Morrison’s Playing in the Dark and Carey-Webb’s Literature and Lives connect well under the discourse topic of how to connect traditionally Eurocentric literature, Cary-Webb’s example uses Shakespeare specifically The Tempest, to a more multicultural and inclusive approach. Morrison discusses how even in literature and literary analysis that Africans are a part an important part of the story and criticisms through the “shadows” made by their lack of focus.
The idea of minorities “shadows” can also be used and expanded upon through Carey-Webb’s thoughts. Using New Historicism allows the taking of Eurocentric literature and using I to think more broadly. Such as The Tempest and what it tells us about prior perspective on natives and colonialism and minorities. Texts that seem to lack a voice on outsiders by virtue of that lack saw a lot and that too can be discussed. Just as negative space in art helps create the picture so does an absence in literature send its own message.
Using New Historicism as basis for teaching literature allows for a comprehensive view on the historical and cultural placement on the text. This naturally encourages the incorporation of additional artifacts and supplementary texts to the core piece that further develops its significant. This helps answer the oft heard “Why are we reading this” uttered by students. Connecting different texts together and then discussing the political and cultural situation allows for moving the past to the present by making connections between the two and encouraging discussion on how the historical debates progressed to now.
Creating a textual web also gives students more pre and post information to help them anticipate and process respectively the central text. Giving a more concrete framework around the novels in class will help motivate students and help the teacher learn any areas that students may need help with before starting to read independently.
Another positive aspect of this approach is its ability to be used with any novel. All novels used in schools speak to some cultural aspect of their times and ones that lack an inclusive stance can be used to talk about exclusion through the “shadows” created by the voices left out. Learning to recognize who is not represented or not represented equitably is an equally important skill for students to master as critically analyzing what is explicitly in the text.
Using New Historicism and keeping in mind those left out of text is a flexible way to keep all novels culturally relevant and currently relevant. Even Shakespeare can be made relevant to modernity and made to be cultural relevant through this flexible approach
Christensen’s Building Communities Out of Chaos was exactly the example and anecdote that I have been looking to read. “Build relationships” has been an Education buzzword I have heard over and over, but I have been left wondering, how? Making friends individually can be difficult enough but getting a disparate group of 30 or more students to take part in a “community” seems like a tall ask.
However, Christensen’s personal experience at Jefferson helps show how to do this. The most important line to me was, “Building community begins when students get inside the lives of others in history, literature, or down the hallway, but students also learn by exploring their own lives…” (Christensen, 6). For students to become a community they need to know each other, and the teacher. By using relevant books as a starting point for discussions on topics that interest students Christensen provides an avenue for students to share their personal stories.
I also appreciate the piece pointing out the value in a teacher being open with themselves. I have heard arguments for and against being an open teacher, but I am a relatively open person and would prefer to not hide” myself from my students. I have had friends say I talk a lot about myself, not in a bad way, but relating personal and family anecdotes and fun facts. Hearing that did not surprise me since I do it on purpose. It is hard to get other to open up to you if you are not open to them. So far, I have had success with being open with others and plan on continuing that strategy. It is nice to be validated by this article.
Using books to build community means that using culturally relevant books will be important. Most classrooms will have a diverse spread of literature will need to be read. A single story will never be enough to understand others, “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story” (Chimamanda Nogzi Adichie). In order to get into the lives and history of others mean taking a focused effort to understand others and to avoid stereotypes this means hearing as many stories as possible.
Another excellent part of the article is “When students’ lives are taken off the margins and placed in the curriculum, they don’t feel the same need to put down someone else.” (7) If students are uncaring, bullying, or abusive to each other than it will be impossible to build a community or relationships. However, Christensen’s quote bring sit back to making students feel heard and like they have agency. If they are part of the curriculum and involved in the learning process, there will be greater buy in to lessons and once they get to know one another they will not hurt one another.
Building Communities Out of Chaos helped put the pedological theory I have been studying this Fall into context and see demonstration if it in action. Hearing an experienced teacher own struggles with a classroom also helped ease my own anxiety. It will not be perfect from day one, but I do have a whole semester to work with my students and bring them to where they need to be.
resource: Facebook, there are a lot of teaching groups on Facebook with resources and advice. I encourage everyone to take a look around for groups relevant to your content area and grade level.
“Culturally sustaining pedagogy exists wherever education sustains the lifeways of communities who have been and continue to be damaged and erased through schooling” (Alim and Paris, 1) is an important part from Rodriguez’s “Chapter 4: School and Education of Young Adult Characters” connects culturally diverse literature to culturally relevant pedagogy. Multicultural literature can be used to create culturally sensitive pedagogy by creating “windows” or “mirrors” to cultures that have or are being “damaged and erased through schooling.” America is not a singular entity, so neither should the literature we teach be singular in perspective or voice.
Kumashiro’s Troubling Education covers four approaches to anti-oppressive pedagogy: Education for the Other, Education about the Other, Education that is Critical of Privileging and Othering, and Education that Changes Students and Society. The beauty of multicultural literature is that it allows an avenue to approach all of the kinds of anti-oppressive pedagogical approaches. Literature allows for the creation of windows and mirrors to and between cultural which helps cover Education for the Other (mirrors) and Education about the Other (windows). Further appropriately chosen novels can criticize Privilege and Othering and show students how to resist and recognize systemic oppression.
The Hate U Give has gained popularity in High School classrooms due to its current relevance and its ability to serve as a window and mirror. Further, The Hate U Give dives into the topics of oppression and privilege. It serves as an excellent avenue to trouble education through all four of the approaches that Kumashiro outlines. Knowing what area to focus on will depend on each individual educational setting but the flexibility of the novel demonstrates the importance of multicultural literature in an anti-oppressive classroom.
An interesting take away from Troubling Education is putting oppression into the perspective of repetition of harmful citational practices. Putting oppression into the lens of repetition puts the onus on teachers and educational professionals to draw attention to the reproduction of oppression. Critical Literacy therefore is tied back into the classroom in order to teach students how to “read” many types of multimedia and not stick to reading and analyzing traditional books and texts. Therefore, curriculum should not only include multicultural books but other forms of media that can be used to address Kumashiro’s four approaches to anti-oppressive pedagogy. To create an effective inclusive and anti-oppressive classroom educators need to include a wide breath of texts and perspectives in their curriculum that tie together. This is not a simple thing to create but a necessary one nonetheless.
ere to edit.
Resource: https://teachoverseas.uni.edu/ A yearly job fair at Northern Iowa University for international schools.