“The fact that we have schools does not mean we have education.”

 

“The fact that we have schools does not mean we have education.The fact that we have hospitals does not mean we have health care. The fact that we have courts does not mean we have justice.”- Parker Palmer. This was a very powerful article that I think helped me reflect on various personal experiences and this class as a whole. This was written 11 years ago and sadly so many of the issues that he brings up continue to persist in our education system today. The quote mentioned earlier I think very much summarizes all of these issues that many times we, as educators choose to ignore or as he says we are “taught to value intellectual detachment above engagement with the world, they refused to recognize what they knew”. This also reminds me of last class’ discussion that we had and whether or not many of us will use what we learned and talked about in the class in our own classrooms or environments. The easier route it is definitely to choose disengagement but where is the fun in that? This also will allow for these cycle of issues to stay here, those issues that we discuss and complain about.  Lastly, “we must help our students understand what it means to live and work with the question of an undivided life always before them. Doing so means, of course, that as mentors we must embody what it looks like to live in that way”. If we want our students to be the future that we hope to see then we have to start with ourselves. Also, this does not mean, when you graduate, when you get tenure, or other excuses that we tell ourselves.. It needs to start today. We have to embody the hope that we want to see and not by just discussing but acting on those discussions. Many times this means being vulnerable and involves risks but this is how we have always seen change made historically. Overall, this class has exposed us to the different ways we can teach in our classrooms but we have also learned that it is not just about the subject we teach but all the intersectionalities that come with them. Therefore, understanding the complexity of society and what each individual student brings to the classroom with their own lived experiences is something that we HAVE to constantly remember to create those inclusive environments, dialogues, and safe spaces for all.

 

“Racism is a structure not an event” – Robin DiAngelo

 

 

This year’s ACPA (American College Personnel Association) Convention theme is BE BOLD. This theme is very appropriate for recent events and our class post this week on Inclusive Pedagogy. What does that mean? “Being BOLD requires actions, takes resilience, requires engaging complexity, necessitates deep reflection, is a learning process, is rooted in racial justice and decolonization, and involves knowing one’s roots.” I completely agree with this statement and believe it is a foundation to what it means to be inclusive. How can you create an inclusive space when you haven’t exposed yourself to differences? How can you encourage others to be inclusive when maybe you never felt excluded because you’ve always belonged? As in always part of the majority. “I don’t want you to understand me better, I want you to understand yourselves. Your survival has never depended on your knowledge of white culture. In fact, it’s required your ignorance” This was shared by our opening keynote speaker Dr. Robin DiAngelo. She brought up so many issues to light about how if want to be “inclusive” we need to start by deeply understanding Racism and how it is embedded in our history and society today.  I also feel that this has been an issue that was ignored before and it is now being talked about because of everything happening around us…Black lives matter, anti immigration laws, LGBTQ+ shootings, women’s rights, white supremacy and many more. Injustices are happening right now and will continue to happen. Therefore, I think that if we truly want to be “inclusive” we need to educate ourselves about the systems of oppression and racism that are embedded in our society and how we can truly engage as educators in dismantling them. Lastly, I want to conclude with what Dr. DiAngelo asked:

To teach or not to teach?

This is the debate that I am currently facing. There are various reasons why I want to pursue my PhD but I am not sure teaching is one of them.

Through my previous GA I was exposed to co-teaching with my co-worker/classmate also in my Higher Ed program. This experience made me realized how much I disliked grading. I had a hard time balancing what I felt was too lenient or too strict. Similarly to this meme… I feel that I have patience but not when students are asking questions twice because they weren’t paying attention. So here I am in this dilemma of whether I want to teach or not. I actually think I could be a decent professor because Sarah E Deel and Professor Fowler both mentioned in their articles various  teaching strategies that I saw myself doing in my first class already. Some of these were being authentic, engaging, and prepared. But that’s just me assuming because  who knows since I didn’t make it to ratemyprofessors.com I checked haha.

