor's Guide - Gyda Chud and Ruth Fahlman; Anti-Bias Curriculum: Tools for Empowering Young Children - Louise Derman-Sparks; Deepening Our Understanding of Anti-Bias Education for Young Children: An Anthology of Readings - Louise Derman-Sparks and Dorothy Granger; Multicultural Issues in Child Care - Janet Gonzalea-Mena; Developing Roots and Wings: A Trainer's Guide to Affirming Culture in Early Childhood Programmes- - Stacey York). 118 • Emergent and generative curriculum models foster programme relevancy by actively encouraging community participation in curriculum deve lopment and del ivery . • Empowerment models of teaching which build on strengths, rather than remediating weaknesses and encourage reflective action rather than apathy, spawn intrinsically motivated learners. • I bel ieve a key objective in education is to help students find a s e n s e of societal unity and personal security in the celebration of diversity through all aspects of curriculum. • T h e use of integrative themes is essential to achieving a holistic approach to learning in the c lassroom. Concepts are connected within a framework that promotes understanding by drawing connect ions a c ross deve lopmenta l doma ins . • Stories are the backbone of education fortifying all acts of learning. Storying, a process of contextualising information, is a most effective way of achiev ing shared understanding around complex social i ssues . Stor ies , oral and written, have provided me with the most compel l ing themes around which to link differing learning objectives. I will e laborate on each precept below. 1. Generative curriculum Generat ive curriculum breaks down the barriers between teacher and learner by involving both in the learning process . I have found this approach to be highly motivating for both teacher and child, a s it distributes ownership of the programme more equal ly among c lassroom participants (Pence, 1993). Chi ldren come to understand that teachers are on the same river of life-long learning, and have simply 119 spent more time on the water, gaining the knowledge that c o m e s from exper ience . Educators who favour generative curriculum see teacher and student as sharing the process of choos ing d iscuss ion topics, learning objectives and evaluation methods relevant to their needs and interests. T h e s e educators bel ieve that students are intrinsically motivated when they have a vested interest in the program. Tak ing ownership for their learning demystifies the education system and guards against apathy that often accompan ies the blind acceptance of hegemonic structures. T h e teacher is still respons ib le for ensuring basic skil ls and concepts are integrated into the overal l programme. Indeed, generative curriculum is more than ask ing chi ldren to identify their interests, and building activities around those interests. It involves a thorough knowledge of the basic skil ls students need to develop, and strategies for using student interests to provide the motivation to gain competence in these skil ls. O n e of the more difficult aspects of working with generative curriculum is prioritising c l assroom t ime to allow ample opportunities for d iscuss ion , critical reflection, and activities that encourage personal empowerment through efficacy. Ch i ldren are not born dec is ion makers : they need to be given guidance and practice in making dec is ions and express ing their interests. It is an unusual educator who can move beyond the "create and d ispense" teaching format. T h e s e individuals have the ability and des ire to respond respectfully to student ideas, and to help students work to ach ieve what they envision within the larger framework of the c lassroom community. It is a lso important to involve famil ies in this community as much as poss ib le in order to take advantage of possib le connections to home learning projects. T h e educator becomes a ski l led facilitator, engrossed in the give-and-take of providing stimulus, encouragement , guidance, and independence as prompted by the chi ld . Knowing 1 2 0 when to intervene and when to stand back is a skill that c o m e s with exper ience and careful reflection. T h e teacher's training and past exper ience allow her to il luminate connect ions and links that will help students make the most of their creative energy and find re levancy in what they do a s part of a larger community. Generat i ve curriculum provides educators with a framework for consistently introducing socia l ly relevant themes . T h e s e themes contain the possibil ity of unfolding into many other themes which cal l for new tasks to be explored and fulfilled (Freire, 1970, p. 83) . By nature of the process, generative curriculum has a higher l ikel ihood of nesting concepts in contexts that are relevant to the students and their famil ies . Th is , in turn, g i ves students the experience they require to thrive in the d i verse and comp lex society of which they are a part. 2. Empowerment Education Very much a foundation philosophy for generative curriculum, the empowerment education model a s descr ibed by York (1992) informs all facets of my teaching . It is a holistic approach that connects with all aspects of the learner. Partic ipants [in education for empowerment programmes] are empowered by increasing their knowledge and gaining new information. Empower ing education includes an affective component that promotes se lf -awareness and attitudinal change . Th i s occurs through persona l and critical reflection. Empowering education supports action by providing an opportunity to practice skil ls and apply concepts in the real world (York, 1992, pg. 21 a s quoted in Chud and Fah lman (1995)). A s York states, an important component of the empowerment education mode l is address ing the affective domain . Werner (1999) underscores this in his positional paper about the importance "hope" plays in c lassroom d iscuss ions of g lobal i ssues . He quotes Phil ip Phenix (1974) a s saying, "Without hope, there is no incentive for 121 learning, for the impulse to learn presupposes confidence in the possibil ity of improving one's existence" (p. 123). A s educators, we must give particular attention to strategies that will strengthen young people's belief in the future and their ability to effect change (Kohl, 1998). T h e s e strategies will be d i scussed in chapter five a s important factors in the exploration of sensitive i ssues with young chi ldren. Like others in my field, I have found helping learners get in touch with their strengths g oes a long way to mitigating their weaknesses . When the student fee l s positively about his ability, he is more easi ly motivated into active learning -- away from the inertia that accompan ies feel ings of failure. Teachers must give just enough "scaffolding" to support the child in taking steps to more compl icated levels of understanding . Th is requires a sound knowledge of learning and deve lopment continuums, c l ose observation of children's emerging abilities, and the ability to match educational exper iences to children's competencies, needs and interests, so that they are chal lenged, but not frustrated ( N A E Y C , 1997). I have found that it takes a great dea l of inspiration, creativity and energy to teach in such a way that chi ldren are empowered to become active learners. Empowerment Bogged down under never-ending demands of administrating, planning, upgrading, sorting through psycho/socio/cultural cr is ises , Grappl ing with the impossible task of adjudicating the Information Age, Overwhe lmed by cyberhighways of info-search-info-search-info, Mesmer i sed by the ambiguity of ethics, morals and standards, 122 Teachers struggle to find the time for inspiration, and the creative energy needed to scaffold towers of empowerment for others. But, it only takes the empowerment of one child, to lift the weighty demands from the teacher's back, so inspiration shines through, illuminating fresh banks of creative energy needed to scaffold new towers of empowerment. In 1991, Verna K irkness and Ray Barnhardt wrote a seminal paper that cha l lenged educators to entertain the notion of empowerment as the heart of their teaching and programme development work. They descr ibed empowerment in terms of four R's: Respect , Re levance , Reciprocity, and Responsibil ity. Address ing these characterist ics in one's curriculum al lows for differences of perspective, reduces cultural d istances , min imises role d ichotomy and helps students accept alternative approaches to problem solving. I find myself returning to Kirkness and Barnhardt's four R's a s a check stop whenever I get carried away with planning new programme directions. 3. Diversity Issues as Underpinnings of All Aspects of Curriculum Recognit ion of diversity (in the broadest interpretation of the word) a s an integral part of the socia l isation process is imperative to global learning. Issues of diversity are not colourful tidbits to be sprinkled on curriculum now and again, but rather they are integral d imens ions that need to be woven throughout all levels of curriculum. Educat ing through diversity is a "dynamic and complex process that involves reflection, self knowledge, critical thinking, experiential learning and practical appl ication" (Chud and Fahlman, 1995, p. 13). Like Chud and Fahlman , I bel ieve it is 123 our responsibi l ity to "gain the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to understand, appreciate, value, analyze, and synthesize the role of diversity in our own l ives and those of others" (p. 13). Th is inclusive approach to education is the grounding for what I refer to as the nurturing of global perspectives in young chi ldren. I often use the children's game cal led " S E T " as a metaphor for finding unity in difference. In this game, "sets" can be scored based on both "share in common" and "share in d ifference" principles. "SET" - UNITY IN DIVERSITY You've got to be quick! Find a set of three. A set must share something in common number, colour, shape, texture, or all four. There's one more set --the one that shares difference in common, "consensus in difference." What a concept ! Different family structure, different skin colour, different physical stature, different cultural texture. Seeming ly odd, but the most difficult set to see tends to be the one marked by difference. S o m e people are able to pick the "unity in diversity" set more easi ly than others, but almost every time a child will best an adult. 124 Why is this? Cou ld it be that the child has had less of society's conditioning? See i ng "unity in diversity" requires one to break "either/or" patterns of thinking that have been reinforced s ince infancy, and embrace "both/and" patterns of thinking. T h e National Assoc iat ion for the Education of Young Chi ldren, N A E Y C , has recently i ssued a strong recommendat ion of such a move in thinking and pract ice . 7 Th i s seeming ly s imple directive is a big step toward embracing diversity in an increasingly pluralistic society and world where chi ldren not only need to develop a positive self identity, but also need to position themse lves amongst others with differing perspect ives from their own . 4. Use of Integrative Themes to Facilitate a Holistic Approach It has long been accepted by early chi ldhood educators (Assel in, Pe l land, & Shapiro , 1991; J o b e & Hart, 1991; Lukasevich, 1993; Meadows & Hayward, 1982; Shapiro , 1979; Wason-E l l am , 1991) that integrating various learning objectives using a genera l theme helps chi ldren to maximise their learning. By integrating c l assroom activities around a particular theme, teachers encourage students to make assoc iat ive connect ions between otherwise isolated p ieces of knowledge. A common context evo lves to which can be added the diverse background exper iences of the c l assroom participants. Traditional ly, early chi ldhood educators use integration themes such as "animals," "transportation," "shapes," "colours," "seasons," or "holidays." T h e s e themes all draw on s imple e lements in the child's everyday environment, a characteristic that s tems from the theory that chi ldren develop concrete concepts before moving to abstract 7 This recommendation was adopted in 1996 in a position statement about Developmentally Appropriate Practice. 125 ones . I found two drawbacks when using these elemental themes . O n e was that the curriculum materia ls teachers typically purchase to support these themes were largely Eurocentric . T h e m e s like "transportation" spawn materials that examine travel by land, air, s e a and s p a c e where chi ldren learn about airplanes, yel low schoo l buses , steamers , trucks and trains rather than water buses, dog sleds, umiaks, or r ickshaws. Ready-prepared materials and bibliographies of related books tend to avoid representation of cultural diversity other than through stereotypical molds. Th i s meant that in order to weave more natural representations of cultural diversity within the genera l theme, teachers had to research and then make their own materials . A s most teachers are strapped for time, diversity was often dealt with through detached units like "Indians," "Japan" or "cultural holidays" so that teachers could a c c e s s packaged materia ls from school board consultants. Unfortunately, these isolated units of study gave an unspoken and unintended message that these "other" cultures were separate from the culture of the c lassroom and by association separate from society in genera l . T h e second problem I encountered more as an outcome of my personal teaching style. My programmes have a lways been heavily dependent on literature, and I found it difficult to fit good books under such simplistic themes. I was often scrambl ing to find engaging p ieces of literature that centred on "transportation," "colours," or "seasons ." By using simplistic themes, you reduce the selection of potential books to the most basic, or e l se you stretch the literature to make an ungainly fit. Wonderful ly rich stories like William Tell are reduced to a simple element like "apples," a popular fall theme: the meat of the story is missed, and instead, a tiny connection is exploited that l inks the tale to a bas ic theme. My particular approach to the use of integrative themes evolved from a love of books, 126 and from a profound awareness of the impact good literature, both oral and written, can make on a child's imagination. Moving away from simple, concrete themes, I began to deve lop "literary" themes based on books I col lected to use in the c l assroom . Initially, I used chapter books, a s I found them the most successfu l vehic le for capturing abstract, social ly relevant issues . Chapter books also provided subthemes that al lowed me to explore a range of issues through one familiar set of characters . I used books like Charlotte's Web, The Secret Garden, Wizard of Oz, and Watership Down among others to provide me with the tools I needed: strong characters , interesting and wel l-constructed settings, i ssues of good and evil, and dynamic persona l struggles. Challenging Binary Thinking: Good Guys, Bad Guys - Education Journal - April 6th, 1996 In my early years of teaching kindergarten in Edmonton (1978-80 and 1982-85), I was keen to introduce "balance" into my students' thinking and help show them the importance of perspective in problem solving. I remember chunks of time being spent on challenging the binary thinking around good guys and bad guys. After the children were convinced of the pure evil make-up of the villain, I would help them find evidence that challenged their assumptions. As I did this, I also showed them the vulnerabilities of their heroes. This seemed to be an empowering experience for all, opening up endless possibilities for their own development. Each day, I illustrated a sheet and wrote one or two key sentences on it that would stimulate discussion at home around the chapter we had read at school that day. After three or four weeks, the children would staple their sheets together and have a memory book of the chapter book we had read in class. Recently, I looked up some of my files of these sheets and came upon the Peter Pan collection. I was surprised to see the sophistication of character analysis I had done with young children (not that I do anything differently today - just that given the time, there must have been heavy critique from parents regarding developmental appropriateness). For example, we had tracked Hook's need to be in control and his greed back to not having a mother and having to fend for himself in the Eton's Boys School (he learned to be a valiant warrior, but had no development of heart). We noted that what bothered him most about Pan was the boy's obsession with 'good form,' because it was something Hook valued in the past and had neglected recently. As Hook prepares to meet his fate with the crocodile below the bulwarks, he is desperate to show that Pan is not all good. At the last moment.he thrusts his bottom out and manages to tempt Pan into 127 booting it so that as he falls he can shout, "Ah hah, bad form!" Somehow Hook's success at showing a flaw in Pan's character gave him a touch of dignity as he faced the jaws of the crocodile. This part of the story is left out in abridged versions for young children and by Walt Disney. Perhaps the authors feel that children are not yet ready to see greys, and do better with consistently black and white presentations of characters. I disagree -my artistic background meant the children in my classes knew how to make secondary colours from primary ones and knew the difference between tints and shades. Many of them grasped that the black and whites in the classroom were actually shades of grey. I felt it was important for them to learn that just as our eye sometimes tricks us into seeing grey as black, our mind tricks us into seeing people and issues from a narrow perspective. By integrating subthemes such as farm animals, spring, and sp iders with Charlotte's Web, or rabbit life cycle, river features, domestic pets, ecology of the downs, and the occupat ion of policing with Watership Down, I was also able to take advantage of s ome ready-prepared teacher materials. In other writings (Hayward, 1982, 1992) I have descr ibed how I started with social i ssues raised in the book and from there deve loped math and literacy activities, sc ience experiments, art projects, and all other aspects of the curriculum. In the last ten years, I have relied on a growing body of children's picture books that have story l ines rooted in socially relevant issues supported by strong il lustrations. I often refer to these books as "counter-hegemonic," either because the perspect ives deve loped in them cha l lenge an accepted viewpoint, or because they deal with a subject typically thought of as taboo for young children. In using several stor ies instead of one chapter book to explore a theme, I no longer had the continuity provided by the chapter book's characters and setting. Shorter books necess itated that I find umbrel la themes to connect them together and provide the continuity essentia l for effective integration of learning objectives in the c lassroom. At first, I tried 128 using themes like "Family," "Animals," "Friendship," and "Occupations," but soon found myself moving to themes like "Conservation," "Poverty," "Animal Abuse , " "Socia l Change , " "Growing O ld . " T h e new, more abstract titles al lowed me to use stories that addressed conflict rather than consensus . S i n ce I began engaging with ideas about global education, I deve loped a way of integrating children's literature through what I call "inspirational links" that tie together books, themes, and learning activities. By "inspirational links," I mean say ings that have taken on almost universal application, and that spark d iscuss ion of i s sues of global concern . Examp les of links I have used include: • "Smal l people can effect big changes," • "Every action has a[n equal and opposite] reaction," • "Different things matter at different t imes in our lives," • "Don't judge a book by its cover," • "Love can be painful," • "You win, I lose -- can we both win?" • "Don't be furious, be curious," • "You have to bel ieve in yourself before others will," • "Learning is a temporary loss of security," • "Some rules need to be broken," • "Few people choose poverty," • "Shared understanding means shared responsibil ity for understanding," • "There are many truths, but no one that stands on its own," • "Pets have rights too," • "Some of the best friendships come through patience," • "Change is difficult, but nothing is permanent except change," • "Beauty is rooted beneath the skin," • "Can the consequences of war ever justify the why?" • "Losing someone is never easy," • "History is written by the conquerors; by listening to the stories of the conquered, 129 we may begin to change future histories" • "Think globally, act locally," • "Fac ing your fears is hard work," • "If it's mentionable, it's manageable," • "What goes around, c omes around." I introduced a number of "inspirational links" to children in my c l assrooms and w a s intrigued by the way they worked to adapt the s logans to suit their exper ience . I pulled the first l inks from col lections of s logans in my "Inspiration Fi le" which I had originally kept a s a resource for c lassroom newsletters. Other links evolved from c l a s s d i scuss ions and were honed as we generated curriculum around them. T h e continuing process of developing and using these links was organic to both my col lection of counter-hegemonic literature and my generative approach to teaching and curriculum development. Generat ing curriculum around inspirational links al lowed me to a c c e s s a broader range of books and to respond to the diverse spectrum of individual interests expressed by my students. Because these books deal with complex issues , there are severa l different points of departure you can explore, based on the needs and interests of the chi ldren. For example, by using books tied together by the inspirational link, "Different things matter at different t imes in our lives," I could touch on severa l genera l themes like "Aging and Death," "Family" and "Socia l Change . " In this way I cou ld work severa l themes all through the year and still integrate short term learning objectives under a connecting network -- as opposed to taking one theme, like "Family," and going through it from beginning to end. I might start with a book from the "Personal Chal lenge" theme section of my library and 130 end up using books from "Human Conflict" or "Friendship" themes, depend ing on the inspirational l inks that are pulled from particular stories. For example , the book El Chino by Al len S a y (from the "Personal Chal lenge" theme) is a book about a Ch i nese Amer i can youth who dares to believe in the American Dream -- you can be anything you want to be if you try hard enough. However, he is forced to face unexpected cultural cha l lenges when he c o m e s up against age-old Span i sh traditions in his pursuit of becoming an accompl ished matador. One group of students I told this story to p icked up the inspirational link, "Two cultures, one heart," and we went on to read My Grandfather's Journey deal ing with the Japanese-Amer ican exper ience trying to juxtapose new and old worlds, and Kookum Called Today which dea l s with an urban First Nat ions girl v isioning a peaceful and meaningful place between the reserve and the city. Other students have picked up the link, "Change is difficult, but nothing is permanent except change," and we have moved on to books like Amelia's Road about a transient Mex ican family of sharecroppers, and The Bracelet about a J a p a n e s e -Amer i can family forced to leave their friends to live in an internment c amp during Wor ld W a r II. Th i s particular group of children then moved into books around the theme of Human Confl ict through the inspirational link of "The winner a lways writes the history." W h e n we read "Jacob's Story" in Mar ia Campbel l's Stories of the Road Allowance People, they chose the link, "You have to embrace yourself before others will," which led back to El Chino and on to The 329th Friend. In this story, the lead character is bathed in lonel iness and self-pity until he recogn izes some positive characterist ics about himself. It is only then that others offer him their friendship. T h e easy movement back and forth through themes facilitated by "inspirational links" a l lowed for maximum participation of the students and lively d iscuss ion and research of i ssues relevant to their experience of the world. 