Here's the link to the story I mentioned in class. It was on BBC not NPR...
It seems like all the courses I am taking this semester are informing each other. I know we haven't really discussed it in class but I have been thinking about the influence ones cultural background, childhood, upbringing has on their outlook on the world, life, and theory. I was really struck by Heesung's presentation and how she introduced the idea of cultural semiotics. (Thanks Heesung!) I feel when I read some of these theories my conception of my culture has an immense outlook on how I read and internalize the theories we have been discussing in class.
The best example of this influence occurred outside of this class, but perhaps by describing it I can illustrate what I am thinking about. In another class I am taking on Cultural Studies in Education, we read an article by Karen Barad called "Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter" (http://osu.worldcat.org/oclc/4910130175). In the class discussion one of the other students in class brought up that her child came home with homework about things that are alive and things that are considered "not alive" and her child had to assign to each picture if the object was alive. So for example they had pictures of tigers, bears, rocks, and sea shells and had to decide whether the object was alive. The student explained that her child asked her if a rock was alive because of they went on a vacation where someone explained how rocks "grow." In her piece Barad brings up the notion of how things -- "matter" is, in some ways, matters more than the language used to describe that matter. This discussion, and the student's comments about her child brought up the question of whether objects have agency. The class had a lively discussion on whether they thought that objects could "act" and had the ability to enact change.
This is when I remembered something from my culture and childhood. I remember when I was a kid and if I accidentally stepped on a book, my mother would make me ask the book for forgiveness. To our culture the book was the holder and giver of knowledge, and as such should be treated with respect. I was taught from a young age to acknowledge that this book had the ability to influence my life and I had to respect it and treat it in a way that allowed the book to act on me to the best of its ability. I mean of course the book was supposed to be "god." But I feel the concept of giving the object agency is there in religion. Admittedly, I don't know much about the Bible but I know there is a part in there where someone says that if you break apart a rock you will find god in it. That items/things have divinity.
I am not sure what all this means, but it's been bouncing around in my mind for a while. Any thoughts?
Barad, K. (April 01, 2003). Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter. Signs, 28, 3, 801-831.
I am constantly thinking about the role art plays in my life and in the life of my students. I'm torn between treating art and visual culture as the ordinary things we see everyday, which we all need to be able to address thoughtfully, and treating art as someting special, somehow different from t This is further muddied by my definitions of art, education and art education. I'm not looking for any definitve answers from anyone, but wonder if anyone else feels this tension. Is art something special or is it ordinary?
Here is a good article about the Abigail Fisher affirmative action case currently in front of the Supreme Court. [link] Granted, the article has a slant, but it provides an incredibly detailed account of what's going on, including details about the plaintiff, who's bankrolling the case, and some history behind affirmative action in higher learning.
"I think that is incredibly important that people realize that today's proponents of colorblindness pretend that they are the heirs to Thurgood Marshall and John Marshall Harlan, but that is a lie. They are the heirs of Southern resistance to integration. And the colorblindness arguments that they use come directly from the Southern efforts to defeat Brown v. Board of Education." -Ian Haney-López: constitutional scholar at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
This case hits close to home for me, considering the defendant is my Alma Mater. It's also interesting to me that this same institution was the defendant in Sweatt V. Painter, a landmark case that helped chip away at the Plessy V. Ferguson and lead to the Brown decision.
Considering our discussions in class and online, I thought you might be interested in seeing this. Sorry for the extra reading. If you would like to talk about it with me I would be happy to talk.
In this moment of in the middle of this semester, I want to talk about things that I have learned, thoughts that occurred to me, and questions that I might have to carry on.
This course is the first theory class that I take, and I am not confident that I perfectly understood every concept from each “Theory camp” yet. However, I try to remind myself with the saying, “Rome was not built in a day” and I believe that someday, I might be able to draw my own mind-map for each theory camp.
The assumptions that I have with me right now about Multicultural Education, Critical Pedagogy and Critical Race Theory are that their main goals and assertions can be summarized in accordance with what are known as the norms for matured democratic civil societies—admitting and understanding differences of others from your heart, realizing “Otherness,” asking for the rights what all people deserve, and making an action when it is needed in everyday lives.