On the other hand in the article Finding my teaching voice, this statement was brought up “I got the sense that it didn’t matter much; it was how you paid your bills while you were conducting research”. I think this is something that I think a lot of graduate students can relate and is pivotal to some of the teaching issues we face today. This is how many future professors tend to begin their graduate school journey. Many receive no guidance to the first time they have to teach, it is usually covering for a professor that can’t make it for a class that day. At Virginia Tech, I have seen more intentional training for GTAs but I am not sure this was the case for my undergraduate institutions. Many times if a GTA covered a lectured for a professor I could see their lack of guidance. As an undergraduate student I would be annoyed and complained to peers etc.. but now as a graduate student I have seen how many times it is not their fault and say “you can’t blame them.. Is not their fault”.

Lastly, Professor Fowler in his article The Authentic Teaching Self and Communication Skills brings this up “ Being “real” and “present” in the classroom does not mean you erase all boundaries; Paulo Freire argues that teaching is always directive—as the teacher you are never on a completely equal level with the students, even as you recognize that your students can be both learners/teachers in various moments, and even as your recognize that you can be a teacher/learner”. The caught my attention as I am a Freire fan. If you haven’t read his Pedagogy of the Oppressed I would definitely recommend it! I truly agree with this because when you get that teaching title it will separate you from your students but it does not mean that the classroom and learning experience can’t be a dialogue between the two. As I continue to have this dilemma whether or not I go into Academia I do have a quote that pulls me towards teaching “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world” -Nelson Mandela

Staying critical on the positionalities and privilege of authors

Reflecting on some of this week’s readings, I have a couple of reactions. One that stood out to me was the article by Mark C. Carnes. This article begins with the statement from Obama and his idea of a “college-access and completion fund”. The author agrees that money would help but states that it is not enough. He reinforces this statement by quoting a report that states “one-third of students from even privileged socioeconomic backgrounds—top half of the income distribution, at least one parent with a college degree—fail to graduate. Such students quit not because they lack funds, but because they lack motivation and interest”. My first reaction to this statement was “of course bratty rich/privileged students *rolls eyes*”. I do believe that higher education is not for everyone but when I think of students that lack motivation and come from privileged backgrounds I tend to be a bit more judgemental that they just never had real struggles to overcome… Of course, I understand this is not the case for everyone. I have my own biases that it is their privilege that they have that leads to some of these students to lack motivation and interest. Since they have the opportunity, support and ability to achieve an education, they may take it for granted. On the contrary someone that may not have the financial opportunities or a parent has gone to college, may have a complete different appreciation, motivation and interest in their education. Also, their pressure to persist in school is much more different and may only be able to pay those student loans once they earned their degree. Therefore, some of these students that quit not because of the lack of funds, probably have some financial security from their parents to not necessarily feel that need to finish and they can potentially have other opportunities. Overall, I think this statement shows that the author may have some privileges in regards to financial resources that has led him to write this but as to many things there is the other side that I think was left out. In this case low income students and their motivation and interest on their education goes beyond just the academics but an opportunity to a better life.

Using “I” and the vulnerability of opening up

This is the dilemma that this student, Alexandra Gold, a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at Boston University discussed on her article. She brought up many interesting points that I agreed with, such as this statement:  

I know you’ve heard a version of this stolid formulation: “This paper will analyze”; “This article shows.” No expression makes me bristle quite as much. I have to fight an immediate urge to shout: THIS PAPER DIDN’T ANALYZE ANYTHING! YOU DID. Why are we so afraid to say “I”?

I think this is particularly a struggle I phase today. I have gotten so used to the formal academic writing style that blogging actually feels a bit weird sometimes. The freedom that we have in blogging is unique and awesome but takes some time to get use to. At least it did for me. Alexandra describes this as “a strange paradox of the traditional academic essay that as much as we tell students to write in their own words, we ask them to couch these words behind an inactive or tacit authorial subjectivity”.

