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Course Reflection

The Unknown's picture

What I found as my greatest challenge during the course, which presented itself in many forms and was addressed at different angles was answering the question, how can we, as educators, and pioneers of justice, create a space where ideas outside of white upper-class, male, Christians are considered vital to our understanding of ourselves and our surroundings? Also, how can I personally participate in confronting social justice from silence and giving others space to contribute.

            Also we complicated the idea of comfort many times. Who is comfortable? Who creates that comfortable space? Where is the boundary between growth and uneasiness versus pain and humiliation? I appreciated that everyone in the class was vulnerable enough to reside in one of these spaces. 

One of the major struggles I battled with in my Praxis and in class was constantly changing my perspective and outlook with the different settings. Going beyond this idea, I found myself wanting to discard my assumptions, views, so I could more easily understand someone else’s story, courage, and passion. How can I embrace contradictions in a classroom, whether as a teacher or a student and still have legitimacy, not taking a stance?

The experience of being in this class has also been about navigating spaces of discomfort, where either the delivery of lessons are new or the information is unfamiliar, and I am caught in this uncomfortable place of unknowing. I struggled to find the balance between sharing my strong opinions, and a true desire to complicate them.  I have been inspired and awakened by how much more fruitful activities and assignments are when there are many different viewpoints in the room, and often they contradict each other.

            I appreciated this juxtaposition that we explored between wanting to push students of all ages to question their assumptions, beliefs, and values, and at the same time honor and appreciate different perspectives as they are. The hardest part of this process was often in realizing that our actions did not always live up to our words or principles. Everything seemed more complex and convoluted when we tried to put ideas of … into action.

            Something I really appreciated in this class was the focus on vocabulary. How is the way we communicate gendered, based on race, ethnicity, and individual socioeconomic backgrounds? How can we reassign new meanings to words that were used to dominate, destroy, or oppress? How can we give students the words to express and articulate themselves and offer them the history and connections that have been associated with these words?

            I am left with many questions: how can differences not be ranked?

            One other constant struggle I had throughout the semester, but really the year as a whole, was finding the opportunity and voice for allies in struggles against oppression.

            I wanted to explore the idea of collective memories and understandings of identities? How are identities shaped? Who decides the history of that group, the defining characteristics or are there not any? How do we choose to remember or decide to forget parts of who we are that we are not proud of, moments of cowardice?