The craft of teaching and learning is like playing in a symphony orchestra; every instrument has a voice and every voice is integral to the whole. The arts, history, anthropology, and philosophy and their forged discourses offer us a series of cautionary tales about the multiplicity of ways we can see and understand our world, ways we often ignore in the classroom. In the case of epistemology, and pedagogy in particular, we have hinged our understanding on a binary of opposites engaged in a dialectic dance and a type of discourse constructed to describe and explain it. The art and act of teaching in this as-if world necessitates teachers to be public intellectuals; intellectual symbols who represent something more than just subject-knowledge expertise but serve as conduits between the discourses of our world.
Established genres and discourses are exclusionary. The vast migration of people and ideas is producing a new set of presuppositions. The manner in which we decode other discourses and fuse them into meanings, both personal and shared, is the root of both teaching and learning, giving us a window into the way that each form of thought is connected, both historically and experientially. Look around you, your school is becoming the United Nations, but it’s not so united. Don’t aim for truth, aim for understanding. Today’s students construct and deconstruct in a multitude of ways on an as-needed, just-in-time basis. Since ideas of difference are often nudged but unacknowledged, we are in danger of becoming pedagogical dinosaurs, not heeding change until it is too late.
Teaching and learning are construction zones, so get out your hard hat. These constructions are possibilities that need to be discussed and negotiated, allowing us to sidestep the traps of grand narratives and a hierarchy of discplinarity and research methodology. Our possibilities need to be forged on an anvil of diversity. These are the spaces, the interstices, where our voices become innovative and our silence offers a safe harbor. Spaces to listen, collaborate, and craft cautionary tales about our lives and the possibilities for a shared future.