Point 1: Educators are often in precarious positions. Their goal is to educate people but, as our society can’t seem to agree on what is “education” and what is not, educators end up doing things that aren’t particularly educational.
(Like teaching Shakespeare.)
Educators who try to broaden horizons by just toeing the line or finding loopholes in the Orders from On High are accused of having an agenda. Educators are penalised for this, regardless of their reasons for teaching the “agenda” material.
So, here I am, a private educator with access to a minimum of 21 young, impressionable Ontarian brains every week. One of my former students asked if I was going to try to impeach Doug Ford (the frontman of this social destruction).
I’m gonna do one better.
I’m going to teach my students about voices other than Doug Ford’s. I’m going to teach my students about voices other than François Legault’s.
I HAVE AN AGENDA.
At Word on the Street, I bought a whole slew of young adult books for my students. These stories are specifically by and/or about BIPOC and/or LGBT+ people.
Why? Because I can.
Because I’m not an Ontario teacher, I can teach my students anything I think they would find interesting and meaningful. I don’t deliberately teach them things that are contrary to their personal values (I’m just an English tutor: it’s not worth an epic battle) but I do deliberately teach them things that will make them think. One cannot read or write well without thinking well.
Most of my students belong to one minority group or other. They need to know that even though their English tutor is white and middle-class, not everything they read and write has to be white and middle-class; they do not need to mimic my voice. Over the years, I’ve also had a few students who needed emotional support that they couldn’t get from their families. My students sometimes need the voices in these stories.
I also get to choose my students. My students are not jerks. When we bring up the concepts of empathy and living in harmony, they get it. It’s not difficult to teach them to be nice to other people
I won’t get to use many of the stories during the school year–perhaps only a handful of new stories per student–but summer comes with two months of educational freedom. This freedom will be instrumental in applying my–and my students’–agenda.