I can only faintly remember most of my classes in high school. What content I learned in them is mostly a mystery, but as we are reading in Kumashiro, a whole lot of learning occurs beyond what we are teaching. How we reward certain behaviours, tolerate some, and punish others is all part of what we are teaching our students. The more we read this book, the more I feel as though there is no possible way to teach without oppressing some student in some way by what we say, don’t say, teach, and don’t teach. I suppose that’s why we heard last week that “you will never become an anti-oppressive teacher. Rather you are always becoming an anti-oppressive teacher.”
This makes sense, as the idea of being a life-long learner requires one to always attempt to move forward, attempting, learning, and reflecting, never reaching an imaginary finish line. Similarly, when he discusses the notion of queer theory, he speaks about locating the norms of society and why these norms are problematic. From there, we ought to be challenging and disrupting the status quo of these norms where eventually what was once the alternative, or queer, becomes the norm, and always repeating the process to work towards a less oppressive state. I agree with evolution of a teacher and person never being over and there is always progress to be made, but taken to the extreme, I wonder if there is a danger in the logic of always locating oppression and making that which is oppressed, free of such treatment. Who gets to define oppression? Physical or verbal abuse? Is it government sanctions? Un-vocalized moral disagreements? Does then being “oppressed” automatically mean it should replace the norms of society?
I don’t know! Possibly I’m just not comfortable with the unknown of where that might take us if consistently adhered to. I’m not trying to trash on Kumashiro. I am just trying to look at these chapters with a critical eye. In fact, I am finding his ideas very challenging and they are helping me look at how I will teach from so many perspectives that I end up at my original worry at the beginning of this post. How can I possibly do this teaching thing well?