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Class notes 10/22/2008

Discussion question: My question has to do with the reading today, bell hooks: is the University something universal A part of the real world? Have you seen these things in yourself?
I have never felt part of a country/group/community of learning – coming from a different country I’ve had to do things differently. I went to lecture recently – many different people attended – I felt for the first time like a part of a community because she was talking about politics. She said we should listen (to the election) to see if we hear ‘immigration,’ ‘social security’ etc. Everyone discussed it, and felt a part of something.

You felt a moment of community because learning was about something beyond the U, in real life?

Yes, I felt connected with people I never knew who had the same ideas.

You feel like that doesn’t usually happen at the U?

No, at least not for me. The work doesn’t leave you much room for attending lectures, meetings…

My department helps each other out, I feel. It’s based on more than just learning the same things. A personal aspect of our lives come together, and it’s really important. I feel really lucky.

I feel that in our department too – there’s a real emphasis on it. It’s much different than in undergrad – I’m amazed at how different. Fisher mentioned the relationship to the U partly because it puts food on the table. I think there’s something to that – there’s a different sense of rules and responsibility. There has to be a way to mitigate that. Privacy concerns become a screen that keeps people from connecting.

I had a three year assistantship that felt overwhelming at times. But working at the U gave me connections I wouldn’t have otherwise had. Part of it is because most of us have assistantships.

I feel community in my department, like everyone is on the same team. At the same time, I take feminist classes for a deeper sense of community – in my dept, interests don’t always go together. This class has been a great sense of that feeling for me.

Thinking about community in the classroom – how does this relate to or get complicated by issues of authority? Fisher talks about feminist teachers wanting to give up authority, but power exists. What kind of community do you have in a fem. Classroom when one person grades everyone else?

It separates the teacher. I have to take a different position in that community. There’s no getting around that, I think.

Teaching is responsible in a different way, but that’s not to say students are off the hook nor that money is the only factor as a source of responsibility.

I think of Joy from the book who is crying and needs an A – traditional expectations of authority versus the need to desire to question that.

[A discussion of the problems and tensions around grading followed. We discussed feminism, credibility, vulnerability, authority and caring in the classroom. ]