131 I use "inspirational links" to arouse the perceptual domain in a child's learning field. T h e links tend to be emotion-full caus ing students to stop, reflect, and probe deeper into a given issue. I encouraged children to tease out the link they felt best descr ibed a particular story or how it made them feel . I could then use this link to move on to other books connected to their interests. Severa l themes can be ra ised from a single book depending on the links the children use to connect to the story. For example , when I last did The Snow Goose with a group of children, the following "inspirational links" were se lected : "Love can be painful," "Don't be furious, be curious," "Don't judge a book by its cover," "You have to bel ieve in yourself before others will," "Conservat ion and preservation are world responsibi l ities" " S o m e rules need to be broken," "Beauty is rooted beneath the skin," "Shared understanding means shared responsibil ity for understanding," "There are many truths, but no one that stands on its own," "Some of the best friendships come through patience," "Losing someone is never easy," "Learning is a temporary loss of security," "History is written by the conquerors; by listening to the stories of the conquered we may begin to change future histories" "What goes around, comes around." W e d i scussed the re levance of each link and, as a group, c a m e up with three directions for further d iscuss ion and research. For me, this process created an ideal environment for generative curriculum as the children were given a mechan i sm for participation and self-motivation. T h e children began to take responsibil ity for their own learning a s they linked characters, stories, learning activities and lived exper iences , both inside and outside the c lassroom. How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book? The book exists for us perchance which will explain our miracles and reveal new ones. -Henry David Thoreau 132 5. Stories and "Storying" as Fundamental Tools of Learning It is through stories that we make sense of all our experience (Wells, 1986). However, if stor ies are simply read as part of a daily routine, without further d iscuss ion , they are likely to remain inert and have little impact on the rest of the child's exper ience . T h e act of "storying" a s opposed to "storytelling" is more than reading a good story to a group of attentive l isteners. It is the work of recognising external events in meaningful contexts, through the negotiation of new information with that which is known. Wel l s (1986) expla ins that [r]arely, if ever, do we have all the necessary visual or other sensory information to dec ide unambiguously what it is we are seeing, hearing, or touching. Instead we draw on our mental model of the world to construct a story that would be plausible in the context and use that to check the data of sense against the predictions that the story makes possib le (p. 195). W h e n stories are related to the child's own experience through d iscuss ion , she is encouraged to reflect upon and ask questions about the events that occur, their causes , c onsequences and significance. S h e enr iches her inner representation of the world, and also becomes more aware of how stories from others can help her extend, reorganise, and restory her own experience. Stories are the means through which c l ass participants enter a shared world (Wells, 1986; Britton, 1983) bringing mental mode ls of understanding into c loser alignment. I've often been asked how I choose the books I "story" with and where I get them from. Whi le I am fairly eclectic in my book choice, I have lately fallen into col lecting books that explore perspect ives different from those traditionally accepted . T h e books I c hoose a s teaching tools pull on one's emotions, a s most intrinsically motivated learning is sparked by emotion (Werner, 1999). I particularly like books that end without a resolution, books that push you to delve deeper into an issue, and books that 133 present a convinc ing argument from one perspective and then proceed to present an equal ly compel l ing argument from an opposing perspective. I don't get overly concerned if a book doesn't develop a perspective in a way that would feed c l assroom d iscuss ion . Many children's authors underestimate what a chi ld can dea l with, g iven a g l immer of hope and the opportunity to explore persona l efficacy. Wel l-meaning attempts to shield children from the injustices of life may serve to create il l-equipped young adults, who once enlightened, think their e lders have been conned and are therefore d ispensable as potential mentors. Instead, I feel a need to concentrate on finding ways to empower children in the midst of adversity. A s I become a more skil led storyteller, I find that I can infuse a book with the problems necessary to fuel c l a ss d iscuss ion . A small kernel of an idea can be deve loped in such a way that another perspective is demonstrated or a problematised situation is created . Even the best literature can and will fall flat if it is not "contextual ised." I p lace a high priority on contextual is ing stories and establishing links to the previously known. In this way, stories never end, but become the firmament of flux in which every student can find something familiar. Below, I will outline two examples of how I build context around a story: nesting story within story. I have often used the book, Jessie Came Across the Sea by A m y Hest. It is a s imple story about a Jew i sh girl who is the apple of her grandmother's eye in a smal l European vil lage. J e s s i e differs from other girls in the vil lage in that she studies with the boys of the community and is able to read and write. When it c o m e s time for the rabbi to choose someone to take his place on a voyage to Amer ica , he surpr ises all 134 the young men of the community by choosing J e s s i e . S h e is terrified about such an idea and d o e s not want to leave her grandmother who has ra ised her from a young babe . Both grandmother and child are asked to separate heart and mind -- the conc lus ion of the story shows how integration of both is necessary for inner peace . J e s s i e f a c e s many cha l lenges in New York but manages to make the most of her background skil ls and brave spirit. Eventually, she is asked to marry another young immigrant, but she waits until she has earned the "passage" money for her grandmother to c ome join her. It is a story about being brave in the midst of being wrenched away from everything you know and everyone you love. T h e r e are many d iscuss ion points that can be picked out of the story to build context including: • l ace making a s a cottage industry • gender d ifferences re: studying the Torah • inequity of c l ass divisions on the ship • immigrant exper ience at Ell is Island • reciprocity in relationships • learning to live in a new country Moreover there are different inspirational links from which it can be approached : • "Fac ing your fears is hard work," • "Learning is a temporary loss of security," • "Change is difficult, but nothing is permanent except change ." Although this story could be read in ten to twelve minutes, I general ly a l locate an hour and fifteen minutes to build context, integrate student input, and draw connect ions to other readings or project study. In the story, Jess ie's grandmother works hard to teach her how to make lace, so that she may always have a trade. In turn, J e s s i e insists on teaching her grandmother s ome of the reading she learns from her l essons with the rabbi. I began the story sess ion by opening a small, grey velvet box and taking out a length of hand made lace to show the chi ldren. I tell the chi ldren that it w a s made by my great grandmother who sai led to C a n a d a by herself as a ten-year old chi ld . I tell 135 the story of how my great grandmother was not met by her uncle in C a n a d a and was instead taken in by the "Sally Ann" (Salvation Army). After descr ib ing some of her early life in Canada , I explain how the piece of lace was passed down to me and worn around my waist on my wedding day. By situating the story in the context of a lived exper ience , I contribute to the plausibility and relevance of the text. Next, I situate the chi ldren in an eastern European Jew ish community. I dramat ise the impact of a rabbi teaching a girl the lessons from the Torah and then choos ing the s a m e girl over all the strong lads who volunteered to take his p lace on the ship to Amer i ca . Somet imes , I have to take time out to deal with children's disbel ief -- for example , one group couldn't connect with it being unusual to teach a girl to read . Whi le building the context where women were d iscouraged from academic study, I try to ba lance my comments and d i scuss why and how cultural div is ions of responsibil ity, according to gender, s eemed appropriate at the time. Then a s a c lass , we d i scuss how a s t imes changed , the rabbi had the vision to real ize that people had to adapt in response to change . Before a teacher can "work" a story well, it is important to recogn ise that there are multiple perspectives for any one issue ra ised in a story. S h e d o e s not need to deny the children the satisfaction they get when J e s s i e beats out the men, but such satisfaction needs to be balanced to avoid reinforcing other stereotypes. I caution the chi ldren that, a s we labour to break stereotypes, we often seem to create new ones . If something feels so clearly black and white, exper ience has taught me that I haven't seen all angles and may need to do some inner searching to identify my b iases . A s I read the book to the children, I am consc ious of developing the strong bond of love between J e s s i e and her grandmother, fed by reciprocity. I a lso make reference to 136 the Titanic a s a reference point regarding the difference a person's c l a s s made to their p assage ac ross the ocean . Using books previously read, we d i scuss El l is Island a s part of immigrant exper ience and what kind of cha l lenges lie ahead for newcomers to Amer ica . In effect, I use the story, Jessie Comes Across the Sea, a s the grounding for a d iscuss ion kernel -- from there, I build many links and contexts myself, and leave open ings for chi ldren to build their own. T h e direction of d iscuss ion is largely affected by children's needs and interests. I prepare a s much as possib le in advance for what I will need to expand on, so that I have resources ready at hand. If a child raises something I haven't anticipated or prepared for, we set about framing appropriate questions and designing a research plan. Th i s often leads to another story which is later woven into the stimulus story. By situating the book in a context meaningful to the children, you increase the number of potential l inks to other stories and issues of social concern . I will use the story Beautiful Warrior by Emily Arnold McCu l ly as a second examp le of what I term "contextualising" a story. I usually lead into this story from one of the fol lowing l inks: • "Smal l people can effect big changes," • "Don't be furious, be curious," • "You have to bel ieve in yourself before others will," or • "What goes around comes around." Th is legend of the "Nun's kung fu" g ives a wonderful introduction to Buddh ism and breaks down Western stereotypes of kung fu as merely a score of combat techn iques and exerc ise . T h e story line follows the lives of two women who took on the lifelong study of kung fu : one out of desperation and the other as an extension of her life learning. A s with Jessie Comes Across the Sea, there are many points from which to build d i scuss i on : 137 • the Ming Dynasty • court life for women • marr iage for protection in the vi l lages • Z e n Buddh ism- Shao l in Monastery • one's vital energy - "qi" • phys ica l and mental well-being • kung fu a s lifelong study in spiritual growth. Again , the teacher must be careful to balance presentations of controversial (tough and tender) subjects . I remember reading this book with a group of chi ldren who got stuck on the requirement of foot binding in the imperial court. Taking time out to d i s cuss the background of such practices and comparable customs around the world helps deconstruct stereotypes. Chi ldren may still shy from personal endorsement, but they are more open to understanding why others might have chosen to bind their feet. T h e teacher needs to do some background research to become comfortable enough with the cultural pract ices and va lues of a particular time, in order to facilitate open d iscuss ion . I found the "author's notes" very helpful in making Internet s e a r c h e s more focused and rewarding. During one reading of this book, I found myself in a difficult position and I told a story I had never shared in a school setting. About a third of the way into Beautiful Warrior, one of the main characters , Mingyi, finds herself in an impossible situation. A brigand r ides into her vi l lage with his gang and upon seeing her, demands that she become his wife. W h e n she refuses, the thug threatens to flatten her family's shop and make the community pay. Mingyi's father is terrified and begs his daughter to marry the thug to save her family and the security of the village. I often find chi ldren are very judgmental regarding the father's request and question why the crying mother in the corner d o e s nothing to stop the father or save Mingyi from an unhappy life. O n e c l a s s of chi ldren (Southlands, Vancouver, G r a d e 2/3, 1998) would not let me continue past 138 this part of the story, insisting that the father should be protecting his daughter rather than sacrif ic ing her for his own life. From the back of the room, a chi ld anxious ly waved her hand . With a knowing expression, she informed the group, "It's because they're Ch i nese and the chi ldren are supposed to protect the adults instead of how it is like in Canada . " Th is comment troubled me, because in the emotional c l imate it was said , it cou ld reinforce stereotypes rather than open d iscuss ion about respecting one's elders . Like the chi ldren, I was tempted to say the father was a heart less man, but this little girl's comment reminded me that I had little contextual information. Instead, I found myself sharing a personal story to illustrate how extenuating c i rcumstances can make a person act out of character. I told the chi ldren about an instance where I was caught outside a door while my two year old chi ld was screaming for help from inside. His father's temper was raging and the situation w a s escalating quickly. I briefly explained how my family had been caught in an abuse cycle . (This was not done in a confessional or sensat iona l manner, but more as a matter of fact presentation of one of life's realities. At the s ame time, I was careful that my story did not sanction domestic violence.) I exp la ined how my entering the room would escalate the violence further and leave me in a position where I could help neither of my children. Put in an impossible situation, I had to forsake my son's p leas for help in order to fight a bigger picture. There were many quiet chi ldren in that c lassroom a s I went on to show how Mingyi's father may have bel ieved he cou ld be of more help to her if he survived and retained vi l lage support to right the injustice done to his daughter. It was an effective example because the chi ldren knew me a s a teacher committed to the well-being of all chi ldren and had difficulty juxtaposing this image with the picture of me outside my son's door. Whi le I wanted my students to appreciate the wrong being done to Mingyi, I a lso wanted them 139 to suspend judgment of her father for the reason that none of us had enough information about the cultural context within which he acted. Beautiful Warrior is a story that pulls girls and boys together as they try to understand the deep ly spiritual base of kung fu . For many of the boys, it is a relief to be able to indulge in martial arts under a politically correct stamp. T h e girls quickly identify with strong fema le characters who refuse to be victimised. T h e author works hard to separate the kung fu that children are exposed to on TV, from the lifelong study of connect ing with your inner energies, observing the behaviours of others and finding the inherent connectedness of all things. At first, the chi ldren feel Mingyi's frustration at being forced to observe the bamboo bending in the wind and then snapping back, when all s he wants is to learn fighting skil ls so she can beat up the thug who pursues her. Eventually, a s they come to trust Mingyi's mentor, the legendary W u Mei , you feel them begging Mingyi to be patient-- that she'll understand everything in the fu l lness of time. It is only when Mingyi's mind becomes calm that she can overcome her enemies . By the time Mingyi reaches this state, all anger is gone and she meets the thug only to protect her family, for she no longer yearns to return to her vil lage. Instead, she commits herself to the study of kung fu in the monastery. I often use E d Young's Voices of the Heart to support the message of connect ing with your vital energy. Young is a Ch inese Amer ican author/illustrator, who by chas ing down stories from his parent's homeland has pursued connect ions with his C h i n e s e heritage. In learning to write Mandarin, he became fascinated with the historical evolution of particular characters . Voices of the Heart explores 17 different characters that contain the heart symbol . All are emotions assoc iated with the heart. I ask the chi ldren to find the emotions that surface in Beautiful Warrior, and then look inside for 140 a descriptor of their own heart. Using paper, pencils, sc i ssors and pens they created their own co l lage and drawing of the appropriate character. T h e s e chi ldren feel the importance of connecting with their heart and the flow of their inner "qi" whenever they approach something chal lenging. A s a teacher, I think it is important to be prepared that a story will not be contextual ised the s a m e way each time, but changes to match whatever i ssues pique the children's interests, outside resources , and the inspirational link or theme being d i s cussed . I have told this story with more emphas is on feminist i ssues and at other t imes shifted emphas i s to the spiritual s ide of well being and how one connects with her vital energy - "qi." Once , one of my students had been to the Shaol in Monastery and seen the plum po les which Mingyi's mentor used to teach her about balance. With this group, we researched the history of the monks in that a rea and prolonged our study of Buddhist teach ings through the link, "What goes around c o m e s around." Storyteller/Storyworker Am I really a storyteller? Is storytelling the right name for what I do? I tell stories lived, made up and borrowed Like others, my stories are never the same and I never experience a book the same way from one time to the next. I change, my audience changes . I read/work books breathing life into them by weaving associat ive stories and text together making meaningful contexts --p laces to dwell/linger/reflect and draw connect ions between old and new horizons. 141 So, do I "tell" stories or "work" stor ies? Perhaps I'm a storyworker. A Storyteller Wavers... - Education Journal - Sept. 12th, 1998 Early this morning, my mother called from the farm on the Bay of Quinte near Deseronto (she had gone for the last time to say goodbye to the land and divide my grandfather's treasures with her siblings). She said it was a gorgeous autumn day with a slight breeze off the lake. She described daisies and milkweed in abundance through which the rabbits ran and foxes hunted. Down at the shore she said the water was crested in lace, one to four. I can see it all so clearly from 3,600 kilometers away. The farm is in my blood and the slightest whiff of cedar, sun baked grass, diesel fuel or cherry pipe tobacco transports me back to the haven of my childhood. My mother called to help me say good-bye to the land my grandfather tended so unfailingly. She stood where he would lean against an aged cedar and look out over the water puffing on his pipe. I could hear the water lap the shore over the line of my mother's cell and if I listened carefully, I could just pick up the fine fiddling of the jet black crickets that baited our hooks in summers past. I could not let my mother leave the land without sharing a secret spot where Gramps and I spun our tales and shared our fears. Gramps was master of the storytelling trade and I, his devoted apprentice. Together we would sit on a rounded stone just right for two, and put finishing touches on stories told while fixing fence, working the land, or driving to town. It was the same spot where Gramps would try to prepare me for his passage across the bridge of death. A spot bittersweet with love, creativity, and loss. When I have sat there in recent years, I always find myself smiling through tears. So, using the cell, I guided my mother west along the shore and up through the grass to the old cedar. This amazing tree is an example of the iron will present in nature. It had dropped a stout branch two feet above the ground and then somehow defied gravity and stretched up to make a love seat just for Granny. Here, she could watch the sunsets with her mate on the last days of her life. Here she found peace before the cancer took her forever. "Get behind the tree," I told my mother, "and look out over the water to Tyendinaga as Granny would have from her seat; now take four steps back and two to the left, sit down. This stone is the place where Gramps told me all his stories and where I learned how to spin my own. Here, I learned his religion of the land and its glorious creatures. I learned how to look inside my soul and embrace the bad with the good, and to endeavour to speak/act from a place of balance." I told my mother of how I cried on that rock when Gramps showed me his 142 vulnerable side, exposing his inner struggles. He had always been infallible to me, or maybe I never let him be anything else. On the same rock, Gramps promised that he would not leave me before I was ready. Like in his stories, he issued personal challenges without being direct. As my teacher, he knew that one day I would be ready simply because my ability to love would rise over my insecurities. After letting some of my memories seep out to my mother, I was surprised to hear my voice asking her to unearth the boulder and pack it back across Canada in a trailer. In my heart I knew the rock had to stay with the land and that Gramps' wisdom was in my head as well as that fragment of Canadian shield. Yet, I felt a rushing panic at never being able to sit on the stone, feel its energy, and reflect on details that come only in the context of place. Would I remember what I had been told? Could I do justice to Gramps' analogies and metaphors? Could I capture the wit inside his stories of strength and fortitude? Would I be able to breathe his reverence of nature into the spirited tales of country creatures and little folk who live up in the "back forty?" Could I recreate the stories of true love, patriotic passion, and random acts of kindness? Without the stone to hold me true to place and detail, would the stories be taken over by my bold style and lose the authenticity of his gravelly voice recounting a life of learning? It was only when my mother offered to get a crow bar from the boathouse to see how deep the stone went, that I snapped to my senses and asked her to leave it undisturbed. I couldn't incorporate a raped bit of land with treasured images of my grandfather and I engrossed in story, gazing over the water through wisps of Old Sail tobacco smoke. I would have to find a way to draw from the stone without being in its physical presence. After all, I have been telling Gramps' stories for years with only the occasional visit to the farm and stone to refuel. I guess it is the realisation that the land will no longer be with our family and as a result visits to the stone will end, that makes me feel so nervous. My mom called late today to say that Dad had found some Bittersweet vines and was bringing them across the country to test my green thumb. I asked that they pick up a few stones from the ground rich in lime to help the Bittersweet settle out West. Ah, perhaps this will be the "place" link that will help me keep the gift. (Going out in the fall over the land to collect vines of bittersweet for Granny's vases indoors was a treasured memory for my grandfather, which was one of the reasons he called the farm, Bittersweet Farm. It was also the place where Granny would slip away far too young for those left behind to understand. There were many reasons to name the farm Bittersweet.) 