After a few years of being lost in the years after my undergraduate education, I moved myself to Australia where I enrolled in a two-year teaching degree. In the course of this degree and the single year of teaching first grade in a public school, I was exposed to the philosophy of Paulo Freire, the democratic approaches of preschools in Reggio Emilia (and interned and worked in schools focusing on this inspiration), reflective practice/action research, multi-age classrooms, and intercultural populations of students. My experiences pulled me back to the United States where I felt I could do the most important work, and where it was most important for me to be, personally and politically.
Big influences and sites of learning for me are in hip-hop (and other youth cultures), various conceptual and street artists, Feminist scholars of color, and the earlier years of Sesame Street. I am interested in how culture, meaning, and language are negotiated and constructed across difference of varying degrees.
Part of my experience as a teacher that led me to pursue a Ph.D. was a recognition of how, even within seemingly progressive and democratic educational environments, certain traditional modes of silencing and dividing students, teachers, and parents are perpetuated, limiting the possible sites of negotiation and cultural formation. As a means to this end, I am currently curious as to how certain methodologies (pedagogical and research) allow us to realize the researching potential of teaching and the teaching potential of research.
As a Ph.D. student I have experimented with organizing learning circles and meal groups, been engaged in an Action Research project with teachers, taught in a month long residential course based on the democratic approaches of Myles Horton and the Danish Folk School movement, teaching in an undergraduate class, as well as working in a collaborative, intercultural, intergenerational and multi-linqual research project. I have also been encouraged to find classes in and form relationships with other departments across the University.
I have found the Culture and Teaching program (faculty, students, classes, research) a strong base of support as well as a healthy, constructive space of challenge to my own assumptions and interests. I am extremely thankful for the diverse group of similarly concerned and equally passionate people who make up the Culture and Teaching program and in some sense help me maintain sanity and strength as I pursue a Ph.D.