As a teenager, I totally related to both Roger Hodgson and Roger Waters in their reflections of boarding school experiences. When Hodgson (1979) wrote, “But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible/Logical, oh responsible, practical
And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable/Oh clinical, oh intellectual, cynical” , I sang along deliriously relating to the sad state of the education system. When Waters (1979) wrote “we don’t need no education/we don’t need no thought control/No dark sarcasm in the classroom/Teachers leave them kids alone”, I felt like someone finally understood my own experience with the education system. I started to reflect on what a teacher should be like. Of course, where do you go to find the answer to such a question…to university.
While working on our e-portfolio’s, I reflected quite a bit about how I ended up taking the Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership and Management program. It all started with Supertramp and Pink Floyd! Supertramp’s 1979 The Logical Song and Pink Floyd’s 1979 song, Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2, were the guiding factors that led me through High School, to a Bachelor of Education Degree and eventually to the MAELM program.
I ended up getting a Bachelor of Arts Degree and moving on to a Bachelor of Education Degree. Through Native Studies, I discovered Brendtro, Brokenleg & Van Bockern’s, (1990, 2019) Reclaiming Youth at Risk (now in revised edition formats). The idea of utilizing Indigenous ways of knowing to ensure that Indigenous students didn’t “fall through the cracks’ was a unique idea for me. During this time, Marie Battiste’s name was being floated around as someone with something to say.
While attending University, we would have motivational speakers, like Marie Battiste, encouraging us, as Indigenous educators, to be the ‘first’ in our families to get an education, to be the first counsellor, to be the first lawyer, to be the first doctor, nurse, etc. It was an evocative time. So I became a teacher: determined to recreate the classroom to a more humanizing factor in the educational system for our Indigenous youth. I tried. I really tried. When students attempted suicide, I didn’t have enough education to deal with this. I was told there were no other resources. When a grade 10 student couldn’t read, I was told there weren’t enough resources to get him/her on track. When students came to me telling me that they had been raped and I reported it, I was told there weren’t enough resources. I was told to quit reporting these things as the system couldn’t handle it. I was called out because I was trying to integrate our Cultural teachings into our lessons. I was told that I was inviting the devil in!.
I gave up. I quit teaching. I went into middle management at our local college and I forgot my passion to change the system, but it was there…trying to get out. I tried to instill pride in my classrooms. I tried to tell students that I wanted them to get the education they needed in order to put me out of a job one day, i.e. take over my job so that I could retire. It just wasn’t enough. Every once in awhile, I would hear those old songs and sing at the top of my lungs, because something was missing.
When an incident changed my life and forced me to leave my job, I was at a crossroads. I decided to listed to that voice that was telling me that there was “more” out there. I registered for the Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership and Management program (MAELM). I started reading again. I read Fullan’s work. I read Carver’s work. I learned about “Leading Learning” and “transformative” training to support teachers and how leaders can can be an “agent of change” for teachers who can be an agent of change for students (Fullan 2014, Carver, 2016). I read Katz and Lamoureaux work on Ensouling our schools (2018) and the passion came back!
Once again, I am inspired to be a better teacher, leading learner and leader. This time, I have a way of becoming the “agent of change”, not just a goal. For the first time in my life I am looking forward to the journey of becoming so that I may have a better chance of assisting my students and staff…. and it all started with Supertramp and Pink Floyd.
Battiste, M. (2013). Decolonizing education: Nourishing the learning spirit. Vancouver, B.C. Purich Publishing, an Imprint of UBC press.
Brendtro, L.K., Brokenleg, M., & Van Bockern, S. (2019). Reclaiming youth at risk: Futures of Promise. Bloomington, IN. Solution Tree Press.
Carver, C. (2016). Transforming identities: The transition from teacher to leader during teacher leader preparation. Journal of Research on Leadership Education. Vol. 11, issue 2, July 21. 2016.
Fullan, M. (2014). The Principal: Three keys to maximizing impact. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass
Hodgson, R. (1979). The logical song. retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Logical_Song
Katz, J. & lamoureux, K. Ensouling our schools: A universally designed framework for mental health, well-being, and reconciliation. Winnipeg, MB> Portage and Main Press.
Waters, R. (1979). Another brick in the wall: Part 2. retrieved from: https://en.wikipedia.org/Another_Brick_In_The_Wall.