I recently presented a talk, “‘Arts of Noticing’: On Creating Breathing Room for Dissent,” as part of a roundtable discussion on Pedagogies of Dissent for Asian American Studies. I wrote up a detailed recap of the event on the Futures Initiative blog, so for this post I wanted to share some reflections on the process of writing about my pedagogy.
Although I have prepared numerous conference presentations before, they were all focused on my research rather than my teaching; and while I’ve written statements of teaching philosophy (mainly for job applications), this was the first time I had to deliver remarks on my pedagogy in such a public way. I twas difficult to know how and where to start.
The experiences I gained over the years teaching at a range of different institutions, with students of diverse socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds, blurred together and felt too overwhelming to articulate clearly, in a way that would resonate with my potential listeners. I knew I had to offer up my personal reflections on encounters with students in the classroom carefully so they could open up, rather than foreclose, conversation about pedagogy as a practice of dissent.
Knowing this forced me to pause and really think hard about my teaching. Eventually, the strategy I came up with was to treat the preparation for this talk as a kind of course in itself. I asked myself how I would normally approach teaching a class on Asian American literature and the feelings of doubt and uncertainty dissipated. I was on familiar ground.