January 20, 2015
This week I turned 33. If I were a Tolkien character who lived in the shire…this would be quite significant. As I’m a girl who lives in a pseudo-subterranean studio and have a tiny dog who would not at all be out of place in a hobbit hole, I’m going to say this new age, while not “quite significant” feels appropriately exciting.
To celebrate another new year, I took the last four days off of work (admittedly, this sounds anticlimactic as half of that span was the weekend but…I’m an educator, who works from home, for an online program, which translates to I never really “leave” work.)
As I had extra time on my hands I caught up on Twitter, learned about MMCP and decided to jump in as it was fortuitously just beginning. I don’t know much about critical pedagogy but love Hybrid Pedagogy so if this new thing is representative of the thoughtful stuff that might be about to happen…count me in! (also, everybody with free time joins Moocs….right? hahaa…)
First up is a reading from Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. Though I’m a second year doctoral student, I’ve never read straight Freire because I thought it was a bit too heady for me. Turns out, either my tolerance for headiness has increased or (as is much more likely) it’s just a great all-around read. The theme of Ch. 2 (and disclaimer: this is super simplified and only my take on things) is: relationships, narrative, and the somewhat imbedded structure that seem to keep inequalities in place.
The “banking method” of education is brought up, along with the general lack of dialogue. It seems because knowledge is very one-way, students lack the necessary skills to think critically and creatively thus the system perpetuates. The solution seems to be willingness for those in power to relinquish a bit of control so that others can became human and contribute as opposed to being meaningless pieces in the system.
As an academic thinking about these ideas in theory, these are challenging ideas to ponder. As an actual program dean whose job description falls more along the “oppressor” side of the equation….these are sobering ideas that make me wish I’d decided to spend my break reading Bachelor spoilers.
How comfortable am I with dialogue between myself and my staff? How about my students? Are my team members people I’m mindlessly depositing information into or are they valued humans as we co-create our program? How about my students? What has died in my hands because I am holding onto it with white knuckled control? Where is there no room for dialogue or communication because my words are the only ones painted on the walls?
These questions aren’t going to be answered in the clarity of a blog post and I’m not even sure I need to aim for answers deposited safely. More, I’m very glad that the questions have begun to roll around in my mind. Though I say I’m a creative at heart, I can’t deny I am a product of the banker education structure and the longer I lead the more I feel in myself the urge to control and the need to always be the one making every deposit…having every great idea.
My Freire encounter has served as a cautionary check point. I’m curious how prodding deeper and actually dialoging without the express purpose of concrete answers will go. Through community, I am hopeful the deposits will be far greater than any I could scrounge up from the dusty cushions of my own experience.