December 9, 2008

Class notes 10/22/2008

Discussion question: My question has to do with the reading today, bell hooks: is the University something universal A part of the real world? Have you seen these things in yourself?
I have never felt part of a country/group/community of learning – coming from a different country I’ve had to do things differently. I went to lecture recently – many different people attended – I felt for the first time like a part of a community because she was talking about politics. She said we should listen (to the election) to see if we hear ‘immigration,’ ‘social security’ etc. Everyone discussed it, and felt a part of something.

Continue reading "Class notes 10/22/2008" »

November 23, 2008

New Course for Spring 2009


November 4, 2008

Class notes 10-16

• How can a caring/safe environment simultaneously promote discomfort?
• How can an environment be safe/caring if it doesn’t promote discomfort?
• Can discomfort be seen as caring for people who have become discomforted?
• What happens when students get past that discomfort? Does it then become safe?

It is a paradox. Discomfort is a way of caring.

Re: Pedagogy of Discomfort
Once students face their own ethical and moral responses, the way they have been conditioned, that is what Boler is seeing as a great positive.

They talk about the different kinds of knowledge. Caring in academic arenas is looked down upon.

Caring is a different model for learning.

Fisher is worried that her colleagues would come in and devalue the experience. It would be seen as not academic.

Can you get past the discomfort? What kind of environment do you have for learning?

The only way there are any stakes to caring is if there is discomfort involved.

We have to complicate the notion of discomfort. There are different registers.
One male student has discomfort with what is being taught –
• Doesn’t engage, doesn’t do good work
• He may be a lost cause
• In contrast, female students frequently disagree with the author’s statements
• Their discomfort is being used analytically
• There can be different kinds of discomfort in any class
• I don’t want them to get past their discomfort because they use it in their analysis

Thinking about social inequality or race, you can engage students but they bring different things to the table.

What is Fisher’s definition of caring?
• I think it is creating a safe space – safe in the sense that you can put forth an idea and it is not going to be a personal attack.

But what happens when a student or professor does say something that is seen as a personal attack on another? Shouldn’t the other student be able to speak and say, “I see your comments as a direct attack on me? in such a way that there can never be an agreement between them.

To one person it might not be a personal attack. To another, they may be so invested in their ideas that they feel personally attacked. How do you negotiate that?

Intentional vs. unintentional attacks.

It may not be a personal attack, but it is a disrespectful response.

It seems to me, in a women’s studies classroom, we have rejected that my ideas/myself are separate. An attack becomes more personal.

As instructors our job is not to be mediators. There is a point between students when hostility is no longer productive.

Doesn’t Fisher talk about shifting focus between the exchange and the needs of the classroom? On page 123 – first full paragraph / page 133 – 2nd and 3rd paragraph

Do you step in as instructor, weigh where you should put your focus? Could it be a democratic moment or too distracting?

If it gets too tangential, you can ask “what does the author say about this?? – get back to the text. The classroom gives us a way to refocus in a way that more people can participate.

If there are 2 students debating, making the class uncomfortable, does refocusing on the text make them comfortable so they don’t have to deal with their discomfort?

Going to the text allows you to say lets look at how you can learn from this, even if you fundamentally disagree.

Where does being uncomfortable slip into being unsafe?

Politics becomes one of those tense things (i.e. A student felt unsafe in class when the platforms of McCain and Obama were examined.)

How much responsibility do we have, as a teacher, to make it a safe space for that one student?

Bringing up these issues could make a professor a target for conservative groups. When we are talking about these experiences we have to think about these things as well – conservative oversight.

What are the consequences of troublemaking outside of the classroom?

What is rhetorical about what we do in the classroom?

Why is pedagogy embroiled with persuasion? What is that relationship?
Why is it that certain bodies of knowledge are seen as requiring persuasion vs. knowledge like math?

Math is more about facts. It is more difficult to say you “don’t get? feminism. It is hard to have a right answer like there is in math and science. That is part of the way knowledge is constructed.

I feel that part of my job is to persuade students, if not of the “truth? of women’s studies theories, at least that they need to examine their ideas.

Boler p. 185 – The purpose of discomfort. We should assume that there are going to be a variety of opinions in the classroom. That is a great opportunity.

Troublemakers require us to have compelling arguments and be able to say why we believe in something.

October 30, 2008

Pedagogical question of the day.

Pedagogical question of the day.
Notes taked by Teresa

Continue reading "Pedagogical question of the day." »

October 23, 2008

News from Yesterday's Class (10/22)

Here is the most recently revised syllabus. I forgot to remind you all in class that your first critical essay is due next Wednesday (10.29).

Have a great rest of your week!

October 13, 2008

Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever, 1963 to 1991

Hi everyone! Here's the link I mentioned a couple of weeks ago to someone's set on on the changes in Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever from 1964 to 1991. If you click on the thumbnails on the right, you can see several page-to-page comparisons. The person who posted it even made a lot of notes you can mouse-over within the pictures, annotating the specific changes.

Some changes shown on just the cover ( include a dad inserted into the kitchen and a 'policeman' changed into a "female officer."


