Saturday, September 19, 2009

D&I EGU brown bag

Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom

This past Thursday, the Diversity and Inequality committee of the English Graduate Union hosted a brown bag discussion with Professor Adela Licona. We discussed having a general theme of critical pedagogy. Dr. Licona suggested Freire's "On the Right and the Duty to Change the World."

The following are some incomplete notes & fragments from the really great, thought-provoking discussion:

Dr. Adela Licona:
How do we do this [critical pedagogy]? Our performances/embodied practices are different? Our bodies are walking texts and what we put into it is all that matters.

I start all my classes with a question? The production of knowledge as a political production--I ask my students, "To me what a woman in colonial times looks like?" I put my back to them and they throw out descriptions: 'bonnets', 'on a porch', 'bare foot', 'young', 'pale', 'white'.
The back to students helps students get past ideas of me looking for the 'right' answer for the good grade.

The discussion often gets to "white, middle class woman"--I don't give prompt, and that's what I get. I ask "Were there other women present at that time?" "What do we know about those women?"
Knowledge is presented to us with political knowledge; there are always students who never critically question politically recieved knowledge; student: "a history book can only be so fat, right?"
It's a fair question, but who determines? what history are so valuable?--canonical inquiry
--"Birth Witness"--native American scholar/ film: "Seen But Not Heard"--undocumented laborers who died in 9/11 attacks not heard about.

What happens to those students who don't get on board with discussion?
AL: I'm not there to make them me; I make my politics visible. They will play with ideas and maybe then retreat, and make conscious decisions to be on other side of discussion, but that's a conscious descion; I used to put out a lot of effort to try and change, but I know these pieces can be transformative if they let them be.

Critical feminist pedagogy: implying there's a consciousness in me about the cirriculum, what I choose to teach, and power dynamic and co-grading, and assessment. Dewey talks about lived experience, Freire, Ira Shore...But where are the women?

What about students who think they have this consciosness & think racism is over?
Van Dyke, socio cognitive theorist--the only way to become anti-racist is to start in K-12 & make a conscious effort to not be racist.
Students will ask, so there is no "Truth"? I always do midterm evaluations for those students who are completely disengaged.
I want students to realize that we can arrive at truth, but we have to see the different perspectives; ask for three months to bang the drum; can you give me this drum if you never hear it again--you have 3-4 months to engage as you never will again.

What happens when you're not respected as a woman instructor by strong male voices in the class?

I sometimes trade a day with males who are more radical. I also ask students to post a question to a site--submit open-ended questions by voices that aren't dominant; a question about 'x' and that's where I want to start today (annonymity in assignment).

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