ED 816 Response to Guest: Kathryn Ricketts & Ned Barlett

One of the first things that I was able to grab from tonight’s two speakers was when Kathryn said we have to allow ourselves “Permission to function as witness”. I approached this with how I need to look at my upcoming thesis. My method of narrative inquiry (may end up being autoethnography), allows me to be involved in the story and for my own story to become a part of my research. However, throughout the work, I will be working with others whose stories will also come out in my work. I need to step back and listen – and become a witness to their stories, instead of only thinking of it as a part of my own story. 

This connects to what Ned said about how we relate to each other and often try to project ourselves on others around us. I need to be very aware to allow individual stories to not just blend into each other but still hold their own uniqueness.

Ned helped to assure me that I have picked a topic that will be a good task for myself. He said that our work must be fed by what provides you frustration, anxiety, or even fear. My thesis theme is going to surround French as a second language and the balance of reconciliation in a program that makes it difficult to allow other First Nations languages to hold value in our Canadian schools. This is going to be a challenging task as a French educator myself. Currently, this is a conversation discussed quietly between those struggling with the controversial subject but it isn’t something largely discussed for change. So as Ned said, I am going to try and use my thesis to “build something out of nothing”. Right now, the significance of only offering primarily French in schools does not seem like a relevant or urgent matter. But I do believe there is a quiet message hidden within this routine/habit of French education in Canada holding the primary value withing languages in our Canadian schools

My work will also make apparent my own cultural capital, which is something else that triggered me when Ned brought it up. I will be examining a sensitive issue of reconciliation within language programming in Canada, but my lens will definitely come from a white perspective – even though my goal is to bring up questions of this issue in our school language programming. But I still need to “acknowledge it” and perhaps like Ned did, I can “abuse” it to make it something positive for the future. However, I will also have to recognize even when I am abusing my cultural capital as I do believe it is vital to be aware of this in my life.

In an article I found about cultural capital, the authors say that “…some social agents will be ahead of the changes, having developed effective reproduction strategies, while others will stick to the evaluation schemes that once gave themselves or their ancestors their privileges but today are in the course of becoming obsolete” (Annick P. & M. Savage, 2013, p. 254). I want to be a participating strategy in making cultural privileges become obsolete, but to get there, I will have to use my cultural capital to do so. What I mean by this, is that as a white French teacher who is supporting the importance of allowing First Nations language to become a part of our education system as a means of reconciliation – I am allowing other white French educators begin to look at this as well, as well as many others who may read my thesis. I am allowing my privileged culture to support the means on the unprivileged culture to begin to hold value in their language.

Annick and Savage also say that “Cultural production has been through enormous changes, which are of course reflected in the cultural consumption. These changes may imply a certain displacement of how distinction is achieved, with less emphasis on the choices of particular objects and more on the way to relate to these objects” (Annick P. & M. Savage, 2013, p. 257). My hope is to be able to relate the stories I will be collecting in my research in order to open up the possibility for Canadian society to recognize what I hope to approach in my work.

Ned mentioned the word “alchemy” and I had to look it up as when he said it, I first pictured a witch over a pot making a spell. However, it also means “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination”. 

I love that definition – my work, my own self, and my future is this exact type of transformation. This transformation is happening as each guest and classmate shares through their story. I am learning about myself…I am taking the first step as Quan quoted in his presentation: “Apprendre a se connaitre est le premier des soins”(Jean de la Fontaine). I am making it a priority to learn in order to know myself.

Another theme discussed by both guests was about blurring fact and fiction as well as how our own narratives come into our work. Kathryn mentioned that our works will “echo our past”. Until the project of our autobiographical narrative, I did not know how much my past stories affect me of today. I knew they did but I was unaware of the extent of it. I had been avoiding it which Kathryn said we cannot do that as our experiences “will inform your sources”. We need to “surrender to it” as there is “truth in fiction”.


Annick P. & M. Savage. (2013) Emerging forms of cultural capital. European Societies, 15:2, 246-267, DOI: 10.1080/14616696.2012.748930

Can find this article on University of Regina library summons: http://www.tandfonline.com.libproxy.uregina.ca:2048/doi/full/10.1080/14616696.2012.748930?scroll=top&needAccess=true

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