Select an item by clicking its checkbox
What excites me about teaching theology to the Z-generation is their unabated courage. Admittedly, their actions online and public voices could get them into some pickles at times, but they model for previous generations the need to be concerned about things that matter, eternal things that matter to God. Issues ...
When teaching on issues of social justice, a faculty’s posture can foster or impede the students’ ability to learn and engage fully in the process. I teach Biblical Interpretation. One of the favorite courses that I have designed and taught is “Hermeneutics for Ministry”. This is a graduate course ...
Parasite, directed by Bong Joon-ho, is the first non-English-language, subtitled film to win Best Picture in the Oscars’ 92-year history. President Trump censured the award of the foreign film in a February 2020 campaign rally, wanting to get back to the 1939 classic movie “Gone with the Wind” often criticized for its ...
Knowledge and Decolonial Politics: A Critical Reader
Date Reviewed: April 15, 2019
Decolonization as an epistemological framework remains a pressing topic. Decolonization challenges the insidious ways in which colonialist ideologies persist as neo-colonial manifestations in economic, political, military, judicial, educational, and spiritual spheres, among others.
The series of essays in Knowledge and Decolonial Politics address different challenges within the educational system in Canada. The goal of the book is to address “intellectual colonialism” by decentering Western hegemonic ontology, epistemology, rhetoric, and policies (4-6). As the introduction claims, the “book intends to expose and challenge Western knowledge systems, and dominant political systems, and their role in subjugating, marginalizing, and oppressing local and Indigenous knowledges” (4).
After the introduction, the remaining seven chapters each consider a separate issue in need of decolonization with regard to pedagogy: dismissiveness of indigeneity in the curriculum, the classroom, rhetoric of “development,” land ethics, spirituality, spirit-body unity, and indigenous languages. Each of the chapters addresses a topic that is essential to the experience in the classroom, and which requires critical reflection from both teachers and students. As an edited work, the interconnectedness of the chapters sets up a promising framework.
The authors point out major weaknesses in the Canadian educational system which fail to prepare teachers and students to engage anti-discriminatory and anti-racist discourses and pedagogies. Despite the legal advancements and robust rhetoric in official documents, much remains to be implemented inside the classroom. The essays call for integrating various ways of knowing that are attentive to non-western cultures in order to challenge meaningfully the Eurocentricity of the curriculum.
It would have been beneficial throughout the essays to include specific references to actual indigenous communities and values. Many of the indigenous values mentioned remained in the abstract. Interesting points of contact with African indigenous values were raised in a few of the essays, but were underdeveloped (chapters four, six and eight).
Wambui Karanja’s chapter on western-based international intellectual property laws is the strongest and most compelling. The essay challenges current legal frameworks applied to land protection or conservation. It delves deeply into existing international protections for different communities. Karanja explores new possibilities that center indigenous communities and value traditional non-western wisdoms in order to develop a decolonizing framework for collaboration on indigenous land rights issues and knowledge production.
Overall, the essays raise important questions for decolonizing the curriculum. The topic of student assessment could have complemented the overall mission of the authors. Nevertheless, the authors demonstrate a deep knowledge of the colonial mindset persisting in neocolonial rhetoric and practices within institutions that claim a liberal concern for marginalized communities and alternate modes of learning. Educational institutions and overseers continually return to practices that re-inscribe colonial settler values through curricular values, status quo teaching strategies, language exclusivity, and the spirit/body dichotomy. While the essays do not recommend many concrete decolonializing strategies, they provide initial reflections on critical topics by naming the colonial injustices embedded in current educational practices, which can stimulate readers to develop further crucial insights identified by the authors.
Teaching in the Cracks
Date Reviewed: September 6, 2018
Brian D. Schultz New York, NY: Teachers College Press, 2017 (xiv + 128 pages, ISBN 9780807758311, $29.95) Teaching in the Cracks by Brian D. Schultz, a professor of education at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, explores ways to make current K-12 classrooms more student-empowering, justice-oriented, and action-based. It is not that already available curricula are not student-empowering, have no concern for justice, or ...
Teaching in the Cracks: Openings and Opportunities for Student-Centered, Action-Focused Curriculum
Brian D. Schultz
New York, NY: Teachers College Press, 2017 (xiv + 128 pages, ISBN 9780807758311, $29.95)
Teaching in the Cracks by Brian D. Schultz, a professor of education at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, explores ways to make current K-12 classrooms more student-empowering, justice-oriented, and action-based. It is not that already available curricula are not student-empowering, have no concern for justice, or seldom inspire creative student actions; What most concerns the author are school systems that dictate almost everything that students experience, think, and do. In such a system, says Schultz, learning is largely top-down, authoritarian, controlled by agendas that perpetuate the status quo, and “bombarded by standards, assessments, [and] evaluations” (86). Shultz’s critiques and enthusiasm focus on reforming this “troubling” system and more specifically on transforming current everyday curricula in classrooms (86). His proposal, however, stays at the level of reforming or transforming, rather than completely negating or overhauling our current educational practices. That is why he calls his suggestive methodology and transformative tactics “teaching in the cracks.” He encourages educators to find creative loopholes in the present system where they can make education more democratic, collaborative, and thus bottom-up.
Schultz acknowledges that his proposal sounds great on paper but is hard to implement in the classroom, and so throughout he offers numerous practical examples of proposed curricula and how they are working around the nation. Examples vary, covering everything from a single classroom, the entire school’s curriculum, forming close partnerships with surrounding communities, and specific topics, to teacher preparation (all covered in chapters two to six). Together they make this book an invaluable reference for field educators. In particular, chapter six, “Becoming the Teacher I Want to Be: Finding Support to Teach in the Cracks,” and chapter seven: “Turning the Corner: Techniques, Resources, and Tools for Taking-Action,” should be helpful for those who would like to implement the proposed learner-centered class education in a seemingly impotent school context. In chapter six, Schultz gives two fine examples of veteran teachers who introduced several effective strategies that are applicable to other contexts as well. To be sure, contexts differ. Yet, as long as a similar school structure is involved (for example, executive administrators, a sizable student body and its own governing entity, supportive community groups, and an aspiring teacher), these strategies would be beneficial anywhere. Websites introduced in chapter seven are extremely useful resources too.
This book is not per se a theoretical book on student-centered, action-focused curriculum. Rather, it is full of vivid examples of actual current practices. Some readers may find this book insufficiently radical to make a dramatic change in the existing school system, but that is not the author’s purpose. Its particular strength lies in its unabashed focus on the classroom itself. The author believes that the real change can and must happen in each individual classroom where the teacher and students meet for daily education, before any large-scale systematic change is possible. In this respect, this book provides a small, yet reliable, hope for most field educators who, like me, aspire to create a more learner-led class environment.