143 An associative chain: vines of Bittersweet Bittersweet Farm Gramps smoking his pipe at the shore the stone the stories. I will remember - it is enough. A s I wait for the Bittersweet to take hold in the garden and sit to write words that will c o m e together a s a thesis, I have a different appreciation for K incheloe and Pinar's study of the s ignif icance of "place" in curriculum scholarship (1991). W h y is the study of p lace significant to education and curriculum study? K incheloe and Pinar (1991) wrote: In fiction, p lace is used to create a world of a p p e a r a n c e - a world essent ia l to the novel's believability. Curriculum theory, l ikewise, must p o s s e s s a particularistic social theory, a grounded view of the world in which education takes place. Without such a perspective, curriculum theory operates in isolation, serving to trivialize knowledge, fragmenting it into bits and p ieces of memorisable waste, while obscuring the political effects of such a process (p. 5). I am reminded of the story stones that sit at the base of the house posts in the First Nat ions Longhouse on the U B C campus . I was told these stones are significant both because of the p lace they come from and the stories they collect in their new home. They act a s links between the old and the new, providing continuity in the face of change . I call artifacts or stories that symbol ise other contexts "place links." W h e n we share "place links" with others, we are conveying information about embedded socia l forces that lie within the story we read/tell and indeed those that lie beneath our teaching . W e "place" stories in context and bring to the fore that which s e e m s "second nature" and inaccess ib le in everyday life. Teachers increase poss ib le connect ions to the lived exper iences of students and open up latent subjectivities. By being 144 cognizant of the origins of one's subjectivities and the forces that shape them, we take the first step to being able to appreciate the perspectives of others. T e a c h e r s who are comfortable us ing persona l stories a s "place links" become mode ls that students c a n refer back to when trying to "place" their own systems of making meaning . Welty (1977) maintains that good writers create contexts in which the universal is subtly evoked in the clarity of the particular. While I too find this to be true, the storyteller can "work" a story in which the particular is less c lear and provide the detail herself that will encourage different perspectives to emerge. It is the total interaction in which the story is embedded that leads the child towards reflective, d i sembedded thinking . I have taken many pages to descr ibe the precepts which form the base from which I conceptua l ise global/diversity curriculum. I did this in an attempt to contextual ise for the reader my descript ions of global/diversity curriculum in the c l assroom . A s I have a l luded to earlier, when I refer to global/diversity curriculum I am not envis ioning buttressing the c lassroom with more material from faraway countries. I bel ieve that through an emphas i s on the perceptual domain, mainly accompl i shed through "storyworking" and d iscuss ion , teachers nurture global/diversity perspect ives (as descr ibed in chapter three) which allow the chi ldren to see global impl ications in any issue they may study. Moving Toward Global/Diversity Curriculum at the UBC Child Study Centre A s librarian of the U B C Chi ld Study Centre between 1992 and 1996, I used books that dealt with "difficult issues" with the preschool and kindergarten aged chi ldren who 145 attended my story hours every week. I chal lenged the chi ldren and myself to de lve into subjects traditionally taboo for young chi ldren like death, rac ism, oppress ion and life on the street, using books, story, and guided d iscuss ion . However, both the students and I were frustrated at not being able to follow through s ome of the ideas we tack led into other areas of c lassroom learning. There was little continuity between our sess i ons and the learning themes they were exposed to in their c l assrooms . Th i s was despite a consc ious effort by their teachers and myself to coordinate our efforts. Around the s a m e time, I d iscovered that I didn't seem motivated to teach without an issue to tangle with. I was also being influenced by Egan's (1995) writing around the "lure of certainty." Instead of feeling emotional crisis and angst when I found incons istenc ies in my general philosophical schemes , as I had in the past, I deve loped a perspect ive that was encompass ing of diversity. I started looking at my books more for how they could be "worked" to present differing perspectives on an issue rather than for what "early chi ldhood theme" they supported. Every opportunity I had to work with the chi ldren, I w a s nurturing the very characteristics of a global perspect ive that C a s e (1995) had descr ibed . W h e n the director of the Centre asked if I would consider putting some of the ideas I was studying into action in a programme for children on the older end of the early chi ldhood continuum (6-9 years old), I jumped at the chance . Th i s would give me the opportunity to synthes ise my academic and lived experience learning in a setting that a l lowed for generative curriculum to evolve, in an integrative manner, from a rich bank of literary stimuli . I c a m e to treat the two ensuing summer programmes a s pilot studies for the "global/diversity curriculum" I was visioning in both my teaching and academic study. 146 T h e most satisfying and chal lenging teaching I have done to date has been in the two pilot studies I did at the U B C Chi ld Study Centre in the summers of 1995 and 1996. It was a t ime when I truly felt my personal and work lives synergised . Rather than feeling like a negligent parent or a frustrated teacher, both my worlds s eemed energ ised by each other. I will write more regarding this observation in chapter six. Two Pilot Studies at the UBC Child Study Centre E a c h pilot study covered four weeks with children attending 3 1/2 hours a day, five days a week. There were 21 participants in each programme: eighteen chi ldren, a teen volunteer, a teacher's assistant and myself. In the beginning, the parents s e e m e d unsure of what to expect and kept their distance, but as the programme wore on, they provided valuable support and were very much partners in their children's learning. Learning Objectives Identifying learning objectives and a c lassroom motto for staff, parents, volunteers, and chi ldren w a s important to the success of both programmes. A large banner was made and mounted over the door with the words, "To tell or hear a story extends the bonds of humanity rather than the bondage of inhuman ignorance." Th i s banner soon stood as our motto, capturing the essence of the programme. A handout was prepared in which I expla ined that stimulus books and discussion material would be used to present problematised situations around social ly relevant issues . T h e chi ldren would learn how to draw l inks between literature and real life. I descr ibed Case's (1995) work around global perspect ives and explained how I would use problematised situations in the c l assroom to nurture the characteristics that strengthen "global/diversity perspectives ." Through stimulus books, d iscuss ion material, opportunities for student 147 input, and community support, I hoped to inspire chi ldren: • to appreciate that controversial i ssues are usually complex • to suspend judgment without contextual knowledge • to get "muddy" with an issue until they feel empathy • to appreciate the value in entertaining contrary positions • to be motivated to seek more information, and know the consequences of doing so • to question information sources and be sensitive to b iases • to navigate the uncomfortable zone of ambiguity that is inherent in dec is ion-making • to internalize the personal impact of chauvinism and misunderstanding, and most importantly, • to embrace the universal right to equality of opportunity. I s tressed that the approach I would be using was that of planting s e e d s - sl ipping little question marks into their consc iousness that would need to be visited again and again over time, in order that growth of perceptual skil ls be ensured. Finally, I expressed my commitment to guide the children in finding their own ways to vision the future, to feel hope, and to exper ience a sense of efficacy, both vicariously and directly. I would give the chi ldren plenty of opportunity to feel the power of literacy. Planning A s I began conceptual is ing how this "global/diversity" curriculum would evolve in the c lassroom, I started canvass ing parents of children registered to s e e how they felt about the material we would be studying. I remember being a little taken aback by a certain skeptic ism about the readiness of their children to participate in d i scuss ions about difficult i ssues like poverty, colonial ism, slavery, or the Holocaust. After all, I had been expos ing their chi ldren to similar material in my story hours and had rece ived nothing but ongoing support from the same parents. I hastened to point out that I would be careful to include visioning and avenues for efficacy in my curriculum planning, so a s to avoid overwhelming the students or crippling them with feel ings of 148 insecurity and/or cyn ic ism. In the end, I felt my c l asses filled more on the bas is of who the parents knew me to be, than on their belief in the developmental appropr iateness of the programme. In preparation for building the curriculum, I began as I a lways do, with my books . I gathered together the books that I felt dealt with sensitive i ssues in a nontraditional way and then proceeded to find others that took a traditional viewpoint. Th i s would help me present a ba lanced view in the c lassroom. Then , I started gathering exper ience with var ious i ssues and searching out possible connect ions in the community that might offer avenues for efficacy to the chi ldren. Th i s meant trips or phone ca l l s to various organisations and the collection of resource material that would not have been readily avai lable through the school board. T h e s e trips to the C a r m a n a h Val ley, a logging camp, a demonstration forest, a soup kitchen, the food bank, a wild life rescue association, a reptile refuge, a multicultural resource centre, a shelter for abandoned pets, a refugee support centre, a First Nations friendship centre, a recycl ing depot, a sanitation plant, etc. were time consuming but extremely va luable in giving me a backdrop to my stories and helping me to be more sensit ive to perspect ives different from my own. I found that by internalising the e lements 8 that character ise what I cal l a global/diversity perspective, I was better able to model the skil ls necessary to build understanding and tolerance of alternative perspect ives . 8 To assist the reader, I re-list the elements that characterise a global/diversity perspective below: • embracing equality of opportunity, • seeking more information, • examining critically information sources, • suspending judgment, • entertaining contrary positions, • anticipating complexity, • tolerating ambiguity, • empathising with others, and • overcoming chauvinism. 149 After selecting the books I would use to stimulate d iscuss ion around societal issues, four genera l "diversity sensitive" themes emerged: • What is peace? How does it relate to conflict? • What is our relationship with our environment? • Do an imals have rights? What might those be? • What is conservation/preservation and who is respons ib le? I a l located approximately a week of c l ass time for each theme and planned tentative projects and field trips. In Appendix B, I have listed books I used for each theme and a short summary of some of the activities and project work the chi ldren undertook each week. In the second programme, I abandoned set themes and worked fluidly through similar i s sues v ia inspirational links. I found the links more flexible in al lowing me to respond to student interests and passions. Having been educated in the traditional format where careful planning was equated with success , I initially had difficulty "living" the curriculum and letting go of the control that thorough planning afforded me. I felt a little guilty if I didn't have all the answers and materials at my fingertips. Th i s quickly passed in the second programme, as I witnessed the empowerment chi ldren got from being involved in the planning and material collection stages of curriculum development . Involving them in answering their own quest ions was a tremendous motivator and they began taking ownership for their own learning. T h e y found out first-hand how systems work and the hurdles that need to be jumped. For example , the chi ldren dec ided they wanted to raise funds for a number of conservat ion efforts after we had investigated several perspectives on a variety of issues . Rather than call upon parents to organ ise something that children could have a smal l part in, I encouraged the chi ldren to orchestrate their own Conservation Fair from beginning to end . T h e y started with genera l meetings and broke up into committees. They had to track down dea ls on materials or delegate the task to others. They had to approach building superv isors to get permission to use particular rooms at specific t imes and to set up 150 booths and advertisements . They had to organise parent volunteers and set up work bees to make the crafts they would sel l . Their math skills were put to the cha l lenge when they had to ba lance keeping their prices competitive with the need to ra ise money. At the end of the day, they also had to negotiate how the funds they earned should be used . Th i s may seem a tall order for 6 - 9 year olds, but they rose to the cha l lenge and revel led in the responsibil ity. I a lso became better at anticipating questions, so that I could have the contact information ready to help chi ldren narrow their research and action strategies . I cou ld feel my role changing from c lass ica l teacher to supportive facilitator. I found the bulk of my work lay in setting up the c lassroom and resource bank such that chi ldren cou ld pursue projects independently. I did not anticipate for all eventualities, but at least I had the resources and contact information on hand, so that the chi ldren could track down the information they needed. Th is freed me to interact more as a c lassroom participant --1 was no longer taking so le responsibility for my students' learning. I found I got better at building in time at the end of the day for reflection. Th i s al lowed me to follow up on any issues that were raised unexpectedly, and pull l oose threads together prior to the next day's c lass . A critical e lement pertaining to the success of both programmes was knowledge of the parent and volunteer community. G o o d communication skil ls were important in building and maintaining contact with what I cal led my resource group (e.g., public l iaison staff from Department of Forestry, Greenpeace , Wildlife Wi lderness Committee, G V R D , Aborig ina l Fr iendship Centre, Canad ian Immigration, Canad i an Peacekeep i ng Corps , Parks and Recreation, etc.) -- a network of people whom I could call upon to help the chi ldren and myself make meaningful connections between our study and the 151 larger community . Building this resource group initially took time and conf idence in oneself, but the groundwork paid off many times over in long term benefits. It s eem ed that one contact would yield several more, especial ly if they received progress newsletters or ca lendars outlining our activities. I received a remarkable amount of community help with these two summer programmes, which served to spur me on whenever the going got tough. Classroom Setting T h e c l assroom was a cheery place with high skylights and windows on two s ides . A s ide door opened onto an enc losed play and garden a rea with a smal l asphalt pad to set up outdoor learning centres . A n in-class washroom with deep utility s inks added to the genera l conven ience of the room. Dividers, smal l tables, rolling shelv ing units, and mobi le bookshe lves meant it was easy to set up a warren of learning centres around a large meeting area . I will descr ibe the actual appearance of the c lassroom as if one had taken a snapshot halfway through the second programme. When entering the c lassroom, you walk under the canopy of an old growth forest (floor to ceiling, 3 metres on either s ide of the doorway) created out of recycled materials - paper, tubes, foam, p ieces of fabric, fibres, hemp and paint. (In order to "walk our talk," one of the programme objectives was to use only recycled materials for craft projects. Most materials were purchased from a local bus iness that recycles industrial cast-offs.) T h e forest was populated with birds and an ima ls painted or crafted by the children - speck led foam frogs, cloth squirrels, painted birds. A s you emerged from the forest, you entered the cubby a rea which was papered, wal ls and ceiling, with 55 book covers . T h e chi ldren and parents used this a r e a to debrief about the day's activities and it was helpful to be able to point 152 out favourite stories. Inside the c lassroom, the eaves were covered with "inspirational links" painted in two-toned call igraphy on long banners of paper. Large, colourful "peace" g lobes (80 cm diameter) with the chi ldren interpretations of the term "peace" written and illustrated on them decorated the walls. A large " U " shaped a rea in one corner was cal led the "Meeting A r e a " and w a s banked by bookshe lves on three s ides . T h e fourth side was a backdrop and smal l table used a s a stimulus nook for story d iscuss ions . Large pictures depicting elephant poaching in Kenya , ivory carv ings from the Metropolitan Museum, and a flock of c ranes flying over rice paddies in Vietnam were pinned up over the books Sato and the Elephants by Juan i t a Hav i l l 9 and Grandfather's Dream by Holly Kel ler . 1 0 O n a swath of Afr ican batik fabric, a smal l bowl of rice, p ieces of ivory bangles 1 1 , a soapstone carving and tools, rice paper bookmarks with Sarus Cranes painted on them and a pamphlet appeal ing for an Endangered Spec i e s Act in C a n a d a were p laced a s support materia ls for the story d iscuss ion group. A s I worked with the chi ldren long enough to 9 Sato and the Elephants is a haunting tale about a Japanese youth whose life's dream is to become a master ivory carver. While he knows precisely how the ivory will respond to a particular tool, he is not aware of the origins of his carving material. It is only when he finds a bullet deeply embedded in an ivory piece he hoped would be his masterpiece, that he connects elephant poaching with his trade. This book is particularly good for building tension as the reader readily identifies with both the plight of the elephant and the young boy's dreams. 10 Grandfather's Dream is a compelling story that inspires hope in younger generations regarding our fragile planet. A young boy's grandfather is concerned about the disappearance of the Sarus cranes after the war in Vietnam. He senses that their disappearance is directly related to abuse of the environment. The village council is anxious to turn flooded fields into rice paddies and sees the old man as a thorn in their side when he staunchly refuses to yield his flooded fields. Even his daughter calls him foolish. Again the tension in this book is gripping ~ on the one hand the reader wants to believe in the wisdom of the grandfather, but the village councillors make very convincing arguments for progress. " My engagement jewelry from my then fiance's father in Kenya was several exquisitely fashioned pieces of ivory. Canadian custom officials took most of it on my return to Canada (some was returned a year later) and sawed the bangles off my wrist that were too tight to remove otherwise. My coming to terms with the origins of the beautiful creamy jewelry is a story very close to Sato's and one I use to build context. It is particularly powerful because I model how I was able to embrace conflicting feelings and beliefs and find balance. 153 be able to predict the kinds of discussions, interests, and issues that would move them, I was able to provide books and other materials in advance that related to the story or its subthemes . B o o k c a s e s l ined three s ides of the d iscuss ion group area : one bookcase had the stories and resource materials for that week, another had related stories that might interest the chi ldren, but were not going to be covered in the programme and the third one w a s fil led with unrelated literature. At any point during the day, chi ldren were free to choose books for free reading or as resources for a project or activity. Severa l learning activity centres (writing and editing, chal lenge, sc ience 1 & 2, puzzl ing problems, Internet research, crafts, imaginative/drama, cooking, art, gardening, and construction 1 & 2) were set up around the room with three large tab les for project work (sorting items for the Salvation Army, preparing soup mix bottles with rec ipes for the food bank, sewing a quilt, building bird houses for the conservat ion fair, des ign ing and setting up an organic garden, making a composter, etc.) . Centre activities general ly had some connection to the stories or inspirational link being d i s cussed . Projects focused more on extensions into the community and evolved from d i scuss i ons a imed at building hope in an informed manner. Attention w a s given to making each centre self-sufficient so adult time would not be eroded in "management type" tasks . Materials were stored where they were easi ly access ib le to chi ldren and space was made so that projects could be put away or taken out at var ious stages of completion . 1 2 Centres were set up for activities, so that they were easi ly a ssemb led and d isassembled to allow for fluid schedul ing . Chi ldren 1 2 I use a system of coloured sticky tags that are attached to unfinished pieces of work and a corresponding tag goes to the child's cubby. I find this helps children maintain enough continuity to complete their works. Otherwise the forced breaks because of "home time" or the breaks caused by other exciting activities happening on the other side of the room, leave the class littered with unfinished work. 154 were not required to complete all the available projects -- they could se lect what they wanted to do . For example, when they made travel pillows to remember The Feather Journey by Pau l a Feder, a story depicting the journey of a quilt from the ghetto in Frankfurt to Amer ica , some children made two, others made none. At the s a m e time, other chi ldren were making a "Welcome Quilt" for a refugee family, based on the story The Whispering Blanket by Pegi Deitz S h e a . W e put little instruction sheets in an envelope at each activity: if a child was working on the quilt, but also wanted to do a travel pillow and didn't have time, he could take the instructions and materia ls home and do it there. Th i s meant that projects undertaken were completed to a high degree of quality. T h e chi ldren c ame to understand that even if they didn't do something during the programme, they could still do it on their own -- this took pressure off in c l a s s and left chi ldren free to pursue their interests without worrying that they were miss ing something . I descr ibe four centres below to give the reader a clearer idea of what sort of activities the chi ldren were involved in: • Writing Centre - two computers with the Amaz ing Writing Mach i ne software for word processing, creative writing, and art work. Next to these, sat a table for three and a sect ioned shelf with all the materials needed for writing and illustration. Here the children would write letters to corporations about recycl ing, position statements to government organisations, thank-you letters to community supporters, presentation reports, letters to authors and illustrators, m e m o s to parents, ca lendar captions, stories, poems, signs, memory booklets, etc. • Cha l l enge Centre - here, there were problem-solving situations that by and large were g leaned from community resource material . Three examp les are : 1) If the Wi lderness Wildlife Committee was sent a donation of $150, what are s ome poss ib le ways it could be spent - explain the good and bad of each suggest ion . 2) How do you feel when street people ask you or your parents for money? What are some ways that you might help those less fortunate than yourself - try to think of ways that keep everyone feeling respected . 