This String Is Finally Broke

This weekend I had the opportunity to be a part of a concert/protest in Neligh, Nebraska against the Keystone XL pipeline. The event was put together by the organization Bold Nebraska and the Cowboys and Indians Alliance. The performers were Frank Waln, The Sampson Brothers, Willie Nelson, and Neil Young. As an occasional Democracy Now! viewer I am somewhat familiar with the bullying and power plays that TansCanada has perpetuated against Native American sovereignty and private property rights. Never did I know that the discussion had so many interpretations.

The performances were great and I will discuss them a little bit later. But first, I will attempt to deconstruct a statement made by a landowner that went something like this, “we need to fight this communist pipeline”. Why would this landowner who opposes the KXL refer to it as “communist” not “corporatist,” “fascist,” or “anti-democratic”? This has puzzled me and so I have decided to blog about it. I acknowledge that there is a generational trend for people who grew up during Cold War politics that demonizes State authority. So this has led me to think that the landowner was in fact referring to the pressure that TransCanada has put on the federal government—through lobbying and media control (Citizens United)—to violate private property rights and force the landowners (and Native Americans) to accept the KXL. So, if my assumption holds, who does the landowner think the “State” is? Is it corporations, elected officials, or the people? And what the hell is “communism”? It is my guess that immediacy has something to do with solemnly blaming the State for the possibility that private property rights could be infringed upon. What I mean is that the landowner has been threatened by the State and not immediately by TransCanada; although behind the scenes it is TransCanada, through unlimited undisclosed campaign contributions (legally sanctioned by Citizens United) that is pressuring the government (elected officials) to exert authoritative power via the State. So, immediately the landowner is concerned with the government and not TransCanada. This coupled with a very limited and narrow idea of what communism is may have been the reason why the landowner referred to the KXL as a “communist pipeline.”

    As superstars, Neil and Willie don’t get too vulnerable with their audiences. Frank Waln a Native American rapper performing with the Sampson Brothers (Native American hoop dancers) was by far the most exciting performer of the concert/protest. Waln is a young man who critically examines masculinity in his songs. Waln performed the song “my stone” to his mother on stage which brought much of the audience to tears. Here is a link to the performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux5KHQSy0CA

I want to close this reflection with a statement made by the president of the Rosebud Sioux Nation who also spoke. He said something to the likes of “when we come back here to stop this pipeline we are going to have our war paint on, we are not going to protest it, we are going to stop it”. 

"This land is your land" 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1HaSf4qiIyE

The link I have shared is a PBS NewsHour segment on Restorative Justice (RJ) education specifically as it pertains to the successes at Hinkley High School. Over the last year I have been working with RJ at several different junior high schools in Aurora, Colorado. My primary role in RJ has been to conduct and analyze focus groups with parents, students and teachers, to attend equity meetings with teachers and administrators, and to translate various tools and documents.

For this reflection I will draw from two different projects I am currently working on. The first is a teacher observation tool I did not create but have recently worked closely with; the second is an analysis of focus group interview conducted with teachers at an Aurora middle school. The teacher observation tool is designed to measure and sustain a culture of care in the classroom, as opposed to a culture of “zero tolerance”. The focus group analysis fits nicely with the practical and theoretical goals of the observation tool since it incorporates reflections from teachers themselves about their classroom dynamics.

Observation tool basics: observers are asked to observe each teacher being across 7 dimensions and write comments in the following areas: (a) descriptive - exactly what the observer sees and hears in the classroom, (b) interpretive – the observer’s concurrent thoughts and reflections about what is being observed, and (c) feedback – the content of the feedback given to the person being observed and their response.

The 7 dimensions are (and there is much more depth to these concepts): 1) In the classroom students are treated like: passive receptors or co-creators; 2) The focus in this classroom is on: rules and regulations or relationships and interactions; 3) In this classroom: the teacher was in control or power was shared; 4) In this classroom: teacher was solely responsible or responsibility was shared; 5) In this classroom: misbehavior was seen as disruptive to learning or wrong doing and conflict were seen as learning opportunities; 6) When discipline problems occurred: consequences were determined by someone other than the teacher or capacity of teachers and students was built up so that conflicts could be solved nonviolently; 7) In this class: punishment and retribution were seen as deterrents or healing the harm to relationships was the focus.

The tool goes in depth about each dimension and exactly what the prompt is implying. This tool is designed to foster and promote long term changes, as the tool can continued to be used even when RJ is no longer actively in the classrooms.

The other project I want to share (and i will go into how it relates to the OBS tool later) is the focus group with teachers conducted in April of 2014.

The first question is very general and states: what are some of the experiences of minority students at this middle school? immediately teachers begin to talk about the usage of the term “racism” in its various forms. When the interviewer asked the teacher making the initial comment what they thought the students meant by racism when they invoked in in relationship to unfair treatment, teachers unanimously dismissed it as a “catch all term” that is intended to get the kids off of the hook. I think that at this point of the interview a theme of totalizing ignorance upon the students emerges. What I mean by this is that teachers are quick to dismiss complaints of racism since it is so often used. However, as the teacher observation tool suggests, in co-creating the classroom environment, students ought to be given the space to justify their claims. Why are these situations being quickly dismissed and not seen as an opportunity to learn and begin a critical dialogue around race in a school at is predominantly Latin@ yet taught by mostly white instructors?

