A teacher once told me that what makes a teacher great is being able to salvage the greatest lesson plan they have ever written after a fire drill.
Not so sure that I am great but I am working on it. Today in class I had this really great intention of talking about postmodernism so that we can next week discuss contemporary art in the context of postmodernism. To do this I borrowed and created and I really think I put together a good lesson.
My agenda was:
- Assign the final essay ( A reflection paper on the semester)
- Introduce Post Modernism ( As a set of ideas, a changing theory, and also to focus onto he aspects of identity formation and adaptation as well as isolationism versus community and understanding ones past through multiple lenses)
- Imagined History (As a group we created a few imagined histories for random objects brought from home. We based these stories off of known information ie its a keychain, visual clues ie tag from China, broken compass, and whatever we could make up ie used to store drugs, a secret code to smuggle people into the country)
- Bio Poems - Thanks Sue and the I AM Culture Project! (Since Post Modernism is about identity this short poem asks students to think about how they identify themselves beyond what can be seen)
- Chicano Park (In response to the recent popularity in the media on the subject of Latino workers and fair wages, show images from Chicano Park San Diego, CA and look at them as images of Latinos, by Latinos, for Latinos as well as showing a history through the lens of civil disobedience)
The essay was well received (probably because it is not a research paper). The Imagined History activity went really well. They were creative and active and responsive to how this connected to an actual theory. It was suggested to me that I play slow sad music while working on the Bio Poems and we should all click instead of clap for each other :) However they did get into the poems and will be working with them again to create their final art work. They also appreciated that I let them read mine later.
When it came time to look at slides I showed the first image which in large white letters on the side of a freeway post says Varrios Si, Yonkes No! I explained that this had to do with the land struggle in this area. One student, who asks really great questions, asked if this wasn't reverse discrimination? At which another student stated that if that sign were reversed in her neighborhood it would be racist! This set off other students to suggest that no sign was needed because white people did not have to fight for their land. One student asked if we could go back to the pictures but that person was out voted by a louder member who said no I like this topic and so it went. We did talk about some really great things in an almost all white space. The issue of whiteness actually came up from the students! My slide show was toast and there was no nice wrap up at the end, we simply ran out of time.
I know this was great! Self directed talk of critical issues that we discovered in art work! It is like a critical pedagogy dream. Where can we go next? The possibilities are endless, Critical Pedagogy has triumphed. Oh wait, next week is the last week, and we have one more required chapter to cover. Ok dream interrupted by reality.
It will still work. We can cover contemporary art that is better then the crap in the book and be critical, super fun! But it won't be led by the students! I guess that's another possible page in my possible book, learning to keep up the small baby steps. This class is a stepping stone, a place to begin, hopefully for them the conversation will not end completely once they leave this class!