Monday, May 17, 2010

Pedagogy a-go-go

Linda Chavez an "ex-liberal"had an article in the Dallas Morning News today called "Lets focus on U.S. history, not ethnic studies."  One of these days I will get to spend time discussing the issue brought up, but no.....instead I need to focus on the information she uses to defend her position.

Ms. Chavez states that the Tucson Unified School Districts ethnic studies course identifies some of the goals as: 
Advocating for and providing curriculum that is centered within the pursuit of social justice. ... Working towards the invoking of a critical consciousness within each and every student. ... Providing and promoting teacher education that is centered within Critical Pedagogy, Latino Critical Race Pedagogy and Authentic Caring.
Now I am going to assume that this is what it actually states, because even if it did not, my point would still be the same. Ms Chavez writes:
The idea of the public schools promoting "race pedagogy" of any sort should send shivers down the spine[.]
Apparently, like me, Ms. Chavez has no clue what "pedagogy" means.  Unlike her, I am willing to admit my ignorance and look it up.  Now there are a number of definitions that all lead to the same meaning.  You can see them all here.  The one I will settle on is this:
Pedagogy is the art and science of how something is taught and how students learn it. Pedagogy includes how the teaching occurs, the approach to teaching and learning, the way the content is delivered and what the students learn as a result of the process.
So, apparently the art and science of how Latino Critical Race is taught and how students learn it should make my spine tingle with angst.  Not exactly sure why an ethnic studies class that focuses on the Latino race is upsetting.  To me it's no different than studying geography and focusing on Japan.  (As an aside, I think the way the goals are worded is designed to sound academic at the expensive of being understandable, I mean what does 'Latino Critical' mean?  Be critical of Latinos or Latinos are critical.)

Now y'all know (all two of my readers) that I am critical of people that do not cite their work.  Because it becomes at best hearsay and at worst made up shit designed to move the point in a particular direction.  So when Ms Chavez writes:
According to a series in the Arizona Republic last year, videos posted online showed Tucson Chicano Studies classrooms decorated with "heroes" such as communist dictator Fidel Castro, Ernesto "Che" Guevara, the Argentine revolutionary who served in Castro's regime and ordered the deaths of thousands of innocent Cubans, and Pancho Villa, a common criminal whose escapades were more about enriching himself than freeing Mexico from one of its perennial dictators, Porfirio Diaz.
I am a bit skeptical.  So I went to the Arizona Republic's web site and put in the search box and found this
In one of Romero's TUSD classrooms, in fact, a video posted for a time on the Internet Web site YouTube showed at least four separate posters of the beret-capped Ché decorating the classroom walls. And a poster of Pancho Villa. And, yes, one poster of the godfather of the revolution himself, Fidel.
I cannot find the video mentioned on YouTube. Now I have no idea if these posters are there to promote these men as heroes or as part of a particular history lesson.  See, that's what is missing here, context.  Without the video all we have is the reporter's description - and you know how biased mainstream media is, I have no idea who to trust on this one.

Now I don't really have a lot to say about the merits of ethnic or gender studies programs.  They do seem a little patronizing, and I can understand the argument that they put in what is left out when traditional American history is taught.  Are the teachers leftest America-haters? Possibly, but it is also possible that they understand the value in what is being taught, that they understand Ché, Fidel Castro and  Pancho Villa are important figures in Latino history.  You know, similar to the Confederate flag and statues of Jefferson Davis that are still in place.

And that my good woman is what Pedagogy is all about.

No comments: