Faulty Foundations

A lot of what I learned in school was wrong. And so was a lot of what you learned.

I don’t necessarily mean the facts. But the context was unspoken and ignored.

I think of the foundational principles I learned, especially in undergrad and my MA program. Do I blame the professors? No, not really. They learned the same things.

But when I say, in my future work, that TESOL training programs need more explicit focus on race and other forms of marginalization, I’m really saying I wish I’d learned this myself. I studied at amazing institutions, but the educational system itself would rather pretend that structural racism doesn’t exist. So when I learned, on my very first day, the list of acronyms for ELT, I wish I’d been able to pause and consider what I thought about each of the terms.

Ultimately, I’m not really mad. I have a chance to increase race consciousness by fighting the defensive shield many social service workers use to avoid self-examination. I will eventually succeed in at least some small way.

But I do wish I didn’t have to unlearn and recontextualize so much of the foundational knowledge on which I once depended. And that so many other capable educators have no idea what they don’t know and may never find out.

In other words, did some piece of knowledge concerning a marginalized group get passed on to you without context? That doesn’t make it wrong, but question it before you accept it.

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