Tuesday, 24 February 2015

EDUC 2014 - Teachers and the adolescent student: Navigating the emotional minefield

Teachers and the Adolescent Student: Navigating the Emotional Minefield
Developmental and Educational Issues in Children and Adolescents EDUC 5P37

Theoretical: Literature Review

Parents and teachers of adolescent youth have a unique opportunity to hinder or enrich their emotional world and development of their emotional selves. The ability to hone ones self-concept of their emotional self is an important skill for youth on the cusp of the more independent adult world. Psychology Today’s article Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence: Adolescent apathy and what the loss of caring can mean focuses on the ways parents have a profound influence on the emotional well being and emotional development of an adolescent. The article comments on how parents can positively engage when their child produces statements like, ‘I don’t care’ or ‘you can’t make me’. Both expressions are meant to defy parental authority and are actually a psychological issue that parents should be aware of. The ability for parents to respond with apathy instead of anger or frustration models positive emotional self-control and awareness that adolescence should learn.
Another article within Psychology Today’s series Surviving Your Child’s Adolescence section The Emotional Minefield of Adolescence seeks to explain ‘why is my teenager so much more easily upset than as a child?’ using feeling factors to help articulate and define specific emotional needs. Author Carl Pickhardt (2014), provides an excellent explanation to this question; “I believe the answer is because negotiating the adolescent passage is like crossing an experiential minefield with hidden emotional explosives buried all along the way. The young person has to watch their step, often reacting with unexpected and intense expressions of feeling for causes that can be hard for parents to fathom and tolerate” (para. 2).
This paper seeks to make a connection between the psychological emotional needs of an adolescent and the influence a teacher could have on their discovery and development of emotional self-concept. The articles from Psychology Today address how parents have a profound impact on the emotional needs of an adolescent but I wonder how can teachers, who see these students five days a week, use class work to enrich and engage students with these real world skills. Three additional articles were reviewed to expand the discussion and understanding of how adolescent turmoil is perpetuated at school and what emotional and meta cognitive skills teachers should specifically be teaching students in this critical development period of emption and self concept.
Before addressing the techniques and challenges of teaching the adolescent about emotional competency and self-awareness, it is important to examine the development of this behavior as it manifests in childhood. Analyzing why adolescents are the way they are from an evolutionary and developmental point of view adds scientific validity to the research being conducted on how to assist and manage emotional distress in adolescence. Two articles were reviewed to better understand the development of negative and positive emotions of children as they grow through adolescence and into adulthood. The development of children’s sympathy, moral emotion attributions, and moral reasoning in two cultures and Is Adolescent Bullying an Evolutionary Adaptation? provide two unique frameworks of research to aid in understanding why and how adolescent’s develop emotional instability.
Research by Volk, Camilleri, Dane, and Marini (2012) supports the notion that aggressive adolescent behavior such as bullying results from maladaptive development of social and emotional awareness. Bullying, as a topic for this paper is appropriate as bullying can be seen as one of the major implications of adolescent’s being unaware or unable to understand emotional repercussions. Bullying is believed ‘to be what happens when something goes wrong with the developmental process’ (Volk et al., 2012). Data collected from across industrialized and non-industrialized societies shows that bullying exists in adolescence across geographically and socially different communities. It is important for parents and teachers to realize that bullying stems from an emotional need that students may not even be aware of. It is developing a framework of dialogue, language and self-awareness that can allow students to take ownership of their emotions and subsequent actions and reactions to those emotions.
Similarly, Chaparro, Kim, Fernandez, and Malti (2013) examine two different cultures to analyze the development of children’s sympathy, moral emotion attributions, and moral reasoning with one hundred seventy-six children in two age groups (6 and 9 years old). Developmental researchers have expressed the need to examine moral emotions and moral reasoning to uncover the developmental reason children and adolescents act and react certain ways to social and moral conflict. The understanding of these developments can aid teachers when incorporating emotional language learning in the classroom from elementary through to secondary.
Bosacki and O’Neill’s 2013 paper Early adolescents’ emotional perceptions and engagement with popular music activities in every day life provides insight to how music engagement can aid the development of emotional competency and self awareness. The needs of the adolescent are constantly changing in response to the fast paced contemporary world in which they live in. Popular music is one-way students create meaning and emotional perceptions of themselves. Music is a fairly accessible medium for teachers to use in the classroom, which provides a venue to examine language, and meaning that develops in response to popular music. Developing a framework of conversation and practice to enhance emotional competency through their ability to develop critical thinking skills about the content and emotion in music. According to Bosacki and O’Neill (2013) emotional competency as a skill is defined as “the ability to discern one’s own and other’s emotional states and to use the vocabulary to emotion effectively” (p. 2). Once we are able to define and conceptualize an emotion it becomes much more tangible to work with and easier to develop a dialogue about our own understanding of emotional implications.

Discussion: Implications & Future Research

Educational research speaks to every day real world issues that students face across the world. It is remarkable to examine the correlation between brain development and outcome of attitudes and emotion in adolescents in varying social and geographical contexts. The articles reviewed provide proof that the development of the brain on emotional and cognitive awareness in elementary and secondary age has a profound impact on a person’s ability to interact positively with the world around them.
Becoming a teacher immersed in the western realm of 21st century literacy requires the teaching practice to reflect the emotional needs of our 21st century learners. Urging that to take responsibility for their actions, adolescents need to play a central role in creating their personal emotional awareness indistinguishably links language and emotion. My question regarding teachers effectively promoting positive, constructive, and emotionally self-aware attitudes and skills in the classroom has shifted from the WHY to the HOW. What tools are available to teachers for engaging with these higher order thinking, meta-cognitive skills in the classroom? Bosacki and O’Neill’s (2013) article provides insight to how the arts (music) can act as a vehicle for exploration and 21st century connections to language and meaning. One could propose a similar model for other forms of art such as drama therapy, Theatre of the Oppressed, visual and media arts as well as voice and dance curriculums. The venues in which to connect with students and have them connect with their life in meaningful ways should be part of the essential development of student skills within the curriculum. Integrating these conversations of awareness of emotional/social interaction into any and all classrooms could assist students in gaining consistent and constructive methods of positive self-awareness.


Bosacki, S. L. & O’Neill, S, A. (2013). Early adolescents’ emotional perceptions and         engagement with popular music activities in everyday life. International Journal of Adolescence and Youth, 18. Retrieved from            http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02673843.2013.785438

Chaparro, M, P., Kim, H., Fernandez, A., & Malti, T. (2013). The development of           children’s sympathy, moral emotion attributions, and moral reasoning in two          cultures. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 10 (4), 495 – 509.

Pickhardt, C. E. (2012, May 28). Surviving (Your Child’s) Adolescence: Adolescent          Apathy and What Loss of Caring Can Mean. Psychology Today. Retrieved from            http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-        adolescence/201205/adolescent-apathy-and-what-loss-caring-can-mean

Pickhardt, C. E. (2014, February 17). Surviving (Your Child’s) Adolescence: The   Emotional Minefield of Adolescence. Psychology Today. Retrieved from             http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/surviving-your-childs-        adolescence/201402/the-emotional-minefield-adolescence

Volk, A. A., Camillen, J, A., Dane, A, V., & Marini, Z, A. (2012). Is Adolescent Bullying             an Evolutionary Adaptation? Journal of Aggressive Behaviour, 38, 222-238.

EDUC 2014 - What does it mean to be against learning?

What does it mean to be against learning? 

The signifier ‘learning’ embodies a multitude of meaning associated with its broad understanding of connotations attached to it. To begin to formulate an opinion on being against or for learning, it is important to understand the terms being used. A learning discourse includes the methods and symbols associated with learning that make learning meaningful. This ensemble we call learning discourse is generally connoted as a positive enhancement to society regardless of the circumstance. This short paper seeks to address that one can be against learning but must allow for specific reasoning as to which component of ‘learning’ they are against.