3) T h e Wildl ife R e s c u e Assoc iat ion sent us biographies on animals in need . R e a d 155 them and then choose which one you want to support and write a sentence or two explaining why. Cop i es of each problem were kept in brown enve lopes with instructions on where to get resource information. • Puzz l ing Prob lems - many of the activities in this centre require the chi ldren to use their math skills. For example, one problem asks the chi ldren to work out three different ways their household could conserve two litres of water a day. Al l information needed (with plenty of visuals) was pinned to the centre backdrop . Two other problems were based on information from the S P C A . T h e y sent graphs showing how many animals were put down in the past three years , and the chi ldren were asked to make projections about future statistics. T h e S P C A also suppl ied a formula that would indicate the s i ze of enc losure necessary for an animal based on typical activities and range. T h e chi ldren had to draft blueprints using the measurements necessary for sensit ive hous ing of a c l assroom pet rabbit. • Art - this centre w a s distinct from the craft centre in that the projects were much more free form. O n e activity that integrated natural sc ience and art was the endangered spec ies canvasses (1 m by 70 cm). T h e chi ldren were to adopt an endangered spec ies and study everything they could about it. Then they were to paint a mock canvas with a meaningful image related to their animal . Finally, they were given acrylic paints and real canvases to create their memory banner. E a c h chi ld wrote a short message about his/her canvas and the works were mounted. At the end of the programme, the children did an A w a r e n e s s March across c ampus to the Education Building, where they d isp layed their c a n v a s s e s for future teachers . (They chose their audience by vote after much d iscuss ion -other options were the library, and a community centre.) Discussion Meetings T h e hub of the two pilot programmes w a s the daily d iscuss ion meeting. A n initial t ime investment to work through the interpersonal dynamics of a respectful group d iscuss ion was required in both programmes. While it was fairly easy to establ ish that all c l a ss members had a right to equal opportunity, it was more difficult for the chi ldren to accept their c l assmates might act upon that right in very different ways . Whether the format of d iscuss ion was a speaking circle or open forum, participants were first taught and later expected to demonstrate an understanding of how respect, reciprocity, re levance, and restraint contribute to healthy d iscuss ion . A s an outcome, th is group 156 was able to sustain an animated and purposeful d iscuss ion for 60 to 70 minutes. W h e n one thinks of the age group (6-9 year olds), it s e e m s hard to bel ieve; yet many days I had to stop focused discussion, so that children would get project time. A change between the first and second pilot programmes was that I re laxed on my des ire to ach ieve s ome sort of consensus amongst the chi ldren before ending the meeting . T h e y learned that they could agree to disagree, and pursue more than one solution to a problem. I learned to l isten! T h e sess i ons a lways started with a recapitulation of the previous day's activities, and an opportunity to add new interpretations to an issue being d i scussed . Then , I would begin the s low building, through "contextualised" story, of a problematised situation. Much time would be spent developing empathy for characters on oppos ing s ides of the fence and finding opportunities to weave students' stories into the d iscuss ion fabric . It was in these d iscuss ion meetings that the seeds for global perspect ives were sown . Project work inside and outside the c lassroom provided the sunsh ine and water to help the s e e d s grow. Field Trips Field trips during and outside c l ass time were an important part of this programme. Efforts were made to prepare chi ldren well so that they would know what quest ions to ask and make meaningful connections to their own exper ience . Many field trips stimulated learning down different paths than would have occurred through c l assroom activities a lone. O n e of the outcomes of reading books about the relationship between humans and their environment was that the children set up a recycling system for the school , 157 complete with information sheets, pick-up rosters, and colour-coded bins. A trip to the Vancouver Recyc l ing Depot was a way to drop off our collection and take in a tour at the s a m e time. A n intermediate station for landfill waste stands next to the recycl ing depot. Every child was suitably shocked at the volume of waste and the statistics thrown at them by the interpreter. But, it was when they asked the recycl ing interpreter about the different numbers on recyclable plastic containers that their "feel good about recycl ing" bubble burst. They were informed that #s 1,2, 4, and 5 could be melted down to make other products like park benches, fence posts, and signs, but that # 3 plastics were not recyc led in C a n a d a because of our laws regarding emiss ions . Instead, they were sh ipped to other countries with lower standards for emiss ions . I was p leased that the chi ldren were troubled by this. After a heated d iscuss ion meeting the next day, a group of chi ldren took it upon themse l ves to compi le a list of products most commonly packaged in #3 plastic and went on to create a "Rethink" handout for their famil ies at the writing centre. In this way, they were helping others make informed choices . They also made up home survey sheets to determine the chal lenges that prevent "easy" domest ic recycl ing . Th i s field trip introduced the inspirational link, "Think globally, act locally." Extensions into the Community At any one point during the programme, the children were reaching out to the community in at least 2 or 3 ways. O n the day I descr ibe above (when Sato and the Elephants and Grandfather's Dream were read), a group of children faxed the Wi lderness Wildlife Committee for information regarding the effect of lost old growth forest habitat on the Spotted Murrelet and Gr izz ly bears . Another group phoned Anthony Wong , an international endangered spec ies activist, for information on bear 158 poaching and gal lb ladder use in Ch inese medicines. Three girls and the c l assroom assistant were making lists to help plan for a Conservat ion Fair and d iscuss ing publicity tactics . A c lassroom volunteer had taken two children to the Greater Vancouver Regiona l District office to negotiate sensitive tree planting in the endowment lands. Still another young boy was trying to tease out the i ssues around decl ining sa lmon stocks from articles on the Internet. Differences between the First and Second Programmes T h e two pilot studies differed in how I organized the curriculum and in my respons i veness to child input. In the first programme, I set the themes before I met the chi ldren . I was keen to communicate to parents what we were doing and the learning object ives behind the programme (motivated, in part, to offset concerns about age appropriateness) . At the end of each week, we would make a "global s logan" banner that pulled together aspects of different issues d iscussed in our meetings. A s I neared the end of the third week, the themes were blurring and the chi ldren were generating severa l s l ogans instead of one. The second study was more participant driven and I w a s much more comfortable with generative curriculum and assured of parent support. I had put twenty, what I now call , "inspirational links" around the room with a space left for new ones . T h e s e were deve loped prior to beginning the programme from material gathered in the first pilot study. Instead of using a global s logan to encapsu late what we had learned, we used the s logans to "link" discussions, books and community projects. No distinct themes existed, but we flowed from one link into the next and then back to an earl ier one. It felt like waves lapping the shore - each link built on a previous link to create one unified, yet diversified, force. W e had a curriculum organic to our group. 159 Another difference between the two programmes was that we spent more time on i ssues in our own backyard the second time around. In the first sess ion , I rational ised that by putting d istance between the children and the i ssues we were d iscuss ing , I would make it eas ier for them to deal with injustice. For example, when we tangled with human conf l i ct , we used books like Rebel by Al lan Bail ie (civilian rebel l ions in Burma), Sadako by Eleanor Coerr (the effects of Hiroshima), Pink and Say by Patr ic ia Po lacco (racism in the Amer ican civil war), and A Time for Toys by Margaret Wild (life a s a J e w in a G e r m a n concentration camp). In the second programme, we took on human conflict i ssues c loser to home, using books like A Smoky Night by E v e Bunting (the phenomenon of riots), Stories of the Road Allowance People by Mar ia Campbe l l (historical effects of residential school ing on contemporary l ives of Met is people), Way Home by Libby Hafhorn (living on the streets), A Coyote Columbus Story by T h o m a s King (colonial ism i ssues from First Nations perspective), and The Bracelet by Yoshiko U c h i d a (Japanese internment along the West Coast) . While the chi ldren handled both approaches well, the immediacy of issues in the second programme afforded chi ldren many opportunities to explore avenues for efficacy. Th is seemed to empower them to deal with top ics typically s ide-stepped by their parents and educators . Adaptability to a "Typical Classroom" What would I change if this program were part of the yearly curriculum? I would still u se the d iscuss ion meeting as the focal part of each day, but relegate the rest of the morning to develop math and literacy skills necessary to support participation in this kind of program. T h e afternoon would be used for project studies with the last half hour reserved for reflection and personal programme planning. Like in any good early chi ldhood programme (K- Grade 3), careful attention would need to be given to planning activities that reinforce skill development cumulatively. T e a c h e r s 160 have to be careful , when using generative curriculum models, not to abandon organisation, sequence , and accountability in an attempt to make projects "match themes . " I have found a healthy dose of creativity and motivation, fuel led by student excitement, a l lows the teacher to connect student interests with both the deve lopment of necessary ski l ls and the understanding of basic concepts . Develop ing curriculum that nurtures global perspectives forced me to use stories, books, and inspirational l inks that were relevant to the children's experience. Re levance goes a long way in motivating chi ldren to chal lenge themselves in areas of learning they perce ive to be less enjoyable . A typical c l assroom format would allow for fuller development of each inspirational link for reasons of time alone. It would also be easier to demonstrate how one revisits an issue over and over again as new information arises. I'm sure the reader can apprec iate that these programmes were very intense and could easi ly be spread out over severa l months. Th i s would also compensate for the fact that most early ch i ldhood educators would not have the ass istance of an aide, and would need more time to prepare support materials. Teachers I have consulted with, through my private bus iness , teachers I have made presentations to at Early Chi ldhood Conferences , and those I have taught a s a Teach ing Assistant at the University of British Co l umb ia have, without exception, been excited about using the perceptual domain as a route to • address ing diversity issues . Two areas that have caused some concern are : 1) difficulty in getting the books, and 2) lack of time to contact resource people during working hours . S o m e of the books are difficult to get , 1 3 A s I mentioned earlier, they aren't usually on 1 3 These books often are not promoted as agressively as "less controversial" books and tend to require a greater degree of "storyworking." 161 "Scholast ic" or "Troll" l ists which provide teachers with easy and cheap book shopp ing ; they often don't get se lected by overstretched school l ibrarians, and they typically have short publication runs. I pick up most of my books from children's bookstores , cultural centres, and small publishing houses . I look for miss ion statements that accommodate diversity and editors that take risks with powerful yet controversia l material . For example, Mi lkweed Editions has a mission statement that c losely j ibes with my world view: Mi lkweed Editions publ ishes with the intention of making a humane impact on society, in the belief that literature is a transformative art uniquely able to convey the essentia l exper iences of the human heart and spirit. T o that end, Mi lkweed Editions publ ishes distinctive vo ices of literary merit in handsomely designed, visually dynamic books, exploring the ethical , cultural, and esthetic issues that free societies need continually to address . (Mi lkweed Editions, 1996) I make it a habit to get on the mailing lists of non-mainstream publishing houses like Theytus (First Nations Writing Centre), so that I may a c c e s s books that don't make it past managers in bookstores or librarians in libraries. I a lso get to know bookstore owners, cultural centre curators and publishing house editors. I make c lear the sort of books or storyl ines I am interested in, so that when something new c o m e s in, I am cal led . Th i s way, I catch books with short publishing runs before they go out of print. Large public l ibraries are another option, but not ideal because of the unavailabil ity of books at the t ime you need them. I recommend that teachers demonstrate "demand" for these books by talking to their school librarians, placing orders at bookstores in c a s e extra stock exists somewhere on a back shelf, searching large "on line" bookstores such a s Chapters . ca or Amazon .com, and loading the public library "on 162 line" system with requests . Regarding time limitations, the constant refrain of teachers today s e e m s to be they have too little to do too much. A n initial t ime investment often g o e s a long way in building a community resource group, and as I mentioned earlier, one contact almost a lways y ie lds two or three more. Also, a relatively short t ime cou ld be spent training a volunteer to gather the information you need. T h e two pilot studies at the U B C Chi ld Study Centre helped me to "live" curriculum in a way I had a lways aspired to, but didn't know how. T h e lessons I learned about children's potential for understanding and acknowledging differing perspect ives underscores all my subsequent teaching . I no longer feel overwhelmed by diversity education, I have found a pathway that lets me address the perceptual doma in in a way that supports inclusive thinking without "watering everything down." I a lso know that no matter how confident I feel, the fact that I work with young chi ldren ra ises alarm bel ls in the early ch i ldhood community regarding Developmental ly Appropr iate Pract ice . Accordingly , I will explore this subject in the following chapter. 163 5 Re-Visioning Socially Relevant Curriculum Weeding and Composting The perceived dark side of the world calls for information rather than silence. ... the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticize the working of institutions which appear to be both neutral and independent; violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that we can fight fear. Michel Foucault Introduction It has been my exper ience that teachers of young chi ldren tend not to invite political or socia l ly controversial subjects into the c lassroom. Other researchers have made similar observat ions (Silin, 1995; Egan, 1988; Bruner, 1986). T h e purpose of this chapter is to question the validity of this position and explore an alternative view. I begin with an ana lys is of the role of ignorance in education, and demonstrate how it infiltrates the ways in which educators practise. Next, I examine the evolution of Developmental ly Appropriate Guide l ines in Early Chi ldhood practice and go on to question the overly literal application of these guidel ines in the c l assroom . I finish by outlining the strategies I use to help children avoid feeling overwhe lmed when they are exposed to alternative modes of knowing and controversial subjects. The Social Power of Ignorance Sil in (1995) descr ibes two kinds of ignorance: one with negative, and one with positive ramifications. T h e first kind is that which fuels hegemony and acculturation. It 164 is akin to the ignorance maintained in Cowslip's warren, where rabbits were ab le to maintain privi leged l ifestyles if they ignored the regular d i sappearance of s o m e of their c lan into the farmer's soup kettle (Watership Down). Individuals in effect use this ignorance as a coping mechan ism to deal with the insecurity and fear that accompany complexity and ambiguity. See ing and managing i ssues in black and white brings a short-term security. Life s e e m s more manageable if there are s imple answers to quest ions that refuse to go away: "people living in poverty d ie because they don't take care of themselves" ; "street people could get jobs like mine if they weren't lazy." A narrowly framed understanding feeds this kind of ignorance by allowing individuals to d istance themse lves from complexity and responsibility. T h e second kind of ignorance is more an acknowledgement that one cannot apprec iate all perspect ives at any one time, that there will a lways be more information to seek, more listening to attend to ~ in short, it descr ibes a recognition of one's limitations. Embrac ing this form of ignorance should not be interpreted to mean that one rushes out and attempts to learn everything there is to know. Rather it is an admiss ion that learning is infinite. By opening up to this realisation, one is able to appreciate the broad spectrum of diversity. It is fear that fue ls the first kind of ignorance, and facing this s ame fear that empowers one to embrace the second kind of ignorance. Instead of letting fear immobi l ise u s and keep us in the sphere of the first type of ignorance, we can reframe fear a s a stimulant that spurs us to ask relevant questions. Despite its benefits a s a learning tool, the second type of ignorance has an inherent danger which, whi le subtle, is debilitating. When chi ldren are overwhe lmed by the 165 broad spectrum of possible perspectives, they can slip into a state of inertia where they are reluctant to take action on anything because there may be a question left unasked, or unanswered . I am reminded of a particularly strong example that emerged from a G r a d e 1 c l assroom at South lands Elementary Schoo l in Vancouver . T h e chi ldren in this c l a s s were not accustomed to d iscuss ing problems to which there were no definitive answers . T h e unit of study was d inosaurs and the chi ldren were div ided into groups of four. E a c h group was required to choose a dinosaur and use resource books to list all its behaviours and physical characteristics. Two groups chose stegosaurus . T h e teacher tried to collate the various groups' observat ions on chart paper, but when she got to stegosaurus there was a cons iderable uproar. O n e group reported that the plates along the animal's back were to collect heat from the sun and radiate it through its body. They said there was one row of plates and they were immobi le: three nice observations for the chart. The other group waved their hands saying, "No, no, you're wrong ! T h e picture in our book shows there are two sets of plates, they can move, and they were used as a defense against meat-eaters ." T h e teacher looked at me with a definite hint of panic, and said, "Christianne, you have a lot of books on dinosaurs . What do you think we should do?" I said, "Wel l , I would start by check ing out the references and compare the dates of publication." T h e chi ldren immediately opened their books and found that both were publ ished in 1991. Then we tried to compare the research that supported them, but both were written by renowned paleontologists. W h e n we determined the books were of equal credibility, I tried to resolve the d i lemma by telling them a story based on the picture book Big Old Bones by David Carrick. A professor, who was obsessed with bones, unearths a very exciting find in the eastern part of the country. He ships them out by train to the west where he has lab space to examine them (a big old barn). A little apprentice helps him put the bones together, and identifies the assemblage (on a smal l s ign directed to the reader) as a Tyrannosaurus Rex. But the professor says , 166 "Impossible ! T h e head would have been too heavy, and there are not enough bones for the arms." He dismantles the bones and puts them together another way. Th i s time they look like a brachiosaurus, which the little apprentice writes on the s ign. T h e professor says, "Impossible! T h e animal couldn't hold up his neck. T h e cavity for the brain is too small to let it even find food . " S o he tries severa l other incarnations, each of which is ruled out for other reasons . In the end, the professor thinks he has finally figured out the bone structure of this ancient creature, and invites numerous dignitaries to a dramatic presentation. But first he must come up with a skin for the creature, a task he accomp l i shes by presenting his wife, a seamstress , with a dozen roses . T h e next day the dinosaur is unveiled. The reader is treated to a comica l combination of five d inosaurs with a patchwork floral skin covering . I expla ined to the chi ldren the reason I used this story was to dramatise the fact that there were no instructions for putting together the puzz le of real d inosaur bones . I underscored the fact that all the knowledge we have today about d inosaurs is based on theor ies : we gather as much information as we can and then try to puzz le through for conc lus ions that seem logical based on that information. I sa id to the teacher, "It would seem that both of these student groups could be right. W e need to get more information. Until we do, we could write that stegosaurus has either one set of plates used to conserve heat, or two sets of plates used to defend itself against predators ." Heavy d iscuss ion ensued among the children and, with the exception of one chi ld, each group w a s adamant that theirs was the only information the teacher should use. B e c a u s e of their des ire to discern right from wrong, the children felt the chart had to reflect one set of findings or the other. By the end of the d iscuss ion , one girl sa id we shouldn't put up anything until we knew more. The majority of the c l ass sa id we should choose one or the other by vote. And one child felt that both answers should go on the chart. Th is child was unusual in his seeming ability to make a dec is ion that tolerated ambiguity, knowing that more information might change his cho ice . Th i s story i l lustrates how children can be paralysed by what they perce ive a s 167 inconclusive information. T h e resulting sense of ambiguity leaves them unable to act. B e c a u s e there is a lways another question that needs answering, they can't go forward. Chi ldren need gu idance in learning how to make dec is ions that leave room for change . With effective modelling, they develop an understanding that any dec is ion is based only on information available at the time, and is consequently l imited. T h i s d o e s not mean dec is ions are meaningless, merely that they are context- and time-specif ic . However, in my experience, most individuals find it unsettling to tolerate the per iods of ambiguity required to break down the insecurity and fear that are part of ignorance. It s e e m s important to me that we show children through stories, l ived exper iences , and observat ions of societies around the world that the bas is of terrorism, subjugation, and atrocity is the controlling power of fear and ignorance. I bel ieve that you can present this to chi ldren in a way that does not, as has been traditionally c la imed, c a u se emotional turmoil . Of course you have to work hard to help chi ldren d iscover hope and strength in reframing fear, and accepting that the world cannot be " learned" a s a ser ies of facts like a mathematical equation. T h e importance of developing multiple perspectives is to create an understanding that dec is ions are contingent on conditions, and that if conditions change, a dec is ion cou ld - and probably should - as well . Chi ldren learn to justify dec is ions and act ions on the bas is of conditions, and this understanding empowers them to make informed dec i s i ons and actions. Encourag ing chi ldren to question becomes an empowering process when they internalise the fact that questions help them address their fears . It is when we try to sque lch fear that we make mistakes. W e need to embrace fear as a tool to help us ask informed quest ions that get to the heart of what we need to know. Oppress i ve 168 movements like Hitler's grow in a cl imate of fear. T o protect ourse lves against this oppress ion , we need to recognise and curtail the hold that fear can gain on our ability to question and understand. Fear feeds on hopelessness , and without hope we find no direction, no purpose, no principles, and have nothing to anchor us. It is important to help chi ldren negotiate a path through ambiguity that can facilitate purpose and pass ion , while acknowledging what is unknowable. I have found this best summed up in the inspirational link from the global diversity programme descr ibed in Chapter 4, "Learning is a temporary loss of security." It takes a skil led educator to create a comfort zone around that temporary loss of security. It requires patience to recognise that children need time to develop, hone and focus a global/diversity lens that we lcomes the second kind of ignorance, while check ing the first. Both teachers and children need flexibility within the temporal aspect of curriculum: it affords them the opportunity to make dec is ions based on reflections and visioning. There should be a sense of freedom that permits the incorporation of additional time without jeopardising the curriculum -- t ime that can be a l located for d iscuss ion , reflection on past events, and visioning of future ones . Ch i ldren need temporal "space" where they can come together and share individual perspectives, each granted equal worth, and continue to vision a common world fed by those perspect ives (Green , 1984). Many educators of young chi ldren treat t ime a s an objective entity, a s moments to be filled with activity. Huebner (1975) suggests that the educational environment should reflect an understanding of lived time, rather than the fragmented and often disjointed routines that reduce learning to a mechan ica l process . O n a larger temporal scale, it takes time for children to start exhibiting changes in how 169 they approach difficult issues . A group of children I have worked with over the past six years (s ince they were four) are only now demonstrating that they have internal ised character ist ics of the global/diversity perspective. I planted s e e d s that would deve lop into these characterist ics , early, through the global programmes at the Ch i ld Study Centre (UBC ) where they were participants. I have repeatedly watered these s e e d s through Story R e s p o n s e groups, Book Club, and involvement in schoo l projects by presenting them with cha l lenges that help them develop the skil ls and character ist ics of the lens themse l ves . 