Blogging is actually one of her suggestions of an assignment in a genre beyond the traditional academic essay. She believes we should do this at least once during the semester. I agree with this because it does truly allow us as students to connect to what we are learning and express freely our feelings and reactions to it. Blogging for other classes and now this one has definitely allowed me to feel more comfortable using “I” again and truly expressing my opinions in writing, getting creative, while connecting it to my personal experiences.

But a new dilemma I am facing now is how it can also put me in vulnerable situations by opening up. I noticed that when I get the most out of my blogs is when I am able to connect them to my personal experiences. It not only allows me to reflect on my own opinions but it also shows my readers how I came about to having those views. As a future student affairs professional,  having a public blog where my opinions are being shared, makes me a little nervous that they can one day be used against me. We have seen in other schools faculty being fired for having certain beliefs such as white supremacy and we have even seen the controversies here at VT with the GTA. Although, those are more extreme examples of beliefs, they what we are facing today. Therefore, in student affairs we are supposed to be inclusive for all students and by taking a stand on one certain side sometimes makes me worry if that it can affect my career in the future. Therefore, when it comes to blogging specially knowing how this one is very public and is tweeted. It makes me a little hesitant to truly express my opinions but at the same time I still plan to do it because I think people need to hear and learn about different perspectives. I am a first generation, from a low-income family, Latina and I am sure that my experiences and interactions with pedagogical practices growing up can be unique based on my salient identities.

My Christmas Wishlist

There has been a lot of controversial conversations with immigration policies such as DACA and TPS

I have attached two websites if you want to find out more about what each of them are. They both will prevent people to loose their immigration status and their ability to legally work in the united states and much more. They can exposed people to deportation which leads to separation of families. I recently came across this picture on twitter and it truly reflected how I feel during this holiday season. It is truly sad that because of the cancellation of these two policies, this holiday season may the last united for some families as they will be greatly be affected by this. I would encourage everyone to stay aware and politically active to try to get congress to not cancel TPS and pass a policy for DREAMERS. I also encountered many people posting things that they are “over 2017”. This year truly had many political and social stressful events. A lot of hateful events such as the Charlottesville white supremacy march, ending of DACA, travel ban, LA shooting and more.. Therefore, I can truly relate to this Christmas Wishlist and that I am too “over 2017”. I had many great things happen but there were constant news popping up that were just stressful and very much felt on out college campus.

Understanding Our Identities

 

Through varied experiences in my life I discovered a great passion for my education because it has led me to who I am today. I am not just able to deeply understand my identities but also be proud of them. In 2007, Abes, Jones, and McEwen shared their Reconceptualized Model of Multiple Dimension of Identity (RMMDI) that estates an individual’s personal characteristics, attributes, and identity are in the core while being surrounded by dimensions of race, gender, religion, social class, sexual orientation, and culture. In addition, they have other contextual influences such as peers, family, norms, stereotypes, and sociopolitical conditions that go through a “meaning making filter” (text book 2007p 89). This model encompasses very closely to how I see my personal identities and social identities that make me who I am today. Through this model I was able to understand the areas that are close to my Model of Multiple Dimensions core, which are: my race, ethnicity, culture and social class. Although, I will not go into depth about what they each mean to me. I believe that we should all take some time to try to understand where everything fits for us and what is closest to our cores. This not only allows us to understand what matters to us but also what outside factors can affect them. Lastly, for those who will teach or have interactions with students I think it is essential for us to understand how a students identities affects them because the intersectionalities can be very complex. We do not need to be experts on this but at least we can be aware of how our identities can affect our interactions with them. 