Using the article Against Learning by Contu, Grey & Ortenblad, we can begin to understand that learning is too broad of a term and may in turn, be the source of contention against learning. The authors present us with a paper that seeks to address the many facets of learning discourse that allow it to thrive, change and influence policies and education. The truth of politics, a section in the paper, demonstrates the political usage of the terms ‘learning organization’, ‘lifelong learning’, and ‘learning’ as consistently positive whilst avoiding to discuss the antagonistic and contradictory organizational and social practices with these terms. These political truths being highlighted here link with the concept of ‘organizational learning’ which can be described as “learning organizations, thus configured, by no means create knowledge so much as access it and seek to control it as exemplified by the continuous improvement associated with teamwork practices” (Contu et al, 2014, p.940).

It seems that the aim of learning is to teach citizens the skills needed to survive and thrive in the ‘real world’. The article re-iterates that these ‘skills’ needed to ‘survive’ in the real world have mainly been constructed by either politicians or organizations seeking to benefit from their potential future employees already having the ‘skills’ to make them successful in the work place. In this sense ‘lifelong learning’ has become ‘a means through which economies and organizations can re-tread workforces and labour pools to adapt to these changes” (Contu et all, 2014, p.942). The question here is if this type of structured learning is beneficial to the individual or only to the organization that will acquire that individual and their skills.

The second paper Against Learning: Reclaiming a language for education in an age of learning provides a framework for reclaiming a language of education that unearths and addresses the ‘common-place’ ideas of what is learning and what is a learning organization and life-long learning. What is questioned here is not that you can or cannot be against learning, it is about unpacking the large theme and addressing the concerns on different educational, social and political levels. This paper sought to prove that you could, in fact, be against learning.

As an educator looking for ways to engage students in their own learning as much as possible, it is important not to take terms such as ‘language’ or ‘learning organization’ lightly without too much thought into the implications these practices. If practiced without care or considerate thought, uninformed teaching of ‘learning’ could lead to political and economic gain instead of personal meta-learning on an individual’s behalf.


Contu, A., Grey, C. & Ortenblad, A. (2003). Against learning. Human Relations, 56(8), 931-952.

Biesta, G. (2005). Against learning: Reclaiming a language for education in an age of learning. Nordisk Pedagogik, 25, 54-66.

EDUC 2014 - 21st Century Learning: Defining for a purpose


With the emergence of educational inquiry on 21st century learning in the past six decades, the term 21st century learning has become generic and lacking focus. This paper seeks to define the term 21st century learning as it emerged in the early 1960’s and how it has evolved as practice over time for the purpose of reassessing 21st century learning in 2014-2015. Beginning as just a way to describe the time period of learning happening post 2000, the concept evolved as its purpose, potential, and practicality were reevaluated through the decades to reflect the vision of what 21st century learning should and would look like. Four streams of education have emerged in connection to 21st century learning and are consistently under assessment for effectiveness and relevance: teacher education, higher education, technology education, and character education. This paper will then draw upon the critiques against learning and local board wide examples of 21st century initiatives to provide relevance for the main focus of this paper, defining 21st century literacy for a purpose.

21st Century Learning: Defining for a purpose

Introduction to the problem

            In 1969, The California State Board of Education presented one of the first formal education plans that addressed the upcoming 21st century learning concept.  “This year’s first grader, who will be a mature decision maker in the 21st Century, must be skilled in observing, analyzing, communicating. He must be ready to meet new situations and be able to adapt to change.” (CSCPE, 1969, 18). 21st century learning first emerged in scholarly literature in the 1960’s but merely used 21st century learning to describe the learning that will take place in the 21st century. This excerpt from the 486-page document is the only mention of characteristics or qualities projected for use in the 21st century.
            Since the 1990’s there has been a surge of education documents and scholarly literature that focus on and use the term 21st century learning or 21st century education. This correlates in response to the 21st century change that was impending upon all education systems worldwide. There is evidence to support that a divide exists between the previous use of the term (to describe the period of education that falls during the 21st century) and emerging uses of the term (to describe the qualities, characteristics, goals, and needs of the learning taking place in the 21st century). Most recently, post 2000 to be exact, there has been an increase in the development of understanding 21st century learning and how schools and school boards can address these needs.
            The education plan proposed by the California State Board of Education brought relevant discussion and potential conflict for exploring the concept of the 21st century learner. “More recently economists have been studying education as a form of investment which the society makes in order (1) to assure the perpetuation of basic survival values, concepts, and skills and (2) to facilitate the shaping of the most desirable conditions among the alternatives we face as we look towards the 21st century” (CSCPE, 1969, 340). The plan highlights 40 years prior to the 21st century the ability for education to be used as a tool for economists, politicians, and legal policy makers. How can we as educators today ensure that our 21st century learners are actually learning relevant, useful, and meaningful content that has each student’s unique best interest at heart? Beginning with this research paper, exploring and defining 21st century learning for a purpose will lead to a more thorough understanding of a concept being used in a currently proposed action research plan to propose a new structure to character education initiatives in the District School Board of Niagara. This paper seeks to discover how the term 21st century learning has been situated in literature since it’s emergence in the 1960’s and how the term is currently being used and reflecting the learning and development needs of today’s very real 21st century learners.
Background - Literature Review
Literature and background reviews for the term 21st century learning began with two periodicals that appeared in Parents Magazine & Family Home Guide. A decade apart, these periodicals both titled Education for the 21st Century are the only two mentions of 21st century learning as a focal point for any piece of literature found in an online database. The periodical posted in 1959 – a full decade before the emergence of any form of scholarly literature mentioned only that parents should be skeptical and thoughtful when thinking about the upcoming 21st century. The 1959 periodical was alternatively named Seven overseas leaders offer wide counsel to American parents.  Ten years later, the second Education for the 21st century periodical brought Catholic Church into the discussion connecting the two positively saying that the Catholic Church would bring children successfully into the unknown world of the 21st century. 
The 60’s saw periodicals and a handful of articles emerge that use the term 21st century learning to describe the learning that will take place after 2000 but do not describe, quantify or qualify the term in relation to development or learning needs. In 1979 a call from the American Association for the Advancement of Science asks that education stand out, as it is “the best basis for hope that this country and other will somehow manage to avoid enormous trauma during the transitions that lie ahead” (Abelson, 1979, 1087). It poses that the career guidance that high schools have been giving to students will not serve us well in the future. The entry calls for more scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to graduate. They suggest that not all students will make the most ideal engineer but that exposing every child to these skills will help create a well-rounded society of citizens. The entry ends with a plea for universities to investigate the counseling policies in American education. As Abelson wrote, “there must be better ways than entrusting young lives to a hit-or-miss system” (Abelson, 1979, 1087).
In the Journal of Teacher Education, Schuttenberg wrote an article in 1980 that focused on preparing the educated teacher for the 21st century. The article proposed the need for a third dimension of education that will address the changing needs of the 21st century learner. This third dimension is the in depth study of the humanities which Schuttenberg proposes as “literature, art, languages, philosophy, history, religion and science as human achievement” (Shuttenberg, 1983, 15). One theme or trend that threads itself in the literature reviewed is the aim for developing civilized persons. Schuttenberg’s 1980 article proposes that “the aim and task of developing civilized persons, or those who have the self-knowledge, the self-control, the sense of responsibility and the ideals and concerns that makes it possible for them to live in a civilized society committed to the realization of freedom and justice” (Shuttenberg, 1983, 16).
Four common themes emerged when reviewing 21st century learner literature from 1959 to now; teacher education, higher education, career education and technology education. These four themes will be discussed further in the upcoming section. The discussion will be followed by a local example of board wide initiatives to enhance 21st century learning in the District School Board of Niagara.

