The independent study group "The Possibility of a Critical Pedagogy" attended United Opt Out: Occupy the Department of Education 2.0 in Washington, D.C., from April 5-7.
Students Robert Fagan '14, Sean Fujimori '14, Margeaux Lavoie '13, and Susannah Spero '13 represented the six-person course, which also includes William Dana '13 and Virginia Savage '13. The student-designed, student-run class has spent the semester studying the theory and praxis of pedagogy, working with Professor of Comparative Literature Nancy Rabinowitz and Kirkland alumna and recent campus speaker Dr. Barbara Burns Madeloni K'79.
The students attended a workshop with Madeloni, then, according to Spero, “we decided to demonstrate our commitment to our concept of a democratic education system by joining teachers, students, and activists in their four-day occupation of the plaza outside of the U.S. Department of Education." The protest featured a variety of speakers who creatively shared their experiences with the United States public education system. On Saturday the students "joined a 175-person march to the White House, during which we rallied against what we perceive as high-stakes standardized testing and corporate-influenced public education," Spero added.
“We attended the protest to take action on issues we had been discussing in class. We wanted to move our knowledge out of the classroom and actively engage with policy and support our beliefs via peaceful protest. By participating in this non-violent, legal event, we had a unique opportunity to experientially learn from and with progressive education activists. Our presence contributed to the public dialogue surrounding education in America and edified our educational experience,” said Spero.
The trip was made possible by the Diversity and Social Justice Project, the Dean of Students for Multicultural Affairs and Accessibility Services, and the Comparative Literature Department.