Back to School...

So two weeks ago I went back to school (college) and two weeks from now I'll go back to school (high school). It's funny that I have such conflicting opinions to two similar things. Actually, going back to grad school made me want to go back to school way less. I'm pretty sure that's because getting my doctorate seems like the first step in a new phase of my life that will eventually take me out of the classroom and into a more critical/activist vocation. That, coupled with the fact that our district tax levy didn't pass today, which pretty much means that my position is going to be cut, means that no matter what, I'll be doing something somewhat different in 08/09, whether that be a different position in my district or somewhere else, or something completely different.

So, cool school. Here's what up on that, because I don't think I explained it very well. The actually doctorate in in Leadership and it is housed in St. Thomas' school of ed. Basically, in the core courses (which I take with my cohort, basically my "class" of 23 others) we examine a critical perspective of leadership and organizational theory. In plain English, that means we look at power structures, and how race, class, gender, culture, etc. have influenced, and continue to influence, leadership and society. Each of us then chooses one or more "collaterals" which are kind of like a major inside the program. My two collaterals, at least at this point, are critical pedagogy and public policy. So basically, I am really interested in social justice, education, and how those structures are created, and I will take about half of my total coursework examining this stuff. What I'm going to do, it's too early to tell. Maybe higher ed, but possibly some type of consulting/teacher development. I do know that the program is exactly what I want to do, and I have no regrets about the relatively drastic steps I'm taking to go through it. The people in my cohort are fucking awesome. They are a diverse group of people who are passionate about changing the world.

I did, actually, finish The Dialectic of Freedom, which is a good thing because we'll be using it in my fall core class. This book is fucking mind blowing. If I could sum it up, it would be this: the idea that we (and by we, I mean the general American public) are really, truly free is false, because what we perceive as freedom is completely dependent on exploiting other people. For example, our consumer culture is dependent on establishing a chain of relationships with people we never meet, and who have shittier lives than us, largely because of us. If I buy a cotton skirt at Old Navy, chances are that the growth of the cotton was destructive to someone's environment and it was probably made in a sweatshop that exploits cheap labor. So I may celebrate my "freedom" to buy a $17 skirt with money I earned myself, but I fucked someone else to do that (even if I never see those people). Continuing, our freedom is also largely false because even though we are "free" in this country, most people feel as though their actions make no difference, therefore they are passive citizens. Unconsciously, we feel as though we have little decision in the actions of our government, or in any other processes capable of making significant social change.

Think about that in terms of the current political climate in the US. Completely and totally outrageous shit is taking place, all orchestrated by the current administration and its cronies who apparently believe that the Constitution means nothing anymore. But is anybody REALLY outraged? People are more outraged at Britney's fall from grace. And even those of us who are outraged (including myself) feel completely helpless to do anything (about the government, you jerks, not Britney). Like, what am I going to do? I can call my congresspeople and express my outrage, but does ANYTHING get done in Washington other than endless playing of the political game? Seriously? I could organize a protest, but that tactic is so played out that it seemed satirical in 1994 when PCU came out. There are efforts at grassroots efforts outside of the political system, but those are limited because (here comes the endless cycle) people feel helpless. Hence, we aren't free, according to Maxine Greene. Most people will dismiss this as theoretical bullshit because damnit, if we ain't free here in America, then what are we? If we really aren't free, then the empty rhetoric that we call patriotism is glaringly empty. But to me, it rings completely true.

The only light at the end of my OTHER school tunnel (that is, me returning to school in a few weeks) is that a group of my StuCo kids became involved in a citizen action project for high school kids over the summer, examining eminent domain, public policy, and local government. They did some awesome stuff and want to plan a whole "Active Citizen" workshop for teenagers across STL, and they did that pretty much all on their own. So that's badass.

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