1 4 At age 10, the chi ldren are now able to apply these ski l ls in other "tough and tender" situations. Book C lub vis itors 1 5 have been impressed by the chi ldren's ability to have frank d iscuss ions about personal subjects, to acknowledge alternative perspect ives , and to appreciate different kinds of intell igence. T h e s e chi ldren have come to find a comfort zone in the second kind of ignorance. By embrac ing this, they are engaging in a life-long learning process , so they will still encounter per iods where they hide behind the first kind of ignorance. S o m e educators feel the process of opening children's minds to a wide realm of possibi l it ies is a primary responsibil ity of teachers . However, one of the perennial prob lems in Early Ch i ldhood education has been to determine what subject a reas are appropriate to raise with young children. A s I mentioned earlier, teachers on the whole have exhibited a broad tendency to avoid difficult social and phi losophical i ssues in the Early Chi ldhood c lassroom. Their justification for doing so is often c ouched in the language of Developmental ly Appropriate Gu ide l ines . T h e impact of 14 Story Response groups are weekly sessions where I read to a group of children and have them engage in stories through directed questions, prepared review sheets, and a 'free response" journal where they can draw, write, or otherwise respond to the stories without conforming to directives from me. Stories are selected that challenge narrow patterns of thinking. Book Club is a group of pre-teens and parents that I lead once a month at a local community centre. Part of its mission statement is that we read books that challenge participants to confront controversial issues in a trusting and supportive environment. 1 5 Book Club visitors include authors, illustrators, and book reviewers. 170 these gu idel ines on teaching practice bears investigation in relation to the deve lopment of social ly relevant curriculum. Examining Developmentally Appropriate Practice T o examine a concept one must lay it out so that influences that c ome to bear on its evolution can be seen . Perhaps it would be helpful to begin by putting Developmental ly Appropriate Practice in a historical context to examine and ana lyze the pull it has exerted on early chi ldhood education. T h e roots of early chi ldhood educat ion and, by associat ion, Developmental ly Appropriate Pract ice extend back over four centuries . For the purposes of this argument, it is only necessary to g ive an overview of the movement. During the Protestant Reformation and Cathol ic Counter Reformation, society began to p lace greater importance on early chi ldhood a s an impressionable period when the influence of education was seen to be strong. Because of the va lues of the time, this meant a c lear emphas i s on religious lessons and moral imperatives in the education of young chi ldren. Pedagog ica l treatises put forth by Rousseau (1712-1778) and Pesta lozz i (1747-1827) chal lenged religious commitment as all important in the education of young chi ldren and expressed the need for chi ldren to have greater freedoms . Froebe l (1782-1852), a key catalyst for the early education movement in eighteenth-century Amer ica , was less concerned with specific content than with reiterating the va lue of morality and encouraging chi ldren to recognise universal va lues . H i s contribution to curriculum studies was the call to individualise according to the needs of the chi ld . In the nineteenth century, Froebel's ideas were chal lenged by the 171 Progress i ves who held the scientific method as all-important. T h e Progress ive movement marked a major shift from a philosophical and religious curricular ba se to a secu lar and psychologica l one. Profess iona ls tended to minimise the importance of mora ls and va lues in the c lassroom, using instead material based on the developmental ly-determined interests of the child. The teacher's role was that of democrat ic guide rather than authoritarian director, yet curriculum material w a s rigidly set on the authority of psychological research . Stan ley Hall's chi ld study movement used intensive research with chi ldren to provide a scientific base for Early Chi ldhood curriculum and c lassroom structure. At the s a m e time, however, his work created a dichotomy that effectively segregated those who studied young chi ldren from those who used this knowledge in teaching them. Th i s distinction was further reinforced by academics who were determined to keep educat ion based in sc ience : observable, measurable and predictable. P iaget emerged as a dominant force early in the twentieth century, with the publ ications of his work on the development of rational thought, based on observat ion and interviews with child subjects. His theories, still pervasive in contemporary Early Ch i ldhood education, have nonetheless been subject to extensive crit ic ism. Dona ldson (1978) found Piaget's conclus ions to be ill-founded in that they are not necessar i ly about a child's ability to reason, as much as they may be about her failure to grasp the nature of the problem she is presented with, her lack of motivation to answer or her assessment that the question is irrelevant. Isaacs (1930) felt that the cl inical interview did not make optimal use of the child's intell igence. T h e questioning techn iques revealed more about the child's possess ion of certain information than about his ability to reason . Chi ldren were required to answer quest ions asked by 172 others rather than seek the answers to questions they themse lves ra ised . Brofenbrenner (1989, 1993) c la ims that the child's development is best understood within socia l ly and culturally meaningful contexts. He found that control led, isolated testing env ironments told little of how the child makes meaning in his family, educational setting, community, and broader society. Piaget's work also raised questions about the role of the teacher . H is research contributed to popular ideas about developmental appropriateness and, in turn, this led to a paradox that enmeshed Early Chi ldhood teachers . Ch i ldren cou ld only learn something new when they were ready to, and when the time was right, they would do it naturally -- negating the need for adult intervention or ass istance . In contrast to Piaget, Vygotsky encouraged the teacher to take an active role in assisting deve lopment through scaffolding. O n e of Vygotsky's (1978) most significant contributions to educational study was his description of "zones of proximal development," the d istance between the actual developmental level a s determined by independent problem solving and the potential development as determined through problem solving under adult gu idance or in col laboration with more capable peers (p. 86). Rather that measur ing a child's ability by independent performance alone, educators cou ld begin to look at the child's potential ability given the supportive scaffolding of those at higher levels. Vygotsky envisioned the child's intellectual potential a s developing out of the process of enculturation to a particular society, rather than e m b e d d e d in set biological inheritance. Ironically, Piaget's sequential developmental ism contributed to an underestimation of children's cognitive abilities. Short (1991) drew a connection between this underestimation and the reluctance of teachers to test their students' intellectual, 173 socia l , and emotional competenc ies through the introduction of controversial i ssues . Piaget's assumpt ions that preadolescent chi ldren cannot cope with conflicting ev idence in d i scuss ions around issues gave teachers a rationalisation for their re luctance to initiate d iscuss ion on difficult subjects such as death, home lessness , poverty, victim cyc les , and human conflict. Avoiding the introduction of controversia l subjects in the primary years s e e m s short-sighted as it is through controversy that we learn about ourse lves and can position our identities within larger contexts . Throughout the twentieth century, the field of early chi ldhood drew on a range of psycholog ica l theor ies including behaviourists, Freudians, and constructiv ists . Th i s affinity started to shift in the 1960s as educators moved to more cognitively-oriented curricula . Although this shift led to a reduced emphas is on the socio-emotional adjustment of chi ldren, early chi ldhood educators continued to use psycholog ica l rationales in curriculum design . A significant flaw in this approach lay in the fact that the whole field of psychology is based in European heritage and values . A secondary problem arose with the issue of subjectivity: post-modern v iews cast a shadow on much of Early Ch i ldhood research, including that of P iaget . 1 6 Despite cha l lenges to Piaget's study by other researchers in the field (Isaacs, 1930; Dona ldson , 1978; Matthews, 1980; Short, 1991), his constructs continue to permeate the underlying structure of Early Chi ldhood practice. Piaget's framework for children's learning was extended to other areas of research with young children such a s moral deve lopment (Kohlberg, 1981) and political literacy (Leahy, 1983). 161 am not proposing that psychological theory should be ignored. It is a large part of educational theory, but need not be a dominating force. As educators, we have to decide to what extent we incorporate psychological theory in our pursuit of balanced curriculum. Silin quotes Egan as saying, 'The role of education is to shape the forces that produce psychological regularities, not to be bound by them" (1995, p. 87). 174 Twentieth century psychological theorists, in particular Piaget, provided the material that would later be used to formulate Developmental ly Appropriate Pract ice Gu ide l ines . T h e s e guidel ines determine appropriate group d iscuss ion topics, equipment, learning activities, and overall programme decis ions . T e s t s of "readiness" started to appear and were administered pre- and post-kindergarten to determine whether a chi ld should advance or not. Specif ic skil ls were to be introduced at specif ic ages, or when prerequisite skil ls had been mastered. Developmental ly Appropriate Practice was welcomed by those anxious to e levate the status of Early Chi ldhood practitioners to that of professionals . Developmental ly Appropr iate Gu ide l i nes were translated into tangible standards that faci l itated programme evaluation, and provided a base for accountabi l ity. 1 7 Th i s in turn meant that training courses were required so that practitioners gained familiarity with the standards and were able to put them into practice. Training requirements resulted in a c lear separat ion from the "babysitting" stigma that had long been attached to those working with young chi ldren. Th is development al lowed Early Ch i ldhood teachers to truly enter the field of education. Even a s new understandings of the complexity of learning have emerged (Gardner, 1991; Ma laguzz i , 1993; Forman et.al . , 1993; Hale-Benson, 1986), "the d iscourse of early ch i ldhood cont inues to give precedence to psychological cons iderat ions and to suffer from the conservat ism of the 1980s" (Silin, 1995, p.84). T ime constraints in the c lassroom leave teachers little time for reflecting on the context that curriculum 1 7 Developmentally Appropriate Practice also generated norms that benefitted children by contributing to early identification of problems such as hearing difficulties and chromosomal syndromes. Improved diagnosis allowed educators to provide service and adapt teaching at an earlier stage, thereby increasing children's potential for success over the long term. The norms also had a negative impact - it became too easy to "label" children, and too difficult for children to shed those labels. Norms also led to misdiagnosis because they did not account for the diversity present in our more "global" society. 175 guidel ines are deve loped under. Th is can lead to a tendency where teachers rely on the guidel ines to help them wade through the s e a of materials and content vying for their attention and to expediently eliminate choices . In this sense , the guidel ines become an accepted code -- almost viewed as objective, apolitical, and without agenda . Yet, a s Arnowitz and Giroux (1991), Grumet (1995) and Sil in (1995) argue, teaching is unavoidably a political practice. U s e of Developmental ly Appropr iate Gu ide l ines in this way, c an lead to what I perceive to be a misp laced sense of protective control : protecting children from being exposed to cognitive tasks before they are "ready," or to fine motor activities too early, or to societal i ssues that might c a u s e emotional distress . In focusing on age appropriate guidelines, they run the risk of miss ing the id iosyncras ies of context, personality and intercultural c l assroom dynamics . Even though, in its latest position statement on Developmental ly Appropr iate Pract ice (1996), N A E Y C encourages teachers to integrate the many d imens ions of their knowledge base to account for context, the reality of daily c l assroom struggles and time constraints leave teachers little opportunity to reflect, critically ana lyse, and make reasoned adaptations. Whi le Developmental ly Appropriate Guidel ines have contributed to the credibil ity of Ear ly Ch i ldhood education, I would contend they have been appl ied too general ly and used too literally. Th i s has resulted in a narrow perspective of appropriate curriculum subjects . T h e guidel ines for Developmental ly Appropriate Pract ice have been opened to significant cha l lenge by those concerned with differences in cultural norms, by post-modern researchers concerned with subjectivity, by educational practitioners familiar with the impact of context on a child's "meaning-making," and critical pedagog ists who bel ieve that failing to give a child the tools to negotiate diversity within plurality is an abdication of their responsibil ity. Taken literally, Developmental ly Appropriate 176 Gu ide l i nes j ibe better with pre-given and standardised curriculum than that which is emergent and negotiated (Dyson and Genishi , 1994). However, if one interprets Developmenta l ly Appropriate Practice Guidel ines as merely "guidelines," affected by context and diversity of perspective, compatibility with generative curriculum can be a ch i e ved . In interpreting Developmental ly Appropriate Guidel ines, early chi ldhood educators must go beyond correlating skil ls and abilities with chronological age. By acknowledging the many d imens ions of a child's knowledge base, we can be sensit ive their responses and learn to understand the messages they send . By cultivating a sensitivity to children's responses, you can learn to be guided by their messages . Their responses can indicate the depth of d iscuss ion they can handle, and the extent of contextual isation they require for understanding specif ic i ssues related to the d iscuss ion . They also indicate when there is an individual or col lective need to gather more information, or to get some distance and deal with i ssues on a less persona l bas is . For educators , the chal lenge of matching curriculum themes appropriately to children's deve lopment means doing your homework to ensure that chi ldren are given opportunities to vision, seek more information, and explore avenues of efficacy. In this sense , Developmental ly Appropriate Practice is individualised. W h e n I d i s cuss an issue with the c lass , I watch the children and note their reactions. I might cut d iscuss ion short and redirect children who want a higher level of engagement . In the s ame vein, I might sca le back and reframe or recontextual ise for those having difficulty. S o m e of my Ear ly Ch i ldhood co l leagues would reject the idea that chi ldren benefit 177 from exposure to controversy. In my experience, it is widely felt that children's need for security and clarity are somehow separate from the realities of the contemporary socia l world. A s well, I often hear the argument that children are not cognitively ready to handle difficult subjects, and it is dangerous to expose them to disturbing phenomena . Sil in (1995) descr ibes similar exper iences with his col leagues, and laments the ignorance that c o m e s about from their actions. Shielding chi ldren from global problems cannot be a long term solution to preserving their sense of hope. Purging the curriculum of topics that raise concern for young people, or focus ing d iscuss ion only on "safe" areas, are not options except for making c l assrooms more sterile p laces (Werner, 1999). There is a body of research that indicates chi ldren in primary grades are more politically sophisticated than is general ly a ssumed (Stevens, 1982; Short and Carrington, 1987). A s Van Ornum (1984) suggests, "Today's young people, for better or worse, are savvy and cynical . Old before their time, they know a dodge when they s e e one" (as cited in Werner 1999, p. 251). There is room within the c lassroom context to give chi ldren the opportunity to stretch and define their own limits rather than to a s s u m e what they are. S o m e may ask if I am abandoning the construct of chi ldhood: forcing chi ldren to confront i ssues before they have had a chance to run wild in the forest and smel l the dais ies . In some ways this is a mute point, because as Postman (1999), Elkind (1987b), and Po lakow (1992) have argued before me the largely unmediated technolog ica l explos ion has already robbed chi ldren of Rousseau's " innocence." Our chi ldren are running through cyberhighways in virtual realities that can only i ncrease needs for "instant gratification" (via the click of a mouse) and decrease socia l responsibi l ity (it is easy to shirk responsibility when you don't have to look into the eyes of the other). They have knowledge at their fingertips, but don't know how to use 178 it responsibly . I am arguing for giving children tools with which to mediate the world while showing concern , compass ion , and caring. Helping chi ldren understand injustices cannot be equated with losing chi ldhood innocence. Instead I s e e myself as preserving the world of the child through story dialogues that scaffold opportunities to move from narrow ways of thinking. Shielding chi ldren from life, underest imates the child's ability to think critically, hope optimistically, and generate paths for living a s respectful human beings. Revisioning Relevance from the Child's Perspective T h e p r o c e s s of exploring emotionally volatile, social ly controversial , or va lue- laden i ssues can be threatening to teachers whose comfort zone lies in the a r e a of finite quest ions and answers . In avoiding issues that engender emotional turmoil, teachers hope to protect young chi ldren from the harsh realities of the world. I often find myself wondering who we are really protecting. Is it the children, or is it ultimately ourse l ves? Are we hiding behind our own reluctance to forego a measure of control in order to nurture i ndependence? Are we afraid of engaging with subjects about which we are unreso lved ourse l ves? D o e s this uncertainty chal lenge our position of authority? I have found truth in the expression, "If it's mentionable, it's manageable . " If you can talk about specif ic i ssues in an informed way, you can confront the "perceived dark s ide of the world" in a way chi ldren can handle. It is not enough to simply present bare facts to chi ldren. Ingredients of hope and empowerment must also be added , and then the who le mixture worked and massaged until understanding is reached . In my exper ience , ch i ldren will learn about difficult i ssues at the level they are able to incorporate . However, if they are "protected" from discuss ing anything that fal ls outs ide soc ia l i sed boundaries, they either rebel against those protective limits or 179 incorporate forms of ignorance unquestioningly and mirror the narrow ways of thinking that have been model led to them. Perhaps because of our own insecurities, we err on the s ide of caution. W e are immobi l ised by lack of creativity in how we can introduce inequities and contradict ions in life. W e need ways that metaphorically leave a tattoo rather than a scar -- a springboard for further learning rather than a retreat into the attic where fear fue ls i gnorance . Ch i ldren need gu idance in approaching difficult issues, and in formulating their own opinions. It is vital to model the process we engage in when developing our persona l s tances on particular issues . By engaging children in the process , we equip them with the underlying rationale that supports and informs our positions and dec is ions . By rationalising a phi losophical stance, the child is given an opportunity to internal ise the process of wrangling through with a controversial subject. What is important is not which perspect ive the chi ld takes on a particular issue, but the process s h e goes through in coming to that decision, and the ways in which she can support or val idate her position. It d o e s not help chi ldren in the long run to closet them away from oppos ing or different perspectives. It is critical to provide them with the tools they need to reflect on ethical issues, incorporate values and in the long term create their own personal phi losophies . Th is is not a step-by-step