Saturday, February 27, 2010

Moriah's Conocimiento Walk

I feel as though my conocimiento walk began as I started to class today. I parked my car in lot W and saw a hummingbird hovering in the air in front of my car. It stayed in the same place for almost a minute hovering and I was amazed anew what creative energies and brilliance it took to create such a beautiful and complicated creature. I was confronted again with this thought as I walked up the stairs along the hill where a rather large lizard was visible just at the edge of the grass. So intricate and vastly different from the hummingbird I saw a moment before. When I see things like this, especially in nature but in people as well, that is when I most feel our creator’s presence. She was with me today as I stood in the grass, feeling the wind brushing my face and playing with my hair. The cool night air had an almost tangible quality that I could feel against my eyelids and cheeks. The quiet of the space, the crunch of the leaves and the soft feel of the grass beneath my feet. The moon hung a slight crescent winking brightly, smilingly slyly in the indigo sky above. I have an affinity for the moon and the night, the cold and the quiet. It moves something within me and I feel as if I am patient and quiet enough and paying close enough attention I might discover how it all works and how I fit within it.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sarah's Reflection: Week 5

In the interest of valuable class time, Jessica and I have decided to post our individual reflections on last week’s readings on the class blog. We will each be answering the following question, which we feel links together many of the themes from our readings: How has the power that the erotic has to move ideas from potentiality to actuality manifested in our teaching/learning/ being carers/experiences/actions? We encourage the rest of the class to join us in answering and reflecting upon this question.


In growing up as a student taught and trained by the banking system of education, I learned certain undesirable habits and strategies for not only surviving that atmosphere, but succeeding within it. And in spite of being a perfectionist and overall hard worker, time and time again I saw that most kinds of knowledge could be faked in the long run: I could cram figures and definitions into my head, then let them seep back out until I retained little to nothing of what I had "learned," thus making most knowledge temporary and inconsequential.

Eroticism within education denies any such opportunity for cheating one's self of a fully integrated, personalized, and memorable knowledge-building experience. As Lorde explains, erotic power intends to grab ahold of you, pushing you forward toward goals both predicted and unforeseen. Embracing the erotic also means embracing our own ability to actualize our ideas and our own capacities for knowing. In summary, eroticism is what drives an active role in the educational process.

This is where eroticism has most impacted all areas of my life. Just as I can no longer allow myself to be a passive student in the classroom, only regurgitating facts as they are told to me, I could never allow myself to be a passive teacher relying only on textbooks and Powerpoints. The erotic element of teaching is what will push me to live and act upon my feminisms, and recreate classroom atmospheres to be what they need to be in order to align with our goals of social and political justice. This is where the power of the erotic has manifested itself most concretely in my life: in learning to access it and apply it in an intellectual sense (as we have done in this week's readings), I've made myself excited again to be a teacher and a student, because I can now see the classroom as a malleable place with revolutionary opportunities.

Sarah's Conocimiento Walk + Reflection

While there were several thoughts that arose for me during the conocimiento walk, what struck me most was my awareness of my feet, and the sensory abilities they have. I took off my sandals when we reached the grass, and slowly walked barefoot across the lawns. My toes and heels sank into the cold, damp earth, and the grass was soft underfoot. I purposefully stepped on leaves, and even twigs and branches, in order to absorb the sensations; I was afraid that they might hurt me, but they did not.

Having a physical connection to the earth at all times--remaining constantly and consciously grounded both physically and mentally--was the most relaxing few minutes I've had in a long time, and I felt more spiritually nourished with every step. But when I returned to the cement pathways on our way back to class, my soles felt like they were on fire. The asphalt and cement were sharp, angry, and biting; I only made it a few steps before I had to put my sandals back on. Then, as I kept walking, my cool feet felt like they had been massaged, and they had--by the earth. It reaffirmed for me the comfort that nature can provide when we don't approach it as something to be tamed and conquered. It also reminded me of the alienation that urban, concrete spaces inspire in me, and where I'd much rather be.

