Monday, July 7, 2014

Back to School

Today was our first day of class. Class begins at 9 a.m. every morning. It is held on the second floor of the McNeil Building, which is just across the street from our dorm. Our professor, Andy, started class by having us write a word, phrase or question related to social justice on the board at the front of the room. Then he had us analyze the teaching paradigm that is supported by a traditional classroom setting and we had a brief discussion of the violence inherent in the "banking model of education," wherein a teacher, who is assumed to have all the knowledge lectures at students who assume the role of supplicant. Afterwards, we moved all the desks to the corners of the room and sat in a circle on the floor and a guest speaker, Reverend Doctor John Gilmore led the class in a Qigong exercise. Then we listen to another guest speaker, Tina Fragoso, who spoke to us about the history and land rights of the Lenape tribe. Tina's speech about the Lenape's history and struggle for recognition was incredibly thought-provoking. One of the idea's from the speech, about how acknowledging the history and previous ownership of a place changes the power dynamics was interesting to me because it made me think about how symbolic actions have significance in our lives.

After listening to our guest speakers, we watched and analyzed clips from a variety of films ranging from Monty Python to stand-up comedy. Of all the clips, my favorite was one about oppression of women in the Ballet industry. We also talked about what justice meant to us as individuals and Andy led a discussion about how every social justice movement contains contradictions or flaws. In my opinion, the idea that every movement contains contradictions is one of the most fascinating and important concepts to apply to any justice-seeking movement in order to analyze it critically. In any movement or organization it is necessary to ask "whose voice is missing from this discussion,?" but when we are working towards social justice we must also strive to consider what the future will look like in order to create lasting change that benefits future generations as well.
Our reading material so far.

After lunch, we broke into smaller groups for discussion sessions. In my discussion group we shared our thoughts about the the reading material on the Peasants' Revolt of 1381 and Candide. We also bought the books we will be reading for the class, the first of which is to be finished by Thursday. As Other Julia remarked, "there is nothing like an untouched, recently opened book." In short, today was fantastic, and I have high hopes for tomorrow and the rest of the class.

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