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Teach ins: "Resist together the obstacles that prevent the flowering of our joy"

Teach ins: "Resist together the obstacles that prevent the flowering of our joy"

Written by Christina Puntel
January 15, 2015

In Reading, Writing, and Rising Up, Linda Christensen writes, “Students need opportunities to think deeply about other people—why they do what they do, why they think what they think. They also need chances to care about each other and the world.”  This was how I described the teach in about this unit to my students:

We will host a workshop for other classes at Parkway Northwest.  In this workshop, we want your peers to analyse the role we play as consumers in the global marketplace, especially how our spending decisions impact others. You will create an active, hands on presentation, and invite your peers to take action about the cocoa trade. You will guide participants in a learning experience you design for them. You can do this any way you want, except you may not use PowerPoint. As part of your learning experience, you should also include some action that your peers can take to make a better world. your peers should walk away with an increased awareness about the role of the consumer in social justice issues

If you walked into my classroom during the preparations for these mini-conferences, the air would be buzzing; our “liminal space” was ALIVE!  Students were choreographing in the halls, the drama group was rehearsing, students were busy researching, while others huddled around a piece of paper writing outlines for their group rap.  My role in those moments was one of a conductor of an orchestra, a connector, a catalyst.  Try this website!  Look at the work of this film maker!  You might want to check out GoAnimate to make that come alive!   As Paulo Freire writes in Pedagogy of Freedom, “there is a relationship between the joy essential to teaching activity and hope. Hope is something shared between teachers and students. The hope that we can learn together, teach together, be curiously impatient together, produce something together, and resist together the obstacles that prevent the flowering of our joy.” (69)

As I walked around the room visiting groups in the throes of deciding how to share their research, I noticed Brandon and Tre, two freshman, looking perplexed.  I’d seen these two in the library at lunch, listening to music and hunched over the computers.  I didn’t know them very well.  I knew Brandon attended a Tech Camp at a local community organization and that he had way more experience creating digital work than me.  When I met with them, they both were at a loss about how share their research about the perils of child labor in the chocolate industry as well as the promise of fair trade and local cooperatives.  Around this time, I had just watched Jane McGonigal’s TED talk about how gaming can make a better world.  Do either of you know anything about how to make games?  Tre could work in Scratch.  Brandon wanted to show us a website he’d started playing around with at his Tech Camp that summer.  It was called GameStar Mechanic.