Saturday, December 29, 2007

Blogger identity issues

A semester ago I decided to discontinue this blog and leave behind its writings from a difficult year, with the mistakes I made as well as the awful things that happened to my students - but every now and again there are topics that seem to fit better here than at Coffee and Graph Paper, and I think I'll pick up the 7 random things meme from e to start this blog up again.

Instead of seven entirely "random or weird" facts about myself, here are seven ideas or beliefs that I have held at some point but do not hold anymore. Weird they are, "random" - I don't know. I turned 30 this year, and at some age I have thought that
  • women are best suited for staying at home and minding kids, and that seeking a career outside the home is an expression of selfishness
  • Nelson Mandela was a terrorist
  • the theory of evolution is about the accumulation of advantageous traits from one generation to the next, and that this theory is ridiculous and makes no sense*
  • "whites" and "blacks" are probably better off living in separate areas and developing their different cultures without mutual interference
  • homosexuality is a sort of curse probably rightfully earned by those smitten with it
  • the European Union just might have something to do with the rise of the Antichrist
What can I say? That I believe in education? I cringe while writing these lines even as a statement of notions shed fifteen (give or take a few) years ago.

Also, thinking about the amount of effort, and reading, and discussion, and embarrassment it took to transition from these assumptions to my current ones, it seems a little sad that children are born knowing nothing, that every person needs to start from scratch anyway.

At least we aren't born with ingrained misconceptions of the kind listed above. That's something.

The magnitude of the shift of my ideas invites the question what a list of my current notions will look like in the light of another fifteen years. It's one of the thoughts that makes public writing uncomfortable and underlies an urge to delete entries, discontinue blogs, and definitely keep everything anonymous. Yet, public articulation of one's ideas and trying out arguments against others' is precisely what is needed in order not to get too comfortable with possibly poorly justified beliefs.

This seems a rather random (eh) response to a "7 things meme." I'm preoccupied with this just now because we're having a "diversity training" in January, and I'm dreading it. I hope we won't be asked to dig around in our childhood to unearth our identity there. I have to believe that it is possible to do better than that.

That's one reason why I am a teacher.

*At least there was something to the impatience with Lamarckian explanations. There's that.


e said...

Education seems to have served you well :)

Writing this post must have taken a lot of courage. Although, it probably shouldn't have. See, you read and learned and talked and discussed. And because of what you learned those old beliefs make you cringe. Not because somebody told you that they should make you cringe. But back to the old beliefs, were you even really responsible for them? Whose were they? Were they truly yours or were they inherited?

Why are you dreading the "diversity training"? I have to say that is a rather interesting title. It alone makes me sad. We need to be trained to do exactly what? Who are the people who are being trained? Who are the people doing the training? Sad.

H. said...

"Were they truly yours?" - I don't know, e. They were inherited, but that didn't make them less my own - what you inherit doesn't become less yours just because you didn't ask for it. And the confusion and shame involved in transitioning from one set of beliefs to another presumably doesn't depend on where the original ideas came from.

As for the "diversity training" - I certainly believe that some direct instruction on typical differences between specified groups could be enlightening and worthwhile - I've learned so much from reading books that do that - and we definitely have a lot of issues to think about as a school with a highly diverse student body and a pretty homogeneous teaching staff. I just hope we won't be spending lots of time on uncover-your-own-identity type activities, because I can't bear it - and also because I think that intensive introspection is pretty ineffective as a strategy for approaching and understanding points of view that are significantly different from your own.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thoughts. Good for you for thinking about your own ideas and not being afraid to tell everyone that once you were wrong. Although I still find nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom and consider it to be a beautiful profession (not that career moms are selfish).