Question 1

In the interest of interdisciplinarity, I shall open this blog post with a brief narrative rendition of my most recent Thanksgiving meal.  My sister and I spent the day cooking a huge meal with a large variety of delicious goodies (the crowning point being, in my opinion, the Pillsbury crescent rolls).  We then served this cornocopia of festive goodness to the assembled company, which included most of my dad's family and several of his bachelor friends, who like to come over to his apartment to drink bourbon, talk about how much they hate their ex-wives, talk about fishing, and wonder why there aren't any attractive twenty-somethings who want to date them.  All in all, it was a fairly typical holiday in the Williams household.

After dinner, I found myself, my sister, my aunt, and my grandmother in the kitchen cleaning things up, while the remainder of the (male) guests sat about digesting.  Being of a trouble-making type, I pointed this out, and when the male relatives ignored me, I pointed it out louder.  After a few really funny comments ("Thanksgiving is the day when I give thanks that I have women to clean up for me!") someone managed to get my Uncle to begrudgingly collect a few dishes before settling back into his chair.  The evening concluded with me getting a dirty look and a severe lecture when I responded to my dad saying, "Girls!  Why don't you get [Bachelor Friend #1] some pie?" with a resounding "Why doesn't Dave get his own f*ing pie??!!!"

The point that I am getting at here is that although I agree with bell hooks that learning is a "liberatory practice," I can also see Kevin Kumashiro's point that this liberation can lead us to moments of paralysis or crisis.  At the end of his essay, Kumashiro asks "Is it ethical to intentionally and constantly lead a student into crisis? . . . Could such a situation lead to a life with little feelings of hope or even peacefulness?" (69)  I certainly found comfort and solace, and even liberation in queer theory, women's studies, various racial/ethnic studies that both explained the inequalities that I instinctively felt, and forced me to unpack my knapsack of (white/middle-class/abled/cisgendered/etc.) privilege.  However, outside of the academy, and even outside of certain departments in the academy, being highly-attuned to inequality and oppression can be isolating and paralyzing.  If I can't even convince my family to respect women, how can I hope to change the world? 

Here come some questions on this point (I can't restrict myself to one, so feel free to answer as many or as few as you wish):

1) How do we create educational systems that will not only attune students to inequality, but give them the skills to confront these inequalities in their own lives and on a broader structural level?

2) Kumashiro's descriptions of curricula that constantly seek to trouble and disrupt normative structures (and also constantly question and revise themselves) is so appealing . . . but could it be executed in a public school, where instruction is often so rigid and where teachers who express non-normative opinions are likely to receive hostility from the administration?  Does such a vision of disruptive education exclude the public school (and wouldn't that be a form of inequality)?

3) Is discomfort/frustration the price we pay for being attuned to inequality, or should we be thinking about ways to ease/address such discomfort?  What might methods of intellectual support look like, especially outside of the academy?  In your experience, how has the intellectual discomfort I'm talking to here compared to the more active, visceral discomfort of being Othered in your own life?

4) Have you had any experiences in your own education that provided an exceptional model of disruptive education?  Conversely, have you had a really awful experience that you think is really enlightening?  (This is the question I REALLY want to hear about).

By the way, I'm sorry this post is late.  It totally snuck up on me and I didn't remember about the Sunday posting deadline!  I hope you will still have time to think about these questions.


I fixed it for you :). It should work now--you forgot to put in the http:// when you added the link.

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