There are major themes in education that arise when looking at the development of 21st century learning. Multiple streams of education have emerged in response to the changing needs of our society. These forms of education in succession of their emergence in literature; teacher education, higher education, technology education and character education have all been a component in shaping the definition and reality of 21st century learning. This paper makes connections between the term 21st century learning and its progression from describing the period of time when learning would take place through to it’s current state of reshaping it’s identity.
 The literature review showed that teacher education was the first major critique that occurred in relation to 21st century learning and learners needs. Journals across the world began to see a rise in articles and research on the efficacy, relevance, and resilience of teacher education and it’s ability to educate 21st century learning leaders. Schuttenberg’s article Preparing the Educated Teacher for the 21st Century critiqued the teaching force’s inability to stay relevant for current learners in 1980. Thirty years later in the same Journal of Teacher Education, Lieberman and Mace commented on calling to the public to help shape teacher education in their article Making Practice Public: Teaching Learning in the 21st Century. We can already see a shift to using the term learning instead of education in this title in contrast to decades before.
The 2010 take on 21st century learning is centered on global interconnectedness between educators and the public. It proposes the unique opportunity for professional development to become globally connected online as well. Communities of practice are emerging in response to learners being connected globally online. If education is a way to shape citizens of the future, every day school experience should not only be keeping up with current needs but predicting, researching, and shaping the future of education. It seems logical that teacher education would need to shift its instruction on how to teach to a more 21st century learning cooperative way. If the leaders of schools believe in the philosophy behind communities of practice, for example, then schools will become communities of practice. The cautionary component to this article is that 21st century needs are always changing, so teacher education and educational philosophy will always be changing as well. It is about finding a way of assessment and validation to ensure school initiatives are on the right track and progressing in dynamism and relevance.
            Second to emerge as a theme within 21st century learning was higher education. Eurich’s 1963 article Higher education in the 21st century was one of the first to address what higher education would look like post 2000. Although it mainly used the term to describe the period of time for higher education that would come after 2000 and did not address what it may or may not look like, it proposed that educators be ready. The article suggested that if research began then in 1963 that the future for higher education would be successful as it progressed towards the year 2000. Fast-forwarding fifty years into the future, Irvine, Code, and Richards writes about higher education in the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. This journal is an example of product emerging from researchers and educators preparing for future higher education needs. The response to online connectedness with multi-access learning and massive open online courses/communities are avenues for continued research and evaluation of 21st century learning. The authors show that “post secondary institutions are moving toward learner-centered designs, shifting focus to process and not product” (Irvine, Code, & Richards, 2013, 173). The idea of citizens being life long learners and taking with them the skills necessary to be resilient and dynamic in the 21st century years ahead of them has become a priority for educational leaders.
            The emergence of scholarly literature on technology and it’s connetion to student learning began in the late 70’s. Lyon’s article by the very popular title from the last five decades Education in the 21st century, focused on technology and its practical applications in the classroom. Even in 1980, researchers were seeing the potential for technology to open up possibilities for inquiry, connectedness, research, and instruction. “Technology is making widespread dissemination of information possible, but the development of ‘learning machines’, for lack of a better word, means that now some major aspects of a nation’s learning system can be made more open because it does not depend on the traditional hierarchical system” (Lyons, 1980, 173). In later years, technology in the classroom was critiqued as to its effectiveness and classroom management conflicts. The Journal of Computer Assisted Learning published an article Challenges to learning and schooling in the digital networked world of the 21st century in 2013 and cautioned to educators that there needs to be a balance between technology and authentic face to face interaction through differentiated instruction and school day restructuring.
            Character education emerged in response to schools providing a better-rounded educational experience for students. In 2005, an initiative put together by the Ministry of Education with the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat developed the document Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario Schools, K-12. The document congratulates all schools and boards who had an existing character development program and encourages them to join Ontario in taking their program to new levels of effectiveness. The document takes a firm stance on the continued administration of quality education, which includes “education of the heart as well as the mind. It means preparing students to be citizens who have empathy and respect for others and who will think critically, feel deeply and act wisely. Character development enhances employability skills, encourages civic engagement and prepares students to be contributing citizens in our increasingly global society. Character development is education at its best.” (Glaze, Zegarac, & Giroux, 2008, para. 14-15).
            The public has responded to this across multiple social media and networking platforms. A press release on marketwired.com commented on the CONNECT 2014 Canada’s learning technology conference held in May saying that this initiative comes at the right time in education in Ontario. “There is a sense of optimism for the future of education in the province…Character development will make our visions of education truly balanced and holistic as we revisit the foundations of an equitable and inclusive public education – namely, intellectual, character, and citizenship development” (Martellacci, 2014, para. 5).

21st Century Learning Critiques– Connection to discourse

Addressing the idea of the learner themselves in the context of the 21st century learning environment proposes a different set of considerations. Developing programs and initiatives in schools to promote 21st century characteristics, abilities, skills, attitudes, and literacies address the 21st century environment and initiatives but not necessarily the learning itself. Two articles will be used to make connections between the concept of learning and the term 21st century learning.
Biesta’s article Against learning: Reclaiming a language for education in an age of learning, provides insight to schools being sites of economic exchange between a consumer and provider. It poses the question what kinds of educational relationships currently exist and whose best interest are they serving. He proposes that there needs to be a new language that emerges from the current needs of today’s learners that reflects today’s learners. He outlines how language available to educators has shifted over the past two decades and that the “language of education” has been replaced by a “language of learning” (Biesta, 2005, 1). Although this shift to a language of learning opens up areas of debate, discussion and conflict in the previously used language of education, it closes off potential connections between education and learning. 21st century learning as a term has been used since the 1960’s and has been subjected to falling in and out of educational discourse without being rooted in any specific philosophy of learning or education. Biesta defines this new language of learning as “an effect of a range of events, rather than the intended outcome of a particular programme or agenda” (Biesta, 2005, 3). There are faults with this new language of learning which include thinking of learners as consumers who have certain needs, the educator who becomes the provider there to meet the needs of the learner and education itself which has become a consumable commodity (Biesta, 2005, 4). There is a need already to find a new language that balances education, learning and ongoing participatory inclusion of learner’s voices where the purpose of learning at school is clear and relevant.
            Contu, Grey, and Ortenblad’s article takes a similar cautionary critique against learning by examining the large scale concept of learning discourse and it’s ‘pervasive ideological content which determines learning ‘as a good thing for all’ (Contu, Grey, & Ortenblad, 2003. 931). The paper advances two main points in that organizational learning and the politics of truth are inexplicably intertwined in our understanding of the language of learning. It poses the question of how educational organizations will use this language of learning in school and how effective it is for cultivating positive learning. There is a call for organizations to reflect the dynamism of their students into the organization, management, school day structure, school initiatives and course content. Limitations to the previously used elements of discourse; language of education and language of learning outline the narrow scope of the discourse.
21st century learners live in a “rapidly changing, information and technology-intensive, globalized world”, as defined in the Ontario Government’s 21st Century Teaching and Learning Winter 2014 Quick Facts memo (see Appendix A) (Winter 2014, 2014, para. 1).  As round three of the 21st Century Innovation Research project undertaken by the Ontario Government, the beginnings of a new 21st century discourse will hopefully emerge.
Application: Local Perspectives in the DSBN

