Tuesday, 29 November 2011

I'd like to teach the world to...

... well, the song we sang in primary school would have finished "sing" but anyone who has heard me sing will surely hope I have something else teachable up my sleeve...

I've been thinking a lot about teaching today.

I've been working on a document about my own teaching, I've had emails from students, I've communicated with students on facebook, I had a chat with Nadine about teaching Miria George's amazing play And What Remains, I've been in communication with someone from our iwi Education Working Group, I watched a trailer someone posted on fb for a documentary about kindergartens in Switzerland which are held in the forest, I've heard from some people about a document they've been producing about the high school curriculum at home in NZ, and I've been in touch with my Mum who has been a teacher all her working life. Oh, and I got a text from Megan as she and Matiu were off to school camp.

That's a lot of teaching!

A lot of teachers... a lot of learners... a lot of books, classrooms, reading, writing, thinking, pedagogy... a lot of whanau... a lot of aspirations.

There's a guy called William Germano who writes about academic publishing (he works in publishing himself) and in his book which I love about being an early-career academic, called From Dissertation to Book, he writes "The scholar's life is a writing life." I have found this to be true, and this blog is one of the ways in which I am using te tau okioki as an opportunity to renew and revitalise and refocus my scholarly life by writing...

But the scholar's life is also a teaching life: inside the classroom, outside the classroom; in deliberate, unexpected and unintended ways.

Teaching, on a good day, isn't about the teacher at all... I aspire to teach like a disease: I hope that what happens in and around my classrooms is contagious, unavoidable, incurable. I hope it spreads and mutates in such a way that it's difficult to even trace it back to me... that my students take hold of what happens during our time together and bring that into their own spaces in ways that make sense to them... 

So, as I write tonite ('the scholar's life is a writing life' after all), I find myself reflecting on teaching as articulated by the amazing African-American scholar, writer and teacher bell hooks in her amazing book Teaching to Transgress:

“the academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created. The classroom, with all its limitations, remains a location of possibility… This is education as the practice of freedom.”

Education as the practice of freedom. Amen to that!

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