You Say You Want a Revolution? Okay, But It Won’t Happen Overnight
Thursday, December 24, 2020
bell hooks proposes a revolution. She advocates a reassessment of values to revivify a corrupt and dying academy. This revolution would transform how we view interactions between methodologies, content, and teacher/student relationships. It would renew the minds of professors and, thus, of educational institutions.
She calls the struggle protracted. This revolution would need patience and vigilance. The same patience and vigilance that the civil rights and feminist movements needed. In other words, it won’t happen overnight. At the same time, she discusses the antagonism that would go with the process. She quotes Peter McLaren, who, in an interview, said:
When we try to make culture an undisturbed space of harmony and agreement where social relations exist within cultural forms of uninterrupted accords we subscribe to a form of social amnesia in which we forget that all knowledge is forged in histories that are played out in the field of social antagonisms.
I’m not sure how social antagonisms would play out in my online classroom, much less the form they would take. Couple that with previous mentions of disruptions. That’s how I’d define my biggest challenge in this revolution of values: How to deal with change? hooks anticipated my concern. Most professors lacked strategies to deal with antagonisms in the classroom. Once I define the words antagonisms and disruptions, I’ll be better equipped to address the issue.
She raised a tangential issue in “A Revolution of Values'' that interested me. The relationship between people and technology. She quotes Martin Luther King (bold face mine):
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
Why is that highlight significant? Digital platforms and productivity apps could overrun the practice of teaching. We don’t need to adapt to computers; we need to adapt computers to us. Blackboard is a tool, an extension of our pedagogy. It must serve our needs.
Five years ago, I set up my online introduction to art class. My goal was to replicate the academic and personal engagement I encouraged in my F2F classes. This was long before the pandemic events of Spring 2020, during an era I call B.C., before Coronavirus. (I’ll call the post- quarantine era A.D, after distancing.) N.B. In my case, I’ll continue to teach online once the quarantine ends.
Engagement motivated and guided the transition from F2F to online. Blackboard limitations? How to encourage and sustain the three-sided conversations (trialogues?) with students, material, and myself? I created workarounds. I would reject anything that would compromise what I wanted to do.
It’s a work in progress. It will take time. A lot of time. Things change. We’re now using the Ultra version of Blackboard. What impact will that have? The process is will take time. As hooks wrote in another context, it will need patience and vigilance. Mini success, mini solutions, relentless forward progress. Not so much a quantum leap but an evolving paradigm shift.
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