"[E]ffective teachers are masters of their subject, can organize and emphasize, can clarify ideas and point out relationships, can motivate students, and are reasonable, open, concerned, and imaginative human beings" (Seldin, 1991, p. 1).
In my heart I am an ideologist. Through my own coursework and study, I take every opportunity to question my own beliefs and my own culture. As a scholar, I have been able to develop an identity that focuses on ideological power relationships. Whether it takes me to religion, writing center theory and practice, or the entertainment industry, I have been able to dissect these relationships that begin with an important power relationship. (To see some of my current projects dealing with ideological power structures, please see my current projects.)
As an instructor, I am aware of the traditional ideological position that literally places in me in front of the room. To help restructure this relationship with my students, I try to become a learner with them. In his seminal work, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire wrote, "[A teacher's] efforts must coincide with those of the students to engage in critical thinking and the quest for mutual humanization. His efforts must be imbued with a profound trust in people and their creative power. To achieve this, they must be partners of the students in the relations with them" (p. 57).
In an effort to become a learner with my students, I utilize a private Facebook group that houses our class discussions rather than using the traditional online format, Canvas. By creating student-lead discussions on Facebook, I am able to enter the conversation in a less intrusive way. While it would be difficult to completely dismantle the position I hold as the instructor--my students will always know that my comments are "teacher comments"--I intentionally participate using questions without formal writing practice.
To the left is a screenshot of one of our class discussions on Facebook with my comments highlighted. Each week, two students present an article or video they found on the Internet that makes an argument and then provides a rhetorical analysis. Students then post a link to the article with a discussion question. Each student is responsible for at least two comments. The next class period, two different students present two logical fallacies they found in the original article's comment section. Every section is in the same Facebook group, allowing students from each of my classes to communicate with each other.
These Facebook discussions enable me to ask ideological questions that might otherwise be met with silence in a classroom. One of the most common comments I receive about the Facebook discussions in my evaluations show that my students like being more aware of what's going on in the world and just how often it connects to our classroom discussions about critical thinking. As a class, we attempt to discover what it means to achieve mutual humanization. Together we create knowledge.