Anderson, Starla



Job Title

Retired as English Department Head, Churchill Secondary, Vancouver School Board



EDST Degree/s and graduation year/s

MEd, 1977; EdD, 1987


Society, Culture and Politics in Education (SCPE)


Saanich, British Columbia, Canada


My year of study with Jane Gaskell enhanced my understanding of the role of public education in capitalist society. After five years of teaching in public schools, and observing discrepancies in outcomes for students from different social and cultural backgrounds, I wanted to gain more insight as to how I might bring innovations to classrooms to confront these discrepancies. As a teacher in a Vancouver alternate program, Total Education, I interviewed grade 12 students who told me that this more personalized learning experience motivated them to complete secondary school whereas mainstream schools had not. These students were from diverse backgrounds—socially and culturally—and had individual motivations; “one size fits all” learning experiences did not keep them motivated. Continued interest in alternate education took me as a teacher-researcher to Outreach, a program for Indigenous students. My work with these students became the focus of doctoral studies with Bernie Mohan in UBC’s Dept. of Language and Literacy Education. Many doors opened so that I was able to contribute to designing better learning environments and more relevant curriculum for Indigenous students in B.C. schools. During the last decade of my teaching and consulting work, as Head of Churchill’s English Department, teachers were easily persuaded of the efficacy of developing English courses for grades 8 – 10 students who would benefit from adapted methods of instruction. This school is known for its students’ academic achievements but a small number of students were not being served well; twenty-five years later, these courses remain intact.