There was so much goodness in this week’s readings. There was a whole lot of this going on during my reading.
Everything has just tied in perfectly to things going on in my life and world right now. If you didn’t read my blog last week I posted about how tired
I was last week. I was exhausted from the pressure I feel to be a leader for my people and represent us well to the rest of the world. That was the beginning of the roller coaster of last week. We then had an amazing Tribal Leader’s Summit here on campus Wednesday & Thursday which was just amazing. It was incredible, moving, and also emotional. Then Thursday morning… This happened.
Needless to say, I moved from tired, to hopeful, to just plain mad. (I won’t rehash that transition here but it’s on my twitter
if you’re looking for it. Haha.) I think I called my parents more last week just emotionally exhausted from it all then I have in a long time…
To then go from that to reading about Freire’s concepts and thoughts on Critical Pedagogy –
Every time I opened a new reading, I was like “YES! That’s me! That’s what I’ve been looking for! There’s actually research & practice that supports what I’ve been thinking about!”
I found this, “Liberation is akin to a painful childbirth that never completely ends, as oppression continuously mutates and morphs into unprecedented forms in new epochs. Thus, liberation is not merely a psychological change where an individual comes to feel better about herself. Freirean liberation is a social dynamic that involves working with and engaging other people in a power-conscious process.”
It’s never over. Every day I have to put on my armor, rejoin the fight, and defend my existence not only to my oppressors but to myself. One of the readings explained “the oppressed, Freire frequently reminds his readers, have many times been so inundated by the ideologies of their oppressors that they have come to see the world and themselves through the oppressor’s eyes. “I’m just a peasant, or a hillbilly, or a black kid from the ghetto, or a woman, or a man from the Third World, or a student with a low IQ; I have no business in higher education.” This is actually part of what I was struggling with last week. Thoughts like “I have no business talking about this”, “I am not a leader”, “Is this really my place?”, etc., etc., etc…. So it’s not just outside influences that I am fighting against. It’s not just ignorance. It’s not just racism. It’s this internal inundation of what the world, centuries of assimilation, and generational trauma has told me what I’m suppose to be, do, or act like as a Native woman. I am reminded of something I heard Sherman Alexie tell me and fellow indigenous students here at VT when he visited – “Don’t give a shit about what other Indians think. If you can’t rebel against your own people, how can you rebel against the dominant culture?” So maybe the whole reason I don’t feel like a leader for my people is actually what makes me a leader?? Maybe the fact that I can leave my people, my traditional homeland, and pursue an advanced degree, that my ideas are a little different and a mix of contemporary and tradition, is actually what my people need of me?
So what does this look like in a classroom?
It’s a classroom that doesn’t ignore, negate, or hide from the surroundings of the world. No matter what the subject, discipline, or setting. Too many times, engineering professors, at least in my experience, ignore what’s going on in the outside world for fear of it conflicting with the content or the “integrity” of the science/work. I have seen this for myself in the aftermath of the election in November. I had a graduate level, engineering class in my department at 9am Wednesday morning. A female classmate who I know identifies with the LGBT community quietly cried almost the entire class period and our professor just continued with class like all was normal, never acknowledging anything. This attitude has also been seen in the March for Science in their assertion that the march is NOT political and that these discussions – particularly in the area of diversity, inclusion, and the experiences of underrepresented scientists – are dismissed as taking away from the science itself. As I am not an expert on these topics and am just coming to the MFS game, I would direct you to Katherine Crocker
, Isabel Ott,
and Dr. Zuleyka Zevallos
. They discuss these issues with the MFS at great length eloquently and I really appreciate their voices. Freire’s ideas of Critical Pedagogy explain how these attitudes can actually hurt the “science” and the learning process. Freire argues that “education is always political and teachers are unavoidably political operatives. Teaching is a political act—there’s no way around it
To ignore the outside world, we are just “depositing” tons of information into our students and perpetuating the idea that this knowledge is static, unchanging, and that their role as students is merely passive vessels, meant only to memorize the content we’re sharing. We’re missing out on showing them how dynamic the world really is, the knowledge really is, and what it all means for society. One of the paper’s I’m reading for my engineering education class this week talks about how first-year engineering students report “enjoying engineering less and viewed it as less important and useful than they did at the beginning of that first year” (Jones, et al., 2010). Could this be tied to our ignorance of the world outside our engineering classrooms? to our not tied these engineering concepts to current events and scenarios? to just dumping information or wanting them to just memorize things?