I’d like to preface this by saying that I love the phrase Paradigm Shift. It’s an incredible way to explain the changing of ones approach in a way that holds more weight. onto the readings.
I liked how bell hooks started this chapter by stating a very important fact that most of us do not think of. “Let’s face it: most of us were taught in classrooms where styles of teachings reflected the notion of a single norm of thought and experience, which we were encouraged to believe was universal” (hooks 35). Students are taught with this norm from day one, and educators are taught to teach it. From day one we are molded by this system so much that we grow accustomed to it. To break free of this system and create one that adopts multiple cultures you need a level of self-awareness. (it is my belief that to ever grow as a person, educator, professional etc. self awareness is necessary.) hooks mentions that its necessary to understand that no education is politically neutral. She also makes a comment that the choice to only teach works by old dead white guys (my phrasing not hers) is a political decision. (quick side note: I love the works of old dead white guys. Blake, Wordsworth, Lord Tennyson, etc. BUT I’m well aware that only having their perspectives blinds me to the plethora of writers and art that reside in the rest of the world. FIN of side note). This decision however is one that we are accustomed to seeing, but the lack of awareness is what makes it dangerous and alienating to multicultural students.
I want to highlight a very important part of this chapter, her mention of Toni Morrison. From the few books I’ve read of Morrison I cannot fathom the idea of not teaching or analyzing her work without ever making reference to race or ethnicity. It’s such an important part of her work that to deny or exclude it tokenizes her works, her life, her experience, her struggles.
Another very important part of this chapter I wish to highlight is when hooks writes:
Teaching in a traditional discipline from the perspective of critical pedagogy means that I often encounter students who make complaints like, ‘1 thought this was supposed to be an English class, why are we talking so much about feminism?” (Or, they might add, race or class.) In the transformed classroom there is often a much greater need to explain philosophy, strategy, intent than in the “norm” setting. I have found through the years that many of my students who bitch endlessly while they are taking my classes contact meHooks (42)
at a later date to talk about how much that experience meant to them, how much they learned
I wanted to mention this because I was one of these students. I once took a class on Romantic Era Literature in which the reading material was still written by old dead white guys however it was centered around slavery. Most don’t realize that the era of romanticism was at its height from 1800-1850…..and on 1865 the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery. In order to teach this era critically there is a greater need to explain the philosophy, strategy, intent of these writers in this time period. All of this to say that our self-awareness is crucial in creating a transformed classroom in which we can better teach multicultural students.
“Tutoring ESL Students: Issues & Options” by Muriel Harris and Tony Silva gave me flashbacks of last semester when taking Writing Pedagogies (A course I highly recommend to anyone specially educators and those wishing to be part administration). These flashbacks consist of the friendship I made with Edna. She is Columbian and has a good grasp of the English language. We became close last semester during class discussion when she would speak Spanish to me and I would respond either in Spanish or English. It was the first time I was able to express my thoughts and ideas in my mother tongue. Reminiscing aside, the quote “is the student’s lack of language proficiency in English keeping her from expressing a rich internal sense of what she wants to write about?” sent me into a spiral of wonder (Harris & Silva 528). Language barriers are one of the biggest challenges for educators today. I keep thinking about all my ESL teachers and the ways they taught me. It’s hard to recall since my brain felt as if it was being reprogrammed to the English language. BUT what I do remember is the size of the classroom. 3 students. Me, my sister and another kid whose name eludes me. I believe that the size of this class gave “individualized attention” to us. Perhaps that’s why I learned English so quickly, who’s to say.