2018 - Taran Jordan Essay

My name is Taran Alexander Jordan. I am a Black male. I am completing the first year of my education degree with Mount Saint Vincent University. My decision to become an educator is a simple one. I know first-hand the experience of growing up in an educational system with scant visible minorities and nobody that looked like me. To that point, it gives me great pride to become a role model, cultural translator, resource and contact within the school system, following in the footsteps of one of my mentors, Wade Smith. Like Wade, I have the need to be a positive Black role model and influence for youth, and primarily African Nova Scotians. I know fully the impact experienced due to under representation of Black educators on our youth, and in particular boys. During my final undergraduate year at Dalhousie, I wrote a paper on this very topic entitled, “White Education and its Facilitation in the Creation of Black Prisons.” This paper spoke to what many understand to be the “school to prison pipeline”. There is no doubt of the direct correlation between the lack of education and incarceration. The history of Black education is tumultuous as stated in the Blac Report 1994, and the lasting effects of the historical issues are evident within today’s education system and communities. Black students are often at a significant disadvantage within the school system, especially when there is no person present to self-identify with. Having visible representation within is just one way to help. Moving through the education system with nobody that “looks like me” is the norm for the majority of Black youth and it was the norm during the duration of my entire scholastic career, having only had one Black educator, which was in my second year of university. However, many do not even have the privilege of having one Black educator, and to me it should not be a privilege but a norm. Without visible representation of one’s self, negative self-perceptions are subconsciously taught. The education system does not sufficiently accommodate nor support its African-Canadian students in this way. Many students feel excluded and marginalized. This in turn results in
disengagement, failing grades, no skills for future employment or self-sustainability, and ultimately, a low sense of self-belonging, which encourages the facilitation the school-to-prison pipeline. Readily seen are the visible discrepancies and concerning increases of incarceration rates and rising prison populations of Black individuals. A student-centered learning environment relevant to African-Canadian children, teenagers, and young adults begins with visible representation. People learn best when they feel a sense of belonging. When this does not exist, many African Nova Scotian students lack interest and motivation to continue their education and therefore, end up without the skills necessary for future employment and self-sustainability thus increasing the chances of law violation. Presently, during my first year practicum, I am the sole representation of African Nova Scotians within all staff members. This is a problem, and one that I need to part of revolutionizing.