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Education is Political

Everything we do as teachers is political. 

And I don't mean political in a partisan identification with a political party, but in a way that as teachers we have a choice to either reinforce the dominant narratives and ideologies of our time, or offer an alternative. 

For example:

- Teachers make a political decision when they choose to be authoritarian instead of democratic. 

- Teachers make political decisions when we view students as a mind to be "filled" rather than a student who has ideas to offer and knowledge to share. 

- Schools make political decisions to enforce a dress code to establish uniformity amongst the student body.

- Governments, administrators, and teachers make political decisions to decide what is to be learned within the curriculum and who has a say on its input. 

I believe that our profession needs to have a greater understanding of our political actions. Too often, schools have been places that have reinforced the dominant and sometimes oppressive aspects of our society. Many schools in Alberta have historically, and some even currently, been unsafe places for LGBTQ, Indigenous, and many other students who have to face some sort of oppression. 

Often times teachers, administrators, and those working with youth wipe their hands clean of the issues of society, as if they do not impact the four walls of a classroom. A teacher's job is inherently political. If we are going to advocate for the rights of our students within our classrooms, then we have to make the political decision to advocate against the social oppressions that limit their rights within our society. Poverty and discrimination based on race, class, gender, sexuality and (dis)ability) impact our students success within our schools. 

Part of the role of a teacher is to have an understanding about how the world around you works and how that impacts you as a teacher and your students. It is our duty as teachers to understand the contradictions that exist within our society and work with our students to teach them that the problems we face can be overcome. 

In Alberta, we are in the process of changing our educational system through a model entitled "Inspiring Education". We have to realize that within this process, every decision that is made is political. The decision to allow corporations to have input on our curriculum is inherently political. The decision to have a "Task Force on Teaching Excellence" is inherently political. 

Teachers cannot and must not be afraid of making political decisions. The idea that we are neutral in any of the issues within education is false. Let's use the collaborative nature of our profession to start making more political decisions that will benefit the students that we work so hard for. 

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