During the course of this class I have had to take a step or two back and reflect upon issues which have stretched me as a graduate student in educational administration. I have recently begun to explore gender issues and the ramifications of discrimination and marginalization in my own life. Race is a more difficult label for me to explore personally. I have had diverse friends over the course of my life. However, during my teaching career I have worked with primarily white women and men, narrowing my experience with people of color.
Just as we discussed that news rooms need to reflect the communities they serve, schools need to do the same.
To dismantle stereotypes requires constant attention and work to make connections with people, share experiences, and find common ground. When we isolate ourselves or others based on race, gender, or some other criterion we narrow our experience and create dualities rather than discovering our harmony. The walls go up quickly when we ignore them or forget to keep chipping away at them. During the last year and a half I have been out of the classroom and the public school environment working at the University. I have not had the daily interactions with diverse students and parents which reduce these walls to rubble. Today I work in an office environment having limited periodic contact with students. My coworkers look like me: white women pursuing a graduate education after several years teaching or leading in Oklahoma public schools. Most of us own our homes, had educated parents, and are supporting our children to get a college education. We have no color at the table and I am concerned. What will I do next? I know that I need to address this with someone. But how? Who? What steps shall I take? It is difficult to look at your own organization and say: “We are too white, middle classed, educated, and female to really meet the needs of those we serve.” I know I must. Maybe I could begin with a staff survey and provide a conversation starter. A few weeks ago we blogged about the need for a “race, gender, and the media” course. I think we still need the course and we need to scale up, requiring the inclusion of a similar course in all content areas and programs to make a real difference.
Additionally, in my current program, I am not asked to explore relationships beyond the purview of education. I have only had a couple of communications courses in my life and have felt a bit out of my element during discussions dealing directly with journalism and mass communications. However, I have taken several classes in multicultural education, and gender studies. But when it comes to conversations regarding race I am aware that I still have some walls up. We construct race and gender and other categories which allow for a particular group to be othered, discriminated against, and dominated. By looking to media to determine how gender and racial stereotypes are propagated I have added several new pieces to my personal educational puzzle which will inform my path in educational administration.