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New Yorker (and New York Adjacent) People Meet-up?
In The Social Hour
July 12 - What is Islam, Islamic Literature, Pedagogical Choices
In Reading Discussion
Joey Braccino
Jul 12, 2021
Sorry to hear about that tension and those protests--sadly, I think that pushback is the reality for a lot of teachers, whether from a "concerned" parent or all the way up to the school board meetings. I also found Dr. Toorawa's comments on pedagogy and, particularly, identity as "essentializing discourse" especially enlightening. In IB Literature, we have these curricular requirements to cover a certain amount of works in translation and a certain amount of "regions"/"continents", and a certain amount of works from different centuries, etc. In building out our class reading lists, it's always a challenge to keep those selections from being read as representative of that culture, time, or place. Pedagogically, I'm always tempted to start those units with a "crash course" in the socio-political context around that work, but then I wonder if I'm falling down that "essentializing" rabbit hole that Toorawa discusses. Your comments about Jane Austen are totally on-point as well! The section where Toorawa talks about the innate political weight "by virtue of [teachers'] bodies" and the potential "skepticism" that some students might have as a result resonated with me, too. Recently, I ran a senior seminar on Asian American Superheroes with some students and we got to talking about the "Asian American narrative", with one student very keenly expressing that in actuality there was no single Asian American narrative and that it was imperative see and hear more Asian American stories and experiences so as to create something more complex, nuanced, and closer to reality. With that said, Toorawa's comments toward the end of the interview helped me contextualize those choices we make as educators about what we reveal to our students and how it helps shape their world view.
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Joey Braccino

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