Talking about Gender, Ability and Race…

Having a baby in 3 months and studying about social justice and anti-oppressive education simultaneously is actually a blessing. I did not realize how much common sense and social ideals are put into as harmless wishes to a baby.

Lets list first things came into my mind:

  • ·         I wanted to raise my child in gender neutral way; neither color separation nor characters to address babies into two genders. However, I thought about if it was a boy I would be active and playful mother and if it was a girl I would cook with her and do crafts and arts… The role as a mother seems to be different for a boy or a girl.
  • ·         Wishing for healthy, able body; I became conscious about what to eat to promote baby’s growth and health benefits. I wanted to make sure by testing before hand for any possibility.
  • ·         Hoping for traits from both race in balance; Caucasian Canadian and Japanese. Thinking about raising my child in bilingual house, naming in both Canadian and Japanese…etc.

So today, I am going to start talking about gender.

Why do we care about gender so much? Throughout my pregnancy and almost everyone asked me “what are you having?”
I decided to find out my baby’s gender because I thought it will allow me to prepare for the baby’s arrival easier. Why is it easier? I was thinking about raising my baby gender neutral anyways. But ever since I found out about my baby’s gender, my eyes go toward girls’ things. patterns for cute dresses and clothes…
When I tell my friends and families that I am having a girl and everybody thinks it is great to have a girl. Everybody, especially for experienced mom who has both boy and girl, they all say that it is easier to raise a girl. You can have fun dressing her up and all of the girly stuff. I am guessing that if it was a boy, everybody would be saying positive things to dad more, like play sports together and field trips, etc.

I must admit it, the thing that worries me the most is if my girl is born and figure that she is a transgender. Of course I will support her in any way that is possible, but our society, my community ready for it? I have watched the documentary (16X9: Two transgender children struggle to be themselves )the other night about this issue and it made me think about the life in my belly.

I grew up in the country where gender role was clearly drawn in society; I always envied being a boy. Maybe because mom telling me sometimes about what dad said when I was born. “Oh, it’s a girl again.”
In Japan (in most of Asian countries), traditionally boys are preferred, even pressure to have boys to carry on your family. My dad’s comment clearly reflect on this tradition; however, I took myself as a disappointment for him. I often thought about if I were a boy. I know my dad loves me in his own ways now, but it was diminishing feeling for a young girl.

It is not like I wanted to be rough and fight with other boys but they seemed get away with many things too. I loved watching martial arts and I wanted to learn Judo or Karate; but my mother would say, “Because you are girl…” meaning girls don’t do these things. I loved climbing up the trees and jumping between roofs of sheds. I often lipped my clothes and my mother would say, “Because you are girl…”

I had long hair until I was 12; it was not because I wanted to girly but it was rather did not want get my hair cut from mom. Last hair cut she did on me made my head looked like a mushroom when I was 8. So when I turned 12, I asked mom to take me to the hair salon and cut it very short. I recall then that my posture and clothing changed to boyish ones. Acted and spoke more boyish. I liked that my friends told me I was more handsome and cool than boys in the class. I felt stronger and free. Mind you it was not about my sexuality, it was more about the power the gender possessed.

It was the time I went through my hormonal phase. My body was changing into something different from before and clearly different from boys. Through my childhood, I was always taller than most of the boys in the class and often stronger in arm wrestle. I could run faster and jump higher. I was not really like a girly figure that the society put out – petite, thin, cute, long fair hair, fair skin with big eyes …like someone on TV. Perhaps the ideal image was too far apart from me that I envied boys so much… There were more guy figures with different quality.

I wonder when I became comfortable or really felt happy to be a woman… I guess it was when I came to Canada. Everybody told me how small and thin I was (which boosted my self-esteem for sure). I could differentiate myself from others more because of my race. I met my husband who appreciated and praised me like I have never been before. I do still struggle accepting complements though, because traditionally parents and family never complements their own family members out loud.

I was able to truly appreciate being a female when I found out I was pregnant. First time I heard my baby’s heart beat, I just cried with joy and sincerely appreciated this life within me.  Having new life growing inside me empowered me and made me stronger as an individual. I do fear many things of course; however, I am more determined to become a teacher and provide good stable life for my child. I could not feel this way if I was a man. So many years trying to have baby and not being successful, it made me feel like I was a failure as a woman. I did not realize how strongly I associated childbearing and womanhood. On the other hand, it did give me a push to pursuit higher education and career at the age 35, when my potential motherhood diminished inside me. I now think that I had an ideal image of a mother to be: at home or at least work comfortable hours at school as EA so I can be available at home in decent time – motherhood comes first and career second, must choose your priority. I think it is because my mom was a stay home mother and she was always at home when I came home from school. And I do really appreciate her being at home for us then. She made us feel safe and comfortable to come home.
Though, I have seen her unhappy sometimes. She often fondly talked about her job and her colleagues before she got married. In Japan, it was (or I should say still is) just customary to quit job and devote herself to her husband and family. My mom’s experience made me want to keep working after getting married, wanted to keep myself as a productive adult contributing to society. It is not that stay-home parents are not contributing to the society; however, the society treat them feel that way.

Well, it is hard to conclude my thoughts now… maybe later…


REthinking – my autobiography

As I read back what I wrote, I realized that I left out the part of my family.
Although I believe my family shaped who I am as a person and I love them dearly; however, I didn’t mention about them. So I wondered why?

Perhaps I feel guilty that I have not been back to Japan often enough to visit them.
Perhaps I feel I am finally a whole person without my family backing me up.
Perhaps I don’t want to be judged by my family experiences or lack of it.
Perhaps my cultural habit, talking about family proudly is something that is considered not modest in our culture.

