An exploration of anti-oppressive education in the high school ELA classroom
In the past three years, the province of Manitoba has been implementing a new curriculum in English Language Arts (ELA), starting at the elementary level and more recently voluntary implementation at the high school level. An important change to the curriculum is the addition of the practice of power and agency, which can be viewed as an attempt by this curriculum to be anti-oppressive. Anti-oppressive education is the practice of teaching to all students by embracing their diversity, and creating safe spaces to actively work against various forms of social oppression (Kumashiro, 2000). The goal of this qualitative research study, that garnered data through interviews, is to discover how some high school ELA teachers in the province who self-identify as taking an anti-oppressive stance do so in their approach to students, curriculum and materials, and pedagogy. The findings show that these educators’ motivations for taking such a stance are grounded in their experiences teaching, their identities, and their professional learning. While their objectives for their teaching focused on the selection of resources, building relationships, and having meaningful class discussions. The implications of the study could guide teachers in their selection of resources, teaching and assessment tools, and pedagogical decisions in high school ELA.