Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Love, Love, Love: Part 2

Today, we continue with our second installment on Love. See part one here.

To continue exploring the relationship between radical love and arts education/applied theatre, let's take a closer look at radical love from Freire's perspective.

Freire (1998) overtly refers to teaching as an act of love and claims that teaching is impossible without a “well-thought-out capacity to love” (p.3).

Freire’s philosophy of education contends that education must contain horizontal dialogical relationships, in which the dialogue is rooted in love for the world and for people (Freire, 2000; McClaren, 1999). Within this dialogical concept, the self is opened up to the other (McClaren, 1999). Freire (2000) warns, “Dialogue cannot exist, however, in the absence of a profound love for the world and for people. The naming of the world, which is an act of creation and re-creation, is not possible if it is not infused with love. Love is at the same time the foundation of dialogue and dialogue itself” (p. 89-90). Without love, true dialogue is impossible. Freire (2000) offers, “Because love is an act of courage, not of fear, love is commitment to others. No matter where the oppressed are found, the act of love is commitment to their cause—the cause of liberation. And this commitment, because it is loving, is dialogical” (p. 89). Commitment to others (rather than a fashionable social cause or issue) is the foundation of liberation; acts of courage, change, and dialogue are all acts of love.

Kincheloe (2004) describes this concept as “radical love” (p. 3), commenting, “Such a love is compassionate, erotic, creative, sensual, and informed. Critical pedagogy uses it to increase our capacity to love, to bring the power of love to our everyday lives and social institutions, and to rethink reason in a humane and interconnected manner” (p. 3). Revolutionary or radical love must liberate; it is struggle, and encourages and fuels more struggle (McClaren, 1999).

Antonia Darder (2002) reflects on Freire’s use of the word love. She argues that Freire’s love challenges the restrictive fear of freedom that is present in so many of us; it is characterized by vulnerability and struggle (p. 499). McLaren (1999) posits that “authentic love opens up the self to the Other” (p. 171). With this opening up of the self comes solidarity and struggle for liberation.

Freire (2000) offers that, “[a]s individuals or as peoples, by fighting for the restoration of the humanity they will be attempting the restoration of true generosity….. And this fight, because of the purpose given it by the oppressed, will actually constitute an act of love opposing the lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressors’ violence” (p. 45). McLaren (1999) also mentions the political and active nature of Freire’s vision of love: “a love for humankind that remains disconnected from a liberatory politics does a profound disservice to its object” (p. 171). Love is connected to that which is political and that which is active.

Consequently, in opposition to love and dialogue, lies oppression. “Sadistic love is a perverted love—a love of death, not of life. One of the characteristics of the oppressor consciousness and its necrophilic view of the world is thus sadism. As the oppressor consciousness, in order to dominate, tries to deter the drive to search, the restlessness, and the creative power which characterize life, it kills life” (Freire, 2000, p. 59-60). Oppression stifles dialogue, creativity, and the ability to name the world.

It appears that love, from Freire’s perspective includes a specific open relationship to the other, as well as actions that seek freedom and liberation through intense struggle. According to McLaren (1999), “revolutionary love is always pointed in the direction of commitment and fidelity to a global project of emancipation” (p. 171). Love is not simply feeling, it is action.

Graphics + Theory = Fun

I've recently acquired a couple Introducing Books. Basically, they're graphic guides to pretty heavy subjects. Great for introducing a topic or looking for a little refresher! I've got Critical Theory and Foucault. (Also, they make great gifts!)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Little Kids, Big Hearts & Minds

Using Their Words features social justice projects from elementary school classrooms. Hurrah!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Love, Love, Love: Part 1

I've been working on research surrounding Paulo Freire's concept of radical love in relation to teaching. I presented a bit of this at the AATE Conference last week. Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share some short installments of the research (a work in progress.)
“It is impossible to teach without the courage to try a thousand times before giving up. In short, it is impossible to teach without a forged, invented, and well-thought-out capacity to love. (Freire, 1998, p.3)
If you’d have told me two years ago that I’d be writing a research paper on love, I might have laughed. And while I still consider it amusing to ponder the subject, I find it important, difficult, intriguing, and critical to discover what love means in my own practice as a teaching artist—if it means anything at all.

Paulo Freire’s writings, philosophy, and practice have deeply influenced my pedagogy and practice as a drama educator. Peter McClaren (2000) maintains that Freire’s “unshamed stress on the power of love” (p. 171) makes him unique among other progressive and leftist educators. Freire (1998) argues, “It is impossible to teach without the courage to try a thousand times before giving up. In short, it is impossible to teach without a forged, invented, and well-thought-out capacity to love" (p. 3). But what is a thoughtful capacity to love? What does Freire mean? How does love relate to my own pedagogy?

In A Natural History of Love, Diane Ackerman maintains:
As a society, we are embarrassed by love. We treat it as if it were an obscenity. We reluctantly admit to it. Even saying the word makes us stumble and blush. Why should we be ashamed of an emotion so beautiful and natural? Love is the most important thing in our lives, a passion for which we would fight or die, and yet, we’re reluctant to linger over its name. Without a supple vocabulary, we can’t even talk or think about it directly. On the other hand, we have many sharp verbs for the ways in which human beings can hurt one another…. Our vocabulary of love and lovemaking is so paltry that a poet has to choose among clich├ęs…. Fortunately, this has led to some richly imagined works of art. It has inspired poets to create their own private vocabularies. (p. xix)
How appropriate is it that we, as teaching artists, theatre practitioners, actors, and educators explore and create our own vocabulary of love? Or are we too, ashamed of something that appears to be too gushy, silly, or emotional?

