A picture of a pen and stationary

Fear, Doubt, and Colonized Education

Hello, if you read this blog regularly please keep reading. If it’s your first time here, feel free to scroll down to the main post.


I’ve been feeling the pull to write again, for a while. When I first returned to University I decided to stop interviewing people and writing for one year. One year turned into two, and now I am in my third year of University. I have been worried about my future self because so many people say that you can’t write and be a Social Worker. This fear has kept me stuck, sharing only ‘safe’ things with little depth. I wonder if this debate will actually have an answer in another decade or two. Social media has only been around for 10 or 15 years and each year the growth is exponential.

‘I think’ is something that I haven’t wanted to put on a paper because of the fear that I may be judged by someone or worse, will cost me a chance of employment in the future. In all truth, I have been hiding from my calling and I know that when I feel that nudge that calls to me to write something it is a gift from God.

Then a friend gave me a gift that shook all that fear and doubt away and gave me so much clarity.

A picture of a pen and stationary
A picture of stationery and a pen with a custom engraving.

It is beautiful but the real uhhugh moment was the words Social Justice | Writer.

If I am called to write and meant to be a social worker then it will happen. If writing and sharing my story ends up taking me a different path then that is the path I will take. Fear is like a corrosive material when we’re left standing in it for a long time. It eats away our self-confidence and leaves doubt and uncertainty. With this pen I will use my heart for social justice and write to inspire others, write for connection, and write to share stories.

So here is something that I have felt a strong nudge to share today.

Colonized Education

When I was 18 I flunked out of college and then came back 20 years later to try again. This time I was successful and am finishing my diploma in Social Work, however, it has come at a cost. You can read the post here if you are interested: https://ginajohnson.ca/moms-academic-burnout/.

I had a psychological evaluation done and it revealed that my memory has a severe deficit. I had to learn different strategies to recall information and have always done better at writing papers, making video’s, and group presentations. The first year of University all the classes were graded with mainly tests. In the second year, about half of the classes required major exams and the other half papers and other assignments. I began to chose courses where I would have the chance to show my understanding of the course material by writing papers and spent weeks writing them.

Then, I hit year three and my professor shared something that made sense. If students show their understanding by writing exams, they typicaly cram and stress, write the test hoping for the best, and then forget a lot of their learned knowledge. However, if they are able to understand the theories and apply them to their current or future workplaces, they will be able to better understand them. Another professor shared a famous quote that is a Chinese proverb and also credited to Benjamin Franklin:, or Xun Kuang:

Tell me and I forget,
teach me and I remember,
involve me and I learn.

This was a light bulb moment for me. Most of my elementary school days in the 80’s and 90’s revolved around students listening to teachers’ lectures. There was very little involvement. Asking questions was frowned upon and other students made fun of me for asking so many.

In this third year, I have been learning about experiential learning and that to learn well we must know ourselves. This is refreshing and gives me hope for the future of education.

It seems obvious that fish are unaware that they are swimming in water right? Well, that is how I was raised living in a colonized city unaware that colonization existed. I am not sure how I grew up living in Canada unaware of the truth of the history around me but when I heard the term colonized education it all fit into place. The North American education system came from England and other European countries. Ironically, my great great and maybe great great great grandparents moved here from Ireland, Frace, and England and continued on living life much the same.

This is my struggle with school, with parenting, with everything in my life, I just never seen it before. God didn’t build us to sit still all day, to listen to someone talk for hours, to stare at a laptop screen, or sit in a cubicle, all day long. I am not broken, after all, we are all unique and have variable needs.

So now, for the first time, my learning is experiential. I am given the chance to write about all the things we are learning and show what I know in broader ways than writing tests. Some people think that writing papers are more work, but I am lucky, I love writing.

I will write more about colonization, feminism, and other topics that need to be spoken about, all in good time. I just picked up my first Bell Hooks book, I wish I found her work when she was still here but I am happy I found it. She sounds like an amazing, strong woman and I can’t wait to dive in.