My Educational Pillars
I teach because I aim to be an instigator of change within marginalized communities. My responsibility as an instructor is to empower my students to become self-determinant and work towards community actualization. This can only be achieved through the active critiquing and working against any and all structures of power that inhibit it. The notions on self-determination and community actualization comes from the Asian American film movement, which started in the late-1960's, which in itself stemmed from the Ethnic Studies movement. The purpose of the movement was to develop a counter-narrative that actively fought against the orientalist narratives Asian Americans were represented as in Hollywood; fighting to visualize the genuine life and experiences of Asian Americans. This thus brings us the pillars of my pedagogy being centered around narrative.
Discussing Your Narrative
I develop genuine relations with students by breaking down the structure of power that has been commonly inscribed within the classroom space. The classroom space is one of the crucial spaces by which roles of power in society are learned and unquestionably accepted. I aim to make my classroom a space by which these roles within various aspects of society can be questioned. Students will be in control of their own education as much as possible.
A major way this is made possible is through dialogical pedagogy. I, the instructor, will not be the sole bearer of knowledge by which I view my students to be containers that need to be filled. Through dialogue, students will actively come to class contributing what they know and what they personally experience in their personal lives and in their communities. From there, I am but the mediator that provides theory to help explain issues marginalized communities face.
This is a disruption of the master narrative. Instead of being in the position of power, telling students from an individual epistemological standpoint who you are and how you should be, it opens the floor to question the master narrative that has been provided to them.
Critiquing Narratives of Power
The social construction of how marginalized groups are perceived is entirely reliant on dominant media narratives. Just like the space of the classroom, media is another social institution where the roles and power structures of society are learned and unquestionably accepted. Dominant media is structured and facilitated through a plethora of gatekeepers from corporate sponsors to self-interests. Media has become a quintessential lens by which we conduct everyday sociality from television to social media and print. It is thus important to critique narratives that dominant media provides us and more importantly to critique narratives that dominant media uses to describe others.
Focusing on media literacy pedagogy, students will be asked to critique dominant narratives through the following questions*:
Authorship - Who created what it means to be Asian American? What is their relationship to Asian Americans? What has influenced the way they understand what it means to be Asian American?
Format - What techniques are used to attract, sustain, and manipulate the attention of the audience?
Audience - How might different people understand, interpret, and misinterpret the meaning of being Asian American in the media that is being presented?
Content - What values, lifestyles, and points of view are represented about Asia and/or Asian Americans, or omitted from, this message?
Purpose - Why is this message being sent? What is the purpose of the message? What is the historical, society, economic, and political impact of the message?
*These questions can be applied to various groups. These questions have been adapted from the 2020-2021 pedagogy guide from Pin@y Educational Partnerships.
Creating Our Own Narratives
Students themselves are the makers of culture and narrative. The classroom is just the initial space by which navigating through structures of power is practiced. The relevancy is that this can be applied beyond the classroom and into everyday life from participating in local civics to the workplace through the acts of navigating through issues and visualizing solutions. There are two pedagogies that uphold this pillar: performance and visual arts pedagogy.
The first is performance pedagogy, borrowed from Agusto Boal's Theatre of the Oppressed. Through the format of forum theatre, all participants are both the actors and the spectators. The primary takeaway is that students are provided common scenarios they may experience in their everyday lives that discuss an array of current issues. The initial scene in performed and spectators choose to take the place of an actor in suggestion that they may provide a solution to the issue at hand. This process is repeated until a consensus is satisfied with a possible solution. The act of forum theatre is the act of practicing for revolutionary change in society.
For visual arts pedagogy, I follow through with the idea that every film produced is a form of documentary. There are two forms of documentary: one that is of truth through the eyes of the director and one that is of wish fulfillment. The act of visual critical practices is an act of displaying issues in a tangible manner and visualizing what could be done to develop a better world.