Decolonization for the Masses? Seeking Survey Participants

Dr. Adam Gaudry (Assistant Professor of Native Studies and Political Science, University of Alberta) and Danielle Lorenz (PhD Candidate, Educational Policy Studies, University of Alberta [AKA me]) are working on a project together that explores the structural, pedagogical, and ideological challenges of effective Indigenous course requirement implementation. If you are a faculty member, administrator, or instructor at a Canadian university or college that has experience teaching Indigenous content, we were hoping you could answer a short (10ish minutes) anonymous online survey which you can access here.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us at adam.gaudry@ualberta.ca and/or dlorenz@ualberta.ca

Moreover, if you could share the survey among your networks, that would be incredibly helpful as well.

Thanks kindly!

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Disability and Tenureship

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now, and perhaps it is time to put it out into the world. What happens with those of us in grad school–the #PhDisabled community–want to pursue a tenure-track position?

Ostensibly, we are expected to do what all other folks who want a tenure track position do: apply for all the jobs in your field, hope you’re short-listed and interviewed, and if the gods are in your favour, you’ll get a position. The hiring rate for PhD graduates in the arts/humanities/social sciences is low, so not everyone who applies will get a position. This is a systemic issue and one, but one that still favours white cishetero men.  You know this (or you should) if academia the career path you want for yourself.

That path is all well and good, I suppose, so long as you’re capable to work the  hours required. But what if you can’t? In order to secure tenure, you’re expected to be able to teach two (or more) courses per term, write and publish articles/books/book chapters, and take on a few administrative or community appointments. It’s a difficult job that requires a lot of hours, much of which beyond the 9-5. But the challenges of the job assume that you’re physically capable to do the job in the first place.

Employment rates for people with disabilities are significantly lower than able-bodied folks. I am positive that when other intersections are considered–such as race for example–the statistics would be even more appalling. It seems as though the world wants to push people with disabilities aside, or even kill us. So how are we supposed to find work, let alone work in academia?

Looking to myself for example, there are days when I am in so much pain I require narcotic pain killers. Sometimes I can predict these days depending on the weather forecast (or I think I can, anyway), but other times it feels like the pain comes out of nowhere. At times these are short episodes of a few hours, while it can also be for months at a time. On those days, it is very difficult for me to do basic things like showering, dressing myself, and preparing meals. In short, it is impossible to ‘be productive’ when my body is in that much pain. Once the episode is over I am also fatigued and exhausted, since pain makes you tired. This ‘pain hangover’ also makes it really hard to do work.  Seeing these difficulties, how can I become a professor if there are times I physically cannot do the work expected?

Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms indicates that it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of a disability. Does that mean the requirements of my (hypothetical/desired) tenure-track appointment would be less than my able-bodied counterparts? Would I have a lighter teaching load? Would I not be expected to publish as much/as frequently? Would I be able to have fewer administrative/community appointments?

Furthermore, how would this work for things like salary and benefits? Since I’m doing ‘less work’ would I be paid half or a third as much as my peers? Would my health, dental, and vision coverage be the same? Would I be eligible for a pension (that is, if those are even offered by the time I finish)?

I don’t know how to answer my questions since I am at a loss of where to look to find the answers. That is, assuming there are even answers out there to be found. Are there places I can look? Do you know, reader?

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Alberta Teachers’ Association Member Thoughts on Aboriginal Content in BEd Programs and K-12 Classrooms

Hello peoples of the internet!

I realize it has been some time since I’ve posted anything. There are some things swirling around in my head, but alas, they are not coherent enough yet for a ‘real’ post. But perhaps they will materialize soon. We can only hope.

Anyway, the point of this particular post is that I have entered the data collection/field work stage of my dissertation (FINALLY).

As such, I need help: I am trying to get at least 435 (or 10%) members of the Alberta Teachers’ Association to take a survey I have written. ATA members, according to the ATA’s definition of such, can be classified into four categories:*

  • Active: teachers employed by an Alberta school board;
  • Associate: superintendents, faculty of education members, teachers at charter schools;
  • Life: retired teachers who were members of the ATA for at least 20 years; or
  • Student: those enrolled in full-time undergraduate Bachelor of Education programs in Alberta.

My research is extremely timely given Alberta Education’s recent announcements that it will a) be providing Professional Development training for teachers “to ensure that all students learn about First Nations, Métis and Inuit history, perspectives and contributions“; and b) engaging in a six-year process to update its Arts, Language Arts (English, French, Français), Mathematics, Social Studies, Sciences, and Wellness subject areas.

Three of the main areas of interest my survey is targeting are as follows: a) Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA) member and BEd student experiences with Aboriginal content in Bachelor of Education degrees, b) how/if Aboriginal content is already being taught in K-12 classrooms, and c) how curriculum and policies (for example, upcoming the Teacher Quality Standard and the School Leadership Standard) are developed.

The survey should take 15-25 minutes, and there is an option to enter a prize draw to win one of two e-copies of Indigenous Writes: A Guide to First Nations, Métis & Inuit Issues in Canada by Chelsea Vowel.

In short, I am hoping you, amazing person on the internets, will help me out by either a) sending folks that meet the above criteria my way, or b) send them the link to my Survey Participant Information Letter. Any movement I can get would be helpful: that includes liking and reblogging this post on WordPress, reblogging the Tumblr post, posting either link on your facebook page, tweeting either link, or emailing folks you know that might meet the criteria. If you’re interested in the latter, I can provide you a PDF copy of my Survey Participant Information Letter.

If you have any questions or concerns, or if you would like more information, you can email me at dlorenz[at]ualberta[dot]ca.

Thanks for taking the time to read this, you are awesome!


* The ATA also has an honorary membership category, but there are so few given that title per year (105 total from 1949-2015) that I have excluded it as a category.

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The Line

Where exactly is the line between being an egomaniacal asshat and having humility when it comes to your accomplishments (in academia or otherwise)?

How many folks in academia downplay what they’ve done while others think They Are Brilliant And Everyone Should Know About It?

Is the way we speak about ourselves gendered? Racialized? Queered? Dis/abled?

In what ways can we talk about what we’ve accomplished publicly without sounding like a braggart?

Things to ponder on a Tuesday morning…

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Twitter essay: On Doing Unethical Research

Oh hey I wrote a thing on Storify you can read here.

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That Awkward Moment When…

I just came to the realization a few days ago the reason why many of my undergrad marks were bad was because I was so sick all the time. Not surprisingly, when I got better, my grades did, too. It’s taken me years to figure this out. YEARS.

Chronic illness is terrible.

Relatedly, imposter syndrome also sucks.

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Re: The Ghomeshi Verdict

Another +1 for the violent, colonial cisheteropatriarchal settler state that is Canada.

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