Saturday, December 5, 2009

Radical love

I posted on Twitter the other day that I was having difficulty finding hope amid war, poverty, and hate. My good friend Colin commented that you maintain hope irrationally, count on good friends, and de Certeau and Ranciere. I loved it. Walking through the city with de Certeau makes me smile.

I do find hope in thinking deeply about humanity and our potential for love. A radical love is what it will take it seems. The stamina it takes to maintain a radical love of humanity is what is daunting in the face of horror.

The class I am teaching this semester, Race, Class, Gender, and Disability in American Education, has given me some hope as well. I was skeptical at first, but the students have proven me wrong. They have all moved from where they started and they trusted me enough to come along on the journey. I don't think they will ever see life the same. This has to be something. They will go on to be part of the next generation of teachers. I hope now that they "see", they will be part of the solution.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

What happened to feminism?

I'm teaching one of the Warner School's signature classes this semester, Race, Class, Gender, and Disability in American Education. I love teaching it even though it's tough course to teach. Students often resist taking a serious look at how they are privileged at the expense of others. We work on it together though and sometimes students surprise me in their willingness to take risks.

This week has me depressed though. Class is in about an hour (the late slot this semester) and I am increasingly anxious. We have read about race and racism, sexuality, class and classism, and this week we are looking at what I call "the F word" - feminism. What I am struck by in putting this class together is the amazing lack of recent literature on women's oppression. I know someone is going to say I didn't look in the right places and that I'm full of sh--, but it was depressing.

It makes me wonder what happened to feminism? I tend to read the poststructural feminists (Butler, Lather, Walkerdine, Irigary, Kristeva, among others) but I'm not finding much recent work that I can use in a masters level class in education. Liberal feminism just isn't interesting or enough to challenge people's ideologies. The Education Feminism reader came out in 1994. The situation for women and girls is worse.

Am I missing something here?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Wondering why

I've come to my blog space repeatedly in the past few months and been unable to post. I'm not sure why. It's not like I haven't been thinking lately. And it's not like nothing has been happening. I've come to think it's that there is too much going on and too much to think about that I just can't start.

For one, I remain frustrated that educational change seems impossible given how ingrained traditional ideologies are. Even Obama, who I love as president, is wrong on education. No one outside of a few critical educators seems to think what we count as knowledge in schools should be examined. People seem to think it's okay to tell our children and youth that they just need to get through school. An amorphous "better life" awaits them. It's just nonsense and I can't understand how so many people don't see it. I agree with Jim Gee that kids will soon realize that they don't need school and either demand change, like Elliott has, or just leave. I'll be right behind them.

And education researchers seem to be more interested in furthering careers than actually impacting children's lives. Most don't read outside of their field or theoretical frame and spend a huge amount of time arguing about who is right. Shira Peterson and I made this point years ago when reviewing research in early childhood literacy. So much of what we know we have known for years and it doesn't seem to make any difference.

I suppose it's clear that I'm struggling with finding a way to make meaningful impact on children and youth's live, particularly in urban settings. I've been stomping in place for too many years. Blogs, knols, websites, books, articles, podcasts, teaching....little changes I suppose. I'm not satisfied though.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Tired of waiting

The past week or so I've been increasingly impatient with the lack of real change in education or urban contexts more generally. I'm sure I sound like a broken record but I don't understand how people can see others suffering in poverty and do nothing. I don't understand how we can stand by and watch our schools damage children and youth. It seems like the more work I do, the more things stay the same. I know on some level that the work I do in teacher education has a kind of impact. The students I work with are amazing, dedicated, passionate, and committed to changing inequities and not reproducing injustice. These days the mountain just seems too big.

I see change happening everywhere else or at least people seem to be trying more. Obama is fighting the fight and so far he seems to be keeping his integrity. Everyday Iranians are in the streets risking all to know the truth of the election. The use of Twitter and Facebook has been amazing. Geoffrey Canada is transforming Harlem one block at a time. Yet none of these people seems to understand education and what needs changing. We'll end up in the same places we are now trying to change if we don't work on schools.

Does it really take one charismatic leader or millions of people in the streets to achieve justice? Godin, Shirky and others seem to think it doesn't. Anyone can lead and everyone is here to work together. I get the argument but I'm not seeing it happen. People say a lot of things, but when the rubber hits the road, they go about their business and look away. I'm tired of it.

I just can't seem to let it go though. Poverty, poor and unequal education, injustice and hate just cannot be allowed! I don't know why people aren't more pissed off. I know I am. So...once again I'm retrying a website designed to be a space where "everybody comes" to be the change we've been waiting for. Google sites lets groups collaborate on whatever they want to so join me. We simply must do something!!!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Overhearing my class

I thought I'd try something different while my students are talking about readings in small groups. I usually don't sit in on groups because I found that they tended to stop talking and focus on me as they discussed. By not going, it gives them the space to talk about whatever they want. 

So tonight, right now, I am sitting at the computer in the main classroom as one group is discussing the reading. I'm listening in - overhearing - on the conversation. I'm sure they know I'm listening but I'm not "in" the group so they are just going at it. 

We read the last chapters of Gee's 2004  book, Carole Lee's Is October Brown Chinese article, and Lewis and Fabos's article on IMing practices of youth. The readings are very rich and challenge traditional conceptions of literacy for most students, so I love to see how people's minds change. I worry a bit that some students tend to move very quickly to "how do we do this" questions rather than see the mindset shift that is necessary in contemporary times. They get there though, somehow. 

Why do we focus so much on how to take what kids are doing in everyday life and co-opt it for schools as they are now (e.g. for the 1950's)? I worry a lot about colonizing children and youth practices for school purposes. Schools need to change pretty radically on epistemological grounds in order for relevancy to return, but taking practices from outside into the same old thing won't get there. 

Friday, May 22, 2009

To blog or not to blog?

I'm finding now that I use Twitter, I blog less. Has anyone else found this? I don't know if it's a time or motivation issue. Or maybe it's a new literacies thing.

Other news...I showed Clay Shirky's talk in my summer literacy class tonight. Not sure what students thought about it. I continue to think Shirky and Bruns are onto something, but maybe the connections to education are still too vague. It could be that schools are too far into the casual collapse Bruns talks about or are too defensive as institutions as Shirky suggests. Call me naive, but I still think there is potential for a significant transformation. What would it look like if everyone comes? The potential around mass collaboration in education is too exciting to pass up to me. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Finding inspiration

Don't know why but I'm having a hard time finding inspiration to write. I have tons to write about, just no motivation to write it. I've read some great articles on narrative, and the doc students are doing some great analyses. When I sit down to write I can get into it, but sitting down to do it is the problem. I'll find anything to procrastinate (like writing this entry!).

Same thing with getting ready for the start of spring semester. Syllabi are done, books ordered, and the courses are really interesting; just haven't felt that umph that usually comes. Could be that I'm impatient and it will all click in the nick of time. Bummer that I didn't spend more of the "break" writing though. Oh well.

Sometimes not being busy leads me to inertia.