Dr. Rendon: Creating an Integrative, Consonant Pedagogy Rooted in Social Justice — Dr. Laura Rendon

Exemplary Portrait: Barbara Jaffe

  • Teaches English in California’s Puente Project, El Camino College
  • Puente (Bridge) works with low-income, first generation community college students
  • Familia writing model
  • Employs writing as a contemplative practice tool
  • Faculty member becomes a change agent, liberator and healer

Agreements Professor Jaffe Broke

  • Writing is a stand-alone activity disconnected from student lives
  • Only a few can learn and be successful college students
  • All that poor, first-generation students come to college with are deficits that are most likely insurmountable
  • The teacher’s role is to be the expert detached from students
  • Putting down students is tough love that can result in real learning
  • English professors need not emphasize the culture of the students
  • The student’s voice and whatever is personal is unimportant in the classroom

New Pedagogical Dreamfield

  • Writing can be employed as a contemplative practice tool, allowing students to express themselves and to reflect meaningfully on themes that are important to them
  • All can learn if given the tools and the opportunity to learn
  • Students from low-income backgrounds have strengths. They bring resilience, having overcome many difficult challenges in life. They bring their culture and their life experiences, which can be used as a base to foster learning.
  • The teacher can and should engage in positive working relationships with students
  • Encouragement and validation are key to student learning and growth
  • Students can learn when exposed to an inclusive curriculum that includes their cultural perspectives
  • Students can develop self-confidence if given voice in the classroom
Exemplary Portrait:Carlos Silveira

  • Professor of Art–CSU-Long Beach
  • Teaching philosophy based on Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed
  • Engages students in service learning
  • Worked with poor children in the favelas of Brazil
Agreements Silveira Broke

  • Art is a thing of beauty with little or no connection to sociopolitical, multicultural themes or to human healing
  • The classroom is race/gender/sexuality-neutral
  • Content can be learned only through academic forms—read a book, develop a theory
  • Real learning occurs only inside the classroom
  • Feelings/compassion are unimportant in pedagogical practice
  • Poor students cannot learn
  • Cognitive development is the only thing that matters
Silviera’s New Pedagogical Dream
New Agreements:

  • Art can transform; art has healing power. Art can be used to create socio-political awareness
  • Real learning occurs not just in the classroom, but also in a field setting in a community. This is where theory meets humanitarianism, compassion and critical consciousness
  • Professor can be a social activist—a change agent 
  • Poor students can learn when allowed to express their voice, to work on projects that reflect what they know and what they represent
  • Emotions can be a part of the curriculum

Exemplary Portrait: 
Professor J. Herman Blake

  • Carnegie Foundation Teacher of the Year
  • Retired Professor of African American Studies at Iowa State University
  • Believes firmly that there are no known limits to learning
  • Believes in engaging with students on multiple projects–multicultural learning community, conference on race and ethnicity

Strange Fruit

  • Without Sanctuary

Agreements Blake Broke

  • Professor is the only expert in class
  • Reflection is unnecessary
  • Learning ends once the class is over
  • We should not talk about disturbing issues related to race in the classroom
  • There are limits to learning, especially for students of color

New Agreements Blake Created

  • Contemplative Practice is critical–allows for students to reflect and engage more deeply with the material
  • Issues of race create tension, but we must work through them–disruption “wakes up” neutrality
  • There are no limits to learning; levels of expectation should remain high, especially for students of color
  • Liberating students from self-limiting views and fostering a passion to learn and to recognize and take action against societal inequities is the work of social justice in the classroom.

What Do We Call a Pedagogy

  • Rooted in ancient wisdom–nonduality, wholeness, complimentarity between two opposites
  • Decenters Western epistemology and ontology
  • Views individuals as whole human beings
  • Individuals can transform the world by acting on it
  • In all that we do, there is a greater purpose than what appears before us
  • Is unitive–connects inner and outer learning; unites the student with the subject matter; employs contemplative practice to deeply engage the learner in the material
  • Promotes the acquisition of both knowledge and wisdom
  • Emphasizes activism, liberation, healing and social change
Celebration of the Marriage of Heart and Mind

MultiHuman Curriculum

  • Is multicultural and humanistic in nature
  • Affirms dignity and worth of all people
  • Respects diverse ways of accessing truth (i.e., scientific paradigm & full range of qualitative methods that honor the human experience).
  • Engages diverse perspectives–ancestral teachings, Western views of knowledge, Third-World & Indigenous Knowledge, etc.
  • Rejects a monocultural framework that exclusively privileges a White race, a male gender and Western perspectives
The Liberating, Socially Just Classroom

  • Emphasizes relationships and the betterment of the collective whole
  • Promotes self-reflexivity and emergence of critically aware, socially responsible individual
  • Curriculum is democratic, inclusive and reflective of student backgrounds and needs
  • Students develop intellectual capacities and develop themselves as human beings–identity, path in life, critical consciousness
  • Professor models social activism (service learning, working with poor students, etc.)
  • Professor promotes an ethic of care, compassion and validation
  • Fosters transformation–students find self-worth, purpose, and voice
  • Western paradigm which over-privileges mental knowing, monoculturalism, and separation is decentered. Emphasis is on wholeness