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.
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I enjoyed reading Kumashiro's perspective on anti-oppressive education because of the way he repeatedly called for discomfort, and the way he encouraged the need for a space to do so. It was useful that he critiqued his time in the Peace Corps as his first venture into "education," but also into the world of difference and "helping," even though this came so late in his life. I found it interesting that his practice was so reflective of both student/teacher learning but also of teacher/teacher educator learning. i thought it was very useful in critiquing both the K-12 education system, and showing the pitfalls of teacher education/preparation programs.
I was interested by Kumashiro’s discussion of “willingness to learn” in the beginning of chapter 2. His stories about “M” and “N” demonstrate the idea that just because a student does not learn from one teaching style doesn’t mean they are unwilling to learn, they simply need a new strategy. This presents an difficult problem: while each student learns differently than their peers, a system of standards and norms still must be established in public schools which use taxpayer money. This allows for students to be incorrectly characterized.
I really enjoyed reading "Against Common Sense." I though Kumashiro had a lot of great ideas, and I actually ended up reading through the ending chapters as well on the natural sciences and mathematics, because it related so well to the things I'm particularly interested in. Two general ideas that really stuck out to me in the book were the diagrams in Chapter 2 on what it means to learn, and the discussion on uninentional curricula. I really like the diagrams, because although oversimplified, I'm a huge fan of visuals and I thought it was a great visual representation of the process of re-learning how to teach in anti-oppressive ways and re-shaping our views, as teachers and students, on the purpose and process of education itself.
I've been thinking a lot about dialogue recently especially since in my other education class, we are talking a lot about the role of listening and silence in being a healing presence. The main difference that strikes me is that the discussion of listening and silence, while healthy for everyone, is not always beneficial for everyone. For example, in instances where, for lack of a better word, the "oppressed" are being told to listen and create silence, there is no change happening, there is no disrupting of the norm, and there is no empowerment or elevation of the voices of those whose voices should be elevated.
I really enjoyed reading Shor & Freire's discussion of the "Dialogical Method" of teaching. As a scientist interested in environmental education who has always struggled with traditional lecture learning styles, I have grappled with similar questions of how to teach subjects, especially hard science that is not seen as "needing discussion," through more interactive, dialogue-friendly techniques. I especially appreciated Freire's example of his friend's physics course, and how he begins by situating the subject matter within concrete materials gathered by the students around their lives.
My first reaction to the website we read also ties into a lot of the other readings for this week. As I was reading through the Teaching for Change website, I realized how lucky I was to have read so many books and poems by Black authors or poets in high school and the conversations our literature teacher facilitated. In comparison to white authors, the number was smaller, but I realize now what I did not realize in sophomore and junior year of high school how important those discussions were for an entirely white classroom.
After the incomprehensible shootings of three young Muslim people at UNC Chapel Hill, the Muslim Students Association organized a vigil last night. It was absolutely beautifully put together, with time to talk about the events, time to mourn and stay silent, time to pray, and time to share feelings. It was understandably difficult for anyone to feel ready to say anything about the events and their impact on the community, but the mic was then passed around the circle. Those who spoke were mostly Muslim students, those who passed the mic were mostly not. This creation of silence and voices was really important, I think, to maintaining a feeling of support and solidarity and alliance wth those who were struck most closely by the events.
Two days ago, we received some exciting news on Bryn Mawr's campus: Bryn Mawr has updated their admissions policy to explicitly be inclusive of "transwomen and of intersex individuals who live and identify as women at the time of application," as well as "intersex individuals who do not identify as male." However, the statement also said that "those assigned female at birth who have taken medical or legal steps to identify as male are not eligible for admission." Having been a part of the movement for an inclusive admissions policy, this is, of course, incredibly exciting news and a wonderful first step in the right direction for Bryn Mawr.
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, I think this year at Bryn Mawr has been marked by a lot of thought around how the movement manifests itself on campus. As a former president of the South Asian affinity group on campus, it was particularly interesting to me how affinity groups on campus responded to the various events on campus surrounding the Confederate flag and the Mainline demonstration. At the time of the Confederate flag incident, many affinity groups were just warming up to new executive boards and new initiatives for the year. However, the campus-wide demonstration and plannings meetings leading up to it were cause for tension among some of the affinity groups, specifically the South Asian and Asian American groups.