Life Lenses

We all perceive the world a different way. Where I come from, what kind of family I have, even my occupation shapes the way I look at the world around me. Each aspect of my personality and external factors contribute to building a type of lens in which I see the world through. For example, I only run outside during daytime hours. The idea of running outside at night seems unsafe because of my lense as a woman, but I don’t fear police brutality because I do not have the same lense as a black person.

Image of looking through glasses
Looking through glasses

Many people go through their lives looking through their lens but never looking at them. The best example I have been given was by my ECS professor Michael Capello; every day you get up and put on your glasses. You wear them all day, they help you see the board at school and aid in depth perception when going about your day. Rarely do we take time to examine the glasses themselves. We are so busy observing the world through the lens that nobody bothers to take them off their face and critically evaluate how our site is warped by our lenses.

In Kumashiro’s book Against Common Sense, he encounters students who face the same feelings as me as the job can never be done. You can never complete the evaluation of your lenses. He says this perfectly on page 78, “My student teachers often express frustration over the contradictory implications of these theories and the notion that the work of interrupting our own privileges (racial, gender, or otherwise) and coming to know our students will never end.” This kind of interruption is crucial for educators, as self-improvement and progression are important to have a successful career as a teacher. I think it is important to notes that this work is not only done to improve the self but also to deconstruct the oppressive nature that it built into our society, and our schools.

I will leave the last words to Kumashiro as his words act as inspiration on the days when it feels most difficult to examine my lenses.

“Yet, I would also encourage my students to consider ways that the contradictions and ongoing work can present rich opportunities to challenge oppression in schools.”

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