      Taking a local perspective on 21st century learning and board wide initiatives, the District School Board of Niagara has taken on a few projects as a response to the 21st century needs of their learners. 21st century learning as a full complete term shows up in DSBN documents to describe E-Learning and Technology Services to facilitate differentiated instruction which the website links to being important for 21st century learning. The website and documents allude to 21st century learning being more student and technology focused but do not directly link ideal characteristics, behaviors, attitudes, and qualities with the term 21st century learning explicitly.
            One current example of directly linked 21st century learning initiatives and the DSBN is the CONNECT Conference in May 2014 which was created by the DSBN Parents Involvement Council. The $18 000 funded project was summarized as follows,  “DSBN’s PIC will provide a one-day conference for parents and educators from the board and the London region, focusing on parent and community engagement and partnerships. Workshops will offer information and resources related to French Immersion, the LGBTQ community, mental and physical health, and 21st Century Learning” (Martellacci, 2014, para. 10). The project seeks to infuse 21st century collaborative human networks that are full with technology that began with the DSBN, Brock University and Mindshare Learning. Dr. Camille Rutherford of the Brock University community attended the conference; "The CONNECT Conference serves as an exemplar of what is possible when all levels of education work together to support innovation and improvement. In addition to being an annual opportunity for educators to connect and collaborate, the conference represents a key opportunity to initiate new public/private partnership and ongoing projects that foster innovation and academic improvement year round," (Martellacci, 2014, para. 5).
            In terms of every day learning in the DSBN, character education seems to be the only program currently in place that educates and fosters the skills, attitudes, and characteristics of a 21st century learner. Meaningful and relevant student engagement is paramount for character education according to the board website (Glaze, Zegarac, & Giroux, 2008, para. 11). There seems to be a lack of relevant and meaningful opportunities on a day-to-day basis in high schools specifically that position students in a 21st century learning environment in the DSBN. Action research is currently being proposed to involve current DSBN students in a project to re-identify meaningful and relevant 21st century characteristics, beliefs, attitudes, and qualities and directly linking them to practical day-to-day school initiatives. This research will hopefully provide administrators, students, teachers, parents, and community members with a more accurate depiction of the relevant 21st century skills as defined by current 21st century learners. The 21st century prides itself on fast-paced knowledge and resilient innovations so it should be commonplace to have 21st century education reflect this as well. Including students into the action research and action proposal procedures to resituate the term 21st century learning in an actual, relevant and tangible context allows educators to provide the most resilient and reflective education to students.


            It is difficult to come to any definitive definition for 21st century learning as research has shown that the concept is constantly being redefined or in need of redefinition. The issue that arises from this dynamic discourse and practice of 21st century learning comes from ensuring our current, not just our future school systems, will be as prepared as possible. Without knowing where the direction of education will take the local and global scale education we can only predict and prepare for what we know to be true about education today. There needs to be caution exercised when working with the term. It is important to define the specific time frame, scope, and details of the 21st century learning discussed so researcher and reader are on the same page. It is essential that when defining, researching, or educating under the term 21st century learning that we define for a purpose. Giving the term purpose should mean that a positive, educationally progressive product or outcome should evolve from researching the concept.
            From finding the emerging origins of the term peppered throughout scholarly literature and educational resources world wide to local action being taken by the District School Board of Niagara with CONNECT 2014, 21st century learning has been explored for a purpose. The next steps for defining 21st century are bringing character education initiatives locally produced by the District School Board of Niagara in 2005 to a more relevant position situated a decade later in 2015. The action research may show that the initiatives currently being undertaken by the school board are still as effective for developing and nourishing 21st century learning skills.  If the research finds there is a gap between the 2005 initiative document and program, an action plan will be proposed using insight and data collected by current DSBN students.
            There are only eighty-six years until the 22nd century and if history repeats itself, we should begin our switch from thinking of 21st century to 22nd century learning around 2060. With only forty-six years left to prepare and consider 21st century learning, we need to situate the research and our initiatives in the now. Why not create 21st century learning environments in which learners are continually recreating the definition and practical implication of 21st century learning as they are learning? These kinds of learning environments are already starting to develop all over the world. Students are becoming agents of change, innovators of the future and educators of their peers. We are more connected and more globally aware than ever before. In fact, we may be more ready for the next evolutionary chapters in education than we think.


Friday, 16 May 2014

GEOG 2011 - Implications of time-space mobility use: a critical look at transportation geography

Monica Taylor - 4522884
Professor Christopher Fullerton
TA: Ian Wood
November 18, 2011

Implications of time-space mobility use: a critical look at transportation geography

This paper seeks to illustrate five papers under the sub discipline of transportation geography. This paper provides a critical look into the currently established institutions and programs for sustaining transportation mobility within cities and rural areas in both North America and Europe. These five papers provide insight to the complications of supply and demand for both goods and personal travel. A running theme emerges that time and space become the common method for analyzing the current and future uses of space as cities grow and demands increase. This paper seeks to understand the implications that transportation geography has on human behaviors and future planning of cities, public transportations and personal mobility options. In the end this paper will provide the reader with an understanding of the past, present and future uses of transportation and the variables in which we as consumers will be affected by.

Assessing the potential impact of climate change on transportation
David Jaroszweski, Lee Chapman and Judith Petts of the University of Birmingham, UK wanted to analyze the methods of exploring the implications of climate change on transportation patterns in the UK. When setting up the investigation the authors realized that there hadn’t been much research conducted on how climate change could affect transportation patterns. The researchers wanted to find if there is a way of predicting the growing need for transportation options based on the rapid presence of climate change.
It is noted that a lack of efficient and reliable transportation can severely impact economic growth which gives this research a purpose. The paper outlines one specific method of documenting the effects of climate change on transportation which includes the variables; increased numbers of hot days, increased heavy precipitation, seasonal changes, drought, sea level change and extreme events such as tropical storms. The research conducted by R.S.J Toll outlined in this paper is focused on the hard infrastructure of weather patterns instead of socio-economic change was not essential. This approach makes it easy to assess the need of more transportation methods based on weather patterns, however it does not allow for preparations for future implications these changes may have on social and economic structures.
This concept is displayed in the socio economic and climate scenarios in climate change impact assessment (research conducted by R.S.J Toll);  “represents a theoretical state where climate remains as today but society changes, hence the transportation develops, becoming either more or less vulnerable to the effects of meteorological events” (Jaroszweski, Chapman, and Petts 333). The future implications of this research will influence all other important dimensions including economic growth, demographic change and technological change. These climate impact assessments set up scenarios for the future using the given variables. During their research, the authors found the necessity for creating methods of assessing the future impact of climate change in relation to political and social needs.
This paper allows researchers to understand the importance of using a holistic approach in assessing the impacts of climate change on transportation needs in the future. It has been shown that “by considering how a number of key dimensions may change in the future, most notably those of social and political values and governance it is possible to account for uncertainty in the future socioeconomic transportation needs for a country” (Jaroszweski, Chapman, and Petts 335).

Running to stay in place: the time-use implications of automobile oriented
land-use and travel

The paper Running to stay in place written by Steven Farber and Antonio Paez from Ryerson and McMaster in Ontario, Canada investigates how the systems of land use and mobility imposes on the ability to participate in discretionary activities. Time geography is used to analyze how people use transportation as a variable in making decisions about the activities they choose to participate in. The methods to analyze this data include looking at the theoretical development with subcategories of; time geography and space time impacts of the automobile. The research analyzes the transportation demand especially for those activities that are unavoidable and mandatory in life such as; paid work and childcare. The other variable is discretionary activities such as watching a film or attending a dinner party.
This paper investigates how automatically, “a system of land use and mobility imposes on the ability to participate in discretionary activities” (Farber and Paez 783). The system used and analyzed in this paper is a time-space prism in which the following variables are assessed; potential path space, potential path area, time and space.  Since the ability to travel across space at increasing speeds (faster cars, larger high ways and increased public transportation) there is a need for cities to be aware of the growing spread of cities and the need to accommodate for more space to travel and less time to do it in. “A theoretical argument in time-geography is used to describe the mechanism through which activity dispersion and traffic congestion, both features of the current realization of auto mobility” (Farber 784).
 For the research there were 20375 respondents within the census metropolitan area between the years 1992-2005 used to determine space travelled, time used and activities participated in. For the research, only those who are 15 years of age and over were used. The research assessed the activities called “anchors as they serve to glue individuals to specific locations in time and space. Discretionary activities higher up in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, can be slotted into a daily schedule when there is enough free time between anchors” (Farber 790). The research has shown that there is a significant drop in the amount of discretionary activities which strongly backs up the hypothesis. The reasons for this, the research shows, are the amount of time it takes to commute has become a deterrent.
The implications of the study show that for economic reasons those who have businesses that are in the discretionary fields such as; sports, restaurants, movie theatres, theatres, religious services and hobbies for example will have to prepare for a loss in customers based upon the low priority level these activities get.

