How to Mend a ‘Good’ Education: A Settler Autoethnography
Though White Settler educators who profess a critical pedagogy take up the project of decolonization with heartfelt enthusiasm, many of them remain unaware of the ways they unconsciously embody, and are complicit in, reproducing colonial structures. This autoethnography tells the story of my attempt to confront a similar dissonance in my teaching practice. My central question “How can I teach towards social justice and against oppression when my Whiteness represents the very structures of marginalization I oppose?” could only be answered by moving beyond the classroom and examining the deeply personal ways that colonial structures and narratives shaped, and continue to shape, all aspects of my identity. I drew data from my personal journals, a “writing” story composed during the research process, and longer form vignettes written in response to the initial stages of data collection. Wall’s (2016) Moderate Ethnography informed my analysis. I used the concepts of Whiteness-as-Property and White- Complicity to help contextualize my experience and employed Aoki’s (1994) Curriculum-as-Lived and the theory of Epistemological Pluralism as tools to understand the connections between personal and professional decolonization. Though more research is needed, this project suggests that for meaningful decolonization to take place there must be an earnest desire on the part of White Settlers (educators and non-educators alike) to attend to their personal complicity in colonialism.