Cool by my Own Standards: the Essence of the Expansion of the Standard of Humanness Through the Reinterpretation of Normativity
Low, Meaghan M.
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In 1993, Maxine Greene issued a call to expand the standard of humanness and to look beyond normative culture in the hopes of moving toward a greater inclusivity of diversity in schools. Current Canadian curriculum theory is seeking to include more voices into a conversation that seeks to recognize unheard narratives. To contribute to this goal this study sought to speak to those who successfully navigate the normative world through their unique narratives, unswayed by the pull towards the norm. In a discussion of successful arts teachers, Smithrim and Upitis (2001) describe a person who is unswayed by normative pressures as “someone who is able to write his or her life like a poem, who marches to his or her own drum, and whose identity is strong enough to withstand the many influences of the dominant culture” (p. 21). They name these individuals strong poets. By exploring the perspectives and experiences of students who are strong poets, this research contributes to the understanding of how curriculum can encourage people to extend the standard of humanness by embracing their non-normative narratives. This study used a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Data were collected through two phases that emphasized the interpretation of texts and the negotiation of the meaning of those texts through a community of strong poet interpreters. The data were analyzed and presented through the use of hermeneutic windows in order to develop an understanding of those who accept their own unique narratives without hesitation. The four windows described present the essence of how the strong poet participants interpreted the expansion of the standard of humanness through their awareness of self, their ability to humanize the humans around them, and the ways in which they creatively resist and negotiate norms. The strong poets who participated in this study shared their experiences of the lived curriculum and shed light on how they embraced their own non-normative narratives and how they encouraged others to embrace their own stories.