Sustainable Transportation Institutions and Regional Evolution: Global and Local Perspectives.

Kingsley E. Haynes, Jonathan L. Gifford, Danilo Pelletiere of the School of public policy , George Mason University, Fairfax VA explore the concept that sustainable transportation institutions must align themselves together across borders. This means figuring out the political and economic implications of having one fluid system of information and transportation control governed by each individual region. The problems with this method would be confronting political legitimacy, economic efficiency and “the embeddedness of transportation in civil society which has caused issues of equity, fiscal management and environmental externalities” (Haynes, Gifford, and Pelletiere 207). Locally, transportation agencies have been able to overcome these obstacles; this paper looks at the positive and negative implications of attempting this on a global scale.

The researchers have to include more variables for a global scale and the “evaluation of institutional sustainability must go beyond and economic or resource analysis of the time distribution or costs and benefits. It must also respond to the relation decision structure within each investment, management, coordinating, and taxing decisions take place, because the decisions set the incentive pattern for the transportation behavior of firms and individuals” (Haynes, Gifford, and Pelletiere 207). The paper takes a look at Trade, technology, and institutional arrangements in international transportation, trade and transport logistics, cabotage (“refers to the ability of foreign vehicles and labor to transport goods within a country” (Haynes, Gifford, and Pelletiere 211)). As well as the Mercosur Region Experience ( “transport service liberalization and deregulation a necessary preparation for the development of an efficient trade – transport chain (Haynes, Gifford, and Pelletiere 212)).
Over the past 25 years the demand for world trade has expanded from 23% to 29% (Haynes, Gifford, and Pelletiere 212). There is a clear evolution within multinational regional spaces in spite of recent issues related to terrorism and security; transportation institutions remain flexible and accommodating to rapidly changing transportation needs.  The research shows that in changing international transportation institutions to allow open communication without political interference successfully allows for regions to transport goods quicker.
A number of benefits come from making decisions and implementing programs on a region wide basis. For example it “allows for economies of scale in purchasing and the pooling of resources and expertise, which reduces redundancy, avoids conflict and allows the system, which is designed regionally, to be operated more efficiently” (Haynes, Gifford, and Pelletiere 217).
For geographers, having a knowledge of the growing demand for more cross regional transporting of goods is essential in understanding the growing needs of people in certain places in the world. Watching the rise and fall of product numbers being imported and exported can say a lot about the economy of a certain region and what implications this may have on the companies and those who work there.

What Shapes local public transportation in Europe? Economics, mobility, institutions and geography.

Daniel Albalate and Germa Bel from the University of Barcelona wrote What Shapes local public transportation in Europe? Economics, mobility, institutions and geography.  In order to analyze the factors that explain the supply and demand of public transportation in Europe which could then be used to assist in transportation planning around the world; the researchers considered variables that reflect geographical patterns and institutional demands. The research will allow the capturing of geographical characteristics of different traditions which include government interventions.  A key point to remember is that citizens in developed economies understand mobility as a right. The aim of this paper is to identify factors explaining local public transportation of large European cities from both supply and demand perspectives.

The research investigates the factors that explain supply and demand of local public transportation by “considering variables related to economics and mobility by using an empirical strategy and by considering as well new variables reflecting institutional characteristics and geographical patterns” (Albalate and Bel 775).   The empirical strategy outlined in the paper has data that was obtained from the Mobility in Cities Database and the International Association of Public Transport which take a look at 120 indicators that effect local public transportation from over 52 European cities in 2001 (Albalate and Bel 776). The research considers the socio demographic characteristics such as population, GDP (gross domestic product) and urban population density. The institutional variables that are considered include; political restrictions, contracting of transport institutions, personal income and political decentralization.
The findings show that supply is greatly influenced by “being a political capital, the level of personal income inequality and contracting out to private firms” (Albalate and Bel 786) and these have an increasing influence on demand as well. This paper contributes to the current standing research on supply and demand but offers a look at the socio demographic variables which had not previously been incorporated. By looking at 52 cities instead of the normal 1 or 2 city studies the paper is able to add legitimacy to the smaller sample studies as the findings were very similar.

Structuring Sustainable Mobility: A Critical Issue for Geography

Lotta Frandberg and Bertil Vilhelmson from the department of Human and Economic Geography at the University of Gothenburg’s paper focuses on society’s social and spatial structures; how societal demands regarding people’s “mobility are continuously shaped and reshaped, and how structuration processes can be transformed in more sustainable directions” (Frandberg and Vilhelmson106). This includes the transformations of :physical structures such as spatial organizations (e.g. the location of activities, land use and transportation systems) of cities and regions, social contacts and networks distributed in space and time and finally cultures of regularly held beliefs, norms and expectations regarding peoples abilities to travel fast and far.
The paper elaborated on the structural dimensions of the changes necessarily involved in achieving sustainability in the area of human spatial mobility. The paper argues that socio spatial structures have been downplayed next to the dominating areas of economics, psychology and technological reasoning. The paper identifies three issues where research is currently emerging but remains to be done. Firstly, the extent to which socio-spatial developments contributes to the continued escalation of physical mobility. Second, in what cases can problems be found between escalating mobility demand and economic growth?  Third, “under what conditions new, restraining and enabling structures, encouraging less rather than more physical mobility can be established” (Frandberg and Vilhelmson106).
One critical task of environmental research within human geography is to contribute to societal learning concerning such new socio spatial arrangements at various scales. This paper delves into the issues of human spatial mobility and what it has to say about the importance of geography within the broader research agenda addressing the challenge of sustainable development. This paper also addresses how the socioeconomic structures necessary for sustainable mobility can be introduced. Such changes are currently being tried out more or less successfully at various spatial scales. The researchers conclude from this paper that “there is clearly a need for a comprehensive, geographical analysis of the maneuvering room in shaping more sustainable forms and levels of travel – or, put differently, a need to structure sustainable mobility” (Frandberg and Vilhelmson 114).


These papers all have a common theme, in assisting geographers within the sub discipline of transport and human behavior to understand what the transportation network will look like in the future and how we will use it. Analysis of the past and a critical look at the present can allow an understanding of why we move across space and how the increased need for speed has created problems for transportation companies. This paper has looked at the implications of climate change, personal mobility use, sustainable transportation institutions in North America, what shapes local transportation needs (specifically in Europe) and how the government and institutions can create a sustainable transportation system in rural areas. Human geographers will be able to use the knowledge of transportation needs to understand the movements of people across space and time.
Works Cited

Albalate, D,. & G, Bel. “What shapes local public transportation in Europe? Economics, mobility, institutions, and geography." Transportation Research Part E 46 (2010): 775-790. Print.
Farber, S., & Paez, A. “Running to stay in place: the time-use implications of automobile oriented land-use and travel”. Journal of Transport Geography 19 (2011): 782-793. Print.
Frandberg, L., & B. Vilhelmson. “Structuring Sustainable Mobility: A Critical Issue for Geography.” Geography Compass 4/2 (2010): 106-117. Print.
Haynes, K., Gifford, J.L., & Pelletiere, D. “Sustainable transportation institutions and regional evolution: Global and local perspectives”. Journal of Transport Geography 13 (2005): 207 – 221. Print.
Jaroszweski, D., Chapman, L., & Petts, J. “Assessing the potential impact of climate change on transportation: the need for an interdisciplinary approach.” Journal of Transport Geography 18 (2010): 331-335. Print.

