Throughout my upbringing, I was taught to recognise injustice and to always speak up for myself and for others. I was also shown the transformative roles played by ordinary people, of educators and students, as well as the paradoxical role educational institutions played in both suppressing and organising for revolution.
‘Black as the richest sand, I am Sandra Bland […] Wherein one of my sisters is murdered, two learn and become leaders!’ – ASHES the Chosen
It is my belief that a learning experience is deliberate, moral and leads to the open-mindedness to consider a plurality of opinions and respect for others. Originating from a country where, traditionally, homophobia, racism, sexism, religion and patriotism have been inseparable, unalienable rights matter; a place where Black, Indigenous and People of Colour have been displaced, erased, discredited and controlled in academia in favour of more ‘palatable’ educators and curriculum, representation and visibility, are vital. Kyriarchy (Shussler Fiorenza, 2001)is everything I work to combat. My beliefs about teaching align to what would be classed as “liberal education” (Pring, 2001). I grew up learning about the civil rights movement which promoted the idea of and desire to improve educational outcomes for people who have, historically, been denied equal rights and equal opportunities to thrive (Edley, 2002).
I perceive the pursuit of education and the act of scholarly teaching as inherently political, and decisions to avoid discussing ‘controversial’ issues out of fear of appearing political or partisan erases the voices of those affected by such issues. Thus, I advocate for teaching practices that require a move beyond performativity toward praxis (Freire, 1970; 1993) – action, reflection and transformation.
Niggers always goin’ through bullshit change
But when it comes for real change,
Niggers are scared of revolution
Niggers are actors, niggers are actors – The Last Poets
I envision education’s role as two-fold: utility and culture (King, 1947). I firmly believe that if race, gender, class, ability and sexual orientation are barriers to academic access and opportunity, the dream has not been achieved.
‘When the revolution comes, I hope pearly white teeth fall out of the mouths that speak of revolution without reverence’ – The Last Poets
I believe that prioritising the development of teacher-student relationships over performativity in online environments is the critical rebellion of neoliberalism in praxis. The experiences in my learning environment strive for learners to feel empowered and respected. My teaching philosophy is that of social reconstructionism (Dewey, 1997). As a reconstructionist educator, I focus on a curriculum that highlights social reform as the aim of education. Critical pedagogy is an essential characteristic of my engaged pedagogy (hooks, 1994)and activism. Critical pedagogy is a blanket term for pedagogies underpinned by critical theory. I believe education can only act as the great social equaliser if all students are engaged and supported to reach their personal, academic and professional objectives.