Category Archives: EC&I 832 Project

What is normal?


My project for EC&I 832 is going to be social awareness piece based on Normative Center and the unconscious biases that form it. The first time I was introduced to the idea of Normative Center (NC), was through this article by Graham and Slee. It was in a curriculum class and how NC relates to First Nations (FN) culture and FN education. I have discussed this article and its ideas with a lot of friends and colleagues since then as I find the idea thought provoking and believe that it needs talked about more openly.

Normative Center is an interesting concept that can be applied to many different areas of our lives. NC is based on individual and cultural biases, so it can be a sensitive subject and a conversation that you cannot force someone into. A person must understand their own biases to reflect on how they may have influenced past decisions, or the way you talk to and treat other people.

To better understand my own biases and hopefully open the floor to some discussion about it I am going to talk to some people that can offer unique perspectives on aspects of Normative Centers in Canadian culture. These talks will look at but not be limited to: physical/mental disabilities, First Nations culture, race and gender.

I am excited about the response to this idea and have been able to line up several experts willing to be interviewed. These interviews will discuss the Normative Center and how it relates to them personally, professionally, culturally, and what this means in an increasingly digitally world.

I hope these conversations will further my understanding of bias and NC. I also hope that this will help others to identify the need to discuss this and become more aware of the deep reaching impacts of unconscious bias.

Major Learning Project week 1

I had a bit of a hard time narrowing down an idea that would fit into the parameters of the options available. I wanted to do something both meaningful and challenging. My journey thus far in the EC&I classes has proved useful in my daily teaching by greatly improved my understanding of technology in the classroom. This growth was not the easy for me and came through a great deal of work, mostly because of my own inefficiencies with technology.

This term will be no exception, I plan on doing a project that will challenge my understanding of technology and some deep seated social intricacies that I would like to get a better understanding of.

The Inspiration

This little hairball is Luke Claude Raes. He is currently 2.5 years old and is quite a little character (like me). He is your typical kid, makes a big mess, says funny things and cries when he doesn’t get his way, (like his mom). When Luke was born it was a warm day in August and everything went well, Lacey has a family history of quick births, so quick in fact that two children have been born on the way to the hospital. SO, being a car guy I toyed with the idea that it may be kind of neat having your kid born in the car… you know, name him something funny like Silverado, Skylark or Lincoln… depending on which vehicle he was born in. I am sure we can all agree this is unique opportunity and would be a great family story down the road. Like most of my good ideas, it was quickly rejected and we compromised and decided to have a more traditional birth. So as we sat and ate our lunch that Sunday afternoon I remember the feeling of great anticipation as Lacey told me that we needed to leave. We arrived at the hospital and the contractions were increasing in speed and intensity. The nurses told her calmly that everything was on track, but left the room to tell the doctor he needed to come immediately. Less than 30 minutes later Luke was born. What an amazing roller coaster of emotion, on one hand I was agonizing watching the woman I love go through so much pain and the other so proud of the little life we had just brought into the world.

As Luke was born the doctor called the nurse to help, it turns out there was a complication with the umbilical chord. It had tied itself in a knot, after a few initial tests were done the doctor informed us that Luke was a little miracle baby. He explained that in the 20 years he had been delivering babies that this had only once before happened where there weren’t considerable health complications as a direct result. This comment was burned into the back of brain and still surfaces from time to time.

As Luke grew older we began to notice that he was left handed, like really left handed. He often wouldn’t open his right hand to hold his bottle… enter doctors comment from the back of my mind.

During Luke’s regular checkups it seemed he was not meeting some of the milestones typical in child development. Our doctor explained that it is not normal for infants to show such strong left or right handed tendencies, he recommended that we see a specialist to help diagnose why he was falling behind. I remember leaving that appointment feeling very different, I was not sad, or upset because Luke was my son and and a diagnoses wouldn’t change that. But, at the same time I could see some of those little daydreams of Luke playing the guitar, or being the high school quarterback slipping away…

So off to the specialist we go, after months of physiotherapy and talking to a long list of specialists (who were all wonderful, and get to play with infants all day… what a great job) it was determined that Luke has Cerebral Palsy, (almost certainly due to his oxygen supply being cut off from the knot in his umbilical chord). Some of the language they used to describe it was extremely lucky, fortunate, minimally disabled… these will come into play later.

I know this is a long and unsolicited look into my personal life. I don’t often talk about it because I don’t like the idea that Luke isn’t normal. He is a funny little character just like everyone else his age, he is minimally effected by this as he has been meeting all cognitive milestones and due to his physiotherapy he has started getting more mobility in his right arm. However, he is not “normal”. So, my project will be a social awareness campaign based around the “normative center”.

Some of the things I would like to explore are:

  • What is the Normative Center?
  • How does the Normative Center affect people both “in” and “outside” of it?
  • Who decides what normal is?
  • Why do people feel the need to “fix” someone outside the “normative center”?
  • How do students/adults feel that don’t fit into this definition of normal?

Please feel free to add some points that could be addressed. I would love to hear your point of view around some of these thoughts so please open a dialogue with me about them!

EC&I 832

Good day fellow EC&I students! My name is Brad Raes, I grew up on a cattle ranch on the edge of the Grasslands National Park near the village of Wood Mountain. I am looking forward to this term as I have found the other Ed. Tech classes extremely useful in my daily teaching. I hope to be able to continue my journey in Ed. Tech and hope there is an opportunity to help you out with some of the tips and lessons I have picked up from colleagues along the way!

Anyone that has spent much time with me understands that I typically enjoy taking a lighthearted approach. I believe that there is a time and a place for being serious and I will let you know when I find it!