[About Me] [Academic Work] [Teaching] [Presentations] [Selected Works] [Contact]
School was excruciating for me as racialized immigrant child. It was more disciplining and coercive than supportive starting from the Euro-centric curriculum to the dynamics of power in the classroom. In our English as Second Language we all innocently laughed at the substitute teacher’s pronunciation of our multi-ethnic last names during attendance. In a burst of anger she shouted back: “you should hear how my family and I laugh at all of you when I tell them how you speak English!” Our laughter was stopped cold. I wanted to tell the principal what she said and how she said but did not know how as I was still learning to articulate myself in English.
The class followed in a roar of laughter and I felt that it was all directed at me. Instead of leading me to diverse sources for the answers I sought, my teacher discouraged my curiosity and disempowered my longing to know.
In university I studied international development, Latin American politics and the political economy of labour in order to understand global inequity, exploitation and social injustice. In university I could finally see myself in the curriculum and studied under unforgettable professors who taught me how to think and expanded my knowledge about the ways the world and power operate. In my graduate training I turned towards transformative pedagogy as a means toward social change and honoring holistic ways of knowing.
My teaching praxis is premised on reclaiming the classroom as a space for empowerment and transformation for my students. Education is as much about learning as it is about unlearning. I seek to deconstruct Western colonial, racist and exclusionary worldviews that have clouded and erased diverse ways of knowing and understanding. I consider myself a feminist decolonializing teacher who leads students into a journey to ignite their capacity to dream and build alternatives to global inequities. I strive to empower them to counter the capitalist colonization of the mind that dictates that exploitation and injustices are permanent features of the world.
My teaching praxis seeks wholeness, integration and expansiveness of the ways we know and come to know about ourselves and the world.
Core to my teaching philosophy is that it is not enough to know but necessary to feel in order to fully embody change and knowledge. Students are concerned with obtaining an excellent final grade for their course work. However, I emphasize that the way to best position themselves for an excellent evaluation is to recognize the importance of the subjects we are studying to the world and their own lives. I stress how a university education is a privilege and a right that comes with responsibility. In my courses I usually delve into “difficult knowledge” involving power, oppression and injustices and my main task is to gently lead students in imprinting this knowledge beyond their mind so it can be fully embodied and mobilized in their lives beyond their offical transcripts; otherwise it is merely stagnant information.
You’re doing an immaculate job at enforcing and producing your class mandate: transformative learning. The unorthodox and unconventional learning environment and participatory paradigm is certainly a “breath of fresh air”.
From formal written evaluations:
The course was informative, eye-opening, daring and I learned than I ever expected about immigration and migration. It was clearly a tough subject to teach but the course director made it seem effortless. It explored the underlying essence of what all these people went through. My perspective has become more fired up to make a change and be a better student and citizen. Refer to comment below for improvement. Truly unlike any other course.
It was the most open and comfortable discussion space I have been for a tutorial and was thoroughly impressed with the variety of forums that involved videos, diagrams, texts, guest-speakers and more. The only thing that could be improved would be to lengthen it so we can learn even more. –HREQ 3485 Fall 2012
Samples of unsolicited feedback from students:
I hope all is well. I want to express my sincere gratitude for all the efforts you have taken during the past academic year. From the day one, I enjoyed each and every class of yours and used to look forward to go to school everyday- which is such a surprise from a girl who used to dislike school.
The class you taught 2 years ago, Human Rights and Migrant Workers, has inspired and challenged me to take my thoughts and concerns into action; the most important lesson that I learned from your class was to be the change I wish to see. This lesson has stuck by me ever since.
Thank you for helping me to challenge myself and see what I capable of. And thank you for being one of the few great educators out there- your students are very fortunate to learn from such strong, inspiring and brave professor like yourself.
Feedback from online teaching in Continuing Education, UBC, February 2016.
Your comment in our Module 4 discussion, "being uprooted, forced to leave due to violence and limited options and venues for survival is one thing and then there is the shock of a new country and the life long journey to feel settled, secure and belonging yet again somewhere. When we leave our countries we are like trees whose roots get yanked out quite violently and we never know if those roots will take to the new soil or if we will die in the attempt" left me aching for a way to acknowledge this statement. My journaling this week led to sketching what I was taking in - the time spent focusing on yours and migrants' concerns was cathartic; we are taking in so much information. You are inspirational! It is my hope that your roots in Canada are filled with Chilean identity and love.
Brenda -image drawn by student in relation to my words/stories