Using Art to Open Post Colonial Dialogues with Pre-Service Teachers

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Shannon Leddy


In 2005, Canadian scholars Carol Schick and Verna St. Denis published an article entitled “Troubling National Discourses in Anti-Racist Curricular Planning.” In it, they describe encountering the same problems in their respective practices with pre-service teachers when addressing Indigenous and post-colonial curricula; namely, resistance. The authors identify four key areas of resistance offered by pre-service teachers: 1) there is a perception of loss of liberty in course selection when a required anti-racist course is mandated; 2) students perceive an affront with the possibility that they are morally lacking in some way that necessitates a course about the “other”; 3) most pre-service teachers do not see themselves as teaching aboriginal students and think they don’t need to learn about aboriginal people; and 4) students are afraid of feeling uncomfortable about the conditions of the “other” and their own implication in that power structure. The authors address these concerns through an autobiographical assignment that locates students within the matrix of political, historical and cultural power structures in Canada. In a precursor to their 2005 article, Schick and St. Denis (2003) published a similar treatise in the Alberta Journal of Educational Research entitled “What Makes Anti-Racist Pedagogy in Teacher Education Difficult? Three Popular Ideological Assumptions,” in which they provide anecdotal evidence of pre-service teacher resistance. Taken together, these two articles point to an important and difficult arena in the process of opening dialogues around post-colonial power relations embedded in the narratives of Canadian identity. As a Métis woman working in the field of education, I am particularly interested in expanding this dialogue to resolve the tensions the authors describe.


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Leddy, S. (2014). Using Art to Open Post Colonial Dialogues with Pre-Service Teachers. SFU Educational Review, 7.