Academic journal article Journal of Curriculum Theorizing

A Hopeful Curriculum: Community, Praxis, and Courage

Academic journal article Journal of Curriculum Theorizing

A Hopeful Curriculum: Community, Praxis, and Courage

Article excerpt

Journal of Curriculum Theorizing, Summer 2006 In his critical reflection on Pedagogy of the Oppressed (1970), Paulo Freire proclaims in Pedagogy of Hope (1992), "I cannot understand human existence, and the struggle needed to improve it, apart from hope and dream" (p. 8). We, as teachers and as global community members, identify with this struggle. We also seek the improvement of the human condition and the amelioration of human suffering through the work we do in and out of the classroom. Finally, we, too, cannot envision engaging and surviving this struggle apart from hope and dream and the fervent belief in possibility.

In an even more contemporary treatise on and roadmap for hope, Rebecca Solnit (2004), in Hope in the Dark, claims, "The question, then, is not so much how to save the world as how to keep alive that moment of creation" (p.108): a world whose hopefulness lies in its unfinishedness, its unrealized possibilities, and its openness to improvisation and participation. Toward participation in these moments of creation, Solnit suggests progressive activists/teachers/workers take up a "politics of prefiguration." That is, "if you embody what you aspire to, you have already succeeded. If your activism is already democratic, peaceful, and creative, then, in one small corner of the world, these things have triumphed" (p. 87). As such, Gandhi-like "be the change you hope to see in the world" activism is not only a toolbox to change things, but a place and a process in which to take up residence--a place in which process becomes product.

This paper endeavors to make sense of the process we have undertaken to introduce a more hopeful curriculum, rooted in a politics of prefiguration and participation in moments of creation. This more hopeful curriculum has emerged as a three dimensional model of Community, Praxis, and Courage, foundationalized in the pedagogical trajectories of cultural studies and post-colonial theory, as well as within the reality of globalization. We envision this hopeful curriculum as a counter-pedagogical discourse/response/antidote to the more de-humanizing/standardizing/anesthetizing curriculum and instruction to which students are uniformly exposed in traditional P-16 schooling.

To more fully reveal this model of Community, Praxis, and Courage, we first treat some of the literature on cultural studies, post-colonial theory, and globalization in order to provide a backdrop against which this model and our daily classroom life and co/extra-curricular work emerge. Next, we explore each of the dimensions of the model, individually. We examine Community, Praxis, and Courage, particularly, in relation to our work together: (1) as co-instructors of a graduate education course: Social Difference and Social Justice, and a junior-level, undergraduate, interdisciplinary course: The Social Construction of Difference; (2) through co-curricular endeavors such as our universities' Multicultural(ism) Task Force, the School of Education's culture/reading circle, and our leadership of two resident student organizations: UKNIGHT and Students for Social Justice; and (3) as extra-curricular allies in diversity training at a local, upper-class, private school and in work with the Progressives Engaged in Struggle Support (PrESS) Network (http:// pressnetwork.blogspot.com): a collection of pre- and in-service teachers who desire to meet on an ongoing basis to both support progressive work taken up in classrooms and also to remain current on progressive pedagogical practice and theory. Finally, we provide concluding remarks on this more hopeful curriculum and invite critical feedback and interrogation of our work in this struggle.

Solnit (2004) metaphorically claims that hope is both a "door": a belief in a way forward that is not open to all people at all times, and a "force" that propels us out that door. "Hope," Solnit believes, "should shove you out the door.... To hope is to give yourself to the future, [which] makes the present inhabitable" (p. …

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