It was refreshing to listen to Cathy Davidson's recent talk at Digital Pedagogy Lab.
Sean Michael Morris's introduction immediately caught my interest when he described meeting Cathy with his husband:
"She didn't care who we were..."
That struck me as being the exact mirror image of an academic who asked:
"What are you?"
When it became clear "what I was" he lost interest.
It's the people stupid!
It was people whose stories Cathy told that grounded her talk.
It was people whose voices are not usually heard that were central to her pedagogy.
It was people whose futures are in play that she seeks to give the tools to understand and perhaps challenge a system that threatens our societies.
It's the economy stupid!
The first part of her talk set out the historical context within which we are asked to work as teachers.
Ours is an uncomfortable role: being employed to enforce and replicate a profoundly unjust, inhumane system for the benefit of the privileged few.
Her reference to meat-packers adopting then modifying a college ABCDF grading system made me think back to a meat and murder in "Livestock, Dumbledore and I."
However we paint it, "We are all in boxes."
We are indeed silent data in the cells of spreadsheets for those who only have interest to see people as numbers.
The question is how to push back against the forces which oppress.
"We must think expansively within the box."
How do we use our education, our allies, our tools, their tools perhaps... to enable change?
How do we identify attitudes, actions, and behaviours, in ourselves which are barriers to change?
We must ask: "To what extent am I the problem?"
We must start from those boxes within which we work and live.
Doing nothing is not a solution
When faced with challenge, it is easy to feel despair.
When faced with challenge, it is vital to feel not alone.
Cathy Davidson's conference, her energy, humanity, and action picked me up.
There are moments when I feel despair.
There are moments when I think that I shall:
"Never write 'out again"
If "I am a pessimist because of intelligence but an optimism because of will." (Gramsci)
I know that will is never enough.
There are things that we can do...together.“You can’t counter structural inequality w/ good will. We must design new structures that put equality at the core.” @CathyNDavidson #digped— Chris Friend (@chris_friend) August 9, 2016
And we must...
First we must listen.