Question 2: identities in the classroom and troublemaking


Question 2, for the hooks, Kumashiro, Yancy, and Davidson/Yancy readings:

Since this is the question dealing with my own lens/interests/discipline, here are my background/interests: I'm a student in the Curriculum and Instruction department, the Culture and Teaching track (which "engages the study of education as a cultural phenomenon" and looks at issues of equity and social justice in education). The two questions in which I am most interested in engaging (for right now, at least) are white supremacy in K-12 classrooms, specifically as addressed by white teachers with white students, and the disconnect between activism and academia.That's where I am coming from.

I'm going to make the assumption (and you can correct me in class if I'm wrong), that for most of us, most education, especially in PK-12 (prekindergarten to grade 12), did/does not have antioppression as its goal/purpose/vision nor has the goal/purpose/vision of theory been liberation. (This latter might now be different for some--hopefully many--of us given our enrollment/teaching in this class! But, it is still generally not that prevalent in the academy. And I would be SO pleased to be corrected on being wrong on that!)

Yet I agree with hooks and Kumashiro that these must be the goal/vision/purpose of education and theory. Inherent in this vision is being allowed and encouraged to be all of who you are (and are evolving into/from) in the classroom. So, my question for us is: What happens to students' relationships to schooling and education when they are not allowed to name their own realities and identities and have them enter the classroom, and what consequences does this then have individually, collectively, and societally?

More specifically, how is creating and facilitating a space where students can bring all their identities, realities, voices, and knowledges--and using them as a basis for what happens in the classroom--transgressive and troublemaking? To whom and for whom? How does it change learning? How would our own schooling (and teaching practices) look different if we had gotten this in PK-12? What might it mean as teachers/students in academia?

I also encourage you to check out "news" about my colleagues and their work on the Bill O'Reilly show last month. I will likely share more about it in class.


Your question made me think about my own high school experience in an elite, mostly-white New York prep school. Many of the non-white students came from an organization called Prep for Prep, which provided scholarships for gifted inner-city kids - a great and worthy organization, but one which brought uncomfortable associations between race and class. "White privilege," as a concept, was widely discussed - but in a certain respect, it may have been overdone, by which I mean to say that the term was thrown around so much as to become meaningless or (even worse) laughable, particularly coming from rooms full of rich white students who had no concrete conception of what their privilege meant in the "real world."

To make a long story short, I went back to my high school's website, and to the site of its newspaper, just to see what its official rhetoric was about diversity. Both on its diversity page and in a recent op-ed, the emphasis was on valorization of difference and on the integration of that difference to create a richer whole. Although this sounds good on paper, the functional result is to use the idea of difference to enrich the lives of those in the (non-"other") majority.

[Of particular note: the first sentence on the diversity page reads, 'The National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) defines diversity as "otherness".']

I wonder what we can make of this discourse, which on the one hand actively promotes discussion of difference, but on the other hand reaffirms the existence of a category of non-Other and ascribes the Other as a tool to be learned from. Is this a step forward, or a step back?

I just checked and it looks like the youtube clip of O'Reily is still available on my queering theory site here.

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