“Whoever sets out to write about love is taking the biggest risk of his or her life.” (Isn’t it Romantic, 2004, p. 17). I write this paper is because I want to know what love means for Freire, other educators, and me. Perhaps my exploration of my own definition of love will help you to agree, disagree, and ponder the meaning and concept of love within your own educational practice.

Up next: Freire’s concept of radical love and the roots of applied theatre.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Contribute a Verse

O Me! O Life!

by Walt Whitman

O Me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring;
Of the endless trains of the faithless—of cities fill’d with the foolish;
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light—of the objects mean—of the struggle ever renew’d;
Of the poor results of all—of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me;
Of the empty and useless years of the rest—with the rest me intertwined;
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?


That you are here—that life exists, and identity;
That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Have you checked out...

Entrepreneur the Arts?

Conferencing in Times Square

Spent the weekend at the AATE/ATHE Risking Innovation conference at the Marriot. Met some great folks, like Michael Wiggins of the ATA Blog, and attended some fun and provocative workshops from The New Victory and Creative Arts Team, to name a few. Plan to jot down some of my notes down here soon.

Also, gearing up to begin teaching "for real" this fall... teaching artist turns elementary special education teacher. Making the leap, but still blogging arts in ed, just with a new perspective.

Check this out:
Rethinking Schools Resources on Rethinking Early Childhood Education

By the way, if the Obama's choose this education for their girls, shouldn't everyone have the opportunity to have a holistic education?

Friday, August 7, 2009

EdLib features Resources from Free Minds Free People Conference

Greetings! This month’s lab report features curriculum materials from the amazing Free Minds, Free People conference that took place in Houston in June. You can learn more about the conference by visiting www.freemindsfreepeople.org. This report also includes a collection of resources for teaching about Hurricane Katrina. Many thanks to those who contributed the items listed in this report. We hope network members will continue to enrich this important social justice education tool by posting their own teaching materials.
the lab report is a monthly update of curriculum materials posted to the EdLib Lab, the network's online database of social justice teaching materials. To join this community of educators, sign up here for the Education for Liberation Network listserv.

Using Their Words by Social Justice Critical Inquiry Project

Using their Words showcases social justice education projects in elementary school classrooms. All the units housed on this site: -were designed and implemented by elementary school teachers and student teachers focus on social justice issues such as racism, gentrification, fairness, child labor etc. -help students ask difficult questions about the world -are designed to engage children in social action to change the conditions of their worlds -have been integrated with standards or mandated curricular programs. (Free Minds, Free People workshop: Catch us if You Can)
Grade Levels: Elementary
Cost: No

A Katrina Reader: Readings by & for Anti-Racist Educators and Organizers by a team of white anti-racist solidarity activists

A collection of close to 700 articles, reports, and resources, organized thematically, that attempts to document the history of racism and resistance on the Gulf Coast. An effort is made to highlight the voices of grassroots organizers speaking about their own struggles.
Grade Levels: High
Cost: No

Why Did This Happen? by Susan Wilcox, Ed.D. at The Brotherhood/Sister Sol

The NEW curriculum from The Brotherhood/Sister Sol for helping young people engage in critical inquiry, develop a love of learning, and transform their lives. (Free Minds, Free People workshop: Sister Museum)
Grade Levels: Teacher Training Material
Cost: Yes

Fences by Abby Ashford-Grooms at Austin Social Justice Teacher Inquiry Group

This is an outline of an approach to teaching Fences by August Wilson. Teachers will see the kinds of questions and inquiry that lead students to think about their own fences, those that keep us out and those that keep us in. This unit is part of a larger group of lesson plans under the category "BorderLands" by the Austin Social Justice Teacher Inquiry Group. (Free Minds, Free People workshop: BorderLands)
Grade Levels: High
Cost: No

Writers Corp Resources

From WritersCorps in San Francisco
Anthologies, Lesson Plans, and Resources

Jump Write In!
Days I Moved Through Ordinary Sounds

Jump Write In! is a collection of lesson plans created by WritersCorps
Teaching Artists. It was published by Josey-Bass. Summary about the
book (on the sidebar to the right), including the TOC: http://www.sfartscommission.org/WC/for-teachers/

There are also some of the exercises on the site for people to use.
It's in the Teaching Tools section of our site http://www.sfartscommission.org/WC/
The lessons are sortable by topic. There are a just few up right
now, but a lot more will be added.

Days I Moved is an anthology of fiction, poetry and memoir by Teaching
Artists who have served in WritersCorps. Each writer shares a brief
memoir about their time as teaching artists, as well as their own
creative work.

Summary about the book: http://www.sfartscommission.org/WC/events/days-i-moved/

Authors who are in the book: http://www.sfartscommission.org/WC/events/the-authors-of-days-i-moved/

The student work section of the site features poems and photos by
students, also sortable by category, or the cloud tag on the right: http://www.sfartscommission.org/WC/student-work/