Monday, September 22, 2014

Day 21: Hobbies or Interests

The Reflective Teaching Blogging Challenge is nearing its end, and I'm sad for this! I love making the time for this and seeing what my colleagues are sharing. What a great idea exchange!

Today I'm asked to discuss what hobbies or interests I bring into the classroom. Aside from occasionally mentioning that I did yoga or a movie I saw, or admitting that I have played WoW and The Sims, I don't talk much about my hobbies. (I did, however, take a few moments to describe a scene from The Sopranos in which Steve Buscemi's character has a "liminal moment"--long story as to why I was sharing that concept with students--when he is deciding between staying "clean" after his time in prison or getting back into the life of organized crime. Does that count? :-)

But I realize my interests definitely filter into the class and what I decide we'll be studying. In one course we look at Edward Said's concept of Orientalism, and to illustrate the way an "other" is constructed, we take a look at a conversation between Judith Butler and Sunaura Taylor on disability, a clip from the film The Examined Life.

One of the theoretical veins I'd jump into feet first were I still in grad school would be disability studies. Thanks to a rockin' colleague, since graduating I've just been able to get my feet wet in this field. I've come to see that of all the "isms," ableism is one of the least visible. (Case in point: A professor at our college who has made a wonderful collection of mandatory-viewing videos for her students to supplement the lecture. I asked if she'd be willing to participate in a free captioning program in our campus effort to make sure the videos we show our students are ADA compliant. She said no, multiple times, asking in all sincerity why auto-captions aren't enough.)

The same lack of awareness is everywhere. I just watched a wonderful play in a very gay-friendly theater here in San Diego. The play brought up issues of class, women's rights, white privilege, and marriage equality, and the actors were incredible. But in this otherwise liberatory play, one of the characters shouts that the other looks like a "retarded leprechaun." Seriously?

Anyway, I think the Butler/Taylor conversation is kind of a mind-blower for students, as it was for me. They easily see how race or gender is used to manipulate people into positions of submission, but expectations for what bodies are and how they function?  The question is, "What can a body do, not what should a body do?" That's some brand-new thinkin' for these guys.

I tell them I'm interested in this field, that I have only dipped my toe in the water. I've been inculcated with all kinds of bias, ableism just one of them. But we've got to be fearless and be willing to lead the students through big topics, right? That's what they're already experiencing in their educational path.

I guess that's an interest I share with students!

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