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Pedagogy of protest

Educators working on the front lines of building a better world: new faculty

December 6, 2018 — 

It’s not hard to spot new faculty member Dr. Joe Curnow. Depending on what she’s teaching in class that day, you’re as likely to see her carrying protest signs in the faculty hallways as you are textbooks.

The pedagogy of protest and classroom activism are no stranger to Curnow, who sees educators as working on the front lines of building a better world.

“We need to think about our responsibility as educators to be building something different.”

“Kids are living in this extremely racialized, extremely settler-colonial, gendered universe,” Curnow says.

“We need to think about our responsibility as educators to be building something different.”

As she sees it, a part of that responsibility is to help students navigate the world with all it social injustices, and help them to challenge and change power imbalances.

‘Pedagogy as a practice of freedom’

“We’re really teaching and thinking of pedagogy as a practice of freedom,” Curnow says, adding that she draws on her background as a social-movement organizer and antiracism educator to help us find ways of engaging in work for social justice that impacts not only our classrooms but also our communities more broadly.

In her research, Curnow has found that racialized and colonial influences have extended even into the environmentalist movement.

“It’s something that activists have acknowledged and known for decades, but which has been taken up significantly less in academic circles,” Curnow says.

Here at the University of Manitoba, Curnow hopes her work will build on the research of faculty like Dr. Laara Fitznor, whom Curnow credits with working to make space for Indigenous people and bring Indigenous perspectives to the university.

“And I’m really happy to be part of that legacy and as a white settler, thinking about my responsibility to doing work around truth and reconciliation, antiracism and decolonization,” Curnow says.

 

 

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