Ever since I lived in Fort Qu’Appelle, I have seen the disparity among families in town.
“Haves” and “have-nots” are clearly marked and children knows it, and it is very sensitive matter.
Yes, “family” is very sensitive matter because it is in your core, built your base and it makes you.
It comforts and protects you.

But family also can be harmful. It can bring shame and reputation because of the family sometimes.

Perhaps I did not mention about my family in my autobiography because I was not brave enough to unpack my family experiences yet.
Maybe soon…

Movie and Social Justice Lesson

Lately, I have been thinking about ways to connect social justice issues with younger students. And I came across with movie “Babe” on TV this morning. I have watched this movie many times before and it touches me every time, so I watched it again.

But something different about watching it this morning was that suddenly I saw the opportunity to talk about social justice issues surround us that reflected in this film.

Farms animals think they have their own destiny and they say it is just the way it is, pigs are supposed to be this way and that way, and so on. I wondered what children would say if we could think each animals as human and living in diverse community like ours. Are we suppose to just accept the way things are, or what can we do with our life?
Babe (the pig) tries his best that he can be, he tries to become a ‘sheep dog’ in his own way. He cannot run fast or bark to scare sheep like a dog, but he accepts who he is and asks sheep to work with him instead.

I thought we can talk about ability, race and diversity, privilege and equity, self-identity, etc with my future students using this movie.

It would be interesting to see what kind of teaching opportunity we can find by watching movies.

Teaching Philosophy

As a part of ECS200 class, we are to create our own teaching philosophy.

When I entered this education program, I thought I was more clear of what was my mission as an educator. However, it is becoming more and more confused and conflicted about what it is important for me and my future students as I continue my journey. Perhaps, because I have not taken enough time to reflect upon my thoughts and what I have learned. Or perhaps, everything I learned seem important and cannot to choose right now.

So I decided to take my time to explore my teaching philosophy using prompts from University of Waterloo web page.

Respond to the following prompts in developing a comprehensive record of your beliefs about the various aspects of teaching and learning:

  1. Why do you believe your students want to learn? Describe them as learners in any way you can.
    – I believe students are naturally curious being, filled with questions and wonders about anything. It is up to us educators to nurture or hinder their curiosities. I want to provide active and safe environments for students to explore their curiosities, and I want to be their guide and stage manager.
  2. What are your aims for teaching? What do you hope to accomplish when you teach? What do your aims say about you as a teacher?
    – I think students need to build basic skills as their foundation to continue with their learning. However, basic skills for my future students may not be same as what I established decades ago. I hope to be flexible and open enough to see the change in needs and being able to adapt myself.
  3. Does your subject matter affect your beliefs about teaching or learning? If so, explain how.
    – I am learner first and I will work hard to gain knowledge about subjects I will be teaching. However, teaching may not be a right word for my style, it is to share my knowledge and learn together with my students.
  4. Create a list in response to the following prompt: “When I teach I:” Once you’ve created the list, reflect on why you do what you do.
    – When I teach I am an authoritative leader. I will lead my students’ day in my classroom. I will be there to assist and guide through their learning journey. Establishing classroom rules with students is important for me.
  5. What do you believe about learning? How would you describe it? What are your sources for your beliefs?
    – I believe life long learning. There is always more dimensions to what we know or learn and we must keep exploring those different sides. Moreover, technology is advancing and the world is shrinking. There is always something new to learn every single day, minute, even second.

Well, I must keep coming back to my responses and reflect on them over time.

Links to share

There are so many websites about Canada’s First Nations are available, but sorting through and searching for Saskatchewan’s First Nations’ contents can be long process.
Here are some that I thought I may come back to use as resources later on.

  1. Using First Nations Traditional Literature in the Classroom
  2. Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan – Aboriginal People of Saskatchewan
  3. Prairie Spirit School Division(SK) – First Nations and Métis (K-5) Leaning Resources


See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil


The photo: see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

In Japan, this refers to the three wise monkeys: it associates with being of good mind, speech and action.However, I saw it as children are being made blind, deaf and speechless about racism in society. 

It took me a while to put down my thoughts onto the paper and here it is. (Assignment 2 Part 2)|
I chose two stories from Rita Tenorio, “Brown Kids Can’t Be in Our Club” and “Curriculum is Everything That Happens,” to reflect my own act of racism and how can I move onto practicing anti oppressive teaching.

Technology and social justice

I grew up without any computer in schools and it amazes me the change that happened since then. Baby fiddling with mother’s iPhone, kids’ in trance with mobile device and forgetting rest of the world.
I think it is urgent to teach children about technology as a tool to help their life and not get consumed by it.

As social justice point, we can not forget about the digital divide: haves and have nots. Technology is great in schools, but very single students have access to it at home? Or can they afford to access it? I think this divide will become wider and wider until the advancement of technology and consumerism stop, and that my never happen. So is it fair?

When I watched the video of the seventh grade student’s science project with technology, it made me think that she must be wealthy and her family can afford her personal computer. I wondered how her classmates and her community are like. Perhaps, she is in the well established community with well equipped school.

Of course, technology gives us so many positive possibilities for teaching and becoming activists for social justice. WWW connects us to anywhere in the world and we can provide support to the other side of globe from our home. We can become a part of global citizenship and contribute in anyway that our imagination will expand.

We Are All Treaty People

For myself, teaching treaty education was something that I have no permission to teach. As an immigrant, I was unsure and felt intrusive even to do so. Perhaps it should be left to teach by elders and experts.
However, Claire has enlighten us with the perspective of “we are all treaty people.” I am very happy to know that I can say that and to the students.
Past 14 years in canada, I was busy accustomed into the Euro-Canadian ways of living and did not pay enough attention to Canada’s First Nations people and their legacies and feats that had been taken away.
I look forward to see us, student-teachers, becoming fearless and advocate of treaty education.