On Friday May 6, the Kalamazoo College Arcus Center invited students, faculty, and community members to “The Right to Think at All: Teaching and Research in the Public Interest” workshop. Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohern facilitated this Radical Pedagogy workshop, opening up the conversation on education and the implications that goes along with that institution.
“[Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn] were leaders of Weather Underground, which was a countercultural, anti-Vietnam War movement,” Hung Nguyen K’18, a student fellow for the Arcus Center explained. “Now Bill is a retired professor of UIC in the College of Education; his main interest now is teaching for social justice. Bernadine is now a professor of law at Northwestern, whose work revolves around child’s rights and the juvenile justice system.”
Julia Plomer K’18, who also works as a student fellow for the Arcus Center, explained the main objective of the workshop as a way to “engage in critical conversation about radical pedagogy with two white educators who have navigated a variety of different radical spaces.”
“I hope people have a better idea of what an ideal education looks like from these multiple perspectives and more on to improve their teaching style accordingly,” Nguyen said in response to the workshop.
Ayers asked the group to think about the contradictions of teaching along with the question, “how do you unlock the wisdom in the room.” This question was posed not only to the teachers in the room but also the students and in what conditions they felt their wisdom has been unlocked.
“[If we] teach a love of learning, of seeking out information, they’ll go out and continue learning,” Dohern said.
“I hope that professors and the students that attended listened and are going to think critically about their pedagogies and how they interact with students and administration,” Plomer said. “I hope that professors especially white professors heard Bill and Bernadine when they said to listen…to students of color about what they need from a classroom… [and to] listen to faculty of color who are advocating for a more accountable and anti-racist institution, go to trainings, go through ERAC/CE, always do more. Adopting a radical anti-oppression pedagogy is not something that you can check off as completed, it’s a constant process.”