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Kumashiro Post

makalaforster's picture

I really enjoyed reading Kumashiro, as it seems to tie in a lot of ideas that we have been discussing in class and that other theorists have touched on. I found there was something from every chapter that struck me. In particular, I found the part about incorporating Buddhism into teaching practices as extremely powerful. A lot of my spiritual upbringing incorporated Buddhist values of life and death and the idea of 'letting go', so I recognize the value in these lessons.  I was also struck by the idea of learning and teaching as being extremely fluid, and important in each of our individual growth. I remember someone once saying (to me as a middle schooler) that you cannot fully understand something until you have taught it. Applying this to the classrooms in which students are teaching students and learning from one another.

Another part that I found very powerful (and something we have discussed in class) was the idea of having discomfort as a goal. In light of yesterday's Day of Learning at Bryn Mawr, I found myself thinking of Kumashiro throughout the workshops and panels I attended. This also refers back to the idea of peer based learning. There was one moment yesterday when I was in a discussion group, and President Cassidy was in my group, when we were talking about how valuable questioning and challenging our assumptions of normality and dominant cultural values and ways of thought. KCass posed a question to our group: "with all of this questioning and uncertainty and discomfort and fighting dominant views, are we leaving students with a place of depression and feelings of being overwhelmed?". I think Kumashiro would say that it is up to the teacher to lead the student through the discomfort into a place of understanding the world (with all the uncertainty and challenges within the world). But I think she was also highlighting the question of individual well-being-- how do we ensure that students maintain a sense of well-being? How do teachers? 

In taking into account my positive experience of the Day of Learning and peer based education that challenged widely-held views and created uncomfortability, I have been thinking a lot about the terms that Kumashiro uses of "comfort" and "discomfort" and the different meanings these two words hold. At the end of the sessions yesterday, there was a speaker who said some very powerful statements, celebrating what Bryn Mawr had accomplished, and one of these statements was "you are comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comforted". I found this so powerful. I haven't quite formulated how this connects with Kumashiro, but I think it is clear the connection between the Day of Learning and Kumashiro.