procedure that a chi ld can learn from a book. It is best learned in the social context in which it is meaningful . I find it is a lso important to buttress children against the incredible force of peer pressure through open and ba lanced discuss ion , visioning, simulation, and project work around controversia l issues . Through such involvement, we can "inoculate" them 180 (Gammage , 1984) in some small degree from the virtually inexorable force that peers exert. If you blinker chi ldren, you create room for ill-founded fascination . Ch i ldren need cool c o m e b a c k s that allow them to respond with dignity should they dec l ine to go a long with the group. In discussion, they are exposed to a variety of perspect ives and information; through visioning, they can imagine strong responses to tough arguments; through simulation they can practice those responses ; and through project work, they can internal ise their cho ices and communicate them to others. In this way, chi ldren can make informed and lasting cho ices about their own actions. They can dec ide not to go down a certain path, based on personally meaningful criteria, rather than a seeming ly arbitrary dictate from someone in authority. Having no knowledge is not an option - having a little knowledge is dangerous presenting a ba lanced perspect ive l eads to the kind of knowledge that helps children develop understanding. A s a teacher, I feel my role is to help chi ldren: • fill up a toolbox with equipment and skills they will need to address life's cha l l enges ; • deve lop a lens that permits them to view multiple perspect ives; and • d iscover the pass ions that will inspire them to open the toolbox, and s e e through the lens. T h e framework I use to support this role is an elaborate web of stories, both lived and authored. I use these stories to open up d iscuss ions that engage and empower chi ldren with the processes needed to make their own decis ions . Counter-hegemonic Approach Through Books C l a s s room traditions and stereotypes tend to demarcate power relationships between teacher and learner. Literature and storytelling provide an effective m e a n s of reversing this. "The act of storytelling a ssumes an equality of intell igence in its 181 interlocutor rather than a superiority of knowledge. In moving from the hierarchy of expl ication to the more democratic participation of interpretation, we also move from ignorance a s a vacuum to be filled by knowledge to ignorance as the light that i l lumines knowledge" (Silin 1995, p. 134). Curr icu lum that nurtures global/diversity perspectives can be tai lored to young chi ldren if it is approached through the use of carefully se lected literature, a storyworking format, and opportunities for children to vision and find a venues for efficacy. Taxe l (1989) underscores "literature's perhaps unique power to facil itate d ia logue on a number of critical issues" in his paper entitled Children's literature as an ideological text (p. 220) . By using p ieces of literature that are child-oriented and universal enough that they engage the interest of a diverse audience, I am able to introduce what some might consider to be fairly sophisticated topics. I use material that many would find socially, emotionally, and intellectually chal lenging for the age group I work with. By nesting these in lived experience contexts (storyworking), I c an respond to different levels of maturity, varying background experiences , and a wide range of inherent interests. My cho ice in books reflects a preference for strong storylines that give chi ldren characters and problems to identify with. I tend to select books that either: • deal strongly with a given issue such as racism where an act of bias is central to the storyline; or • deal with a universal problem, and the issue of diversity is dealt with in the natural context of the character or plot development. What I have tried to avoid is the more didactic writing style characteristic of books used in the early 1980s in a movement cal led "Bibliotherapy." In these books, chi ldren are 182 f told how they should approach an issue of some sensitivity. For example , Jeannie Has Two Mothers i l lustrates the life of a girl raised by a lesbian couple. B e c a u s e the intent of the book is to emphas ise the ordinariness of this arrangement, the actual storyline of the book is about Jeann ie and what she does because she has two mothers. A s a result, chi ldren are left with nothing to identify with but her activities and perhaps to s e e how her daily routine compares with theirs. I prefer books whose strength der ives from literary merit, where chi ldren can identify with characters and exerc ise their problem-solving skil ls. A non-didactic approach leaves the child to d iscover feel ings of outrage over an act of inhumanity. Or, if they fail to d i scover it in themselves , they s e e it in their c lassmates' react ions and may pick it up in another book along the same theme. Th is approach relies on the profound impact of a chi ld identifying with the story's characters and virtually experienc ing an issue for him/herself. Th is is far more powerful than listening to a more prescriptive tale where the agenda of the author, in effect, becomes the storyline. A s I expla ined in Chapter 4, I find the flexibility afforded by stories connected through 'inspirational links' is essentia l to generative curriculum. Fluid connect ions al low me to react quickly to the children's responses, and adapt the teaching/learning p rocess accordingly . B a s e d on individual responses, I can follow specific links, and select stories that when "worked" will meet the needs of individuals and at the s a m e time contribute to a growing sense of community among group. Because the pool of literature from which I draw meets the criterion of touching controversial issues, while at the s ame time relying on good storylines, the actual subject of the book does not matter so much as the learning process it facilitates. 183 T h e storyline is what makes a book developmental ly appropriate. T h e appea l of characters and setting engages the child and captures his interest. But what I capita l ise on from the story is its theme, which consistently relates to an i ssue of societal concern . Any one book can be interpreted from a number of different angles, and the i s sues I pull out from the same story will vary depending on the other stories and lived exper iences it is nested in for the children. T h e central point is that the most important ingredient in using a story is to snag the children's interest, arouse their curiosity, awaken their compass ion -- in short, to connect with their emotions/passions so that the learning process can begin. An engaging storyline g ives chi ldren something they can identify with. They may not relate to the whole story, but they can begin to situate themse lves within the tale and in so doing, p lace themse lves in relation to the central i ssue of societal concern that fuels the story. Individualisation centres on connecting chi ldren to their pass ions through literature, by letting their imaginations take hold of ideas and exper iences that push their personal boundar ies and expose them to new perspectives. Educators need to nurture imagination even a s they attend to rational, cognitive structures. It is our ability to reframe and redirect our thinking through the imaginative process that al lows us to make room for perspectives that don't fit traditional patterns. You can respond to a child's insecurities by feeding an imagination that in turn enab les him to vision alternative perspectives and opportunities for decis ion-making . Our ability to reframe and redirect our thinking is cultivated through the exerc i se of our imaginations. Th i s ability is what al lows us to make room for perspect ives that don't fit traditional patterns. A n active imagination is an essential foundation for building a global/diversity perspect ive . 184 A s I mentioned in Chapter 3, educators are chal lenged to find a way to help students find hope within crit ical-mindedness. Werner (1999) has given significant thought to this d i lemma, and has identified four criteria for building hope into curriculum. Students can be guided to use these steps on their own when they are feel ing symptoms of being overwhelmed, such as apathy, anxiety, or inability to make a decis ion . First, the child is asked to seek more information with a mind to check ing the credibility of each resource consulted. Next, the child is encouraged to tap her inner imagination and curiosity centres, and work to apply them to the process of wrangling with a particular issue. Next, it is important to vision and revision poss ib le futures. Finally, chi ldren and educators are chal lenged to explore avenues for personal efficacy. Th i s is perhaps the most important step because through it, chi ldren feel empowered to effect change and acknowledge the importance of taking responsibi l ity for "self." Social Consciousness - Individuals Embracing Contradiction A s much a s my teacher training was a imed at developing programmes to meet individual needs, I can no longer see the development of individuals without acknowledging the significant impact of the social organisations that shape them. In other words, the individual is constituted in and through society. Identity is therefore not defined in opposition to the social context, but within it. Typically, individuals shape identity through relationships with like-minded people, and define themse lves in opposit ion to others. However, it is important to acknowledge that all e lements of society are resident in each of us. A s Rushdie said in Midnight's Children, "To understand one life, you have to swallow the whole world" (p. 126). W e all are characters within stories within sagas . It is important to individualise, but we cannot think of ourse lves a s separate from the myriad contexts in which we live our l ives. 185 Right from the earliest age we are schooled to make meaning by identifying patterns. Whether we unlock the colour code of unit blocks or find trends in socia l behaviour, we are looking for pattern. It is a lways chal lenging to tolerate contradiction within pattern, but s e e m s particularly so for children. A s I mentioned earlier in the thesis , the most difficult set to find in the "Set" game is the one bounded by contradiction. Th i s d o e s not mean we avoid expos ing children to contradiction, for that would be exerc is ing what Sil in refers to as the negative form of ignorance (1995). G iroux and M c L a r e n raise the concern that contradiction may lead to cynicism and despa ir (1989). I have found that chi ldren can s e e past black-and-white constructs, and learn to anticipate and apprec iate complexity as part of the learning process . With exper ience , they deve lop the ability to step back and see pattern in the "break" from pattern, and then step back further and s e e diversity itself as a pattern. By learning to appreciate contradiction, we gain insight into diversity. E a c h of us has contradictory subject positions that, when tapped, permit us multiple perspect ives . E a c h point of contradiction is a hyperlink that al lows us to connect to an alternative perspective . With this in mind, we need to reframe contradiction and conflict from s ites of negativity into opportunities for growth in unanticipated directions. V iewed from the perspect ive of the strength of diversity in evolution, the ability to incorporate contradiction is a characteristic that al lows us to survive. W h e n you move out of the biological paradigm into the sociopolitical realm, this ability inoculates us against hegemony, because through it, we are able to embrace d iscrepanc ies a s an avenue for raising quest ions . T h e power of contradiction became clear to me in an exerc ise I deve loped for my Story Response group participants. I asked the children to find ways to connect what 186 s e e m e d at face value to be incompatible characters . To do this, chi ldren were forced to step back and find some larger framework in which links would emerge . For example , in d i scuss ing Wreckers by Ian Lawrence, the children had to find a common phrase that cou ld link two of the principal characters, S imon and Ca leb . Both lived in the smal l Corn i sh community of Pendennis , where the principal occupat ion was sa lvaging sh ipwrecks that foundered on the rocky coastl ine. S o m e of the "wreckers" went so far a s to inveigle sh ips onto the rocks using false lights, and then killed any who managed to survive the harsh waters so they would have no c la im to the ship's cargo . S imon fought the atrocities committed by the wrecking community whi le Ca leb , on the other hand, was a ruthless pirate who pursued the ships without consc ience . However, what the chi ldren were forced to extract from analysing the two characters w a s that both were respected community leaders, albeit each in different ways, and both shared their ga ins with those in need -- Ca leb from fear, and S imon from compass i on . Th i s exerc i se began as a way to involve children in the story, but it evolved into an effective technique for immersing them in alternative perspectives . T h e y were compe l led to stand back and look at the larger picture long enough to understand what drove the people of Pendenn is into the wrecking business . Whi le none of them liked Ca leb , they could at least withhold judgment on the wreckers a s a whole and see how wrecking had emerged as a viable livelihood amidst the poverty and degradat ion of the surrounding coal-mining towns. This, in turn, forced them to think about why Ca l eb w a s respected . By dwelling in this alternative perspective, the chi ldren, without exception, were able to understand why the practice of wrecking had taken hold in the Corn ish communit ies, and yet at the same time were able to state with conviction that they would not undertake such actions themselves . 187 A s the typical schoo l year progresses, I move from encouraging chi ldren to find contradict ions within a community, to helping them embrace contrasts within an individual. I find the most powerful way of doing this is through engaging with stories of heroes . Heroes are empowering because they embody the potential of one person to cha l lenge a seeming ly impenetrable system. Their ability inspires chi ldren to persevere in pursuits they find chal lenging. In order to make heroes approachable , it is important to move beyond their source of power and illuminate contradictions in their characters . T h e s e contradictions may surface as social ly unaccepted behav iours or transgress ions that don't fit the morality of heroic actions. With work, chi ldren can accept this a s part of the complexity of human nature and, on a larger scale , the diversity of life. Conclusion In laying out Developmental ly Appropriate Practice and examining its impact on the field of Early Chi ldhood, I am forced to demonstrate the "appropriateness" of my position: that social ly relevant curriculum is vital in helping chi ldren function in today's global society. I say this with a mindful eye to the del icate ba lance that must be maintained between developing a child's crit ical-mindedness and encourag ing a s ense of personal efficacy infused with hope. I say this also with an awareness that critical thinking must not degenerate into cynic ism, nor hope into delus ion . Chi ldren need to feel a ba lance in the way they approach learning and living, and can arguably ach ieve this most readily if it is effectively modelled for them by adults. In the next chapter, I will examine the chal lenges and rewards of living curriculum - that is, of model l ing the process for approaching and resolving social i ssues from within the global/diversity perspect ive . 188 6 Living Curriculum Sitting in the Tangled Garden / learned my most lasting lessons about difference by closely attending to the ways in which the differences inside me lie down together. Audre Lorde, 1988 Living Curriculum Th is thes is chron ic les the journey I took in understanding the process that ignites a lifelong pass ion for learning. Th is understanding necessitated the reframing of the way I v iewed curriculum. My journey to understand curriculum did not end at some profound revelation, but rather led me to a space where I could explore freely, truly embrac ing the spectre of change : like the waves of the ocean tide, I edged forward, exploring new ground, and then flowed back to reflect. T h e pebbles beneath me were never the same, allowing me to create infinite new patterns. T h e movement was inexorable : was I pushing the waves or were they pushing m e ? Together we moved forward and backward with the tide, sustained by the s ame energy. Reframing Curriculum Curricu lum: the building blocks of learning defined in separate, concrete units stacked one above the other a sturdy structure erected in every c lassroom (ignoring what is hidden underneath the stairs) But what if... curriculum was not a separate entity into which we infuse the various topics chi ldren need to know 189 what if. curriculum is a fluid entity a living, breathing search for meaning-making a creature hungry for life stories that give re levance a river that dries up without the streams that feed it and the ocean that we lcomes it a space where teachers- learners linger a shifting range of nooks and openings inhabited by entities of its own that create their own spaces and in turn support space within a bridge that is not a permanent structure but a link that you sense a flexible material that al lows connections to move and re-form to i l luminate understanding and support meaning-making what if... curriculum is part of me part of my dance with currere, my thirst for understanding taking ownership / responsibil ity for my learning / visioning / action what if... curriculum is defined by give and take a marriage of perceptual and substantive a continual process to which all have a c c e s s and all contribute what if curriculum is l ived. . . or living? I use the words "living curriculum" to descr ibe the fluid process that integrates personal and professiona l , teacher and student, individual and social , ideal and real , in building a community of learners. In the end, my understanding has come full circle, taking me 190 to a p lace where I could appreciate the doctoral work I had done in relation to the lifework I have undertaken as a teacher and a social ly consc ious member of society. Living Thesis It is this that permits one to reach higher ground, this process of objectifying in language or image what one has thought and then turning around on it and reconsidering it (Bruner 1986, p. 129). T h e act of living curriculum is not unlike the exerc ise of writing this thesis . W h e n I first undertook the job of writing a thesis, it was more as a project which, once evaluated, would serve to direct my professional life along a new career path. I was counse l led repeatedly on the importance of having a tight focus for my research . I w a s reminded that the thes is would not be my life's work but rather would earn me the ticket to get on with doing my life's work. Th i s practical advice a lways had the effect of sending sh ivers down my back because , as a generalist, I feared that no matter how diligently I tried to focus , my research would of necessity erupt as a global work, breaking the constraints forced upon it. Nevertheless, I made several attempts to restrict my focus into projects that my professors would see as "doable." Over time, I c a m e to s e e my thes is a s an entirely different undertaking. While this shift was not one I cou ld c learly articulate, I had the sense that the act of writing would help me understand how I make meaning, enabl ing me, in turn, to communicate it to others, and model and share it with my students. Despite acknowledging that the thes is was a priority in my life, I found I was not prepared to shut the door on my children, take a leave from my work, or abstain from the activities that stimulate my creativity. Instead, I chose to stay in my metaphorical garden, surrounding myself with the riches of teaching, learning, reading, and 191 engaging with chi ldren and adult learners. It was these r iches that provided the energy and insight that fed the thesis, and in turn, the thesis has breathed a fiery pass ion into all that I do, whether that be parenting, counsel l ing other parents, tutoring a chi ld, spreading my contagious love of literature with children, igniting a c l a s s of graduate students, or inspiring other educators. I d iscovered that acts like writing to the Ministry of Education about cas ino fund raising, or talking to loggers in the Carmanah Val ley, did not rob time from my thesis: instead, these activities kept me true to the premise of my philosophy and served to anchor my research and writing. Another cha l lenge arose a s I tried to force what I understood as a fluid process into the rigid convent ions of text. I feared that the act of committing something changeab le to the static form of a concrete, sequential document was an impossible task. I s e e m e d to be having a similar problem with other writing, a s is illustrated in the following journal notation. Personal Journal Entry - October 9, 1998 Again today, I was asked to write down my stories. As with the many times before, I defended my choice not to do this because of the fear that in pinning my words down on paper I would lose the responsive nature of my tales. None of my stories evolve the same way twice: how can I know which version to write down? Without responding to an audience, they will lose their magic. I don't want to be like Munsch who can bring an audience to its knees as he tells stories, but produces books that are lifeless and lack literary merit. It was in grappl ing with the idea of "storyworking" and trying to explain it in my thesis , that I found myself confronting my own insecurities about changing oral literature into written text. T h e process of "storyworking" is the contextualising of written story through var ious techniques such as lived experience, artifacts, other stories, 'inspirational links,' and audio-visual resources, jointly contributed by storyteller and 192 l isteners. If I could "work" others' writing to connect with particular audiences , it was poss ib le that others could "work" my two-dimensional words to spark meaning within themse lves and those they tell stories to. I could release the creative process into others' hands, knowing they would contextual ise the written words, freeing them to take on a new life of their own. My writing would tell stories I would never hear. A s I grappled through these ideas and started to see them emerge in print form, I was able to appreciate the effect that writing the thesis was having on me. W a s I working for the thes is or was the thesis working on me? Through the actual writing, I was able to free a process that informs and connects my personal and professional worlds. At the s a m e time, I real ised this process was teachable to those around me and had immediate appl ication to the broad sphere of education. T h e full implications of the global diversity perspect ive became clear only a s I descr ibed and ana lysed the process that al lowed me to develop it. My run with currere transcended personal learning and introspection by permitting me to understand my exper ience of learning institutions. It was through this understanding of my own learning that I began to deconstruct personal prejudices and take responsibil ity for my teaching/learning. A long the s a m e vein, P inar (1988) sa id : T o the extent one becomes consc ious of the dialectics of one's intellectual development, one can participate in them. Further, through one's self-understanding one comprehends - from a participant's rather than observer's point of view - the functions of ideas and texts in one's intellectual life, and the function of one's intellect in one's life (p. 150). He goes on to say that such understanding of self is not narciss ism, but rather a precondition and concomitant condition to the understanding of others . 