This post was written by Nadia Chaney, a Dialogue Associate at the Simon Fraser University Wosk Centre for Dialogue and a social artist who empowers community voice through radical dialogue.
Education is a meaning-making venture. The content of a curriculum is always important, and, it is always housed in its own context. When context changes, meaning changes. So what happens to the meaning making operation of education when it crosses borders? I am interested in the complex relationships and nuanced interrogations of the question of identity that arise in particular as education moves across borders in the bodies of diasporic people. Of both historical and current importance, this question of identity in education confronts diasporic people here and around the planet. My own interest in this question comes from being a first generation Canadian with multi-faceted Indian roots and working as an educator in Bangalore, India. My arts-based empowerment work with PYEGlobal.org has been brewing on the Pacific Northwest Coast for 9 years. In 2009, when PYE partnered with Dream a Dream (.org) in Bangalore, I had an opportunity to explore some of these questions for myself.
The English word “education” comes from a Latin root, ducere, which means to draw out, or to lead forward. From a certain perspective, education can seem like a necessity, almost as important as food, water or family. It can offer access to work, security, and even personal fulfillment. In relation to this perspective and to what education offers, the context of leading and following is important to note: it raises certain questions about relevance and responsibility.
Images and metaphors come with and are embedded in curriculum and methodologies that are “exported” across borders. It is thus important to think about the assumptions that accompany these exported curriculums and how they affect the relevance and effectiveness of educational work in development.