Recognizing and Utilizing Queer Pedagogy: A Call for Teacher Education to Reconsider the Knowledge Base on Sexual Orientation for Teacher Education Programs
Zacko-Smith, Jeffrey D., Smith, G. Pritchy, Multicultural Education
The world is not divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black nor all things white. It is a fundamental of taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories. Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon- holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning sexuality the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of its realities.
-Alfred Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948
Rationale for Knowledge Base Evolution
It is the year 2010, and we are still "trying to force facts into separated pigeonholes," as described by the famous American biologist Alfred Kinsey in the quote above. Although more than 60 years have passed since Kinsey published his then controversial work, at a time when issues related to sexuality were topics even more taboo than they are today, there is still a great deal to be considered when it comes to defining and positioning sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender in our postmodern world, and particularly in our schools and classrooms. In many ways, not only racially, but also economically, religiously, politically, and sexually, our society is more segregated than at any other time in human history (Kozol, 2007).
It can be viewed as a matter of form and function. Over and above the moral implications that arise from this understanding, people are increasingly interacting with one another, and, quite often, then witnessing the friction that occurs when form, which can be understood as representing our interactions with one another, does not match function, which can be understood as the desired outcome or outcomes we are striving for (Zacko-Smith, 2009). We are striving for, as an example, equity in our classrooms and schools, but often failing to genuinely interact with each other (and our institutions and systems) in ways that support this goal.
As educators and, in fact, simply as human beings, all of us are being called to operate in what can only be described as "hyper-diverse" environments (Zacko- Smith, 2009); we are connected to other cultures, ideas, beliefs, values, and practices in unprecedented ways and with never before seen speed, and the relational complexity created by these connections multiplies rapidly, blurring boundaries, contravening established frameworks, and often creating confusion and misunderstanding. Are educators completely prepared to embrace the new ways that people are relating to each other, and are they prepared to deal effectively with the issues that arise from a necessary and lifeenriching "full embrace" of diversity?
In order to teach effectively in hyperdiverse contexts, if effective teaching is considered to be the creation of knowledge, the transmission of ideas, and the "growing" of human beings intellectually, morally and socially, educators at all levels, but particularly those who are new to the field, must be well-versed in multiculturalism and diversity. They must also be unafraid to immerse themselves in the world as it concurrently unfolds and evolves around them.
Educators must also accept their role as mentors who help to define reality for those they are educating, and they must commit to redefining that reality as dictated by demands for social justice and equity. To ignore these continually emerging requirements means that educators will quickly become outdated and ineffective at best, and damaging and socially unjust at worst, neither of which are acceptable outcomes for those who are truly committed to the profession.
As has been described in the literature on multicultural and diversity education over the last two decades, we, as global citizens, can no longer afford to teach or, in fact, to do anything at all, in cultural, sexual, economic, ideological, religious or political isolation. We are recognizing the transdisciplinary nature of virtually every field (Stokols, 2006), and education is no exception. …