"Writing from this Place"

This week is wrapping up, and that means I've got almost the first full week of my PhD under my belt. I'm slowly working my way through the readings for next week, but even though the page count is daunting, I'm diving into everything I read with excitement; it's a good affirmation that I'm on the right path, that I can read pages upon pages of curriculum theory and find it fascinating, while at the same time digging into each piece and working to orient myself in the broad (and sometimes conflicting) theoretical framework of this profession.

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me (and even to strangers, after that brief introduction above), that I take a humanistic, self-actualizing approach to teaching and learning. At the base level, this means my search for understanding is motivated by a desire to know myself better, and I've been approaching the readings (and classes, and meetings) this week with a goal of understanding where I "fit", what my place is here.

That question of place and space was actually the topic of on of my readings; Cynthia Chambers's article "A Topography for Canadian Curriculum", published in 1999. The title of this post comes from her eye-opening piece, and although I've been thinking about how to orient myself in this new life I am creating for some time, Chambers's article pushed my thoughts onto the page (or, rather, blog), and I decided to take a break from reading to ruminate a bit.

Moving to another country has been an adventure, and at the same time, a distinctly humbling experience. I recognize that I have a great deal of privilege in the common language, support from my university, and vague familiarity with this province, at least, prior to crossing the border (not to mention the depth of support from spouse and family that continues to astonish me). Even so, I am more "othered" than I realized I would be here, and while the experience can be disconcerting, I've also realized that this being "other", this coming from elsewhere, presents me with a unique opportunity to decide exactly what shape I will take in this place.

I've been very conscious about creating this new reality; because the city is very pedestrian and bicycle friendly, I've taken to biking whenever I go to campus, and the first few times, I caught myself silently reciting "this is who I am here", a spontaneous mantra that I'm sure I will turn to again and again while I explore this degree and this place.

(As an aside, I'm typing fast and initially misspelled "humanistic", and when I clicked to fix it, the second choice word was "shamanistic", which seems appropriate, given my desire to create what I can control.)

I suppose that's enough musing for now; I've still got three articles and a chapter to read before week two begins, and I'd like to feel like I've had a weekend, too. That's another part of who I am here: I am thrilled and enthralled by my studies, but I am also fiercely opposed to the idea that everything outside of my pursuit of knowledge must wither and fester for the next four years. With that said, I'm off to finish working for the day and then get outside to explore the sunshine and unique environment of this beautiful place.

References:

Chambers, C. (1999). A topography for curriculum theory. Canadian Journal of Education, 24(2), 137-150.

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