Afterward, I also thought about how silence had functioned within this activity. I think there are two kinds of people: those who are unnerved by silence, and those who will happily wrap themselves in it like a warm blanket. I'm the latter kind. Given permission to be silent--to quiet the anxious classroom thoughts of "Am I talking too much? Too little? Is what I'm saying even contributing to the class?"--was a welcome relief, and allowed for a few valuable minutes for recharging. Though we often use "silence" as a negative concept within Women's Studies, I think it's equally available to be a healing and comforting concept, and it was that aspect of it that I embraced on our walk.

Laura's Conocimiento Walk Experience

My experience during the conocimiento walk was one of heightened observation, I thought about all the previous times I had walked through that same space without appreciating the environment. I noticed the details in the way the light and dark green spaces contrasted with each other. I thought it was a very peaceful experience because I felt a sense of closeness with nature's silence and openess since there weren't that many students walking around. The dark areas attracted me the most because of the sense of wonder that they created. I think it's very therapeutic to be around plants after a long day trapped in doors with the smell of air conditioner. At first I had trouble with breathing because my heavy laptop and the walk down the stairs made me take some time to catch my breath and then I was barely able to smell the grass. I thought about how great it will be to someday have my own garden space and a mini deciduous tree forest. I thought it was interesting how the reflection looking up at the tree branches reminded me of chemistry class in high school because the shapes of the branches resembled chemical bonds. I felt a deep sense of appreciation for the green space because of the down-to-earth emotions that it incites.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Jessica's Conocimiento Walk Reflection

My sentipensante reflection for last week's pedagogical practice comes in the form of a free write/stream of consciousness. These are the thoughts that went through my head on our walk.

They really make sure that when we learn we do it far away from our mothers. Not only the women who gave birth to us whose image is drawn as homemaker, caretaker, retail worker. Anything but college student. We're also far from the earth, the sky, the moon- the mothers who gave birth to my soul/spirit/intuition/sense of well being. Five flights of stairs before that cold evening air hit my face! Well, cold for me. I've been in Southern California my whole life. I do not remember my 4 year long middle American upbringing in Omaha.

The palm tress, no doubt envied by those enduring the east coast storms look like theater props set up against a Los Angeles colored sky. I miss my old neighborhood in East Hollywood. I am reminded of the performance of life. The parts we play changing from one production to the next. Graduate student in San Diego, single working girl in LA, sister/daughter/auntie in the pacific northwest. The fake looking reality of those palm tress bring this awareness, this conocimiento to life.

Letting go of this train of thought, I become more aware of the presence of plants and tress and grass pushing up against the concrete of the university. People must need nature, otherwise why would the richies who designed and built this place include so much of it? I wasn't allowed to dwell in this place of conscious reflection for long. I became strikingly aware of how tired I was and instantly anxious about how much work I needed to get done before I could rest my bodymindspirit-- hopefully some time before midnight.* I am distraught. The nature and senses are shoved aside and I walk aimlessly. I stumble across the "Friendship Garden."

In front of the Communications building, the Friendship Garden is lined with succulents, cacti, and other desert plants. I'd never seen it before (perhaps its new--the plants were babies after all). I have made many friends at SDSU, even talked with them in this very spot. But in the moment I felt a particular yearning for the people in my life separate from my academic career. These people have seen me at my worse. The most real times where I let down my guard of confidence, intelligence, and critical analysis to be scared, weak, wounded. I am touched that these friends have loved me despite my Surrender and I am proud that I've had the courage to offer that part of myself to the world. I want to bring that realness to the classroom. I will work to embrace my bodymindspirit in all things that I do. Isolation kills after all. Compartmentalization has no place in nature. Life is a cycle, a circle, the good kind of System. I want to be part of the performance, even if it takes five flights of stairs to get there.


