In Randy Pausch's memoir, The Last Lecture, he asks his audience to pay close enough attention to figure out the 'head fake.' Now, I don't exactly read Sports Illustrated every week, or even visit tsn.com regularly (with the exception of the recent World Figure Skating Championships held in Los Angelos!). But from what I understand, a 'head fake' is a term associated with basketball, something about tricking your opponent - acting as if you are going to throw or pass the ball one way, but in the end, choosing a different direction than expected.
To the class of 08/09 - Joanne has used this trickery and deceit on us as a class. She has 'head-faked' us. She had sent us all the RS 383 syllabus back in December, before the winter semester had even started... sending us into little bouts of worry, as we only had about four or five actual classes - and she expected us to complete a minimum of 18 hours of volounteering!? Didn't she realize that we were busy students with heavy workloads?! AND what on earth was this 'blogging' she spoke of!? All of it was utterly bizarre; it was a course outline that was unheard of as it did not have a required textbook, regularly scheduled classes, or even any scheduled midterms or exams. No final? No structure? What was she thinking!?
Despite the fears of disorganization and pure chaos, and only attending five classes, RS 383 has been something else. Having been forced to read Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Scott Kline last fall, it is ridiculous that noone saw through Joanne's slick scheme earlier. After reading Marissa's latest epiphany, it all made sense! Each of the required RS courses of the Beyond Borders program applied Freire's theories of authentic education. Rather than simply 'depositing' information into their students (the general 'banking' method seen in the educational institutions of today), both Scott and Joanne made use of the interactional teaching/pedagogical learning approach that Freire writes of.
Some key concepts that are found within Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed include:
- "Authentic education will involve dialogue between the student and teacher." This broadens our world context and prospective, and is more than just a deposit of new information.
- "The importance of mutual respect and cooperation." Joanne allowed us to take ownership of this class, as we explored the Working Centre and the various volounteer opportunities found there, as well as through the presentations and discussions regaring our placement organizations and host countries. As a class, we took accountability for sharing our experiences (thanks to our handy blogs) and throughout fundraising ventures together.
- "Radical interaction." This actually took place, on different occasions (ask Ruby for footage of Joanne letting loose WITH... yes, with... her students - the SJU Formal was a night to remember).
- "Liberation from an objective relationship to a subjective relationship." In an objective relationship, there is no dialogue or engagement, things are defined for you, whereas in a subjective relationship, there is conversation, mutual dialogue, and actions that take place in a beneficial process.
As for the 'head fake,' we were all expecting a typical class with regular readings, assignments, and lectures. Scott and Joanne would tell us what we needed to know, and we would memorize the theories we were taught. Yet the unstructured format of both the fall and winter RS classes taught me more than I've learned in past lectures and average classes. I value the lessons learned regarding respect, cooperation, interaction, dialogue, and engagement. I can see the benefits of authentic education, and the powerful impact that relationships can have on our communities.