Friday, May 27, 2016

Strangers in Academia: Teaching and Scholarship at the Margins – the becoming radical

Strangers in Academia: Teaching and Scholarship at the Margins – the becoming radical:

Strangers in Academia: Teaching and Scholarship at the Margins



No, there was no way out, and no one can imagine what nights in prison are like.
Meursault, The Stranger, Albert Camus
I left public education after an 18-year career as a high school English teacher and coach. The exit had its symbolism because at that time I was wearing a wrist brace on my right hand from overuse after almost two decades of responding to about 4000 essays and 6000 journal entries per year; in other words, I left public education broken.
A former student of mine on the cusp of becoming a first-year English teacher asked me recently what my first years were like, and I had to confess that from day one, my career as an educator has always been at the margins, a stranger at all levels of formal schooling and academia.
Yes, my hand was exhausted from marking essays, but I was broken as a public school teacher by administrators and in a bit of not so hyperbolic science fiction, The System.
Every single day of my life as a public school teacher, I worked against the system—but I did so with my door open because I believed (and still believe) my defiance was for The Cause.
I was never defiant for my own benefit, but resistant to the structures, policies, and practices that I believed dehumanized teachers and students, that worked against formal education as liberation.
I didn’t punish students for being a few seconds late to class, for asking to go to the restroom. I didn’t stand guard at the doorway or in the hallways as if we were surveilling a criminal population of teens.
We laughed and moved around in my room, played music and even danced during breaks. Students ate candy, food, sneaking in drinks occasionally.
And to a fault, I was friendly with my students—a friend to my students. In the perfect sort of irony or symmetry, many of those students are today my friends on Facebook.
But toward the end, after year upon year of wrestling with administration and finding little Strangers in Academia: Teaching and Scholarship at the Margins – the becoming radical:

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