October 12, 2008

October 1st Class Discussion

Question posed: Some of the activities may make students physically uncomfortable. Are we oppressing the oppressor with these activities? (Friere 46-47)

For example:
-making students uncomfortable (touching) holding hands
-asking them to violate cultural boundaries
In doing this, do you turn it around and use the same oppression of the people that have oppressed you?
Although, there is a big difference from the oppressed becoming the oppressor and the oppressed becoming a part of the system of oppression.
-the classroom has always been an unsafe place for unwhite students
-the ways in which a traditional classroom forces students to feel unsafe, not part of it. Is this different than a activity that is meant to disrupt the classroom and (make is unsafe??)
On the other hand, it is beneficial to intentionally engage in this behavior in order to get students to think about it more critically?
-is that oppressing the oppressors? Or is it engaging critical thought?
-is the uncomfortability worth the learning experience?
Do we have to go this far to get this point across?
• One possible solution: we can give them control and offer them to opt out.
Can we even do exercises like this? It is allowed by the university?

Whose right is it to change the consciousness of someone else’s child? Whose values are being taught?
-Should school teach values? Who owns the knowledge?
• This is one particular way of thinking and learning.
• It's important to consider who gets to decide what is taught. Especially considering variation across cultures

Is it inevitable that values are part of curriculum?
-Remember that college students are active participants/subjects . They can reject and resisit what we tell them.

Bringing the bodies back into the classroom
• These exercises are a way of expressing themselves through their bodies
• Engaging bodies helps students get it
• Use your own judgment
• For example, putting chairs in a circle embodies the students
• using actual bodies or words to talk about them is uncomfortable for us (is that a cultural thing?)

-One way to prepare students is ask students before hand to get ready for some physical touch/interaction

Other things we talked about:
• Do African-Americans learn differently?

• Activity on pg 135 and 136: Male-identified and female-identified students walk “like the other?

Children’s literature: It can put students of privilege in situations that make them uncomfortable so that they can learn what life is like for others.
• unsettling is important
• discomfort is sometimes valuable

October 8, 2008

Revised Syllabus

Here is the revised syllabus.

Revised reading schedule for 10/15 and 10/22

Here is the revised reading schedule for the next two weeks.

1. For 10/15:
Boler. "A Pedagogy of Discomfort."
Fisher. Chapters 4 and 5 in No Angel in the Classroom
(optional: Moulton. "On hostile pedagogy")

2. For 10/22:
"Authority" in The Feminist Classroom"
hooks, bell. "A Revolution of Values."
Fisher. Chapter 3

October 2, 2008

No office hours today

I will not be around for my office hours today from 1-3. If you want to schedule an appointment, just send me an email. Thanks, Sara

October 1, 2008

Week 4: Ped Q: Time

This week's pedagogical question was raised by Rebeca M. --How might we begin to think critically about time as both an opportunity and a constraint? By this is meant both class time and the duration of the semester.

What is a valid way to spend time, given the goals and objectives of the course? Many people notice that discussions take up a lot of time, is that a valid way to accomplish course objectives and build knowledge?

Rebeca gave an example of having only 50 minutes to cover an immense amount of material with complicated subject matter. She had students divide up into small groups and condense the material of three theorists down to one crystallized sentence for each that everyone in the small group could agree to. This method forced the students to discuss the material, summarize the arguments, synthesize the material, and compare the theories, all within a short time.

Other people in our class offered suggestions for condensing difficult material and holding students accountable for it. One suggestion was to have a short quiz on the material for comprehension. Another suggestion was that as instructors we may have to at times accept that not every student will master all the material presented and they may come back to it at some point down the line and have another chance to digest what was difficult the first time around.

Culture as Disability

The artticle I mentioned last week on the social construction of disability is:

Culture "as" Disability
Ray McDermott; Hervé Varenne
Anthropology & Education Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 3. (Sep., 1995), pp. 324-348.

It is available electronically through the U of M library.

Are we oppressing the oppressor?

After looking at some of the curriculum designs in Teaching for Diversity and Social Justice, I noticed that some of the activities may make students physically uncomfortable - not so much in the sense of facing their own contributions to injustice, but in the sense of violating their personal space. An example is the exercise that asks students to hold hands and move forward while responding to questions (p. 140 exercise 2). Is it necessary to create such cultural and physical dissonance in order to disrupt racism or are we oppressing the oppressor (Freire) with these exercises?

How to Blog

1. Go to U Think.
2. Click on Login to UThink
3. Put in your user id (ex: puot0002)and password
4. You are now on the moveable type page. You should find a link to our class. Click on Feminist Pedagogies (not the URL but the other link). If you do not have a link to our class, please email me and I will add you as an author.
5. Click on new entry (it is on the top right hand side under posting).
6. Type in your entry. Scroll down to the bottom and hit save. You're done!

September 25, 2008

Practical Exercise Sign-Up

Here is the schedule for the practical exercises.

10/8: Rebecca M
10/15: Kia
10/22: Mary Jo
10/29: Rebecca J
11/5: (1) Beth (2) Allyson
11/12: (1) Erica (2) Teresa