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Disciples of Big Ideas

Patricia Bucci, OCT, is always looking for opportunities to reflect and improve. She welcomes the chance to evaluate her own actions, thought, behaviours and attitudes. That's what drew her to a College workshop on anti-oppressive education. Bucci saw it as a way to increase her knowledge and apply that learning among her AQ instructors and candidates.

Photo: Ontario College of Teachers

Photo of a large group of people sitting at desks and facing a small group of people presenting.
AQ course designers and facilitators attend a workshop at the College to explore course design from an anti-oppressive stance.

"We're the disciples of these big ideas, to encourage reflection," says Bucci, AQ program officer with the York Catholic District School Board.

Such capacity-building sessions from the College aim to help AQ providers improve their design and implementation. For Bucci, the workshop raised the notion of unintentional biases on the part of educators and the makeup of courses. That leads to the need to rethink some ingrained practices.

"Even being neutral allows oppressive practices to continue if you're not standing up to what you see as a problematic issue. Inaction is not neutral," says Bucci. "The session was quite powerful."

When Marcel Lalonde of Laurentian University attended another capacity-building session, he was so inspired that it led to a new AQ. The College session on Ontario's Indigenous population was an "eye-opener," says Lalonde, program manager for AQs at Laurentian's Centre for Academic Development (CAD).

Following the session, CAD decided to become a leader in Indigenous education, and developed an AQ course called First Nations, Métis and Inuit Peoples — Understanding Traditional Teachings, Histories, Current Issues and Cultures, Part 1. Moreover, other AQs they develop and submit for accreditation to the College will now explicitly include Indigenous content.

The impact of the College workshops is far-reaching. Bucci now holds her own sessions with AQ candidates "to promote awareness of our own implicit and explicit beliefs." It's not enough, she says, to be proficient in developing students' knowledge, skills and competences. Something like ensuring an anti-oppressive stance cuts across all areas. Bucci sees it as an ethical imperative. "We fought hard for years to become a profession, and with that comes responsibility," she says.