Maki Motapanyane, PhD

FOR THE LOVE OF LIBERATORY EDUCATION

Teaching Philosophy

As an educator and mentor, my pedagogy is heavily indebted to feminist, anti-racist and anti-oppression teaching philosophies. My approach to both research and teaching practice centres intersectionality as a knowledge framework from which to respect, foster and critically engage the diversity of students I teach. For me, the understanding of the multi-dimensionality and interplay of race, gender, class, age, ability and sexuality in structuring opportunity and access - as well as in shaping modes of discursive, aesthetic and collective identification - came as a theoretical and political awakening born of experience, long before becoming an academically nurtured approach to research and teaching. My commitment to anti-oppression pedagogy refutes a hierarchy of oppressions, rather prioritizing a supple historical understanding of both the shared and particular circumstances that shape experiences of injustice and privilege.

Creativity and Collaboration 

I have endeavored to promote collaborative learning practices that create a space for the creativity of students and their life experiences within the scope of course assignments and overall course aims. For me, this has also facilitated a greater awareness of the connections and concrete implications of course discussions and material in the lives of students. I encourage students to develop a sense of responsibility and ownership over the learning process and the knowledge collectively produced in class. This means dispelling apprehensions regarding 'stupid questions' versus 'smart questions'. Questions can appear deceptively simple, and a basic breakdown of terms and conceptual history often benefits even those who may take their knowledge of the matter at hand for granted.

Participation 

The participation of students in class discussions is essential to the clarification of information and the mastering of concepts, so I encourage a dynamic, interactive environment in my courses. At the same time, the classroom space should be a place of mutually respectful and democratic learning, and only interventions compatible with such an environment are acceptable. Students are encouraged to participate with self-awareness, respect and accountability in the shared classroom space. I have noticed from experience that genuine curiosity in the classroom sometimes runs counter to preferred or ideal forms of expression, and it is the measure of respect and humanity communicated in these moments that often aides the ensuing dialogue. My emphasis and contribution at such times mobilizes conceptual clarification, a deconstruction of argumentation pattern and basic underlying assumptions and explanations of the historical trajectory of particular arguments and ideologies. In this process, I highlight the importance of our personal and collective reflexivity and our responsibility in producing cogent and defensible articulations of the world around us.

Relevance to Daily Life 

I have sought to understand the aspirations and experiences of my students within the context of the courses we have shared as well as outside of the academic environment. This includes having an understanding of the wage labour obligations, parenting and care responsibilities, and extra-curricular activities of students. I frequently enhance explanations of course material with examples tailored to the experiences, circumstances and interactions of particular groups of students. I have co-written letters with my students in response to hate speech and sexual violence in our midst, and encourage students to bring issues of relevance to them into the classroom. I am committed to understanding the experiences of students and mentoring in a manner that reflects respect for people's interests and passions. Ultimately, my pedagogical aim is to expand the intellectual course of students while facilitating the development of a ripened and responsible understanding of ourselves in the world.

 

 

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