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Teaching as Activism

Teaching as Activism: Equity Meets Environmentalism

Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Teaching as Activism
    Book Description:

    Contributors include Elisabeth Abergel (Glendon College), Marianne Gosztonyi Ainley (University of Northern British Columbia and University of Victoria), Marie Battiste (University of Saskatchewan), Robin Cavanagh (York University), Vanaja Dhruvarajan (University of Winnipeg), Margrit Eichler (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto), Leesa Fawcett (York University), Ursula M. Franklin (University of Toronto), Monique Frize (Carleton University and the University of Ottawa), Moira Grant (University of Ontario Institute of Technology), Bob Jickling (Lakehead University), Ann Matthews (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto), Alexandra McGregor (York University), Heather Menzies (Carleton University), Natasha S Myers (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Njoki N. Wane (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto), and Barbara Waterfall (Wilfrid Laurier University).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7234-8
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Figures
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Contributors
    (pp. xv-xx)
  6. Prologue
    (pp. xxi-1)
    Ursula M. Franklin

    I have chosen to interpret the term Prologue in its theatrical meaning - as opening reflections to be offered before the actual play begins.

    I am very conscious of the generation gap between me and most of the authors of this volume. They are not just of the generation of my students, but some of them are my students' students. Thus, if this prologue is to be more than a ceremonial nod towards the past, it needs to concern itself with roots and with the soil in which the authors' works have grown.

    Underlying all personal encounters and influences, there...

  7. Overview
    (pp. 3-22)

    We have had trouble deciding on an appropriate title for this book. We originally considered naming itTeaching (Science) As If the World Mattered.The title reflected the fact that we were working in bioscience faculties where reductionist views about how science should be pursued were dominant. Each of us taught and did research in ways that challenged that reductionistic mould. But, since the termsciencehas all the same semantic baggage as the positions we critique, and since any knowledge that we would advocate would be holistic rather than reductionistic (reductionism involving the exclusion of our social world and...


    • 1 The Seedlings Mattered
      (pp. 25-33)

      First thing that spring I returned to the bit of savaged land we’d so virtuously reforested by hand, and saw nothing. None of the sprightly darkgreen sprigs of spruce, or the stubby brush-fronds of pine that we’d planted. Nothing but last year’s tall grass, thistles, and burdock weeds collapsed in a swoon from the drifting and soggy snows of a typical Ontario winter. I hunched down, my feet cold in my rubber boots. I took off my mitt, and lifted a limp strand of grass in my hand. Its colour had faded to a thin beige, with some liver spots...

    • 2 “The Wolf Must Not Be Made a Fool Of”: Reflections on Education, Ethics, and Epistemology
      (pp. 35-45)

      Last summer a group of canoeists pulled into an eddy, then stepped out of their boats onto the rocky edge of a dry alluvial fan. Aqua-tinted water of Yukon’s Wind River drifted by. Inquiries about stopping – again, so soon - shifted to the white figures on the opposite bank. With attention, these figures gradually took the shapes of Dall sheep at a mineral lick.

      Seeing sheep at a mineral lick isn’t rare – not an everyday experience, but common enough if you know where to look. Journeying by canoe allows travellers to slip, for a time, inside a corner of their...

    • 3 Hoops of Spirituality in Science and Technology
      (pp. 47-63)

      We are women from two distinct Indigenous cultures, one Indigenous to North America, the land known as Turtle Island, and the other to Mother Africa. These backgrounds lead us to honour the teachings of our Indigenous traditions in our curricula and praxis. Prominent within Indigenous knowledge traditions is the inclusion of spirituality as a legitimate epistemological foundation. We view the bringing of spirituality to our research and educational practices as pivotal to a sustainable global future. We view our coming together as that of weaving and extending the knowledges that come from the traditions of our grandmothers. We extend this...

    • 4 Teaching Sustainable Science
      (pp. 65-79)

      My epistemological crisis as a science instructor started on my first day as professor at this northern university. The provocation was the continuous stream of lumber trucks that rolled by laden with softwoods destined for the mills that provide such an important economic foundation for this city and country. I learned by experience that the lumber trucks are continuous. They feed the mills that operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. But for me they created an emotional angst and confusion undefinable at the time. Every truck symbolized unsustainability on wheels to me, yet my profession and the...

