In Part 2 Stephen introduces us to Eduard Lindeman (1885-1953), a pioneer in adult education who wrote one of the first books on community development (The Meaning of Adult Education, 1926; Brookfield, Learning Democracy: Eduard Lindeman on Adult Education and Social Change, 1987). Lindeman explored “life-centered learning,” believing that “education is life” and that student and teacher experiences and autobiographies mattered in the classroom. The learner is central in Lindeman’s educational theory; the starting point is always the lives of the learners and the primacy of experience. Co-operative education leads to social justice action. Stephen talks about his friendship with Myles Horton, one of the founders of the Highlander Center in Tennessee who linked education with democracy, and the biggest single influence on Stephen. He then talks about his use of aesthetics, the imagination, and storytelling/narrative in the classroom. What does he want to subvert in higher education?—the capitalist ethic. Hear Stephen talk about the dominant ideologies at work in higher education, and how as a counternarrative/action we can begin by taking students seriously as co-learners and creators.
Dr. Stephen Brookfield is the John Ireland Endowed Chair at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has been evolving as a teacher and teaching others how to evolve through critical, reflective practices for almost fifty years. He is the author of 18 books on adult learning and education, critical race theory and adult education, teaching through discussion, democratic spaces, power dynamics in the classroom, social justice teaching, and activist education. He incorporates critical theory (e.g. Gramsci, Marcuse, Habermas) and pedagogical theories (e.g. Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, Ira Shor, John Dewey, Eduard Lindeman) in his writing.
In Part 1 Stephen talks about his background and what drew him into teaching. He models what it means to be a critically reflective teacher—in Freire’s words, authoritative, not authoritarian. He continually searches for what’s new, what is yet to be realized—and that awareness involves a critique of power in the classroom. “There is no such thing as a power-free classroom,” he writes. Everything, including naming, reifies power dynamics. “Efforts to introduce more student-centered, empowering activities sometimes, in a teasing contradiction, underscore teachers’ power,” he has written, and faculty have to know and reflect on their own social locations and privileges as they challenge white supremacy, patriarchy, heteronormativity, and capitalism.
In these two podcast segments, T.J. explores the current context for trans*educators, the genderism, or forced labeling, the siloing of student affairs staff and faculty, and the possibility of collaborations and working across institutional boundaries. T.J. embodies, in his teaching, workshops, and scholarship, what it means to be intersectional. He shows why faculty in higher education need to build coalitions with student affairs staff. From bell hooks’ statement, “Theory is not inherently healing, liberatory, or revolutionary,” T.J. argues that we need to find and make places of co-learning and co-creating. T.J. asks us to consider: To whom are we accountable? In Part 2 Dr. T.J. Jourian talks about models of campus collaboration for justice, the growing critical mass of transgender scholars who are creating their own agenda and scholarship. He reminds us that “the gender expansive world is a given” and we all need to step up and into the challenges this brings to mainstream pedagogy and curriculum.
One of the items in my “Classroom Agreements” (or ground rules) in every class I teach is: “We will allow each other to make mistakes.” T.J. urges us to take risks, make mistakes, ask for help—but after we have done our homework (see your assignment below). For those of us committed to co-creating democratic spaces in our classes, transpedagogies are necessary, pushing the boundaries to new liberatory possibilities.
T.J. also offers a definition of leadership that is “leaderfull”, incorporating the voices of the masses on the margins. He leaves us with the question, based in reflexivity: “Who are your co-conspirators in the work? Are you a co-conspirator too?”
Follow T.J.’s blog at “Waking Up Tired: Not Your T*oken”: http://www.tjjourian.net/blog-waking-up-tired
For those who teach in K-12 and higher education: do you have classes/courses that do not include trans voices?
In Part 1 of our conversation with Dr. T.J. Jourian on transpedagogies, we discuss his mentors and influences, including activist Grace Lee Boggs (see his educator’s statement on his website: http://www.tjjourian.net/ )
In this conversation with Dr. T.J. Jourian, we discuss the emerging field of transpedagogies. Jourian has a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Loyola University Chicago (2017) with a dissertation entitled, “My Masculinity Is a Little Love Poem to Myself”: Trans*masculine College Students’ Conceptualizations of Masculinity.” T.J. is also the co-creator of the Journal of Critical Scholarship on Higher Education and Student Affairs. He has written extensively in intersectional teaching and justice-centered curriculum and pedagogy.
On his website T.J. offers a definition: “Trans*formational pedagogy foregrounds trans people in achieving the democratic and emancipatory principles of higher education.” Trans* is a method, based in constructivist educational theory, to expose binary thinking and imagine a new dynamic model in gender and sexuality studies. Transpedagogies go beyond mimesis—the mirroring of heteronormativity—to explore the evolving nature of sexual orientation and gender identity. T.J. describes a justice-centered approach to curriculum and pedagogy that all teachers/faculty need to study and incorporate.
T.J. talks about “artivism”—creative activism, the silo-ing of student affairs staff and faculty and ways to cross that divide, and how faculty can address their own excuses for trans-exclusion in their syllabi, aka, the “there is no room” excuse—and setting new, more inclusive priorities in whatever discipline. It’s important to learn to be vulnerable about possibly messing up (and many of us will mess up), and to have students construct learning with us. How do we include pronouns but also move into deeper, structural issues?
In this 12 minute bonus segment Arizbeth and Rafael respond to The New Yorker article by Jonathan Blitzer from May 22, 2017: “An Underground College for Undocumented Immigrants.” Rafael ends the segment with his poem, “The Monarch Martyr.” In this photo you see Freedom U. students at a University of Georgia class right before their arrest. The butterfly wings idea originated from artist activist David Solnit, a puppeteer who has used his art in social movements for over thirty years (e.g. the World Trade Protests in Seattle in 1999). He uses art in protest and revolution, and the Freedom U. students adapted his creative strategy for their courageous acts of resistance.