What was interesting is that those ideas, talked and claimed for more than a decade, are the things that we are already know of and conscientiously agree upon but cannot confidently say that we are actually feeling the progress in actual world. And I think that is why Freire’s “Praxis” has been talked continuously just as Tiffany, Priya, and Jason also mentioned it previously.
Before I came to US, the preconception that I had about US was “Open-minded to others” since I heard so much about “Melting-Pot.” But about a week after the Fall Semester started, I realized that it was not as much as I had expected. At that time, I had to interview American undergraduate students about “Racism” for my English class and my instructor warned us about students’ reaction about racism. Wow, I was a little surprised with their reaction when I asked them about “Racism.” They showed the whole reluctance with their facial expressions. I also feel some sensibility when I have to talk about racism, but their expressions were more than that. I don’t blame those attitudes, but I was truly curious why it was such a “taboo” to talk about racism for them. And also comparing people’s attitude toward me from people in our department with others, it was a lot kind and generous in our department. I was wondering "Can this be a result of Multicultural Education in Art Education?"
It has been more than a decade since we have cried for and pointed out same problems. And there have been many studies and researches conducted about same problems by theorists, researchers and practitioners. But why is it so hard to feel even a single change or progress? And why is it always ‘Education’ that has to be ranked as the first or the second with ‘Politics’ which seems to be the biggest problem in every Nations?
Read this article by Duncum on "Theoretical Foundations for an Art Education of Global Culture and Principles for Classroom Practice"
The article begins with an outline of the theoretical foundations for an art education that addresses global culture. It reviews and critiques the widely held, popular theory of cultural imperialism that sees, typically, U.S. culture overshadowing and destroying national and local cultures. By contrast, the author argues that by employing reading reception theory and theories of indigenization and cultural translation, it is possible to see a vastly more complex set of cultural issues through which we need to navigate. The article concludes with principles for dealing with global culture in the classroom, as well as some examples of exemplary classroom practice.
Some questions to think about--
1. What are your thoughts on a global culture? Does it include or exclude? And at what cost?
2. In what ways is the USA promoting and/or causing cultural imperialism? Is this perception founded? Is this a new form of domination?
3. Should teachers engage with global culture in their classrooms?
Feel free to add more questions...
This is kind of an aside, but if any of you have written anything on “Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism within Feminisms” The Feminist Wire is looking for a variety of works dealing with these issues. The link is below if you would like more information
This class has been really helpful to me in thinking through theoretical lenses and how these frame research and practice. As I have mentioned, I am not a classroom teacher, but so when we are talking about some of the theories related to multicultural education and critical pedagogy, I feel like I am lacking some of the real world kinds of experiences that some of you all have. Despite this lack of experience, I found critical pedagogy to be really interesting following Drew's presentation, so I followed up on some reading, and I discovered a related theoretical movement called critical ecopedagogy, which has been been really exciting to me. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecopedagogy for wiki overview). In brief-- my masters thesis was a case study of a artist-scientist residency at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and I really want to continue research around the art+ecology intersection. What I have been missing is a theoretical framework that offers some kind of standpoint from which to examine these kinds of interdisciplinary endeavors and experiments. I may have found something useful in critical pedagogy and ecopedagogy, which is great! I also feel that my continued explorations into the wild and wonderful world of feminist theory will be fruitful in finding the feminist voice I know is in me. As well, I remain ever interested in post-colonial theory and so I will be reading more deeply there. As you will soon discover during my upcoming presentation <<spoiler alert!>>, we will be talking a bit about the ways feminist theory overlap and intersect with post-colonial theory.
Probably the most difficult for me remains critical race theory, not because the concepts are challenging, but because the issues are real, lived experiences and extraordinarily relevant and timely, EVEN NOW in 2013. Racism is such a difficult topic for so many people. It's that "smog in the air" (Tatum) idea that illustrates just how pervasive, ignored, etc. racism is to many people. I think about my feelings about overcoming racism in comparison to overcoming sexism and other forms of oppression, which in turn leads me to think about the successfulness of the social movements related to and influenced by these theories, such as feminist activism and civil rights movements--from the 1960s until today. I worry that our country is too polarized to effect change for improvement (as I see it). As we slide further into neoliberalism and social conservativism, I wonder what comes next.