    • 5 Professional Ideology and Educational Practice: Learning to Be a Health Professional
      (pp. 80-94)

      I appear in this discussion as a medical laboratory technologist who is researching my profession as part of my doctoral research. I reflect on how I have arrived here and on my own struggles as I attempt to draw on new perspectives to understand my profession as part of a larger scientific (and imperfect) discipline, and to consider possible directions for its educational processes.

      I first encountered medical laboratory work as a summer student in a downtown Toronto hospital and, after obtaining my professional certification, I continued to practise in other hospital laboratories in the province of Ontario. I worked...

    • 6 Mainstreaming Transformative Teaching
      (pp. 95-105)

      Reflecting on my experiences teaching business courses to all-female classes at an Ontario Community College during the 1980s made me realize that the pedagogy I used in the classroom (curriculum content and instructional practices) reproduced the dominant power relationships that marginalize women in education and in work. In fact, my pedagogical practices put these students in the ironic position of having to accept the very systems that marginalized them. The professional development available during my teaching years did little to encourage a critical interrogation of classroom pedagogy. In subsequent years, the graduate courses I attended at OISE/UT (Ontario Institute for...

    • 7 Science, Environment, and Women’s Lives: Integrating Teaching and Research
      (pp. 107-118)

      During the past 25 years, my research has focused on the histories of Canadian science and environment. My ongoing investigations have, in turn, motivated my interest in developing undergraduate teaching material on “women, science, and technology” and “women, power, and environments” both from historical and contemporary perspectives. Later, these investigations led to my constructing graduate seminars around the themes of “feminist perspectives on science and technology,” and “gender, power, and environmental problems.” Both my teaching and research have contributed to feminist studies of science and environments in a variety of ways.

      In 1977, I entered graduate school to study the...


    • 8 You Can’t Be the Global Doctor If You’re the Colonial Disease
      (pp. 121-133)

      The United Nations declared 2001 the Year of Dialogue among Civilizations, providing an exemplary opportunity for Canadian educational institutions to confront the ethics, methodologies, and lessons of Indigenous knowledge and heritage. This was a starting point for the longdelayed but necessary dialogue on a just construction of globalization, which is the latest in a series of artificially created concepts that are often referred to but seldom defined. Since globalization continues patterns of imperialism privileging Eurocentric thought, Indigenous communities find themselves still locked in the continuing struggle to overcome the destructive effects of colonization.

      This paper focuses on the contributions Indigenous...

    • 9 Colonialism and Capitalism: Continuities and Variations in Strategies of Domination and Oppression
      (pp. 134-148)

      My entry into North America as a graduate student in the ‘6os made me acutely aware of the impact of the colonization of India on the devaluation of us as a people and on the devaluation of our culture. Such devaluation had become a part of legitimate academic common-sense. My struggles against such a state of affairs as a student was feeble at best since questioning the judgment of learned professors would have sounded a death knell to my career as a student. Experiences of marginalization and devaluation of my culture and race, because of my colonial background, were particularly...

    • 10 The Brave New World of Professional Education
      (pp. 149-166)

      What I am about to say about the university is not what people want to hear. At first, I did not want to pay attention to academic capitalism, and what it signified about the university. I blamed the unethical behaviours I saw on the individual professors and administrators who engaged in them. Later, when the systemic nature of the problem became apparent, I pretended that onlypartof the university was affected by academic capitalism – the pharmaceutical sciences. I thought that I would be able to go elsewhere inside the academy to teach about emancipation, which I thought was the...

    • 11 Working in the Field of Biotechnology
      (pp. 167-178)

      The downstream effects of scientific research, as Martha Crouch once observed, are seldom assessed and reflected upon by scientists, for the idea of the neutrality of scientific results persists (Crouch 1991). While sociologists, feminist scholars, and philosophers of science have convincingly uncovered the contingent and constructed nature of scientific knowledge and its production, most practising scientists are unlikely to have encountered these important works and reflected upon their implications for the conduct of their discipline. Context specificity is a crucial aspect of all knowledge production and in particular for framing knowledge claims; its inclusion in scientific experiments is believed to...


