"I" for Identity, "I" for Indigeneity

I spent two days last week with Nelson principals at their annual conference. Innovative, hard-working leaders, interesting conversations, great venue, and wonderful food! The conference theme was, "adaptive, agentic, and authentic," and as I listened to fascinating future trends described by, Dr Cheryl Doig, I was reminded all over again about the tensions between looking forward to a very different future, and the need to hold on to who you are. Dei (2011) aligns this struggle to retain one’s identity and indigenous knowledge in a changing world, with resistance:

Today, Indigenous knowledge is about the struggle to retain one’s identity in the call for a global sameness. …Indigenous knowledge is about resistance, not in the romanticized sense, but resistance as struggle to navigate the tensions of today’s modernized, globalized world while seeking to disrupt its universalizing, hegemonic norms. (p. 168)

In the Middle Grades Review online journal earlier this year, I wrote about this dilemma ...

We live in the world of the intensely market-driven lower case “i”.  Since the launch in 1998 of the “iMac”, Apple Inc. has spawned a plethora of lower-case “i” devices and programmes.  Even “non-i” users, like me, cannot help but be surrounded by fervent disciples of the iPhone, iPad, iPod, IMovie and iTunes.  And I am not altogether immune.  The model of the car I drive is the i30.  What do these mean?  According to Steve Jobs (1998), the “i” signified “the marriage of the excitement of the internet, with the simplicity of Macintosh” (Jobs, 1998), so the “i” stands for internet then?  Never one to miss a marketing opportunity, Jobs suggested in the same speech it could also stand for individual, instruct, inform, and inspire.  According to the vice president of Hyundai Europe, (Stein, 2007) the “i” in my i30, and their other “i” models, stands for inspiration and innovation.  That is a lot to ask of one small letter!  

Whatever the “i” signifies, which it seems can be anything you want it to be, there is no denying that it is pervasive.  The small “i” is also insidious.  It crept into our vocabulary, into our homes, our pockets and our handbags, and spun off into other products.  The small “i” typifies many other takeovers, which marginalise or replace what we valued before, and become our new way of thinking.  The question is, as these devices, and this language have become ubiquitous in our schools as essential tools to equip our children for the future, what has happened to the upper case “I”?  Where am I – not only in our neoliberal market-driven education systems – but for students of colour, where am I in the omnipresent “white spaces” (Milne, 2013) which permeate our schools?  Where is the crucially important “I” for Identity? Where is Indigineity?