DRAMA 2013 - Representations of ‘non-white’ cultures in The Secret Garden

Monica Taylor - 4522884
Dr. Jim Ellison
March 12, 2013

Representations of ‘non-white’ cultures in The Secret Garden

In this paper, I will argue that Frances Hodgson’s The Secret Garden offers a socially and historically contingent stereotypical depiction of non-white identity.  Having established these stereotypes and the processes through which they are constructed and continue to operate, I will argue for specific performative strategies and/or adaptations aimed at highlighting the social and historical factors that surrounded this depiction.  In The Secret Garden, adapted for the stage by Jerry R. Montoya employs stereotypical representations of non-white-ness in order to both mobilize what Lott refers to as the ‘power and interest’ (Lott 106) of marginalized cultural practices and simultaneously to subdue the potential danger this power represents by subordinating the essentialized traits of Indian and Black-ness to those of the dominant (white) culture. Through the use of manichean oppositions such as Master/Slave, black clothing/white clothing and behaviors of white/nonwhite, Frances Hodgson’s The Secret Garden can be viewed as supportive of the hegemonic phase of Indian and Black colonization, contributing as it does to the interpellation of a constructed Indian and Black identity and thus to the success of the ongoing colonial project.  By reinforcing stereotypical representations of Indian and Black-ness, The Secret Garden contributes, as Lott suggests it will, to the ‘commodification of the native subject’ (JanMohamed 100), masking the covert colonialist goals of and assimilating non white people into the dominant white culture with the much more benign overt goal of colonialization.  Through my suggested changes to the play (see Appendix 1-4, and also quotations drawn from Appendix 2-4 to support my argument), I aim to highlight the social and historical contingency of The Secret Garden’s representation of Indian and Black-ness through costume suggestions (that include a costume sheet and script with costume cues written in) and dialogue change (by adding an additional character to highlight the black-ness of the first character). By doing so, I will problematize the stereotypes portrayed in the play and expose the contradictory messages inherent in assumptions of the ‘flexible positional superiority’ of the Westerner (JanMohamed 100) and the ‘colonialist discursive practices’ (JanMohamed 98) which attempt to justify the ongoing colonial project.  In my analysis of these proposed changes, I will argue that they have the specific effect of moving the message of The Secret Garden from the realm of histoire, an established, unquestioned truth about the way things are, to that of discours, where the presence and agency of those telling the story today is made evident, and audiences are invited to take a critical and dialectical position on the performance they are viewing.

Ethnicity is contextualized within this play in three central ways as outlined in the thesis. The text involves a simultaneous production and subjection of non-white ethnicity through Mary’s journey as she becomes a proper white girl and in turn becomes happy. These examples from the text range from being subtle to sub textual but all reveal author Frances Hodgson’s inability to escape racist connotations and denotations in her writing. This play, originally created as a novel and then closely adapted for the stage is a classic children’s story that youth and adults have read all over the world. The racial messages written into the text have been widely read and viewed as non-offensive as this script has remained a classic.

Frances Hodgson, a white English female author born in 1849 and who wrote this play/story in 1911 provided a hot bed of cultural revelations of the time.  First, the representation of ‘other than white’ in this play is shown through the binary contrasts between life in England and life in India. Mary’s many references to India that will be explored in depth in this essay reveal England’s cultural dominance over India. Secondly, Martha the housemaid is revealed as having many “black slave” qualities to her that reveal to the audience her position of authority (or lack thereof) in Misselthwaite Manor. Although Martha is “white” she is characterized by coming from a less than desirable neighborhood, she speaks in a different ‘slang’ speech pattern that Mary finds frustrating to listen to and demands that Martha change to suit Mary’s needs. It is clear that Hodgson used ‘black’ characteristics for Martha to convey to the audience that Martha is inferior and subordinate to the other white characters. Finally, there are many incidents that show Mary stripping away her Indian ‘blackness’ and godlessness to become a happy functioning young white girl that include her clothing changes and her adoption of the Christian model of Adam and Eve’s garden.
When Mary is introduced to the reader, she is a foul mouthed, sour child who had adapted the behaviors of the Indian culture as her essential characteristics. Throughout the play, Mrs. Medlock insists on ridding Mary of her “disgusting habits” and introducing her to the proper (white western) way of living. Mary is thrust into a hegemonic whirlwind of western culture. When she resists the new ways of living at first, Hodgson illuminates the anger and dislike for life that Mary has as she doesn’t want to play jump rope, sing or bake like a “normal little girl”. As the story progresses, Mary finds that the more she adopts the white, Christian western way of living her life she becomes happier and full of life. Hodgson writes Mary into a classic example of how powerful Western coercion can be as hegemony happens when “the natives accept a version of the colonizers’ entire system of values, attitudes, morality, institutions, and, more important, mode of production” (JanMohamed 98). The highlighting of mode of production is an interesting point to consider as Mrs. Medlock consistently brings up the fact that everything that Mary does needs to be tailored to how she is going to function as an adult. How productive will Mary be in a white Western society? Mrs. Medlock believes that only a proper white English upbringing will be able to provide the level of perfection and integrity needed for white adulthood, where her Indian upbringing “just won’t do”. 

It is near the end of the script that Mary is ‘coming around’ to the proper way to live a white western life. And with this new adoption of white values inevitably comes happiness. Her mood becomes tolerable and she is finding pleasures in day-to-day activities that include bonding with her white cousin who is sick. Mary finds that the more she rids herself of her ‘blackness’ the happier and freer she feels. Many instances Mary refers negatively about her black clothing and the dark window coverings that are keeping her from experiencing a western life. Once Mary begins to make these revelations she is compelled to share them with Colin (her bed ridden cousin) and release him from the hold that the dark has on him. Throughout this process, Mary is unaware of her attitude changes as Mrs. Medlock and the western influence is creating a dominant force of western internalization for Mary as “during this phase the ‘consent’ of the native is primarily passive and indirect” (JanMohamed 98). Mrs. Medlock exercises “direct and continuous bureaucratic control and ‘military’ coercion of the natives” in order to keep Mary in line and on track to becoming ‘civilized’ (JanMohamed 98). Mrs. Medlock uses threats such as sending her back to India or keeping her locked up inside to keep a bureaucratic control over Mary.

The staff members are worried when Mary arrives at the Manor as they believe she must have some sort of ‘Indian sickness’ as her parents and house servants has died from Cholera. It is common knowledge, as described by the housekeepers, to the white English population that India is no place for an English child. The script suggests that the fault for her ever-continuing illnesses lies with India and how it is unfit for white people to live there. The knowledge of this comes from discursive practices that perpetuate the stereotypes that were created by white people about their experiences in India. Drawing conclusions that illness and misfortune was the work of India itself and creating general ‘thought to be correct’ statements that perpetuate fabricated truths about the ‘non-white culture. India is consistently presented as a place which breeds illness and distasteful qualities through discourse that is being presented to the servants and staff at Misthlewaite Manor. Colonialist discursive practices as Foucault theorizes “are a system of statements within which the world can be known. It is the system by which dominant groups in society constitute the field of truth by imposing specific knowledge, disciplines and values upon dominated groups” (Ashcroft et al).