Before returning to OSU for my PhD, I worked for awhile for AmeriCorps VISTA, a federal program designed to overcome poverty in America. My job was to write grants for a group that promoted economic growth and environmental stewardship in small towns affected by historic coal mining. Recently, OSU's newspaper headline promoted new "clean coal" technology developed on campus. The article failed to mention anything about the mining of coal--a decidedly UN-CLEAN industry, fraught with boom and busts, acid mining drainage, mountaintop removal, and linked directly to widespread, persistent poverty across Appalachia. What do new technologies offer us in the way of improving quality of life? What is sacrificed in the name of progress? How can we form opinions about important issues in contemporary life when we rely on information that is situated, partial, and perspectival (Haraway). I would argue that our dominant sociopolitical context must address the flow of information, whether in academic research, corporate global media, grassroots activism, and beyond. This "information age" thrives on distractions and moves faster than in-depth inquiry allows. I've started to become more aware of my own reading of art, entertainment, news, and even everyday interactions through various theoretical lenses.
I have been thinking a lot about safety and fear in schools.
I went to more than a few open houses at the private school I used to teach at, and at every one the head of school would come before parents and prospective parents, and talk about how important it was to create a nurturing environment where students felt safe, and where they could learn to take academic risks knowing they would be supported. He would talk about how the science shows that when we are full of anxiety humans are unable to learn as effectively, as our flight and fight responses placed mental blocks that impede education. The school as a culture did a lot of things to mitigate this for students... small class sizes, co-taught classrooms, buddy grades, an emphasis on experiences and progression rather than summative evaluations, handshakes from the head of school to start the day, and efforts to keep parents involved at a level that created an atmosphere of community and unity. It had its faults, but the efforts on the parts of the school had what I perceive to be a highly positive effect on the students. Most of these students came from affluent homes with highly educated parents. In my last few years there the school had also been making an efforts towards diversity in its student body, faculty, and practices. The idea that an armed guard should have to be on the premises would have been insane to us.
One of the students I supervise just finished her student teaching in a challenging urban environment here in Columbus. They are strapped for cash, the administration constantly changes and rearranges classes and schedules, and the facilities are not particularly suited for the classes that occur within them. Fights are common, between students as well as parents, and at time can be extremely dangerous. I was unable to ever observe her teach in this environment, but I have had it described to me by many people and my impression is that it lacks a feeling of community and safety on every level. I also suspect the emphasis is rather more on the students being able to pass what are seen as basic tests than the willingness to take academic risks. The student I supervise had something of an epiphany in the realization that what many of her students needed from her was not a place to learn about the classics of art or the secrets of media, but a place to feel safe and to express what was silently eating away at them. I can see from publicly available data that 99% of the students are economically disadvantaged.
In this comparison I make conclusions that make me uncomfortable. If the claims and beliefs of my former school's head (not to mention well known voices like Freire's) are to be believed, than the quality of safety that allows the students at one school to flourish is also a source for the numerous challenges of the students in the other. The price of that safety was quite high, and the parents who chose to send their students to us believed enough in it that they not only paid for that environment but volunteered time and expertise to continue working at making it a community they all felt invested in. The parents of the students at the school in Columbus are often sending there students there because they feel they have no choice, and the comments I find online regarding said school makes me believe their principle goal is to find a way to escape that community rather than improve it. What is more is that since the private school is not beholden to the testing programs of a public school, teachers are much more able to innovate when it comes to their disciplines.
The idea that a child's safety, ability to learn, and ability to be a part of a learning community can be so interwoven with a monetary amount makes me extremely unhappy. I realize there are ways around this equation, but it is also clearly not "fair."
From Drew: As teachers and public education are under attack by many critics, the statements above point out a vital point that is ignored- the scope of the role of schools in the lives of the students' and community. Although test scores and funding are the headlines, schools are quietly responsible for much more than educating. Many schools provide before and after care (babysitting), breakfast, lunch and dinner, character education, health screenings, and other service. These important (perhaps life-saving) services are rarely mentioned when American test scores are compared worldwide. That said, welfare and security at school is at least a minimal standard to meet before any education can take place. We have also learned that nowhere, regardless of economic standing, is absolutely safe, but the above statement highlights how much work has to be done to put students' needs in the forefront.