“So I Wrote It”

Dr. Katie G. Cannon gave an address at the Samuel Dewitt Proctor sponsored event called Legislative Days, Washington, DC, 2008.  During her speech, Dr. Katie looked up from her manuscript, and off-the-cuff, briefly recounted the story of having survived severe racist and sexist sabotage by her professors during her doctoral program. Her professors rejected her…

Believe Impossible Things

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe  impossible things.” “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day.  Why,  sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”  — Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass The…

Dear White People – “Woke” Requires Work

My course began with an iconic book by bell hooks and ended, after several other readings, with a beloved text by Parker Palmer. On the last day of class, a white woman student came up to me to tell me how much she enjoyed the course (she had earned an A in the course), and…

Learning to Wait for the Wind

In a society wrought with busyness, contemplation is often deemed a foolish waste of time. Yet, for those of us who want to be reflective practitioners of teaching, contemplation is essential. In considering the needs of students who are navigating our frenetic society, perhaps they, too, need to learn to be more contemplative. Suppose the…

Writing a Lecture/Writing an Obituary

Recently, my burden, challenge, and task was to write my father’s obituary. Obituaries typically allow 800 to 1,200 words to depict and describe a person’s entire life. As a writer, this was a daunting task. As a daughter, it was impossible. How to proceed?  After reading the obituaries of other family and friends – noting…

TMI: Over-sharing is NOT Caring

Classroom discussions are never to be used as therapy – by student or by teacher. While I believe teaching and learning has the capacity to summon the elements of healing, I do not subscribe to asking teacher or learner to participate in classroom sessions structured for therapy in any respect. The doing of therapy must…

Teach Curiosity, Witness Beauty

Several years ago, I was expecting a guest speaker in one of my courses. To prepare for the colleague’s visit, I asked my students what questions they had for the person.  Silence. And not a quizzical silence, just a dead silence. I tried to prime the pump by repeating the guest’s research agenda as well…

Open Carry Laws Include Classrooms

If I get shot in my classroom – I’m gonna be mad! Yesterday, a friend told me her church and nursery school were having shooter-on-campus drills for the staff and children. I wondered when our school was going to do the same.  Sometimes my colleagues and I joke about what we would do if an…

Genuine Inquiry vs. Pretense: Suppose You Don’t Know?

Mr. Sosnow, my fourth-grade teacher, interrupted the class as we copied our homework assignments into our black-and-white marble composition books from the chalkboard. With a sly look in his eye, Mr. Sosnow informed the class that he had a special homework assignment for us.  He instructed us that by tomorrow, we were to find out…

Bootstraps in Classrooms: Dissuading Rugged Individualism

Exposing and disrupting the values which perpetuate white normativity puts a strain on the adult classroom. Individualism is a cornerstone value of whiteness and patriarchy.  As persons committed to the flimsy lie of pulling oneself up by the bootstraps,too many students believe that education is best attempted alone. Conforming to the principles and practices of individualism,…