Mrs. Medlock attempts (successfully) to rid Mary of her Indian past in order to make her into a proper child. It is as if Mary herself is not white by the way Mrs. Medlock wants her to assimilate to the proper white English way of life.  “Now miss Mary” Mrs. Medlock says to Mary swiftly upon her arrival at the manner “things will be different from India. Count yourself lucky that you are back in England. You’ll have a maid, but you’ll have to learn to take care of yourself. A girl your age should be able to do the simple things expected of regular folk” (The Secret Garden 1.1. p.9).  It is stated in the play that Mary’s parents lived in India to reap the benefits of the culture there and the job prospects.  As white people, they covertly exploited the colony’s natural resources, as many other rich White men and women did at the time during Britain’s invasion of India through the various imperialist material practices. Mary’s father, a colonialist businessman, was attempting to change the nature of Indian business and was so passionate about it he never was able to spend time with Mary. Mary then, seen as an ‘Indian project’ was taken in by Master Craven and Mrs. Medlock in attempts to overtly “’civilize’ the savage and to introduce him to all the benefits of Western cultures”(JanMohamed 98). It is this assumption of the necessity of Mrs. Medlock’s duty to assimilate Mary into a proper ‘white – English’ culture that makes her involvement in Mary’s change interesting to note as the reader watches a form of colonization happen through the simultaneous production and subjection of non-white ethnicity.

This play is full of forms of Manichean Allegory. The binary parallel between many key features, characters and actions in this script addresses Hodgson’s relation to the field of racism and imperialist colonialist practices. There is a distinct difference between the white and ‘non white’ parallels that attribute an innate understanding of right and wrong as one side is always seen as better than the other. JanMohamed defines the Manichean allegory as “the dominant pattern of relations that controls the text within the colonialist context is determined be economic and political imperatives and changes, such as the development of slavery, that are external to the field itself” (98). The Manichean allegory developed as the need to control and situate white imperialist practices as correct and “better”. Hodgson paints a strong correlation between Mary’s unhappiness and her ties with her Indian upbringing. For example, when Mary is dressed in Black Indian styled dress she is unhappy and is treated poorly by the White house staff of the manor. But when Mary begins to adopt the proper white way of dressing, she is treated much better by the staff and becomes a happier more lively child as if the transformation was ‘magic’. Hodgson, growing up in England herself where this story takes place, as a white privileged child may not have been aware of the Manichean allegory presented in every day life and then transferred unintentionally to her writing. Counsel and Wolf address this when they speak of how “the writer is easily seduced by colonialist privilege and profits and forced by various ideological factors to conform to the prevailing racial and cultural preconceptions” (JanMohamed 98).

The treatment of Martha in the text is revealing of how characters of ‘non white’ descent are commodified by the white dominant class. Martha’s lack of education and knowledge of the world outside of her own allows Mrs. Medlock to have complete control and influence over Martha’s life as a servant. Although Martha is technically white as the script says she has a thick Yorkshire accent that Mary finds hard to understand and is frustrated that Martha cannot speak like the rest of them “I can’t understand a word you are saying” Mary says to Martha on many occasions (The Secret Garden 1. 1. p.10). Martha is not described by her skin color in the play and when reading it, it is easy to assume that she is black based on culturally defined stereotypes of how black servant women act. For example Martha tells Mary that “Mrs. Medlock is always sayin’ how I got no sense and if the Mistress of the house were still alive, I’d have no job at all” (The Secret Garden. 1. 1. P.10). As well, Martha describes her poor upbringing and how she has ten brothers and sisters. Popular productions of the play, including the on screen adaptations have had a white woman play Martha which is interesting based on the stereotype that her character falls under. The treatment of Martha is a representation of the commodification of the native subject. Martha is given little to no rights and performs her duties under the supervision of the superior white female. Hodgson’s use of descriptors and character traits in Martha is an example of how imperialists “ ‘administer’ the resources of the conquered country, so colonialist discourse ‘commodifies’ the native subject into a stereotyped object and uses him as a ‘resource’ for colonialist fiction” (JanMohamed 100). Hodgson uses these ‘black stereotypes’ to aid the reader in understanding more about Martha’s character. Although Martha is in the script a lot, the reader isn’t given a chance to view character development and understanding with her character as she is constantly under direct orders from Mrs. Medlock. The white staff and Master of the house use Martha as a commodity and pay her very little money and respect for the job she does. Mrs. Medlock routinely reminds her that she is lucky to have a job and it seems as if she is telling Martha that it is a privilege to be around a proper dominant group of white people. Giving Martha these stereotypes allows the reader to imprint a full set of characteristics and understandings that they have learned as “typical black people” through various colonialist discursive practices that depict black people as only acting this way.

Although the plays focus is on the protagonist Mary, there are many incidents where the reader is seeing the action through the eyes of the head housekeeper Mrs. Medlock. Medlock provides the reader with a multitude of examples of the Manichean allegory that happens with both the Indian characters mentioned (including angry Mary) and the black character of Martha. Medlock represents a flexible positional superiority which “puts the westerner in a whole series of possible relationships with the [non-white] without ever losing him the relative upper hand” (JanMohamed 100). Medlock as a representation of the proper white side of the binary, her interactions with the concepts and characters that represent ‘non white’ in the play demonstrate how in every scenario white will always dominate. It is as if Hodgson (like any other author/playwright that has elements of flexible positional superiority in their text) is stating the Manichean allegory of the dualistic nature and then showing how this concept happens everywhere all of the time by showing the flexible positional superiority of the white westerner. In one instance, Mrs. Medlock provides an example of how Mary would have been raised better if she had more interaction with her white mother instead of always being with the Indian maids; “perhaps if her mother has carried her pretty face and her pretty manners often to the nursery Mary might have learned some pretty ways too” (The Secret Garden 1. 1. P.7). Hodgson is thus creating a representational economy in her script. She is “administering the relatively scarce resources of the Manichean opposition in order to reproduce the native in a potentially infinite variety of images, the apparent diversity of which is determined by the simple machinery of the Manichean allegory” (Lott 100).

This script provides the audience with a view into a world of ‘racial integration’. Racial integration was a process decided upon as a strategy of ‘non-white’ control when communities of segregated ‘non-white’ people became resistant to the colonial ideologies. Mrs. Medlock (and staff’s) distaste and opposition to the Indian culture is a perfect example of how white supremacy “was effectively maintained by the institutionalization of social apartheid and by creating a philosophy of racial inferiority that would be taught to everyone” (hooks 112). This separation of geographical space nurtured the embedded philosophy that whites and blacks are meant to be separate. This separation fuels the previously exposed Manichean allegory that creates the concept of a right and wrong binary that assists the production and continuation of colonialist ideologies. Mrs. Medlock makes it clear to Mary that it is necessary to rid herself of her Indian attitudes, dress, language and behaviors if she is going to have any hope of becoming a respectable young lady. This attitude that Mrs. Medlock has is problematic for the reader as the script is written to sympathize with the white characters, therefore seeing Mrs. Medlock’s suggestion as valid.

Critical understanding of how this play represents ‘otherness’ in its historical colonial representation has lead to a deeper understanding of the issues and why they have come to be. The rest of this paper will seek to understand two major methods of colonial representation and displace their material to challenge their existence and necessity in theatre discourse (and white discourse in general). The first challenge will address Mary’s transformation from an ‘Indian savage’ to a ‘proper white lady’ through exploring changes to the script and identifying concepts of, costume and staging of the show itself. The second challenge will address Martha’s characterization as a black slave to expose how colonial discourse has shaped readers minds to envision a black woman based on key textual identifiers that have been attached to the ‘non-white/black’ stereotype.

Abrogation will be used as a tool and method to unpack these colonialist truths that are written and perpetuated in the discourse of the time. Abrogation “refers to the rejection by post-colonial writers of a normative concept of ‘correct’ or ‘standard’ English used by certain classes or groups, and of the corresponding concepts of inferior ‘dialects’ or ‘marginal variants’ (Ashcroft et al). The Secret Garden, first written as a children’s story was then adapted for the stage for a wide variety of audience groups that is generally regarded as a cultural activity (to read to/with your child and to see theatre to both educate and entertain). The intent of challenging this material is to take a post-colonial critical stance and abrogate central concepts of the ‘correct’ way of doing things are re-defining the practice in a different setting or context. Abrogating these concepts within the play will lead to explore the appropriation within this play. Appropriation is “a term used to describe the ways in which post-colonial societies take over these aspects of the imperialist culture – language, forms of writing, film, theatre, even modes of thought and argument such as rationalism, logic and analysis – that may be of use to them in articulating their own social and cultural identities” (Ashcroft et al).