*I stayed up until 3am that night working on assignments!

PS: thank you Irene and Vivian for the opportunity to reflect.

Conocimiento Walk and Reflection

In this process of conocimiento I felt a lot of different things and I thought about many things. So what I will did in my quick write is make a list of things or people I thought about and allowed me to reflect about the past, present, and future.

  1. trees = reminding me of my childhood at my tia Carmen's
  2. Flowers = smell = sweet
  3. fresh cold air = relax state of mind
  4. folded arms  = unfolded arms at the end of walk
  5. the people around me (what they are thinking and what they might be observing)
  6. the possibility of having absolutely no light and what that would feel like- function, etc.
  7. the sky- I noticed how blue it was that night
  8. I tasted flowers
  9. I thought of Alex and what conocimientos he brought in my life
  10. soccer = running = truth
  11. blank piece of mind (their were moments where I thought of nothing)
  12. sitting down at home drinking hot chocolate
  13. divorce- and that meant for my parents
  14. nature, nature, nature, and its ability to sound and look like other objects/subjects in my reality
  15. Thought about how I am would be ok.- Things happen for a reason and their is time and space for everything.
In sum, this was a good activity. Very rewarding and deep. I don't believe I take much time for my mind to wonder and then reflect. This list doesn't make sense but maybe in the future it will have some use. Thank you.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Conocimiento Walk and Reflection

There are so many options about which to write this week! I think I'll share what happened on my conocimiento walk...

The very first thing I noticed upon going outside was that there is another tier of shrubbery leading down the A&L steps. I know that's nothing too remarkable but I couldn't help but be amazed that I have been going in and out of this building for quite a while and only ever noticed the trees/bushes on the top level...

After this I first noticed my immediate somatic needs, which distracted from other sensations. I was cold, hungry and tired and, in usual Chelsea-fashion, my mind started to wander and think about what I need to do in the coming three weeks. Then my mind became very aware of right then and there, but not in a conocimiento sort of a way, I started to think about how silly I might look and what might people think if they see all of us sorta just standing around on the grass. At the time I felt embarrassed that I cared so much about what these other people might think of me, but it also put into stark relief for me an aspect of my personality that I think I have been denying for a while. I can't say that I am not embarrassed now, but I do now "own it", so to say, which may help me to work on it and overcome how much emphasis or importance I can sometimes place on others' perceptions of me. It's a start at the very least.

My brain ran the whole time between somatic needs, my to do lists, and what others might think of me. In this sense, I was never fully engaged in the activity because I couldn't slow down enough to try and take in my surroundings with all of my senses. I opened my mouth to taste the air (it tasted dry to me) and I stopped to smell some flowers, but it all felt very contrived for me. I think the walk might have been more beneficial for me if it had been solitary.

One thing that is of note, though, is that it is very hard for me to literally slow my body down. I'm always in a rush and I'm always a fast walker, so the fact that I was able to slowly meander through parts of the campus was a small victory for me. It was equally fascinating to me that as we returned to A&L and got nearer I felt myself speed up. As I registered this, I forced myself to slow down but I could literally feel the urge in my thighs to speed up. I don't know if this was a Pavlovian response to the A&L building (if I'm headed there, I must be in a rush to get where ever 'there' is)? Is it what A&L represents to me? Did I want to hurry to get to class so I could leave sooner? I'm not sure.

In some ways, the walk didn't succeed in the way that it was expected. I didn't do much of taking in my environment through all of my senses. My mind wandered too much (and uncontrollably so) that my other senses never even had the chance to be engaged. But, on the other hand, it was revelatory for me in several ways that may lead to eventually being more opened to using my senses to inform my knowing of my surroundings.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Jessica's Reflection - Week 5 The “Sacred” and the "Erotic" in Feminist Pedagogy

In the interest of valuable class time, Sarah and I have decided to post our individual reflections on this week’s readings on the class blog. We will each be answering the following question, which we feel links together many of the themes from our readings: How has the power that the erotic has to move ideas from potentiality to actuality manifested in our teaching/learning/ being carers/experiences/actions? We encourage the rest of the class to join us in answering and reflecting upon this question.


