School starts on Monday. There is a lot to be discouraged about. The country where I live has proven its true colours. It is not doing well on any front I care about. Cases in point: Ferguson. Blaming the victim for sexual assault. Interning children. Buzzwords of all kinds. All this influences how I interact with students and colleagues and people blaring country music from a truck while I am trying to jog while listening to a charming British lady telling me to keep going (This is the NHS Couch to 5k podcast.)
In spite of all this, I must wake up each day. Since I have a job, I must work. Since I am a conscientious person, I must do this work well.
Over the years I have developed a statement of teaching philosophy that can be distilled as the following: I teach Mexican literature and culture, and, more broadly, Hispanic literature, culture and Spanish language, so that my students can learn about another culture, learn what it is like to be a person who does not understand what is happening, to learn from one another in a community, that can then transform its context.
In reality this involves understanding students who are unfailingly polite, and yet, who I do not understand. They like sports and music (including the aforementioned country) and have, shall we say, misgivings about latino people and undocumented workers. So I explain that when the factories went to Mexico, and the rust belt, became, well, the rust belt, the Mexicans were not better off. And to try, somehow, to put my research about repression – when it overwhelmingly affect the bodies of already marginalized people – and the potential for transformation, into practice.