    • 12 The Illiteracy of Social Scientists With Respect to Environmental Sustainability
      (pp. 181-194)

      To speak of scholars as illiterate may seem paradoxical. All of us – whether university students, independent researchers, or professors – certainly can “with understanding both read and write a short, simple statement on [our] everyday life,” following the early UNESCO definition of literacy. Indeed, all of us will qualify as functionally literate in the sense that we are all able to “engage in all those activities in which literacy is required for effective functioning of [our] group and community and also for enabling [us] to continue to use reading, writing and calculation for [our] own and the community’s development” (Lazarus 1985,...

    • 13 Teaching in Engineering As If the World Mattered
      (pp. 195-209)

      Some of the suggestions discussed in this paper have evolved from the report prepared by the Canadian Committee on Women in Engineering (CCWE) released in 1992. The rationale behind the formation of the CCWE was the predicted shortage of female engineers. The causes of the anticipated shortage were cited as: decreasing enrolments in engineering programs; the dwindling number of engineers immigrating to Canada; and future economic growth. In addition, the tragedy at École Polytechnique in Montreal jolted engineers and non-engineers alike into an open discussion of the issues that limit the representation of women in this profession. The process undertaken...

    • 14 Evaluation Matters: Creating Caring ‘Rules’ in the Human Science Paradigm in Nursing Education
      (pp. 210-223)

      There has been no dearth of studies of the professional socialization of nurses. By far the greatest amount of research has examined the degree to which nursing students and graduates from various types of nursing schools have internalized professional values and attitudes. Failures to meet standards for professional nursing practice have been attributed either to a flawed educational process or, more commonly, to the personal characteristics of recruits who are deemed not competent in their praxis. This “deficit model” approach (Acker 1983), which does not take the lived experience of failure into account, has dominated nursing discourse on education. In...

    • 15 Post-colonial Remedies for Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage
      (pp. 224-232)

      Many universities and other educational institutions state in their mission statements or in their institutional goals that the education of Indigenous peoples is a priority; however, to date these priorities have been neo-colonial. In other words, Indigenous people can access what is available, but they cannot change the existing knowledge base. In order for educational institutions to live up to their alleged priorities, they must introduce post-colonial frameworks into their curricula. To do this, educators must confront the colonial history of education, the Eurocentric content of current curricula, and the attitudes of superiority that continue to demean the role of...

    • 16 The Anishinaabe Teaching Wand and Holistic Education
      (pp. 233-253)

      Twelve years ago, I met an Ojibway Elder whose influence would forever change my life. At that time, I began to walk the path my mother had left over 50 years before when she was forced to enter Residential school – a path full of people, like myself, struggling to regain a culture and a tradition half lost within a contemporary world.

      I have spent many years with Elders, attending ceremonies, fasting, and sitting with the Ojibway drum, in order that I might build a good Creational-view as I journey through life. It is through this Creational-view imparted to me by...

    • 17 Visions for Embodiment in Technoscience
      (pp. 255-267)

      Biology is an intensely visual practice: vision is the primary sense of the biologist whose occupation is observation. In the Western culture of science, vision is considered more objective than the other senses: “seeing is believing,” eyes are supposed to be “windows to the world.” In this positivist idealization of objectivity, to render visible is to provide proof, and so biologists use an extensive array of visualization technologies and modes of representation, including microscopes, cameras, chemical reagents, genetic markers, computational models, and multi-dimensional imaging tools, to translate the things we can’t see into visible evidence (Latour 1990, Lynch 1990, Amann...

    • 18 Bioregional Teaching: How to Climb, Eat, Fall, and Learn from Porcupines
      (pp. 269-280)

      No one ever taught me about porcupines in school and I wish they had. At dusk, a solitary porcupine and I would often pass each other in our neighbourhood. As a puppy my dog Ruby ran into a few porcupines (literally) until she learned to give them their space. The porcupine(Erethizon dorsatum)is the only mammal in North America that is covered with long sharp quills (which, incidentally, they cannot throw at humans). They are short-legged vegetarians who are more comfortable in trees than on the ground. ThePeterson North American Field Guide to Mammals(Burt and Grossenheider 1976) actually...

  11. Index
    (pp. 281-291)