ISMS

Book Cover of The Laramie ProjectIn class tonight, the final session of this very long Spring semester, we are watching a section of The Laramie Project. The course I have been teaching for 15 weeks now is an interdiscpilinary course exploring various experiences of prejudice, discrimination and oppression. It is a survey course; one that brings students into an issue for a brief period; gives them some history, sociology, psychology, social change theory, and personal reflection, before moving onto another related “ism”.

We have delved into the nature of prejudice- the biological and social arguments for difference, prejudice as a socially constructed dynamic, childhood learning theories, institutionalized discrimination, and places for change work. We have looked at sexism, racism, classism, heterosexism, cissexism, religious oppression and Christianism, ableism, adultism and sizeism. We have barely scratched the surface. We have looked at how both art and the art world manifest prejudice/discrimination and act as a tool to explore and challenge prejudice/discrimination.

Throughout this semester I have felt both accomplished and ignorant. I have felt that I have led these classes, these students, in deep reflection and thought. And, I have felt that I’ve not been able to get them to open their eyes at all. At times I have believed that I have pushed them and, at other, have felt they’ve pushed me. I’ve felt firm but fair and yet also too flexible. I have been challenged this semester.

I love to teach. And yet teaching a new class, with a new syllabus, every semester is beyond tiring. I cannot keep creating new courses. I don’t want to give up learning and sharing learning in an academic setting, but I’m not doing it in a sustainable manner. I’m wondering how I get to teach more. I’ve always seen a PhD in my life, but I find myself floating. Where do I go now? A PhD in Public Health? Where would I fit? Do I have enough experience to get in? A PhD in Sociology? Gender Studies? An EdD and focus in the translational science of learning or of alternative classroom teaching methodology?

I know that when I watch The Laramie Project that a part of me comes alive. A part of me mourns. A part of me gets fired up. A part of me wants to know more abut prejudice and discrimination; to explore justice and injustice; to consider the impact of oppression. I want to write and present and teach within the context of my learning. And, I want to do the work of my own back yard- of my community of LGBTQ folk, of survivors, of women and transfolks, of butches and femmes, of those radical sexual changemakers.

I want to look at our impact on the world and the world’s impact on us.

So where the hell do I go from here?

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