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.