How to support Freedom University Georgia? Donations to this grassroots sanctuary movement go a long way to making their dreams of educational equality a reality. Professors volunteer, but funds are needed for classroom space, books, college tours, and pizzas. If you live in metro Atlanta, there are volunteer opportunities, such as being a driver. If you are connected with a college or university, make sure you have policies to support and provide opportunities for students like the ones on this podcast. Check out their website [www.freedomuniversitygeorgia.com/donate] and Facebook page [Freedom U. Georgia] for current updates and connections. Nothing Never Happens will keep in touch with these new friends and will post updates too.
In this bonus segment Freedom University Georgia students show us how the use of the arts informs and propels their movement toward educational equality. They give us insights into their journey across borders.
They share nine poems with us:
“Sandman,” “The Life of a Crayon,” and “Maybe” — Mileidi Salinas
“A Monster” –Arizbeth Sanchez
“Engines of the Wild, Wild West” — Rafael Aragon
“Nameful” — Arizbeth
“El Señor de los Salmos” — Rafael
link to the translation
“Letter to My Younger Self” — Arizbeth
“Astronomy” — Rafael
In Part 2 our guests from Freedom University Georgia (FUGA) talk about their definition of leadership–from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ model of “we are all leaders”–through students as “co-conspirators” in their educational experience. Their questioning of the master narrative of current U.S. immigration policy has led them to collective action, with the Georgia Board of Regents and the state legislature. For all the leaders in FUGA, the university is practice for a better world.
As they have found their voices, the media often revises or erases their voices. FUGA speaks truth to power, and those outside can never fully understand the context. In addition, the idea of a democratic classroom is open to sabotage, for those beholden (whether they acknowledge it or not) to the master narrative of traditional banking education (in its various forms) have to find a fatal flaw in the utopian experiment, even if they have to invent a flaw.
It is my hope that this podcast provides some space for these voices to be more fully heard, and the butterflies to soar (see Part 4 for more on butterflies!).
Freedom University Georgia (FUGA) is “a modern-day freedom school based in Atlanta.” They meet the needs of undocumented students who are denied access to Georgia’s top public universities and to in-state tuition. FUGA offers college-level classes, SAT prep classes, and leadership training. The director and student leaders of FUGA, Mileidi Salinas, Dr. Laura Emiko Soltis, Arizbeth Sanchez, and Rafael Aragon, met with me for a conversation on June 16, 2017. We discussed their work as learners who share the roles of teachers and students in the work of living into Article 26 of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (December 10, 1948):
1. Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
2. Education shall be directed to the full development of the human
personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and
fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
3. Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Note that this article says “everyone” not “citizens.” The students of FUGA are undocumented because of a broken and unjust immigration system. They are part of “everyone.”
Human rights are universal, inalienable, and indivisible and interdependent. FUGA takes an activist stance to hold the state of Georgia accountable, while they call out the state legislature and the Board of Regents of the university system as human rights abusers.
In their document, “A New Appeal for Human Rights” (May 16, 2017), members of FUGA respond to the Georgia state legislature’s passing of HB 37, the nation’s first “Anti-Sanctuary Campus Bill.” Along with the right to education, they address the rights of non-discrimination, housing, voting, religious freedom, workers’ rights, and healthcare. This document, available on their website, provides the most current context of undocumented students in Georgia, and highlights the urgency of democratic education in the midst of many roadblocks.
In this podcast in Parts 1 and 2 they talk about shared power and speaking truth to power, leadership (especially when faced with the consistent attempts to erase their voices), movement building and strategy setting, non-violent direct action and civil disobedience, along with subsequent arrests. And they respond to a recent (May 22, 2017) article by Jonathan Blitzer in The New Yorker in Part 2 in a bonus track. In another bonus track, Arizbeth, Rafael and Mileidi graciously share their poetry with us. The students in Freedom University are taking risks, modeling liberatory education, connecting to other struggles through coalition building, and facing the impossible possibilities with wisdom and courage.
Cultural Agents at Harvard University
In Part 2 of our conversation Vialla Hartfield-Mendez and Doris Sommer takes us further on some wonderful creative tangents on generative learning and democratic education. They discuss the (re)use of art as a vehicle for getting “unstuck” in imagining just societies, and the practice of Augusto Boal’s theatre of the oppressed as a way of embodied learning. The pronouncement of the death of the humanities is not only premature, it has served as an impetus for rethinking students and teachers as cultural agents for creative change. The changes to classrooms, through the examples they discuss from k-12 to higher education, are inspiring.
Pre-Texts is an expansion of critical pedagogy using the arts to create democratic discourses and connections between university and the world for social transformation. Pre-Texts is part of Cultural Agents (culturalagents.org) at Harvard University: “arts and humanities in civic engagement.” Pre-Texts is an approach to the humanities and to social change, grounded in student-centered learning. The handmade books from recycled material (Cartonera) in Latin America, and the art activism of Antonus Mockus, former mayor of Bogata, are two example of art in the world.
Doris Sommer, Ira and Jewell Williams jr. Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and Vialla Harfield-Mendez, in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, and Professor of Pedagogy at Emory University, joined me in a conversation on May 24, 2017 at Emory. They talk about Pre-Texts origins and evolution, the train-the-trainer pedagogy sessions, and the re-imagining of the humanities in the world. The tangents they follow provide examples of new ways of defining leadership, learning, and innovative change practices.
The foundational sources by Doris Sommer include her edited book, Cultural Agency in the Americas (Duke University Press, 2006) and The Work of Art in the World: Civic Agency and Public Humanities (Duke, 2014).