193 The thesis was no longer something to get done, so much as a place from which to begin. Questions Raised Upon Reflection A s the meaning of my work became clearer to me, I was able to move from self-doubt and questioning to a more reflective stance. In this mode, I began thinking more clearly about the re levance of this work to other learners and educators . I real ise that the tenor of my work really falls into two camps : the ideas and teaching principles I descr ibe as "global/diversity perspectives" ~ the stars, and the format of autobiography through which these ideas came together - the firmament. In the main body of this text, I have considered the stars and the firmament together a s constel lations, but I think the questions regarding limitations for early chi ldhood practitioners and the quest ions regarding limitations for qualitative researchers are sufficiently distinct that they warrant separate discuss ion . In the remainder of this chapter, I will address questions relating to the nurturing of global/diversity perspect ives in young chi ldren. In the next chapter, I will address quest ions that relate to the overal l methodology of autobiography. A s I reflected on the preceding chapters of this thesis, I compi led a ser ies of quest ions that begged asking . O n e source of inspiration during this process w a s a paper d iscuss ing critical pedagogy by Giroux and S imon (1989). In it, the authors ra ised severa l quest ions that are relevant to my work as well. They do not attempt to answer their questions, instead leaving the reader to wrestle with them herself. Acknowledg ing that the following questions could be answered otherwise, I have written responses from my perspective below. 194 1. What incentive is there to move from what is accepted and easily accountable practice to dimensions of educational activity that are conceptually more difficult and harder to quantify? T y e & T y e (1992) warn that we can no longer ignore or deny the connectedness of our l ives to events taking p lace all around the world and "global education offers a way to turn that around -- or at least to better understand what is happening and why" (p.230). I have found that when one engages children in educational activities that have ethical , aesthetic and political dimensions, their intrinsic motivation is high. B e c a u s e material is more relevant, chi ldren find opportunities for immediate appl ication, thereby increas ing personal motivation. It is a matter of consensus that learning in ethical, aesthetic and political d imens ions is difficult to measure from an evaluative standpoint. A s a result, these aspects of learning are often undervalued and seen as "extras" on the fringe of core curriculum. Ironically, it is these same dimensions that adults must wrestle with in day-to-day living, both personal ly and professionally. Most d i lemmas or points of indecis ion that adults face can be factored down to fear. In confronting fear, we all need to take r isks and endure the uncertainty that accompan ies periods of experimentation. W h e n educators become over-concerned with what is measurable, and when the gu idel ines to s u c c e s s are standardised, children have little opportunity to experiment or learn how to take calculated risks. To the extent that curriculum and instruction are measurab le and quantifiable, they lead chi ldren to take fewer and fewer r isks in order to measure up to control led standards. By exposing chi ldren early on to controversia l subjects, they are able to develop the tools and attitudes necessary to negotiate contradiction and conflict. 195 It is only by address ing the difficulties inherent in evaluating less quantifiable learning that we will generate ways to document change in children's problem-solving orientation. Documentation done over time al lows trends and movements to crystal l ise. W e do have a qualitative paradigm of research to draw from a s far a s documentat ion of that which is subtle and resistant to measurement. Ethical , aesthetic and political d imens ions can still be goal-directed, but this requires creat ive interplay between student and teacher in setting goals and evaluation criteria. By involving the students in the whole process of wrestling with these unstandardised areas of learning, they come to own the evaluation process and results. 2a. How can we acknowledge previous experience as legitimate content and at the same time challenge it? T h e global/diversity perspective helps me filter those lived exper iences that il luminate and connect with i ssues raised in the c lassroom. Because the character ist ics of the perspect ive are defined communally, not personally, they help me focus on both communa l re levance and personal significance. T h e immediacy of lived exper ience facilitates the connection between ideas and promotes the use of analogy and metaphor in the meaning-making process . Yet many teachers struggle over the appropriateness of using lived exper ience as curriculum content because of its inherent subjectivity. I bel ieve it is in the p rocess of chal lenging content that we give it a legitimate place in the curriculum. Consequent ly , I p lace a high priority on establ ishing a c lassroom environment where material is shared with the expectation that group members will respond, whether through chal lenge or support. A n atmosphere must exist in the c lassroom where conflict, d isagreement, and irrationality are accepted temporary occurrences . 196 It is the teacher's struggle to be moral that excites his pupils; it is honesty, not Tightness, that moves children (Kohl, 1988, p. 26). It is a powerful learning experience for children to see a teacher admit making a mistake. It deve lops a kind of intimacy in the c lassroom that leads to respectful and reflective relationships amongst the children, and between chi ldren and adults. I feel it is important to model for children how a particular orientation can colour the information I take in and unwittingly affect my decisions, plans, and directions. Somet imes this orientation goes unrecognised, and I am unaware of it until it is made evident by other people through questions or comments; somet imes it takes a new perspect ive to shake me from an establ ished, if unacknowledged viewpoint. Typically, the more structured my preconception or plan, the more it takes to awaken me. 2b. How do we affirm student "voices" while simultaneously encouraging interrogation of such voices? W h e n students first begin express ing their experiences, they easi ly become defens ive regarding any cha l lenge to their story. It is important to model that teachers are open to this s a m e vulnerability, and require a certain trust and conf idence within themse lves and with the group to share openly. In part, this modell ing is facilitated by setting an environment where everyone's opin ions are val idated and given respect. Children's conf idence is then further bolstered if the teacher, through modelling self-interrogation, encourages each chi ld to critique his own ideas first before looking for constructive criticism from the group. For example , I spend cons iderable time with students establishing a respectful format for our d iscuss ion gatherings where everyone is given respect, and equal opportunity. A 197 technique I find particularly helpful is to let everyone voice their opinion (leaving space for those who wish to abstain), and then give children an opportunity to adapt, revise, or otherwise modify their initial contribution based on the group d iscuss ion before opening the floor for all group members to question or critique one another. Th i s compe l s chi ldren to listen to others' v iews in relation to their own and consequently , base their opin ions on informed discuss ion . Th is leaves them room to modify their v iews if they want to change them, or provides a context for justifying their views, should they remain unchanged . Th i s approach reinforces for me the value of lived experience, as I can model issues, d i lemmas, and resolutions from my personal life, and show myself as s omeone who can adapt my position and -- just as importantly -- make mistakes. To give chi ldren space to d i scuss personal exper iences that did not work out to their satisfaction, I have adopted the phrase "miss the mark" as it is a less judgmental position, avoiding the d ichotomy of 'right' and 'wrong' suggested by "mistake." 3. How does a teacher negotiate within an institution if living curriculum differs from the prevalent institutional philosophy (e.g., school, school board)? In many programmes, generative curriculum is judged to be without academ ic standard or rigour. T h e spontaneous and fluid nature of such curriculum def ies the standards for long-term planning routinely required by educational institutions. Similarly, it does not mesh easi ly with traditional methods for evaluation and accountabil ity. For those unsympathetic to the methodology of generative curriculum, it is difficult to s e e the benefits of different types of learning activities organic to its phi losophy. 198 W h e n I was teaching the Global Programmes at the U B C Chi ld Study Centre, the director a sked m e tor long-term and short-term goals, a s well a s a day-by-day schedu le of what I was going to do. I knew the bank of books I would draw from, the nature of math and literacy opportunities I would provide, and had prepared for a broad range of possibi l ities topics and related activities. Stil l , I found it hard to say what I would cover on a daily basis, let alone during the month. It was difficult for the d irector 1 8 to suspend judgment long enough that he could see the more e lus ive benefits chi ldren obtained from the programme. The second programme was much eas ier because he had observed both the commitment and the documentat ion I put into my teaching the first year, and could see the passion and industry that f lowed through the c l assroom every time he visited. He remained d isconcerted by the amount of time I spent after school , a s he thought it would damage my rapport with the other staff. I w a s never fully successfu l in helping him see that time invested in reflection and research w a s a cornerstone of generative curriculum. In approaching administrators in the future, I would be more vocal from the beginning in expla in ing that specif ic directions and outcomes would become c lear a s t ime progressed . It is eas ier to put the principal or administrator in a receptive frame of mind at the outset, than to defend a particular course of action o nce it is a lready underway. Diligent recording of professional reflections, anecdotal observat ions , and visual examp les of students' work (for example projects, advocacy letters, photo essays , and art work) from previous years can play an instrumental role. Of course , this is difficult for the first time teacher, but even materials gathered from teacher training pract icums can be helpful in gaining support from administrators who have 1 8 As I mentioned in chapter four, the parents too, were uncertain about the direction the programme would take. I found that parent meetings around controversial subjects, one-to-one daily communication, and opportunities for the children to share, extend and expand their learning at home went a long way to establishing a "community of learners." 199 different phi losophies . T h e more informal the c lassroom routine is, the more essentia l "behind-the-scenes" structure becomes . It is important to present the benefits clearly, and perhaps even more important to anticipate the potential a larm bells for those with a more traditional approach to curriculum. By involving administrators in explorat ions of efficacy, they have the opportunity to observe more tangible appl ications. 4. What cost does living curriculum bear in relation to a teacher's personal life? Giroux and S imon (1989) question the feasibility of critical pedagogy a s it requ ires a substantial personal investment, leaving little room for a life separate from the c l assroom . I acknowledge that creating a c lassroom that supports global/diversity perspectives, in itself a form of critical pedagogy, is not a goal shared by all teachers : it requires a motivating pass ion . However, I find that employing interconnected ways of knowing energ ises both my personal and professional life. T h e investment of time is substantial , but teachers have a unique profession where they can conceivably meld persona l and professional spheres . Almost by definition, teachers accept the role of nurturing in their students an understanding that learning is a life-long process -- w e have a wonderful opportunity to model this in how we juxtapose our private and schoo l l ives. Integration creates a synergy that al lows me to live curriculum in an efficient way, with reduced cost to my personal and family life. Th i s process is not a requirement but a privi lege: it creates opportunities to enrich my life, a s well a s those of my chi ldren and students, through creating a feeling of connectedness . Living curriculum invites me to convert all a spects of my life into learning exper iences and teachab le moments . "Living curriculum" in e s s e n c e removes the boundary between persona l and 2 0 0 professional life. It invites personal lived exper iences into the c l assroom and connects them in meaningful ways to the subjects under d iscuss ion . It provides important model l ing for chi ldren by encouraging them to make connect ions themse lves . T h e curriculum b e c o m e s more fluid, providing guidel ines for what chi ldren need rather than preconce ived plans and general ised prescriptions. It u ses l ived exper iences to e x p o s e chi ldren to a wide range of problematised situations that cha l lenge accepted ways of thinking. W h e n priorities between personal and professional l ives are shared, research work that feeds persona l interests can also surface in the c lassroom, where it is susta ined by contributions from others. A s Herbert Kohl points out, teachers are continually involved in creat ing resource materials. T h e work required to situate concepts and i ssues in relevant contexts is a continual demand on teachers' time. O n e must create [a] unit out of one's knowledge and understanding, and must acquire this knowledge and understanding through hard intellectual work. It is no less true, though perhaps less obvious, that the s ame work must be done even when one has a textbook. Keeping one lesson ahead of the chi ldren is worthless. O n e must be more than one lesson ahead of the book to explain things to young chi ldren and help them understand that their doubts and questions, the things that take them beyond the textbook, are the very essence of learning (Kohl, 1988, p. 57). Th i s work can be sustaining rather than draining if it can be framed a s persona l enrichment. T h e need to separate curriculum preparation from personal interests b e c o m e s irrelevant over t ime as less and less effort is required to integrate them: patterns of "crossing over" between the personal and professional become so famil iar that the transition gradual ly d isappears . T h e children are also involved in the process : with a generative curriculum model, they become more participatory in the process of 201 learning, and connect ions continue to develop and diversify a s they mature. I have found in working with chi ldren over a period of time that a shared perspect ive emerges (shared between teacher and learners), based on a mutual interest in societal i ssues . 5. How do we cope with the depression and stress that come from helping children understand the extent of injustice and violence in the world? A s I have written in Chapter 5, it is important to guard against feel ings of hope lessness . It is commonly thought that emotional disruption is something inflicted on us, rather than an occurrence to which we react. W e all choose how we respond to emotional disruption, and have a responsibility to find ways to avoid being overwhe lmed . Accept ing that you cannot change others, nor have the right to, frees you from the stress that c omes from attaching self-worth to the wil l ingness of others to change . Th i s acceptance does not exonerate one from working to understand various viewpoints. O n e still must unearth hope and find personal avenues of efficacy, reinforcing self responsibil ity while defining accountabil ity. Model l ing self responsibi l ity will have ripple effects into the c lassroom community, inspiring chi ldren to take responsibi l ity for their own learning, feel ings and actions. It is when w e accept that the world is unjust, when we accept that life's journey will be difficult, when we stop hoping for an escape route, that we are able to get on with the hard work of negotiating life and find it is not as daunting as we env is ioned. In my exper ience , tolerating ambiguity is not an instinctual behaviour, but can be learned with intellectual and emotional reframing. In anticipating that teaching around difficult i s sues is go ing to bring a measure of uncertainty to the c lassroom, we diffuse s ome of the teacher's stress . Teach ing about controversial i ssues requires a context of 2 0 2 ambiguity, not one of certainty. It is through questioning positions that s e e m unequivocal that we can begin to flush out hidden agendas and persona l bias . Students , in turn, need to internalise that learning to interact with controversia l i s sues is connected to a period of ambiguity. Instead of finding ourse lves overwhelmed, together w e accept these constraints a s a necessary part of the learning process . I find I am able to re lease stress by fighting against the ignorance that feeds injustice. It is even more gratifying to see children develop characterist ics of the global/diversity perspect ive that allow them to face issues from an informed stance. For example , the recent events in Kosovo told a bleak and shattering story. T h e ingredients were so complex, between trying to understand the position of the var ious factions, and being forced to rely on information that was mediated through b iased sources . I found this a very troubling exper ience . But in helping my children raise quest ions and try to make meaning of the conflict, I found renewed energy in seeing the ba lance with which they sought information. Their unqualified acceptance that the war would have complexit ies far deeper than they would be able to appreciate did not prevent them from trying to understand. It is just this ability to ask questions that guards against repetition of similar conflicts. Somet imes , persona l fears of inadequacy or loss of control inhibit teachers from involving their students with controversial issues . Persona l conf idence is c lose ly t ied to a teacher's wi l l ingness to change gears as the situation requires, whether because of new information rece ived or altered context. A s d i scussed earlier, a teacher c a n actual ly strengthen his relationship with students through a wi l l ingness to acknowledge he has "missed the mark," and needs to adjust his sights. In my exper ience , it is eas ier for teachers to avoid feel ings of incompetence if they take 203 on controversia l subjects with which they have some connection, or one that students have exper ienced in some degree. For example, d iscuss ing the c i rcumstances which have pitted brother against brother in Ireland may represent too great a research investment for a teacher making a start in this area . However, choos ing an issue such a s First Nat ions lease agreements with non-aboriginal peoples could be eas i ly fol lowed through the local newspaper and internet by both teacher and students. Resource personnel from different s ides of the issue would be eas ier to access , and avenues for efficacy would be both more apparent and more opportune. 6. How would an administrator evaluate teacher performance in the absence of traditional markers? T e a c h e r evaluation in a generative curriculum programme is difficult because performance criteria are less tangible than in more measurable curriculum formats. A formative evaluation process rather than a summative one would match more c lose ly with the criteria that are important to observe in a teacher committed to generative curriculum and critical pedagogy. A formative evaluation model usually involves three or more visits a year to engage in professional development-l ike exerc i ses between the teacher and an outs ide evaluator. T h e teacher would be c lose ly involved in the ongoing process of identifying and adjusting evaluation criteria. B e c a u s e of the time commitment, teachers tend not to be threatened by the process, which they s e e more a s an opportunity for improvement than a one-off judgment of their teaching ability. W h e n thinking of the kinds of assessment criteria that teacher and evaluator could establ ish, the following come to mind, based on experience both from my own teaching and that of evaluating other teachers . Through reflective records (journal entries, poetic ruminations, photograph studies, theatre projects, websites, 204 newsletters, v ideo presentations), anecdotal observations, documents produced by the c l assroom and verbal interview, the teacher would be able to demonstrate : • ba lance in presentation of issues in the c lassroom; • respons i veness to student input; • skill in facil itating respectful group d iscuss ion and open critique; • l inks between subjects of inquiry that illustrate relevance; • successfu l schedul ing of time for both children and teacher to reflect, vision, and plan for changes ; • strategies for guarding against student hope lessness and for helping chi ldren d iscover joy in their learning; • ev idence of application of learning in real world contexts; • efficient use of parent and community resources; and • a s e n s e of community amongst the chi ldren and c lassroom adults. T e a c h e r s need to own some responsibil ity in developing evaluation methods in order to facil itate the accountabil ity of teaching methods inspired through generative curriculum philosophy. W e have to find creative ways to acknowledge subtle changes in a teacher's critical thinking skills, and her ability to inspire those changes in her students. P rogramme evaluation should also rely on the use of a formative evaluation model . Centra l to this model is the importance of obtaining feedback from the community. For example , evaluation could include parents' comments and suggest ions regarding programme effectiveness, a s well a s input from community resource people who participated in aspects of the programme's presentation (speakers, field trips, etc.) . T h o s e involved cou ld be asked to make particular reference to the programme's 205 re levance and application to real-world contexts. 7. How does one nurture global perspectives within the time constraints of the school year? [T]he t ightness of time that exists in the elementary school has little to do with the quantity that must be learned or the students needs . It represents the teacher's fear of loss of control and is nothing but a weapon used to weaken the solidarity and opposition of the chi ldren that too many teachers unconsciously dread (Kohl, 1988, p. 21). Nurturing a global/diversity perspective is about planting a seed under one set of c ircumstances , that is re-visited in other contexts until it becomes internal ised. It is unreasonab le to expect that a teacher, during the confined period of a schoo l year, can effect fundamental social change, or present all s ides of an issue, g iven other learning needs and curriculum requirements which must be accounted for. What is poss ib le is to invest in a community of learners within the c lassroom to build patterns of peer support, accountability, and shared behaviours. If the initial i ssues that the method is applied to are descr ibed richly and in a s much detail a s possible, their staying power is increased. In addition, the complexity creates a broader range of poss ib le analogies and connecting points for future learning opportunit ies . Concluding Thoughts T h e process of asking the preceding questions caused me to reflect more careful ly on the practical implications others might encounter in following my journey. T h e quest ions identified here are by no means exhaustive, but can serve a s a starting point for d iscuss ing living curriculum and its p lace in contemporary education . Beyond 206 these immediate applications, the approach of critical pedagogy leads the reader to question the research work as a whole. T h e s e concerns are addressed in the final chapter . 207 7 Autobiography - Phenomenon / Methodology / Lifestory Collecting Seeds for Next Year - The Organic Cycle The language of education, If It is to be an invitation to reflection and culture creating, cannot be the so-called uncontaminated language of fact and 'objectivity.' It must express stance and must invite counter-stance and in the process leave place for reflection, for metacognition. Jerome Bruner, 1986 Autobiography Navel gaz ing? Intellectual rigour! Culture of Narc i ss i sm? Liberator from oppression, imaginative linking that opens new doors of inquiry lays bare the uses and abuses of power in our lives. Genre for literary scho lars? Genre of importance to educators Language arts - "write the self"19 Teacher education - methodology Curriculum studies - reconceptualisation... Subject ive - Proceeding from personal id iosyncrasy or individualisation; not impartial or l iteral? 