We held this discussion during the week before the midterm paper was due. Thus, instead of initiating a conversation on social class, in this case the family mapping raised new questions for them to pose to their elders at an already busy point in the semester.
It is still our belief that this is a useful exercise that helps students explode the myth of the United States as a "classless society." However, in addition to scheduling it earlier in the term, we would also advise potential instructors to complete the exercise for themselves at least one week earlier. Our hope here is that if there are any skeletons in the closets of potential instructors, they will not conflate these with attempts to facilitate this activity with students.
Parker Palmer ( 1990) described the epistemology of higher education in this country In general, and of research universities in particular, as "objectivism." This is the belief that knowledge, in order to be valid, must be objective, analytical, and experimental; that there must be a distance between the investigator, or subject of knowledge, and the topic or object studied. Palmer ( 1998) concluded:
That kind of teaching creates the most dangerous creatures on earth: people who know much about the outer world but who know little about their inner selves, who have technical competence but no understanding of their own drives and desires . . . people who want to transform the world but who refuse to be transformed. (p. xxx)
We believe that the counter to objectivism may be found in what Freire ( 1970) called "historicity," the notion that we are all historical beings in the process of becoming. Through service-learning with multicultural elders, we hope that as progressive teachers in solidarity with our students, we become aware of and celebrate our historicity, and make it the turning point for our burgeoning critical consciousness.
Albom M. ( 1997). Tuesdays with Morrie: An old man, a young man and life's greatest lesson. New York, NY: Doubleday.
Andersen M., & Collins P. ( 1998). Race, class and gender: An anthology. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Bulosan C. ( 1943). America is in the heart. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press.