 

Advancing the Human Condition Symposium

I recently attended the Advancing the Human Condition Symposium at the Virginia Tech Inn, as I mentioned in class. This conference is an Initiative of  Beyond Boundaries and The Equity and Social Disparity in the Human Condition (ESDHC) Strategic Growth Area (SGA). The vision of this “emphasizes identifying, analyzing, and addressing crucial issues of social disparity related to diversity, especially those highlighted by the unique interactions among identities, culture, and factors such as place and social institutions. Given the substantial implications of diversity for experience and life chances, Virginia Tech needs to build its capacity to address issues of social disparity in order to produce relevant scholarship, to enhance student development and learning, and to create transformational change in society”. Understanding issues of social disparity is very important because it shows us the historical frameworks that have led to inequalities and continue to do so.

This was the first year of this conference and it was very interesting. I would like to share some of the points that the keynote speaker, Dr. Sylvester Johnson talked about that stood out to me. He brought up the robot Sophia who has recently become the first robot in the world to have citizenship in Saudi Arabia. This is raising many debates about how a robot has more rights than women in that country (http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/saudis-newest-citizen-sophia-robot-651076398). This was very interesting to me since this could mean the beginning of a whole new era. It is scary that this robot can potentially have more rights than some humans. I think we need to pay more attention to our technological advancements and their implications to society.

Another topic that was brought up by Dr. Johnson was family detention centers. Last year around this time “More than 400 women and children have been freed from two Texas immigration detention facilities after a federal judge found the sites unsuitable for holding children, sending families into a wet, frigid December night while migrant advocates scrambled to provide shelter, food and emergency care” (http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-texas-immigration-detention-release-20161204-story.html). I don’t think many people know that these exist and that is a problem. Dr. Johnson brought up the issue of mass incarcerations in our future. He said, most of us probably would never want that to happen but similar things are currently happening such as these family detention centers that many of us are not aware of. Therefore, we need to focus on learning  and addressing our current  issues of social disparity.

Police weapons of choice

On the other hand, following my previous post I want to talk about the case of the student, Scout Schult,  in Georgia that was fatally shot by the police.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-41302571

I haven’t heard many updates of this case lately. I think this is because so many things happening lately that this is one will not get as much attention anymore. A couple of things stood out to me from this case, one is the police choice of force and options. Until after reading this case, I wasn’t aware that cops do not always carry taser guns. This was a surprise to me, especially because I think  a taser gun would have been enough to deal with this student as he was at a distance that it would have reached. Also, Scout was walking slow as you see can see in the video. This looks like a student in distress and emotionally unstable but not trying to cause harm. Again, these are just my observations from the video but I do also agree that the “area was secured”. I am curious to know if campus police have any training on how to handle students that could be going through mental health issues or suicidal? If not, I think they should and also definitely carry a taser gun ….or any other type of nonfatal weapons to deal with students on campus.

Guns on campus, media and racial discrimination

After our class conversation about the Texas Tech student who fatally shot the police officer, I came across this article to learn more about it.

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/10/11/campus-carry-spotlight-after-student-fatally-shoots-police-officer-texas-tech#.Wd6B8PhjC-M.link

This case is bringing up many debates regarding gun control and what roles do universities have in regulating these? I personally believe that campuses should be able to ban concealed weapons from campuses. Our current president has brought out a lot of hate from people, specially to people of color. Therefore, I do not feel safe knowing that other peer students could be armed on campus.

After doing some quick research I found that there “16 states that ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus” and “In 23 states the decision to ban or allow concealed carry weapons on campuses is made by each college or university individually” (http://www.ncsl.org/research/education/guns-on-campus-overview.aspx)

Virginia is one of these 23 states that allows individual campuses to make their own policies regarding this. It is also not surprising that even after 10 years, this article mentions Virginia Tech’s shooting because it is still the most deadly campus shooting. Lastly, the first article mentions that Daniel (the shooter) was not even handcuffed when he was brought to the police station, which to me it’s crazy because they had enough evidence as they found drugs in his dorm…to at least have him handcuffed. I personally think this is because he was white. If he would have been Black, Hispanic, or Muslim.. I don’t think this would have been the case. Tami mentioned a picture she saw online… I am not sure if this is what she was talking about but just want to end this with the one I found that I think is very much how  media portrays these kinds of incidents…..