Blog 10- Understanding Literacy

November 22, 2021 2 By Gledi Toci
  1. How has your upbringing/schooling shaped how you “read the world?” What biases and lenses do you bring to the classroom? How might we unlearn / work against these biases?
  2. Which “single stories” were present in your own schooling? Whose truth mattered?

I moved here in grade 5, and if I am being honest I did not know what Canada was. I always heard about the states but never about Canada. So coming here I had no ‘single story’ of Canada, which in a way was better. I grew to make my own opinions on the place and people, which for the most part was good. However, as I began to speak and understand the English language, I realized that we really focus on the Europeans ways. This was odd to me at first considering we are not in Europe, but at first, I was not complaining, I was used to it all. I come from a very white European family, mostly all Albanian, and some Italian and Greek. Therefore, all I have learned about is only white people my whole life, until I moved. The schooling I got in Canada, did talk about other cultures other than just white people, but the stories told were “single stories”. Chimamanda pointed out how her roommate was confused when she said that “Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my “tribal music,” and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey” (2021).  This shows that often what has become common sense for us, is a single story that is not even the truth. Even though I come with a white bias in a classroom I am excited to challenge myself to share different cultural perspectives and share new diverse readings. Even though I am aware that “changing what students read, educators are also changing how students read” (Kumashiro 2009, p.g. 72). This is the challenge we as educators need to take on, considering these single stories are taught to children from a young age, shaping the knowledge they have of diverse cultures.

Canada is very multicultural though, as I saw myself, so we did occasionally learn about other cultures. I remember learning a bit about Residential Schools and how Indigenous people needed to learn “Western” ways, and that their ways of life were inefficient. This lead to me believing that the Indigenous people’s ways were “outdated”. When I was taught about Indigenous people, it was made to seem as if they refused to evolve with the rest of society, when realistically they were just as evolved if not more. Only because their way was different and more spiritually connected, it was taught as inefficient, rather than appreciated. Students like myself often fail to understand Indigenous ways, considering only brief single-storied conversations are shared in classrooms. That is the issue in classrooms, not enough students have voices and are left to be misled by the one-sided Western stories shared in Canada.