Critical Essays on Teaching, Learning and Leading in the 21st Century
One of my favorite teaching moments is when I speak to teacher education students about oppression, privilege, and discrimination. As I look around the classroom, I see them nodding their heads in agreement and taking notes on new vocabulary terms discussed from the readings. Often, in their reflective papers, students state that my class lectures have given them the language needed to express what they have always felt. They convey to me a sense of personal identification with the injustices discussed in our classroom and the sense of helplessness that came with not having the language to communicate their feelings or actively express resistance to oppressive, discriminatory practices. A student once wrote, “There is a certain level of authority that only language can give you.” Acquiring a critical language to discuss these issues helps these students embrace a sense of empowerment needed to assertively discuss and react to situations of oppression, and to stand up for what they believe to be just, to do the right thing, and to go against the grain. We believe that one of the most important traits that teachers need to have is the capacity to stand up for what is right for their students, schools, and communities and go against the grain when it is needed.
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