The Reflection Pool

My Name Is…

Back to School posts are everywhere! It’s that time of year after all. It’s great to read about caring, relationship building, visioning. That is all super important. We know that if students and teachers don’t feel valued at school or if there aren’t good relationships, success for everyone goes waaaay down. But I think there may be a missing ingredient when it comes to relationship building, at least from the posts I read.

What about the students’ names?  

Rusul Alrubail tweeted this out recently:

The link takes you to a really great post called “10 Ways Well-Meaning White Teachers Bring Racism Into Our Schools” and it’s a must-read. Even though it uses an american lens, we can’t let ourselves believe that these things don’t happen in canadian schools too. It made me uncomfortable, since I recognize myself in some of them, but that was good. How else can I continue to face and question my ingrained biases?

Rusul had a conversation about number 4: Intentionally or Unintentionally Mispronouncing Names on Twitter (you can go here to see the whole conversation) which I jumped in on. I, too, believe that naming is powerful. It is also political. There is a long standing tradition in Canada of changing the names of those who come to our shared country when they don’t suit our English or French tongues. I’m really glad that this tradition has almost died out. When we don’t pronounce student or colleagues’ names properly, we diminish ourselves and each other. It’s a message that you’re not that important. And using the excuse of “it’s just too hard” or “those names are crazy!” (yes, I’ve heard that) isn’t OK. 

Rusul’s post, Growing up with my name, is a window into how it feels. Her humour and gentleness in dealing with this subject is inspiring.  I know I’m going to keep making those efforts to pronounce others’ names correctly. I hope you are too.