In my school experience, for the majority of my time, we were made to read the classic and books that were published by people that were long gone by the time I was born. During their times, perspectives and opinions were drastically different. I wouldn’t want to say that their thoughts were completely wrong but some were very prejudiced and would be considered offensive in current times.
Luckily, I was able to have teachers that, during my time as a student in elementary and high school would allow us to choose our own literature, and have current information for us to take in. This including current event articles and things that would speak to the narrative of the author rather than implementing them without reasoning.
Because of this, I was able to form a working critical mind. This meaning that I am always taking in the information given and put a critical lens up to it to allow my own opinions and thoughts to make my own decisions and actually see what may be right.
In a Ted talk given by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, she speaks to the “single stories” that are found in our literature, especially children’s literature. These “single stories” being the single perspective that is given and thus the only one to be understood. What she read at a young age was very Eurocentric, this was a deciding factor about what she wrote when she began writing at the age of 7. Because of how impressionable and vulnerable children are her stories always had blue-eyed children drinking ginger beer and talking about the weather, which was not familiar to her. How these “single stories” can paint a picture of her and her culture in others’ eyes without even knowing her, just where she is from and what she looks like.
This perspective is still very prevalent in our classrooms of today, we don’t have enough diversity. It has been getting better but still isn’t to where it should be, allow all voices to be heard and all stories to be understood and experienced.
I found that the “single stories” found in the classrooms that I grew up in were so integrated into the classroom that I didn’t notice they were there. But now that I am able to reflect upon my classes, I find that we mainly took things from a single [white/male] perspective, this is because “knowledge is always framed by bias” (Kumashiro) and that was the bias at the time. At the time this highly affected how I perceived myself and the world. To my delight as I aged through the elementary school grades, some changes were made and we were given different perspectives through literature and were encouraged to think for ourselves.
When asked the question “Who’s truth matters” in the sense of literacy, especially from the standpoint of curriculum, the best answer would be everyone’s. Even with saying that there leaves a grey area on what it means to include everyone. At this point, it becomes difficult to even understand or touch on all perspectives. I fear that there will never be a change and in our curriculum, it will just infer that everyone is accounted for rather than being explicit.