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Issues in Contemporary Humanity
My World on April 26, 2005

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"She doesn't really teach them anything, you know." jeanne's first version the fear of exclusion
Mean Girls
Issues in Contemporary Humanity
Nevermind That They're Mean

California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: April 26, 2005
Latest Update: April 26, 2005

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Issues in Contemporary Humanity: It happened again. One of my students shared with us that a member of my department told her that I don't really teach anything. Gee, I've tried. Freire would say I had. Pat says I have. Many of my students say I have. Alumnae, like Lois Lee and Susan Takata, who direct their own academic and social justice enterprises, say I have. But still, someone who doesn't know me, who never even had a real conversation with me, "knows that I don't teach my students anything." Maybe she's related to Cardinal Ratzinger, now known as Pope Benedict XVI. He's a stickler for orthodoxy, too. But the orthodox generally favors the status quo, the status in which privileges are preserved to those who have them, and denied to those who are not of that elite.

I was depressed enough at the fear that the new pope would damn catholicism to an orthodoxy that doesn't fit much of the new century and hardly any of the Third World. I thought since I retired, it didn't matter anymore that I teach as Freire taught, with love and caring, and with a transcendental certainty that all humans can and want to learn, and will learn if the teacher will but listen in good faith to understand their validity claims. Now, all that comes from Habermas, and liberation theology, and Nietzche, and Maria Pia Lara, and Karen Armstrong, and lots of others I try to keep up with so that I can reference what I tell my students with solid scholarly resources. But someone whom I don't know has allegedly said that I've failed, to a student, no less.

How impressive! She doesn't even have to talk to me to know I've failed. There must be others. I mean, one wouldn't say that to my student, if one didn't know, would one? And if she doesn't know me then she must have heard that from others who do know me, mustn't she? It seems unkind; mean, even. Couldn't she have said that she was a better teacher, or more learned, or earned higher grades in school, or knew more? Couldn't she have said how much better she was? Or did she have to say that I taught nothing. Couldn't her statements been about her instead of about my alleged failure?

And, according to one of our students, she denigrated my course in Love 1A. Said it has nothing to do with women. Gee, I would have said that love and relationships has a lot to do with women and how we relate to other people, including men. But maybe she doesn't know Leo Buscaglia and that wonderful course he taught for years at USC. I did. I knew him. Oh, I'll write the essay she demanded on what Love 1A has to do with women. But I might not pass. So beware, kids. I don't really teach you anything, and she's apparently the authority on all things orthodox in learning..

I've managed this semester to continue posting lectures on religion as a present social issue. That's for the students who are studying independently with me, since I'm not regularly on campus this semester. I thought the lectures were helpful, especially because I do listen in good faith to my own students, and I know how they juggle time and constant demands. I know also that if I summarize lots of really good sources for them, that when they can they will read further on their own, even if they can't find the time now. I know that sometimes they're not sure what they're learning when faced with an aggressive and generalized demand to explain what they have learned. During the course of this semester I've added people and concepts to our weekly issue along with discussion questions and scholarly references to help answer such questions and to help students who aren't used to transparent reports of learning. Maybe those who want to know what I teach could take the time to look at our website.

Tomorrow, I'll be at school. And hopefully will get to see lots of you. Meanwhile, I'll get back to putting up learning records next week. It's been a little hectic around here, though I'm sure it has been for you, too.

Somebody send me a "good dog." Oops. I forgot. The e-mails not working yet. I'll fix it. I'll fix it. I can't go for too long without a "good dog" when the environment gets this strange. For warmth and love and sharing and relationships that work, take Love 1A next fall. Syllabus up soon. jeanne

love and peace, jeanne

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