Mary and Colin Craven progress throughout the script into two proper, happy white children when they discover the ‘secret magic’ that they had been missing in their life. At the beginning of the script, Mary is portrayed as a sour dispositioned angry girl who dresses in heavy black clothing. This notation of clothing is interesting to watch as Mary gradually begins to dress in brighter (whiter) clothing the happier she becomes and the more time she spends doing the activities that Mrs. Medlock suggests and spends time outside. It is interesting to note the close relation the children’s experience in the garden has to the Christian story of Adam and Eve. Many references to the word ‘magic’ is used and if some of the text was changed, one would be able to directly see the links between Mary’s journey and that of a ‘non – white’ subject becoming colonized into a white Christian society.

In the costume list (see Appendix One) Mary’s clothing suggestions have been amplified to include more detail about what she is wearing. Mary is depicted at the end of the script being depicted as a ‘classic Sunday school child’ that shows her acceptance and assimilation into the white Christian ideal. The audience will then be able to visually see the evolution of Mary’s acceptance of white culture. The instances where Mary mentions that “there must be magic in the air, there is magic in the garden” prove how Mary is unaware of exactly what is making her life so much better. The ‘magic’ is in fact the White hegemonic and dominant power that is creating a proper white young lady out of her previously muddled Indian upbringing. The ‘magic’ is representational of God and of the general subjugation that is happening to Mary over the course of this play. A changed section in the script (see Appendix Two) that pull attention to Mary’s clothing when she mentions ‘magic’ so the audience can pick up on the correlation between the two. It is important that the audience is not fed a complete answer to the displaced postcolonial issue as it can wash over an audience. When attempting to portray an idea or concept to an audience it is important to engage critical thinking that guides the audience to conclusions and questioning attitudes about the topic at hand. It is also important to note that removing racism from The Secret Garden would strip the play of the integrity of the plot as the plot is about Mary’s change through her experiences. Her changes are inevitable when there is the ever present colonizing force from Mrs. Medlock and the white house staff and members. Making these changes maintains the integrity of the plot but adds the necessary depth to Mary’s change that enables the audience to see what is actually happening to her, that the magic is not coming from the garden but from the ever pressing colonizing force.

The character of Martha, as outlined earlier in the paper, is depicted through her use of language and stories that describe her like a ‘typical black slave’. This is problematic on the basis that Hodgson (who originally was writing for a white audience) uses these stereotypes that ‘everybody knows’ to give Martha her background information without having to ‘waste’ lines on Martha telling her story. Her story is thus implied in her behavior, attitude and way of speaking (orality). Gilbert, in her essay ‘De-scribing Orality: Performance and the Recuperation of Voice’ speaks of how if the dialogue is written in a way that showcases the linguistic connotations to the speakers true self then “the results are a Brechtian defamiliarization of language as a transparent signifier and a focus on ‘voice’ itself as a site of contestion” (Gilbert 121). Hodgson provides an attempt at giving Martha dialogue that is written as if she was actually a black person (see Appendix Three for the original scene). If the scene was to entice the audience into considering the heritage and meaning of Martha as a black character that represented a colonized population subjected to the hegemonic imperialist movement, the scene would have to, in my opinion, show two sides to Martha. One Martha would be the original character with her accent written as she was saying it to provide the reader with an accurate depiction of the accent. This original Martha would be played by a black woman and would be written in the script so there would be no confusion. The second Martha would speak the exact same words but in a proper white English tone that will be understood and provided to the audience through orality (see Appendix Four for changes).

Martha 2 would be a white woman that, although would be a house servant like Martha 1 she would be seen in the eyes of the audience as proper and correct. It would be written so that Mrs. Medlock, although subtle, sided with Martha 2 over Martha 1 based on Martha 1’s implied heritage. Choosing a scene that allows Martha’s character to speak lots allows the truth of the scene to be spoken, “in performance contexts, the truth, if any, is in the telling. By offering a wide range of potential articulations, dramatic texts amplify the splitting and hybridization of dominant discourses” (Gilbert 120). Changing this scene to include two Martha’s provides abrogation in the sense that the scene is rejecting a normative concept of ‘correct’ or ‘standard’ by playing devils advocate and providing both so the audience can see and hear the binary opposition (Manichean allegory). Abrogation in this scene provides a counter to the “theory that use of the colonialist’s language inescapably imprisons the colonized within the colonizer’s conceptual paradigms” (Ashcroft et al).

By analyzing the text in terms of how the stereotypes alive in this play one can see how inevitable they had become through the colonialization process. The processes through which the stereotypes are constructed and continue to operate reveal social and historical factors that influence the writer to engage with perpetuating colonial discourse. The stereotypical representations of both Mary (as an Indian girl at the beginning of the play) and Martha (a character depicted as black) mobilize what Lott refers to as ‘power and interest’. Through the analyzing of colonialist methods by defining and locating them in the text allowed a thorough understanding of what is wrong with the text. We can conclude that what is wrong is the use of previous imbedded knowledge of ‘what is correct’ (dominant white) to give context to the story without having to say anything. Hodgson is relying on the fact that her audience will be part of a white dominant group that, of course, will understand the stereotypes as true and valid and will not question the production. The character of Mrs. Medlock provided insight to how the dominant white class uses; hegemony, colonialist discursive practices, Manichean allegory, commodification of the native subject, flexible positional superiority of the Westerner, representational economy, white supremacy and social apartheid to control Martha and to change Mary into a proper white girl.

Making changes to key elements of the script has allowed exploration of appropriation and abrogation of the dialogue and costume elements of two scenes. Making these changes addresses the issues (as defined in the first part of the essay), answers the problem with a solution and then responds to why and how these changes will be effective. These changes provide the audience with insight to how The Secret Garden is historically and culturally contingent with the colonial discourse that was being written at the time (1911). By making these changes I am providing the audience with the vehicle to make their own conclusions about how and why these stereotypes have been constructed and perpetuated over time. Without ‘preaching’ to the audience about both sides of the history of colonialization making these changes will allow the audience to see this play in a natural light which is the true context of the time period in which it was written. Thus giving modern audiences the opportunity to see the specific effect of moving the message of The Secret Garden from the realm of histoire, an established, unquestioned truth about the way things are, to that of discours, where the presence and agency of those telling the story today is made evident.

Works Cited

Ashcroft, Bill; Griffiths, Gareth; Tiffin, Helen. Key Concepts in Post-Colonial Studies.     
London, GBR: Routledge, 1998.

Gilbert, H. "De-scribing Orality: Performance and the Recuperation of Voice’."      Performance Analysis: an introductory coursebook. Ed. Colin Counsell and      Laurie Wolf. New York: Routledge, 2001. 116-123. Print.

hooks, b. "Teaching Resistance: The Racial Politics of Mass Media’." Performance           Analysis: an introductory coursebook. Ed. Colin Counsell and Laurie Wolf. New       York: Routledge, 2001. 111 - 116. Print.

JanMohamed A. "The Economy of Manichean Allegory: The Function of Racial   Difference in Colonialist Literature’." Performance Analysis: an introductory    coursebook. Ed. Colin Counsell and   Laurie Wolf. New York: Routledge, 2001.     97 – 103. Print.

Lott, E. "Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class’."           Performance Analysis: an introductory coursebook. Ed. Colin Counsell and   Laurie Wolf. New York: Routledge, 2001. 104 - 110. Print.

Montoya, J. R. The Secret Garden. 1st ed. New York: Playscripts Inc, 2008. Print.