2 0 Conscientisation of how subjectivity is constructed along differing relations of power. Merely an exerc ise of individual c onsc i ousness? An intertextual intersubjective study of humanity "a plurality of egos" * 1 9 Britton, 1983 2 0 Oxford Encyclopedic English Dictionary, 1991 2 1 Foucault, 1977, p.23 208 collective and trans-individual expression. Autobiography -- fuzzy romantic concept with limited claim to academic attention? Legitimate field of knowledge -- its inclusion in academia emphasises the dialectical nature of the relationship of individuals to their contexts. Connects a person's dialogue with the world of experience... Limitations - Implications Typically, when one c o m e s to the end of a piece of research she takes time to reflect on the limitations posed by her methodology cho ice and attempts to identify implications for both future study and the practitioner. In chapter one, I d i scussed the limitations typical ly assoc iated with autobiographical work. Below, I will note my responses to such critiques. Subjectivity and Identity Politics Owing to the subjective nature of all human understanding, it would s e e m impossib le to eradicate subjectivity from research . Even if a set of facts could be agreed upon, the arrangement of such facts would always be dependent on the ideological worldview of the researcher . Perhaps it is no worse to be up front about the part subjectivity plays in one's research than it is to delude oneself into believing it can be isolated from one's findings and ana lys is . Currere forces the writer to confront subjectivity in the interrogation of one's deeply held assumpt ions about education. Even with the difficulty posed by the reluctance of s ome authors to d isc lose personal information, due to power relations with certain readers, autobiography brings about a certain "conscientisation" (Freire, 1970) to 209 marginal ised groups. It does so by exposing how subjectivity is constructed a long differing relations of power. Graham (1991) sees autobiography as a dialectical interplay between the construction of subjectivity collectively and social ly, and the probing of individual consc iousness that may be detached or s i lenced by a culture's dominant d i scourses . In this way, Graham cla ims autobiographical study is a necessary first step to bring about meaningful change. I have made severa l attempts to lay bare my biases and the contradictions within my phi losophy. A s Foucault (1977) suggested is the c a se in autobiographical accounts , my interaction with the numerous egos encompassed in "I" was not f ixed and went through significant changes through the course of writing this text. I have also endeavored to "place" (Kincheloe & Pinar, 1991) my work so a s to expose the embedded socia l forces that shape my subjectivities of self. By using what qualitative researchers refer to a s "rich, thick description," I hope to have nested my comments in contexts c lear to the reader. Fictionalised Accounts Truth? F ict ion? Are these distinct entities? T h o s e who critique autobiography a s a method f lawed by the possibility of fictionalised accounts, seem to infer the possibil ity of truthfulness in other forms of research . I am suspic ious of such claims, for truth e vades us all in the fa lse consc iousness we own as a result of hegemonic structures. W e resist succumbing to its powers only by pooling our partial truths, ever chang ing as our perspect ives shift, and by being ever-vigilant with our questions. Currere is a form of accountabil ity, if only partial, for why we teach what we do - accounting for one's past and the role it has played in constructing, deconstructing, and rebuilding personal know ledge . 210 Th is work is my story: my way of making sense of the journey that grips me as an educator. At the s ame time, I have written the stories of others within mine. I have done my best to give the reader markers of place, time and identity in order to situate my stories in verifiable contexts. I have chosen to use real names a s opposed to pseudonyms, making me more accountable for what I write about others. S o m e might argue that only triangulation in the form of collaborative autobiography ultimately addresses this. Whi le I may agree with this, it is not a lways practical and, in the interim, real n ames at least allow the potential for triangulation to take place. Ideally, in doing this, one invites critical review, contradictions, and poss ib le re-writes from other people named in the text. Those will be stories of their journeys. In scann ing my "education" journal, I c ame upon the following entry which s e e m s relevant to the comments above (footnotes were added subsequently to ass ist the present reader): Is it true? - Education Journal - February 23, 1998 Ah, the old shadowy spectre of truth came up again today. It always appears when the story is hot - too hot to touch; the children have got to know -is it true or not? I've poured my life into this reading of Tulip's Touch22 and they hang on my every word now. Perhaps the characters are too vivid or I've contextualised it too well, but the children in the group have to know - is it true or not? I used my stand-by statement borrowed from Patricia Polacco's23 grandmother in her Russian accent, "Of course it turue —- but (and I raised my finger, smiling) it may not 'av 'appened." This time the children would have none of it - they pressed and pressed for a definitive answer. It was as if elements of the story were so twisted (incest, cruelty to animals, vandalism of a frightening nature) that they couldn't chance that good would champion over evil in good time. If the characters were going to drown in a quagmire of deceit, they'd like to at least know the tale was "just made up." I was caught -1 did not want them to dismiss the intense learning they had done, which they would surely do, if I said the book was not true. Yet I did not want to tell them it was a documentary when it was not. 22 Tulip's Touch by Anne Fine was read to my older "story response" group at Dunbar Community Centre (8-12 years) 2 3 Patricia Polacco is a prolific writer for children. All her stories are seeded in her lived experience. Her compelling style makes you feel like you know the members of her family personally. 211 In the end, the way I dealt with it was to say first and foremost that incest did happen. Some children face this, and the author would have pulled different lived stories together to create hers. I continued by saying, "the fact that the author could conjure up the characters so convincingly suggests she must have drawn on images and events that affected her profoundly, and then used her imagination to connect the pieces she needed for her story to take a life of its own." I added that I use similar techniques as a storyteller: when I start to tell a story there is always a kernel of lived experience or observation, and from there I build a fuller story, drawing on a wide range of life experiences, gluing here and there with imagination. This seemed to be enough. The balance between ambiguity and hope is so tenuous! Somewhere, I remember reading that sometimes fiction is more powerful than truth in its ability to effect change. Is there such purity as truth and fiction, or is every position a partial truth? Difficulty in Duplicating the Study If dupl ication is an essentia l quality of research, what e lements must subsequent researchers be able to repl icate? Currere as a methodology c a u s e s one to linger between the academic and the practical on a bridge between personal and professiona l l ives. Currere requires one to understand and own a holistic process rather than produce an anticipated result, and that process can be re-applied perpetual ly in a broad range of contexts. Others interested in pursuing this method need not dupl icate research conditions. T h e method depends on the unique exper ience of each individual. What is transferable is not the research findings, but the research process . Th i s process, repeated by a growing number of researchers , contributes to a col lective body of Reconceptual ist d iscourse . Lack of Generalisability and Predictability In the c a s e of autobiographical research, the ability to genera l ise and make predictions re lates more to the research process than its results. Through the method of autobiography, I was able to unearth an orientation to education that informs and 2 1 2 drives my practice in all teachable moments. I don't know if other researchers employing the s a m e methodology would experience the s ame change, but I would venture to say they would change in ways meaningful to their context. R e s e a r c h presented in this thesis is not intended to be general isable or to make predictions about student or teacher behaviours. It is intended to descr ibe a process well enough that the reader is drawn to make connections with his own life that c au se reflection about educational practices. At the same time, it is intended to inspire the reader to engage in the reflective process of currere. Implications for Future Research Autobiography, a s research methodology and teaching tool, is experienc ing a greater acceptance in both the academy and field of practice. Whi le by nature, autobiography is a highly individual ised process , trends in presentation and dimly recogn isab le standards are beginning to emerge as narrative theses find room on library she lves . However, when it c o m e s to evaluating these works, even those who write autobiographical ly get nervous. "It's so personal , how can you critique the work without criticising the person?" "What are the criteria by which we grade these works --each one is so different?" "What if I make a judgment, which from a lack of insight or exper ience leads to unwarranted and unfair crit ic isms?" "How can I be famil iar with an individual's persona l readings and lived exper ience contexts?" T h e s e quest ions became increasingly relevant a s I progressed in my own autobiographical research . Their fundamental importance became glaringly c lear when I attended a seminar given by Meira Cook, a visiting scholar in the Department of Engl ish, University of British Columbia . Unexpectedly, her comments around 213 evaluation were to esca late my concerns about the academic reception of autobiographica l research . LANE Brown Bag - Education Journal - March 24th, 1999 A fabulous and at the same time frustrating brown bag! Meira Cooks gave an outstanding presentation on the power of metaphor in narrative. I, like the rest of her audience, was spellbound by both her academic arguments and the organic style of her poetic writings and oral stories. I was beginning to feel comfortable about my own writing and the possibility of a collegia! connection, when someone from the audience asked her about evaluation. She gave some good (safe) comments about the connection with reader and the importance of grounding one's work in a scholarly field. BUT, then she added that she wouldn't let her students hand in autobiographical narratives or poetic ruminations, because they (university students) were not sufficiently mature to handle what might seem an attack on their person or the validity of their knowledge. I couldn't help wondering if she was genuinely trying to protect her students, or if she was uncertain as to evaluative measures herself. I must talk to Carl about this. Evaluation is not something we can shy away from and if we, who do the work, are not prepared to get muddy with accreditation issues, we don't value what we do enough! W h e n I began researching autobiography as a methodology, I w a s asked severa l t imes how I would character ise "good" autobiographical research . I responded that with a good autobiography, my cognitive capabil it ies are aroused, and my own stories c o m e to the fore to be juxtaposed with the original work in the process of making meaning . T h e original text no longer stands alone as someone else's work. A s Freund (1987) would say, "we 'write' the texts we read" (p. 153). Whi le I may not connect on all levels with the work, I am inspired to reflect on the application of at least one idea or principle to my area of study or practice. A "less-than-good" autobiography leaves the reader outside without links that c au se further reflection. Reflecting on how to evaluate qualitative research Macdona ld (1988) writes: If evaluation were truly an adjunct to the goals of human liberation, its 214 value would res ide in the provision of data from the consequences of our act ions which could serve as a bas is in our consc iousness for our further reflection and praxis (p. 172). Th i s approach to evaluation emphas i ses the import stirring praxis within the reader . W h e n reflecting on poss ib le criteria that could be used to evaluate autobiographical research the fol lowing s e e m fundamental to me: 1. the work incorporates and integrates the work of other scholars, positioning the researcher in relation to the field. T h e reader should be conv inced that creative express ions are grounded in scholarly d iscourse . 2. the researcher must give clear, articulate express ion and defense of ideas . 3. the autobiographical process is descr ibed well enough that transferabil ity is perceived by the reader. 4. the narrative contains enough detail relating to context to ga lvan ise in the reader a sense of being there, or to evoke a metaphor for an equivalent exper ience . 5. the researcher demonstrates plausible ev idence of deal ing with the inevitability and the impact of personal bias. 6. arguments and supporting examples "ring true" with a broad range of educators and il luminate connect ions to practice that spawn reflection. 7. the work inspires new ways of viewing curriculum or pedagogy in the reader. Conclusion A s I mentioned in the beginning, I have purposely refrained from attaching a section titled "Implications for Practitioners" on two accounts. First, I have a lways been uncomfortable with prescriptive "how to" guides for teaching. Somehow , they engender in the reader a misleading sense that you can skip the hard work of constructing, deconstructing, and rebuilding knowledge in a personal ly practical way. 215 I don't think there is a fast track to internalising one's learning. It is a process that can be descr ibed , but the hard work is left for the individual to do himself. Second ly , throughout the text I have identified and descr ibed many personal impl ications for practice. In chapter two and three I have demonstrated how the reflective time and space of currere spurred a self-examination which would illuminate an interrelated whole in my approach to education. In chapter four I descr ibe the lens, "global/diversity perspective," that would make my teaching whole while not overwhelming . In descr ib ing these exper iences and methodologies, I hope to inspire others to venture forth on their own journeys with the assurance that the investment of t ime will have long term and lasting effects. P e rhaps one further reflection I would like to share with the practitioner-reader is to reiterate that storyworking, responding to generative curriculum, currere, and living curriculum around "sensitive themes" are ways of being that become eas ier with practice. Famil iarity with method al lows an easier flow between lived exper ience and teachab le moments . A s I explained in a recent interview, the task of develop ing compl icated themes with young chi ldren is facilitated through an investment of time that starts first with the simple "planting of a seed . " I find that the best storytelling, of course, is when you're prepared for the eventualities, and it's a lways better the second or third time you've told it, because you're figuring out where [the children] might ask questions, and you know what you might do to elicit more involvement.. . A lways within my own c lass , I deve loped trickier, sensitive topic areas, because I had on a gradual bas is exposed them to tolerating complexity, ambiguity, different ways of thinking and approaching things. . . It's a matter of planting a s eed and letting it grow and develop, and you have to re-visit it over and over again . I don't think any kind of learning is ever done, but I think we can certainly plant a different kind of seed than maybe those before us have, or society at large has (Rosenberg 1996, p. 107). 216 In a thes is that chronic les a journey for which there is no end, it is difficult to know where to end the writing. Perhaps it is appropriate to finish as I started -- with a story. Th i s t ime I am the teacher rather than the student, at a point where I have embraced and internal ised the global/diversity perspective I have character ised in this work. Re-visiting Watership Down While I have read Watership Down to many groups of children, in many age brackets, I found my recent programming around this book to be the most sat isfy ing . 3 4 Th i s was despite the fact that the broad age span of the group presented a significant chal lenge. With a number of the children in the group, I had been nurturing the deve lopment of a global/diversity perspective for some years through other programmes, while with the others I was planting the seeds for the first time. Perhaps because I had better internal ised the characterist ics of global/diversity myself, it was eas ier for me to evoke them in others. Perhaps also my teaching method has evolved a s a result of this internalisation. I no longer require group consensus . I am able to teach through conflict, and aim for shared understanding of different perspect ives rather than agreement around one perspective. So it was from a new vantage point that I turned the pages of Watership Down. A s Haze l and his band of hessli were approaching Cowsl ip's warren, 2 5 1 found myself wondering how I would introduce what has been a powerful metaphor for critical thinking throughout my life. I told the children that the "next part" would present them with one of life's great lessons . I added that I had referred to it time and time again in trying to understand compl icated situations in my life. Ear ly on in the chapter I found myself able to build intrigue around Cowsl ip's avo idance of questions, without being didactic. I was able to accentuate Fiver's cho ice to question cur ious aspects of the warren's organisation, rather than blindly accept them, and reveal how this characteristic was to expose the sinister, underlying structure of the warren itself. Unlike in previous readings, where I would simply summar ise its genera l message , I was able to build sufficient context to allow the direct reading of Si lverweed's poem. T h e wind is blowing, blowing over the grass . It s h a k e s the willow catkins; the leaves shine silver. 2 4 Presented in a five-day literature camp, four hours a day, at Dunbar Community Centre with 15 children aged 5 to 11 (Vancouver, August 1999). 2 5 Cowslip and his rabbits lived in burrows situated on a farmer's property. The farmer dropped food by the warren, but also laid snares to trap them when they came above ground. This meant the farmer avoided the cost of maintaining hutches, while the rabbits were spared the effort of searching for food, an incentive which lead them to overlook the cost of their aristrocratic lifestyle. 217 W h e r e are you going, wind? Far, far away Over the hills, over the edge of the world. T a k e me with you, wind, high over the sky. I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-wind, Into the sky, the feathery sky and the rabbit.. . (Adams, 1993, p. 100). I was surpr ised at how readily the children were able to perceive that this was a poem cajoling the rabbits to accept death passively and unquestioningly. O n e chi ld drew the compar i son between Cowsl ip's warren and a cult, where people are drawn in "when they are feel ing really bad" and are made to feel loved, without being g iven any information about what they are actually getting involved in. By inviting Hazel's rabbits into his warren, Cows l ip was actually decreas ing the odds of his own death -- a fact he careful ly sh ie lded from Haze l . Not only did the chi ldren come to appreciate the farmer's perspective of low-maintenance rabbit farming: perhaps more importantly they saw that Cowsl ip's rabbits made a cho ice . Th i s varied from past readings where chi ldren tended to s e e Cowsl ip's rabbits as victims of the crafty farmer. Through their choice, the rabbits were rel ieved of the rigours of food gathering and the need to defend themse lves against enemies . Th i s luxury al lowed them to achieve cultural landmarks and socia l improvements: they ate underground, out of the rain; they created poetry; they made sculptural shapes ; they perfected architectural des igns that supported their l ifestyle. T h e s e benefits were a direct result of their choice and while chi ldren apprec iated this point, at the s a m e time they developed a c lear awareness of the high cost Cowsl ip's rabbits paid for their privileged lifestyle. A s we left Cowslip's warren this time, the group was able to understand how one group of rabbits accepted fate whi le the other group of rabbits bel ieved they were masters of their own destiny. In previous readings of Watership Down, I worked hard to build complexity into Genera l Woundwort, f ierce dictator of a warren run like a police state, in an effort to avoid the tendency to present him as a Disney-like, evil caricature. However for some reason , I over looked the author's attempt to incorporate contradiction in the heroic Haze l . T h e ba lance I had achieved through honing a global/diversity perspect ive encouraged me to develop less honourable s ides of Hazel's character - h is initial l apses of panic a s a new leader, his later desire to show bravado. It was gratifying to s e e the chi ldren tolerate these contradictions: they were able to acknowledge the immaturity of some of his actions, while feeling they could still support his leadership . In the past I expla ined the behaviour of Genera l Woundwort, even with older groups, in terms of greed . "Greed feeds greed," I told them, and I remember chi ldren telling one another that if they ate too many peanuts at snack time they would end up like Genera l Woundwort. In retrospect, my explanation fostered a very literal interpretation of Woundwort's obsess i ve character. Th is time I was able to d i scuss the extreme insecurity that Woundwort endured as a child after seeing his parents killed before his 218 eyes, one by a human and the other by a weasel . Th is catastrophic event led to his need for ultimate security, attainable in his eyes only through absolute control . I expla ined that Woundwort's need to remove the smallest of risk factors led to such obsess i ve behaviour that the most basic freedoms within the warren were compromised . Even eating was strictly regulated, and rabbits were permitted no deviation from the schedu le enforced by Woundwort's owsler or police. T h e chi ldren were able to s e e that this attempt to eradicate fear by total removal of risk or experimentation w a s ineffective, and recognised how this led Woundwort to paranoia . W e d i s cussed that in confronting fear, one must take risks and endure s o m e level of experimentation . A s a group the children came to respect Woundwort's dream of perfect safety, but understood his method was inherently f lawed because it fai led to account for the complexity and diversity present in his society. Th i s was the first time I have read Watership Down where the chi ldren were not thirsting for Woundwort's death, but hoped for a last-minute awakening that would lead him to negotiate some form of compromise. In the end they were satisfied with the book's conc lus ion which lent a measure of integrity to his death: after his battle with a bloodthirsty dog, Woundwort's bones were never found, ... so it may perhaps be that after all, that extraordinary rabbit really did wander away to live his f ierce life somewhere e lse and to defy the e//7as resourceful ly as ever . . . there endured the legend that somewhere , out over the Down, there lived a great and solitary rabbit, a giant who drove the elil like mice and somet imes went to silflay in the sky. If ever great danger arose, he would come back to fight for those who honoured his name. A n d mother rabbits would tell their kittens that if they did not do a s they