What is Radical?

Posted: November 16, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,
creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Lawrence Whittemore: http://flickr.com/photos/lawrence_evil/116573192

creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by Lawrence Whittemore: http://flickr.com/photos/lawrence_evil/116573192

So, I’ve been thinking about what I do and if it’s radical enough. Can I get on the revolutionary bus? Do I need to get on that bus?

This is not a new topic of reflection for me; here’s a little history. I went to a co-ed school, (k-12) was taught science by women, and never doubted that science, or math, or art were comfortable places for women, even though I knew they might not be a place with a lot of women. I didn’t understand all the conversation about girls not feeling good being in science. I loved science, thought I might be a scientist (not a doctor). The fact that I might not be doing the standard girl thing was sort of appealing. I’d never felt very traditional. Then I went to a college that used to be all men and figured out what people had been talking about. All that talk about female role models made sense. I saw women in science classes, all of whom seemed to want to be doctors, but not too many women teaching hard science. This might have something to do with why my thesis was about the treatment of women in a more male space (in Tibetan Buddhism, but still women).

Ultimately, I found my way to education. It was not where I expected to land. I had always seen myself, imagined myself, doing something much more revolutionary, more radical, for a woman. I mean here I was teaching, and teaching in the elementary grades. How much more stereotypical could I be, I wondered. But, the thing is, I liked it. I liked all that energy and conversation in the classroom. And, I know there are students for whom some of the ideas we discussed in class were pretty revolutionary. I opened some eyes, at least temporarily.

Reflecting on this made me realize that my initial ideas were more tied to my minority or majority status in a particular job rather than the particular ideas or actions I might take within that profession. Kind of a limiting way to think about it, but it still made me feel more traditional than I was comfortable feeling. However, maybe I found a way to be revolutionary in the seemingly traditional. I can be the stealth revolutionary, just quietly, or not so quietly, doing my own purple hair thing, molding a small army of revolutionaries in a suburban classroom.

When it comes down to it, I am just not that radical, no matter what my thesis advisor said about me (the words radical, feminist, culture-destroyer may have been uttered). I wouldn’t mind if I were, but it’s not really fair to true revolutionaries to put me in that category; I would seriously water down the group.

Having now made my way to the ed tech part of education, I am back into that less traditional arena, admittedly within a larger traditional context. Is this my happy medium?



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