In "Exploring the Ethic of Care," chapter four of No Angel in the Classroom, Bernice Malka Fisher provides an anecdote related to caring for students in the classroom that resonated with my understanding of the complexity of the place of the erotic in higher education. She describes being in her home late one night preoccupied with the fact that some of the students in her large
classroom have not been actively participating in group discussions. She senses that they want to talk, but do not know how. She is inspired to create flashcards out of poster board and black marker that can be used to signal a quieter student's desire to make a comment or provide an opinion.

Hunching over the poster boards, pen in hand, she becomes conscious of her bodymindspirt. Fisher recognizes her mixed feelings in that she is both excited about the method's potential to facilitate a more inclusive dialogue, and distraught in viewing this type of educational housework as menial, having no place in high education. When she becomes aware of these feelings, she becomes aware of the complexity of embracing a pedagogy of the erotic, which often has to exist in the face of an academic setting reluctant to see the value of Eros as a tool for education.

I find promise in Fisher's confession. She is aware of her ambivalence, but does not cower from it. The recognition of mixed feelings like these work to remind me that the influence of the institution, while manifest in my understanding of the authority I have as a graduate student and teaching assistant, do not have to dictate my actions. Fisher finds pleasure in the power that her flashcards have to move ideas from a state of potentiality to one of actuality in spite of what she knows to be the role of a "proper" professor. Ultimately, she finds pleasure in emotional housework whether on not she should.

Reflecting on Fisher's story, I become aware of how important the housework becomes. I wrote in my sentipensante journal Week Three about the pleasure I get from cleaning and the knowledge that I am creating a more comfortable, and therefore more practical and useful workspace for myself. Doing educational housework, even though it can challenge the prestige we associate with higher education, is about creating a similar kind of teaching space. This housework becomes a sort of caring that is inherent in a pedagogy of the erotic. To become aware of the pleasure of caring, though, we must interrogate our feelings and become aware of our bodymindspirit, even if it is late at night.

I chose this topic for my reflection as Sarah and I have spent many night time hours doing the emotional housework necessary to construct a thorough (and thought provoking) co-facilitation handout for Week 5. The erotic aspects of my teaching/learning involve taking pleasure in utilizing feminist critical analysis regardless of the credibility it is assigned by other academic disciplines. I will stay up all night if I have to!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Feminist Pedagogical Component Question

On Wednesday evening my facilitation of class covered the article Introduction: The Passion and Praxis of Feminist Pedagogy by Robbin D. Crabtree, David Alan Sapp, and Adela C. Licona. It is the introduction to the anthology Feminist Pedagogy: Looking Back to Move Forward (2009).
As part of the introductory chapter, the authors outline in detail what the following chapters entail. Part of feminist pedagogy is, simply put, that the students can offer input to inform the course of the class. For my exercise, then, I have asked for you to look back over those last few pages and share with us (here on the blog) which chapter(s) you you like added to our reading materials this semester and why. Depending on what we all say, if possible, maybe Irene will be able to add the article(s) or substitute them in for something else. Maybe... :)


Welcome, everyone, to the Women's Studies 696: Feminist Pedagogies blog!

This can be our space where we can continue our discussion outside of the classroom and post questions, comments, ideas or epiphanies; share videos, tips, cool links, resources and anything else that you think our group might like to know or check out.

Think of this as an electronic extension of our in-class community! As such, please make sure what is shared is applicable (i.e., something you would share with us in class [given we had the time] and not something that would be considered inappropriate [i.e., I won't share the latest Hollywood gossip but I might share about an upcoming project I'm joining]). Just as in class, please follow our collective guidelines on honesty, openness, and respecting ourselves and each other.