Posts Tagged ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’

Hello, all. If you see this, you are either visiting this blog or are a Piedmont High School teacher seeing it at a staff meeting that you happen to be sitting in right now.

At this very moment.

Yes, I planned that.  (:

Anyway. Today I was going to give a link to Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere so you could read it; I was thinking upon it further and really see it as something any teacher should read. And any student, but realistically, that won’t happen. It turns out that I cannot do that due to copyright infringement so instead, I thought I’d link you to a final blog post by an Egyptian revolutionary before Mubarak shut his blog down. Not quite as relevant, but definitely as interesting (:


Now, for the title- and yes, it is relevant. I consider myself to be a rather good student; one thing I apparently cannot do, however, is manage to be successful at Calculus. I have wrestled with it, argued with myself, beat myself down, even cried in school because- for a while- I took my failure at one class as a larger encompassing of my failure as a person. This was my view for such a long time- if I fail at one thing, I fail at everything. I have come to a solution, however, that debunks that personal “myth.”

I thought about it and realized that the reason I am unable to succeed in Calculus- because I really do try- is that it is so black-and-white. There is either a wrong answer, or a right answer. In English and history and languages there is no black or white; instead, there exists a gray region- so large and immense and full of freedom- that I have room to be wrong. I have the ability to argue and to defend, to make sense where there might be none.

In Calculus we have a tool called “integration.” When you integrate between two numbers you are essentially finding the area between them, adding up millions of infinitesimally small lines that make a greater whole. The difference, I realized, is this- if I integrate between two and four, there is one answer, correct to the third decimal place.

But say I wanted to integrate from 500 to 1500, on the “graph” of history. I would be finding the “area” of time; each infinitesimally small period of time- for the purpose of this exercise, let’s allot a minute- added together to make a whole. But the answer wouldn’t be just 1000 years, ten centuries. The answer could be the Dark Ages; the Fall of Rome; the emergence of Britain and France as tangible ethnic groups as they broke from Rome; the rise of the Catholic Church; the split of the Byzantine Empire and the Roman Empire and thus the emergence of Catholicism versus Eastern Orthodox; the attempts of Justinian the Great to create a new Empire; the closing off of Russia from Europe; the start of the Age of Exploration. I could argue any of these answers and they would be correct. It wouldn’t just be 1000 years, ten centuries. It would be all of that and more.

So maybe that’s why I’m not good at Calculus. It is so hard- so absolutely difficult- for me to accept that there is one answer. One formula, one letter allotted to one number to one formula to one single, jailed, iron-clad answer. Make your own connections to Pennies for Peace and education in Pakistan. I’m absolutely sure that there is more than one way to do so :)


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Hello, again!

Okay- so there’s been a rather long gap since my last posting and now, but nothing has really happened. No one ever got back to me about those presentations that I talked about earlier, and then I became part of a local musical that had me practicing until at least eight or nine at night every day. But, I have been asked to present at my school’s faculty meeting this coming Wednesday, and that is most definitely a concrete plan of action, something tangible I can plan for and look forward to.

You see, in my county we have what are called Global Initiatives. Our schools are graded on exactly how many global points we acquire- a certain number of points for the percentage of students that have traveled, for the percentage that speak a foreign language fluently, for this event or that event or this global awareness program or that. Last year, for example, our students put on an “International Fair,” where we pretty much went around and learned about the countries of the world and got cute little flags.

Obviously, doing Pennies for Peace would garner our school a great number of points. But hey- here’s to hoping that the school cares more about the points, no? Actually, I’m pretty sure they could put me in charge of globalizing the school and it would work pretty well…

just kidding.

But, now, for storytime! Today at lunch I was talking about how excited I was that Adam Lambert was performing on American Idol this coming Thursday (for those of you who don’t know, he’s kind of my guilty pleasure.) Before I had even finished saying that statement, the guy beside me looks up and says, “He’s the gay one, right?” Well, yes. But it’s because he’s a good singer, and that’s what matters, I replied. And of course- what with me living in a rural area in the South- an argument about religion and rights of gays and lesbians and whatnot ensued. What matters, however, is how the conversation ended.

He looked at me and said, as the bell rang and we stood up to throw our trays away, “I’m sorry, but I was just raised to be intolerant.” I don’t get mad easily, but that really did make me quite angry. The fact that he knew it- he KNEW he had been raised to be intolerant, was consciously aware of it- and he wasn’t doing anything about it. The fact that he didn’t care enough to think, “Oh, is being intolerant wrong, or right? Why?” The fact that he simply took what he had been taught and accepted it without question.

I remember at a scholarship interview a few weekends ago we had to read an article written by Paulo Friere entitled, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. In the article, he talks about the “banking” method of education- how students are bank deposit boxes and are simply being filled with knowledge, without critically analyzing why it is so. This kid at lunch reminded me of that. (Plus it is a MAGNIFICENT read, and worth the time and effort involved, at the very least.)

I think Pennies for Peace would be a great asset to our school, if only to show the kids that are “raised to be intolerant” that tolerance is often the best option.

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