My approach to teaching and academic activity is based on three pillars: Community Responsiveness, DIY, and Bravery. These pillars center on queer and feminist pedagogy that presents cultural relevance and 'liberatory education' as a means to directly address issues of inequality, justice, community and hope.
Community Responsiveness comprises of relevance, accessibility, responsibility, and relationships. I enact what bell hooks describes as an “engaged pedagogy,” where relevance in the classroom is a commitment to an interdisciplinary approach that values variation in learning styles and abilities, and bridges the course material with students’ lived experiences and the contemporary context. I borrow from Paulo Freire, in detailing my responsibility to knowing the material in which I teach, but also taking on a teacher-student and student-teacher approach in which I value the knowledge I can learn from my students and their experiences. I firmly believe that when we challenge these traditional notions of hierarchical classroom structures, learning can be re-conceptualized as a shared process that humanizes the student and builds trusting relationships, collaboration and community in the classroom.
DIY (Do-It-Yourself) or with others as an ethic and an alternative approach borrowed from punk sub-culture to emphasize the importance of creativity, action, agency and the autonomy of the common people. This ethic values theory in praxis and encourages students to become agents of social change. DIY emphasizes the collective power of students to divest from institutional validation, and to take alternative approaches into their own learning process. DIY should not be interpreted as an individualist process, but rather viewed as a collective and grassroots action towards liberation from state oppression and patriarchal power. As an educator, I practice a ‘linear education model’ that decentralizes institutional validation, giving room for diverse DIY approaches, tactics and styles of learning. Students are encouraged to engage with academia in creative ways such as poetry, zines, visual arts, performance and so forth.
Bravery is necessary for taking pedagogical risks. Especially with subject matter that concerns issues of race, gender, sex and sexuality, this can prompt traumatic responses and difficult conversations. In bringing up these challenging topics, there also requires a responsibility in to name oppressive systems, institutions, and forces that remain complicit in the rituals of control and subjugation. In taking these risks, I am also asking my students as well as myself to be brave in embracing a radical vulnerability as an important facet towards liberation. hooks describes this as a “holistic learning” process where in sharing personal experiences and stories, we enact a level of compassion and vulnerability that humanizes our positionally as the teacher-student and “eliminates the possibility that we can function as all-knowing, silent interrogation” (hooks, 1994).