Contexts for Becoming and Belonging
Chapter Fourteen: Reflecting on Inclusion through a Culturally Responsive Lens
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Reflecting on Inclusion through a Culturally Responsive Lens
ROBBIE LAMONTUNIVERSITY OF WAIKATO
EXPERIENCES OF BELONGING
I still remember the five-year-olds in the first class I taught nearly 40 years ago. They quickly taught me how passionate I was about learning and teaching. What I remember most was the light in their eyes, the sparkle of confidence, curiosity and excitement at starting school. Sadly as the year progressed I noticed how quickly that light dimmed in some children’s eyes. I heard children labeled as ‘slow’, ‘failing’, even ‘backward’ by teachers. I felt alienated from my colleagues who I observed normalizing this othering so that, by and large, it went unchallenged (Shields, Bishop & Mazawi, 2005). I did not know how to name, much less challenge, the pathologizing discourses around me that suggested the situation would improve, if only the child or the child’s family were different. They should ‘try harder’, ‘concentrate better’, ‘sit still for longer’, ‘listen more carefully’, ‘care more’, ‘be better role models’, ‘help more with homework’. When a senior member of staff hauled a little boy with attention difficulties out of my class and loudly chastised him for not sitting still I felt utterly powerless! Without the wisdom to know what, or how, to do anything to change it I began to feel compromised by participating in a system I saw as inherently flawed. Thus began a search for a different way to engage in education...
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