Saturday, March 24, 2012

What is your vision of social transformation, and how far are you willing to go in your capacity as classroom teachers to achieve it?

Even as the news swirls around the senseless death of Trayvon Martin, I am keenly aware of the many other black and brown bodies that are sacrificed for the maintenance of white supremacy.  How do we prepare teachers that are able to meet the oppressive world and sustain the energy to work for substantive change?  How can I, I as a teacher educator, help to nurture future teachers to realize their potential as change agents?

I found a great article here that helped me form my lesson.

This was my response with my capstone Education class at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. We had already read the first two chapters in Troubling Education by Kevin Kumashiro in preparation for this lesson.

I.  Reconstruct what you understand about the killing of Trayvon Martin as a diagram in groups of 4 or 5.   
  • How did race work here?  How did race and politics intersect?  Draw the description on your diagram. 
  • Thinking about hook’s term “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy,” how do you see this at play in this tragedy? 
  • What’s not being said here?  What still needs to be asked?
II.    Video of his classmates walking out.  Think deeply about what happened prior to this walk out that was not supported by administration.
  1. What is the responsibility of his teachers in the face of this tragedy?  What should be expected of them to act?  
  2. What are the expectations for teachers across the country to teach/respond to this tragedy?  How can teachers help students of color analyze oppression, their rights and organize for change?   
  3. Brainstorm at least five different lesson seeds.What do you still need to know?
**One Million Hoodie March for Trayvon Martin at U of M:  Thursday, March 29 at 5:30 p.m. **

III.  Journal:  What is your vision of social transformation, and how far are you willing to go in your capacity as classroom teachers to achieve it?
Underline parts that you wish to share.  Read the sections you feel comfortable sharing.  Ask follow up questions as necessary.

Keep thinking about your response as we continue working.

IV.  Return to the early discussion.  How should we best teach about Trayvon and this tragedy?  How could our lessons work for change?

Let’s lay some key definitions:
*  Other:  In many ways, Trayvon was viewed as inherently Other that night.  His age, skin color and dress all contributed Zimmerman to see him as Other.  Opposite.  Foreign.  His status as “Other” threaded in as the legal response (and law) affirmed that status of Other.
*  Problem with Binaries--Black or White:  How do these binaries reify oppression?  How was Zimmerman cast in a binary with Trayvon, even as it was perhaps more complicated?
*  What is normal?  How does normality affirm this tragedy?

Kumashiro discusses four different approaches to antioppressive education:  Quick mini-lesson/refresher on chapter 2 of Troubling Education.
  • Education for the Other 
    • Problem with how we define and understand what the Other is and who she should be 
    • Power dynamic--still created by the powerful to alleviate the suffering of the Other (for, not with) 
    • Change: adjust  or create spaces to meet the needs of the Other.  This maintains the status as completely Other or suggests assimilation; culturally relevant pedagogy
  •  Education about the Other  
    • Changing, supplementing, enriching the curriculum
    • What is defined as “normal?”  
    • Knowledge inside and outside the classroom--impartial, marginalized;  problem with the “hidden curriculum. 
    • Knowledge as partial is critical--it rests on a notion that you can never fully be the expert 
  •  Education that is critical of privileging and Othering 
    • This acknowledges the power imbalance and structural element 
    • "Pedagogy of positionality”  
    • Structural elements seem to posit that it has the same general effect on individuals...not true and can lead to further oppression
    •  Crisis can lead to resistance
  • Education that changes students and society 
    • This rests on the belief knowledge is partial; identities shift; oppression is citationally reproduced 
      • Share story of my 8th grade student Julian, the brilliant boy who resisted knowledge of slavery as it was only reproducing the oppression within him.  Pause to wonder how Trayvon was as a student. 
    • How does discussing these stereotypes and oppression reify them?   
    • Supplementation:  which to cite and add to the definition; Change means not just to ban harmful words or histories, but to add to it, supplement, and make it new.  
      • Think through the word "queer."    
    •  There is no perfect curriculum; no perfect resource:  Rather, there are questions that inspire critical responses. 
    • Ethics of Crisis 
IV.  Jigsaw: Separate from your home team into four new groups to dig deeply into one of these four approaches to antioppressive education.
  • Help each other understand this approach.  Dig into the text.  Surface quotes that can add to your discussion.
  • What questions emerge?
  • Explore the strengths and weaknesses of this approach.
  • Share examples.  How would this look in practice?

Go back to your homebase team.  Take one minute for each person to share their new nuanced understanding of the approach to antioppressive education.  Ask questions.
Return to our responses as to how to respond to the tragedy of Trayvon Martin.  How would you categorize your lesson plans with these four responses?  
Add to each of the four categories a lesson seed idea.

Take a moment of quiet.  Be with your thoughts.  Listen to what you are thinking.  

Who would like to share?

How do we think about the crisis that can come for our students?  How do you manage it, if it happens?

Return to your earlier journal.  Think about what you wrote.  Consider the different approaches to antioppressive education.  Journal.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sneaky Seamus

Teeny tiny potatoes!
Green muffins!

The leprechauns snuck into our house last night.  Who can blame them?  We left tiny round rocks on the drain board.  Leprechauns can't help but turn those round rocks into potatoes and leave behind green muffins for good measure. 
Seamus the Leprechaun also promised trickery during Spence's birthday party this afternoon...keep an eye out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I am trying to hold on to all of the scraps of conversation that appear like shiny pennies in my path as I rush through life.  Every time Spence opens his mouth, I want to furiously jot down every word in a notebook.  Perhaps I should get a tape recorder and lurk to steal away every word.  This is a beautiful age.  Just like every number before and I suppose every number from here forward.

He's a full hand today.

Usually, he wakes us up by cock-a-doodle dooing.  He didn't this morning, but I hope I can always hear that in my mind as he grows older and forgets to do this.  He bopped into bed between Dave and I this morning and he listened to us warble (me: warble, Dave:  sing) Happy Birthday.  When discussing the prospect of presents, he turned to us and said, "I just want you guys." 

How do I not swirl up and lose myself in those words?  Could there be anything finer?  Doubtful.

When presented with a birthday pancake with a candle, he looked up full of love and said, "Thank you, mama.  Thank you!"  The words...fairly run of the mill words.  But, ah!  The tone.  If I was still a 4th grade girl, I would be able to decorate the words with bubbly cursive and hearts at the bottom of the exclamation point to communicate the tone.

At lunch, he ordered grilled chicken and a salad.  "Now that I am five, I think I will like salad now."  He proceeded to chomp on lettuce and the light green part of cucumbers.  "Maybe I will drink coffee now too," he said barely able to contain the giggles.

We wandered into Sweets on Marshall.   Mindful of the allure of sugar, I reminded him to use your eyes, but do not touch anything.  A few steps in he turns and looks at me a wee bit mournfully.  "We have a problem, Mom.  I can't seem to stop touching the floor." 

Happy Birthday, Spencer. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

There will be fairies tonight.

We tied the muk on the tree for the fairies today.  It had been a long time coming.  There were ample conversations about how the muk was not good for her teeth.  (The threat of braces seems hollow when you are 3.)  We chatted about how muks are very important to babies when they don't have words, but less important when you are able to talk about how you are feeling.  We lured her with promises of chapstick (which she calls "chopstick"). 

She is cuddling 12 tubes of glittery lip gloss tonight.
Growing up can be hard sometimes.