Paradoxes & Praxis: The 21st Century Imperative for Educational Foundations


Janekka: My view on my role as an educator has changed significantly since taking this class. Initially, I thought I was to teach students what and how to learn, and now I know my role is to educate students by lighting their fire. I shifted my role from a teacher to an educator. In my opinion, teachers teach students what they need to know. I see the educator as the one, who helps students to learn by providing an enriching environment that is safe. Educators create spaces where students are free to make mistakes and experience learning. Educators empower students. During the class, I reflected upon education by writing a poem.

What is Education?
You have been with me since my life began.
Not one day goes by that I don’t encounter you.
You helped me make major decisions,
such as, should I skip school, drive drunk, or just do the right thing.
My relationship started with you when I was just a baby.
I learned how to communicate without words to my parents.
To inform them that I needed substance, my diaper changed, or simply a touch.
I learned through experience that crying helped me to get my needs met.
As my life progressed, I began to know you better from my experiences,
like don’t touch something that is hot, or watch out for that car.
I was introduced to you by my parents through ABC’s and 123’s.
One day when I was three, I encountered you unexpectedly.
I took a toy without permission from a friend and you were there.
My parents made me give it back and I did not understand, until it happened to me.
Then I got to know you through sharing.
My parents helped me understand you at my different developmental levels,
then they transitioned me to a formal aspect of you.
I entered a place that worshiped you, adored you, and loved you.
This was not like home, it was full of strangers.
I wanted to go back to my normal way of knowing you.
My parents knew what was best, and lovingly kept me in this new place.
To my surprise our relationship grew and I was able to know you at a different level,
and through many diverse circumstances.
Each year I learned new things because of you,
and I applied your principles to my life.
Thank you for guidance, love and tenacity to make me a better person
I love you education.

Katie: This class and the experiences it gave me had huge ramifications on my teaching, especially because I took this class the semester before my student teaching. For one, my confidence shot through the roof. I no longer accepted everything my cooperating teacher did. I taught in a way that aligned with what I believed. This was a huge boost in my self-reliance because I was now comfortable in not only what I taught, but how I engaged with students as well. Without a doubt I was bashful. I have always been shy, which has always been frustrating because I rarely voiced my opinion. This became something I struggled with as I got older because I knew when I didn’t agree with something, yet I often said nothing. Because of this, I am extremely grateful for the agency this class gave my voice. I have always had a voice but now I am okay to voice it, especially in situations like student teaching where the power dynamics are present and felt.
I found the greatest ramification of this course in a journal entry.

Before this class I would have marked myself as so ignorant but I was happy; I was living in a world where I didn’t see consequences. But then after this class, not that I’m not ignorant, but I see different things and I see the connections. Part of me finds it hard to get out of the spaces that are so dark, sad and encompassing. As a grad student, you are in that space so much and so part of me is like, “Ahhh, I wish I was ignorant. Please let me go back, I was happy, I was a good person in that space, I was not an ethical person, but I was good. I would have been ignorant, but I would have been happy and I wouldn’t have been so overwhelmed. But now that I see these things, I can’t turn them off, there’s no moving away. I live in this space and love to be in it, but there are times when it’s exhausting. Since I know this class was the turning point, a part of me resents it.  If I had not taken this class and been affected the way I was, I would have been teaching—and thought I was helping students… and I probably would have been—but my help would have been stale and one-dimensional. My everyday life would have been one-dimensional. Now I live in layers, more than layers, I float and aim to see in all directions. Floating isn’t always fun, it’s exhausting too. I often wish I could turn it off.

Janekka: I so understand, Katie. I deal with turning off all of the external and internal narrowness. It’s a battle of turning off the internal and the external to experience life and education out of the limits of bubbles; to open up to the possibilities of the world.
Another example is a journal entry I wrote towards the end of the semester when I was a student in the class:

I think growth might be about me going from making ethical decisions to living in a space where every action is an ethical decision. No I am not meaning to say that I always make the ethical choice, because I don’t even know how I would justify what I would consider ethical or not ethical. I am saying that I now see every action or inaction as an ethical decision. If I choose to drive to campus, this is an ethical action. It is not ethical, but it becomes an ethical action because I now see that as I am prepared to leave my house to go to campus I can walk, drive, bike, stay home, use public transportation, etc. There are multiple choices- I believe there almost always are (of course this might shed light on privilege)- and the way we or outside influences frame these choices have importance. Adopting a dog, going out to eat, shopping at a store…. all are ethical decisions I had not previously thought about. Or at least thought about in the way I do now.

Lastly, we believe this class has not only allowed us to be critical, but to be critical consumers, which has moved us from passivity to activity. The following are three examples of what it means to be a critical consumer and how engrained this has been for us as we reflect on our reality and the reality of other humans. With these stories and reflections we urge you to question how you will affect change, what this means and looks like, and how we can be mindful of not only our change but the changes of others.

This page has paths: