As part of a good practice we often keep in mind “who” we are, what is our story, and how it influences our perception on the research field and the practice. This has been a long debate: should our personal story inform our practice? Maybe in some contexts the answer is a clear yes. Nonetheless, in my native France, mixing the personal story and the professional practice is negatively perceived. Being a true professional is to be able to deny our personal story.
Being raised and mostly educated in France, I am now studying in the USA; sometimes, it feels like walking on a wire. Which part of myself, of my personal story, could inform my practice? How can I question my personal stories to better reflect my posture, my reaction and my subjectivities in my professional practice? How have my personal narratives created potential stereotypes and misconceptions about the field I study?
I grew up as a teenager in the suburbs of Paris, witnessing the unfairness of the system towards populations who do not conform to the model of a standard citizen. This issue is, of course, not restricted to France. Whether you are White or not, Black or North-African, whether you are wealthy or not, whether you are labeled disabled or not, whether you could afford private school or not; the intersection of these elements considerably influences your educational experience and eventually has dramatic consequences on your future.
During my childhood and teenage-hood, I have been a witness and an activist. Today, I am the lucky one, part of a thoughtful cohort at Teachers College; we do not have to worry much about our future, so we gather our efforts for the future of others, for a better society and for social justice.
Therefore, I would like today to engage my peers, my professors, the audience, to further the reflection that might sound futile, but that is crucial to our practice: How can we understand the context we are working in? Where does our personal story fit in our research and practice? Lastly, how can I ensure that the words I am typing are not fulfilling new stereotypes?