February 14th, 2008

Loz Target

It's like I've landed on a different planet...

If you're someone who's always prided yourself on never having an 'us and them' mentality, you're in for a re-evaluation if you decide to go and live in a culture that is drastically different from your own. Here, there is 'Anangu way' and 'Piranpa' way. I am Piranpa (whitefella). My students are Anangu. And believe me, at first, you notice the differences far more than you notice the commonalities.

It's a confrontation, to find yourself suddenly having to think about these things, when previously the most consideration they've been given has been an essay or two at University. It's difficult to simultaneously be part of the minority, and yet, ostensibly, an authority figure with power. I have never actively searched out power - never wanted to be a leader. It sort of happened when I had my back turned. And I am uncomfortable with it, until I frame it as me having the power to make students powerful. I want to instill in the students of the class a sense of self-worth and value, more than anything like learning the English Alphabet - yet, at school, it often seems like we sacrifice one for the benefit of the other. Already, I have taught in ways I don't agree with, due to frustration, necessity and ignorance.

Sometimes, you have to put analysis and thought to the side and just do - reflect on it later, and learn. I have a feeling I'm going to be learning more from the students here than they'll learn from me.