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Making Room for One Another

Dynamic and Designed Dialogicality in a Kindergarten Classroom

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Gerri August

Quoting an abolitionist preacher, Martin Luther King Jr. once said, «The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice». This is true, but the moral arc doesn’t bend on its own. We must lean into the task. Making Room for One Another is the story of how one kindergarten teacher did just that. This critical ethnography lies at the intersection of democratic, transformative pedagogy and differences that impact an urban kindergarten. Drawing largely on discourse analysis, the book explores the interplay between Zeke, the classroom teacher, and his students. The participation, resistance, and discourse patterns of one particular student exemplify the complex nature of social systems in general and emancipatory pedagogy in particular. All educators recognize their responsibility to hone students’ cognitive abilities, to teach students to read and to write and to reason. Making Room for One Another is written for educators who dare ask themselves the question, «Read and write and reason about what? To what end must students read and write and reason?»
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2. Stepping into the Stream

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← 16 | 17 → Chapter Two

“I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

Alice to the Mock Turtle

I stepped into several streams of literature as I envisioned and conducted my project. And stepping into a stream is no small matter. Heraclitus reminds us that one cannot step into the same river twice. One’s interruption of the current contributes to the changes in the river. More to the point—the river changes the intruder. If she is lucky, she emerges with a new understanding, a new way of organizing her thoughts. Figure 2.1 is the product of my wading adventure.

The shapes are not arbitrary; they characterize each aspect of the study. The inverted triangle represents the operational nature of transformative pedagogy; it is directed at student ideologies that trigger and/or sustain otherization. Such student ideologies are represented as squared off. The otherized child, e.g., the child with lesbian moms, is represented by a rhombus, an oblique parallelogram, identical to the square but for its oblique angles. Transformative pedagogy and the democratic learning community are connected by an arrow that extends through squared-off student ideologies to a process box, indicating a work in progress. The dotted circle, devoid of straight sides and unenclosed, represents the democratic learning community. Although ← 17 | 18 → this diagram is intended to represent a relationship, it is not intended to represent a cause and effect relationship.

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