As the teachers continue discussing the significance of racism in their schools, they suggest that using racism as a scapegoat is perhaps an acquired trait learned and reinforced in their home environment. If this is the case, why are teachers so quick to dismiss claims that are situated in the lived experiences and relationships of the students?

Unfortunately this particular middle school did not approve of the final report and recommendations we submitted to them and so they dropped RJ at the beginning of this school year.

Equity in education and the dismantling of the prison to school pipeline must necessarily include a restructuring of systems and ideologies of power. The changes must be real, substantive, and enduring. I think that the PBS NewsHour special importantly highlights the transformative potential that RJ and Culture of Care have upon schools when fully embraced.

I recently read Ernest Morrell’s book Critical Literacy and Urban Youth Pedagogies of Access, Dissent, and Liberation, which is heavily influenced by the theories of Brasilian Philosopher Paulo Freire. Most of my undergraduate work centered around Freire’s theories of conscientização and praxis specifically though a disability studies framework. I found that reading Freire was challenging and rewarding in many respects.  As an undergraduate student reading Pedagogy of the Oppressed I quickly became friends with an old time enemy, the dictionary. I connected with my home in ways that historicized my presence in time and I became aware of my role as an active agent in reshaping reality. I was born and raised in Curitiba, Parana Brazil but my family is originally from Recife, Pernambuco Brazil where Paulo Freire is from. Guided by my nostalgia for lost origins as well as my curiosity I began to read every book I could find by Paulo Freire, books on Paulo Freire, books about Paulo Freire’s books, and so on.

I disagree with Morrell on several points related to and praxis but I will keep those thoughts incubated until class tomorrow. Okay, I will share a glimpse. Morrell states on page 39 “The Hegalian dialectic is notably referenced in the critical literacy theory of Paulo Freire, who argues that the dialectic process or reading the world and the world for member of marginalized or oppressed populations informs more sophisticated and empowering readings of both until a state of conscientização is reached…Another notable Freirian dialectic involves the tensions between theory and action that results in praxis”.  Consider the translators note on the widely circulated 30th anniversary edition of Pedagogy of the Oppressed which states, “The term conscientização refers to learning to perceive social, political, and economic contradictions and to take actions against the oppressive elements of reality” (p.35).  If the translator is interpreting conscientização correct, then conscientização is not an end goal as Morrell seems to suggest with the word “reached”. Furthermore, reading the world and reading the word is for Freire a critical epistemology (there is much more to say about this but it’s getting late and I have something else I really want to get to). Oh yeah, and so if conscientização requires action, it is intimately and intrinsically connected to praxis, which incorporated elements of action and reflection upon the world to change that world (Freire P.86). So I take it that it is more correct to speak of conscientização and praxis together and not as another Freirian dialectic.

Enough with the interpretation stuff which is all frivolous anyway. Morrell makes an excellent point when he states, “Those who have been able to use language, literacy, and pedagogy for tools of critique and resistance have always been considered as threats to the status quo” (31). Morrell did not go into how Paulo Freire was one of the first exiled from Brazil following a military dictatorship. So I took to researching—as any well-intentioned, highly caffeinated grad student should— and in what follows I disseminate my findings.

                On September of 1964 at the age of 43, Paulo Freire left for Bolivia but he did not stay there long (another military coup took place) and so Freire left for Santiago de Chile where he would live until 1969. Interestingly, Pedagogy of the Oppressed was written while Freire was in Chile and worked for the Chilean Institute for Agrarian Reform. After leaving Chile Paulo Freire took a teaching invitation at Harvard where he conducted classes based on his own reflections. Upon leaving Harvard, Freire went to Geneva where he would head the World Council of Churches until 1980 and get the chance to travel throughout the world (Australia, Cabo Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, and others) and learn while teaching. After 16 years of exile Paulo Freire returned so that he could “relearn Brazil”. In a letter to a friend Frei Betto Paulo Freire stated “For me, exile was profoundly pedagogical. While exiled I took distance from Brazil, I began to understand myself differently and to better understand Brazil”.

Below are the links of where I took this information from. I made all translations myself and take credit for any mistakes.

http://www2.fe.usp.br/~etnomat/homenagens-paulo-freire.shtml

http://www.feati.edu.br/revistaeletronica/downloads/numero3/resenhapedagogiaesperanca.pdf

http://www.projetomemoria.art.br/PauloFreire/biografia/05_biografia_exilio.html

itsmightyfunny:

Animal coalition.

itsmightyfunny:

Animal coalition.

miriamelizabethworld:

★ ✩ ✮Ernesto Guevara★ ✩ ✮

miriamelizabethworld:

★ ✩ ✮Ernesto Guevara★ ✩ ✮

letsgotohogsmeade:

Brasília, Brasil. 1978.

letsgotohogsmeade:

Brasília, Brasil. 1978.

heroezandvillainz:

magic & loss

?

?

Are you skanky?
cheguevara-si:

Che Guevara
You are at once
both
the quiet
and
the confusion
of my heart.
Franz Kafka, from Letters To Felice (via vvolare)
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