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Education: What I Know Through Experience
Heather Ladia
EDUC 4413 WCO
Dr. Kathryn Jefferies
21 March 2015

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What are the beliefs I hold about my life and myself? How have I
learned those beliefs? These are complex questions that I have been
reflecting on for quite some time. This paper will discuss what is true
for me–about self-understanding, my life, my education, and my
schooling–in order to do so, I will tell you my history. As I ponder
throughout my schooling, I would generally conclude that I loved going
to school and I enjoyed learning, however, there are several moments I
reflect on which make me believe something deeper about myself. I am
going to get very personal in this paper. I am about to tell you what I
know about myself through my educational experiences.

I grew up in Burlington, Ontario, and in the 1990s and early
2000s, Burlington was not a very culturally diverse city as it is today. It
all began when I was the new girl in first grade at Ascension School. In
the perspective of a four year old, I thought I encountered all the
racism there ever was. I heard “why are you in Canada?” “why aren’t
you white?” “go back to your country” “why are your eyes so small?”
In all of these moments, I was hurt, I felt like I was different and I did
not belong. As a result of the constant discrimination, I became quiet
and to myself. I believe this was the outset of my personality as an
introvert. As I continued my schooling at Ascension, the discrimination
I received got progressively worse. I was bullied for every little thing
students could think of, for instance, being Asian, short, and skinny.

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When I was in grade three, I remember walking home from my bus
stop balling my eyes out because a kid on the bus called me Chinese
and told me that I was gross for eating cats and dogs! I could honestly
write this entire paper on the racism I have endured and still endure in
my life. What I have learned and accepted through all of this is that I,
like every one else, am uniquely different and I am a stronger
individual because of it. What I hold true for me is that being Filipino
makes me who I am, and if people ridicule me for it, they are
uneducated or just simply disrespectful, and that is okay because that
is what is true for them.

In fourth grade, I had a teacher who was nearly retired. She was
definitely what we call in the faculty of education a “burn out teacher”.
Reflecting on her style of teaching, she was the typical 20 th century
teacher,

for

example,

her

classroom

was

teacher-centred

and

worksheets and tests were the only means of learning and assessment.
I cannot reiterate a single concept I learned from grade four, however, I
do remember hyperventilating when we were told we had to write a
three to five minute speech and present it to the class. At that
moment, all I wanted to was to have the choice of not presenting my
speech. I remember talking to my teacher and practically begging if I
could not present because I was not comfortable and I was too
nervous.

Reflecting

on

this

experience,

my

teacher

did

not

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accommodate

or

differentiate

in

any

way.

One

of

the

most

embarrassing moments in my life was when I was forced to stand in
front of bullies and the entire class, and not being able to recite a
single word of my speech. Every single person in that room, including
my teacher, laughed. I was mortified and humiliated, and from then on,
I struggled with presentations. In those moments, I believed my
teacher was discriminatory and unreasonable towards how I felt about
presenting my speech. Now, I believe she was challenging me to “step
out of my bubble”. In the future, if I were ever in the same situation, I
would also want to challenge my student. However, I would approach it
in a different way, perhaps begin presenting in small groups. As a
result, students had another reason to bully me.

The discrimination my brother and I got became unbearable that
my parents believed it would be beneficial for us to move to a different
house and switch schools. Yet again, I was the new girl in sixth grade at
Saint Timothy School. As you could imagine, I was terrified that I would
experience the same level of bullying again. But I was completely
wrong; I had the best teacher ever. I will never forget her! She was
welcoming, fun, and she was overall a kind soul. Of all the years of
elementary school, in terms of academics, I truly learned the most
from her class. The whole year, our desks were arranged in a u-shape,
we learned kinesthetically, we went on multiple field trips, and every

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thing we learned was interesting and relevant to us. Now that I have
reflected on this as a teacher candidate, this is what teaching and
learning is all about for me–learning by doing. In this type of schooling
system, this is how I want to approach my own teaching because I
believe this is what students remember.

Furthermore, my grade six teacher gave each of us a novel for
Christmas. Up until this point, I despised reading with a passion. I was
never the type of person to pick up a book, sit down, and read. I
dreaded the periods when we had to Drop Everything And Read
(D.E.A.R.). I believe this was because up until this point, I was forced to
read books that I did not want to read or did not care about, however,
my teacher strategically bought books for us that we would relate to. I
received The New Girl by Jillian Brooks, and this was the first book I
ever read from the front cover to the back. I realized that all I needed
was to learn about things I care about and could relate to. Something I
want to consider in my teaching is to personalize everything I teach my
students.

Furthermore, my parents decided I would participate in Education
Quality and Accountability Office (EQAO). I did not partake in grade
three testing so I still do not understand why my parents decided I
would in grade six, nevertheless, I scored below the provincial

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standard. I remember the day I brought the Individual Student Report
home. It was seriously a nightmare. Because my parents did not go to
school in Canada, they were extremely concerned. They did not
understand why I scored low because I was generally “a level 3/4
student”. I explained to them that it was not a big deal and I was not
going to fail sixth grade, however, they still wanted to meet with my
teacher. I do not remember how that meeting went but from then on,
my parents were always on my case about finishing my homework
every night until I graduated secondary school. The only reason I
worked hard in school was because my parents pressured me and used
extrinsic motivation. If I received anything below a 3-, I was grounded
for at least a week. Being the introvert I was, I always got either
satisfactory or needs improvement on cooperation with others and
class participation under learning skills. I remember after every report
card my parents would say, “you have to raise your hand more and
make sure your teacher sees that your hand is up!” Similarly, how
could and why should a standardized test define a student? Why do
grades matter? Why do marks represent an individual’s capabilities
and intelligences? Because grades and marks meant a great deal to
my parents, I was forced to do well throughout school, but at this
moment, grades and marks are nothing but letters and numbers to me.
I believe they are only something institutions look at to determine if
you can attend there or not.

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At the end of eighth grade, my teacher decided if each of us
should take academic, being the highest level of courses, applied or
locally developed. My teacher came to the conclusion that I should
take applied classes in secondary school. My grades were generally
lower compared to previous years. I missed a month and a half of
school because I went on vacation to the Philippines. And I remember
when I asked her to justify her decision, she looked me in the eye and
straight up said, “you’re too stupid to be in school!” I will never, ever
forget that moment. My jaw dropped and I felt so belittled,
unintelligent, and worthless. I had nothing to say to her. For whatever
reason she said that, how could any teacher say anything along those
lines to a student?! Not following her advice, I continued to take
academic courses for the duration of my secondary schooling. I
remember entering the high school doors on the first day and knowing
that I would prove to myself that I am NOT stupid to be in school. No
one and nothing–no teacher, grades, or school–defines an individual’s
intelligence! I believe and know I am intelligent. This is what is true for
me, however, not always in the perspective of post-secondary
institutions.
I intended to graduate from Notre Dame Secondary School in
June 2010, so I began applying to post-secondary institutions before
then. I had an average of 68 percent in grade twelve but most

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institutions were accepting students with a minimum of 75 percent for
concurrent education programs. I graduated, however, my grades were
not high enough. I never received an acceptance letter in the mail that
year. Nonetheless, I completed another semester, also known as a
“victory lap”, to boost my grades. The following year, I applied to
different institutions with my average of 70 percent. The first school
that accepted me was Lakehead Orillia under the Gateway Program.
Gateway students have access to additional online supports and
individual advising sessions. At that moment, I loved the concept of
this program but wait... Shouldn’t all students have access to free
tutoring to guide educational success? Just because a student achieved
an average that meets or exceeds entrance requirements does not
mean

they

would

not

benefit

from

additional

advising

and

programming activities. Now, I believe all students in all levels of
schooling should have access to additional assistance.

Now that I have slowed my mind down, sat quietly, and really
noticed, I have begun to truly self-educate and self-understand. No
amount of racism, bullying, embarrassing moments, belittling, and low
grades and test scores will define what is TRUE for ME. I am starting to
understand myself and I will continue to. I am an intelligent individual.
Nothing and no one can alter this truth. I am competent. One day I will
be an admirable teacher.

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