Archive | October, 2011

Why We Should Teach the Occupation

9 Oct

I’m sure all of my friends and colleagues have heard about the Wall Street Occupation. I’m just as sure than many support the demonstration, have spent time in Zuccotti Park, or marched in solidarity. Some have spent the night and are actively involved in coordinating and organizing the protest.

I personally have met members of the clergy, writers, musicians, dancers, steel workers, IT technicians, actors, middle-class moms, social workers, Vietnam and Gulf War veterans, a veterinarian and fellow scholars. Their grievances are varied, sometimes contradictory, and always real. There are many, many voices in the park, but at a very basic level they are all saying the same thing – that this country has lost sight of the values of equality, equity and social justice.

Zuccotti Park is the site of a truly extraordinary, protean moment in American history. It is sometimes chaotic, a bit ragged around the edges, but you can’t come away from the park without feeling that there is something important happening there.

That is why we have an obligation as educators to bring the occupation into our pedagogy. Whether we teach history, American studies, political science, or almost any other discipline, the Wall Street Occupation marks a significant historical moment that we can’t ignore. Critics of the occupation, primarily in the conservative media, have said that they find the event unintelligible and, demonstrating their ignorance of history, have decried it as “un-American” and proto-Fascism. We have a responsibility to make the occupation intelligible and to combat ignorance with knowledge.

I have set up a Facebook group called Occupation: Pedagogy to share ideas and strategies with other educators, and I invite teachers from all levels to participate. I will use this blog to discuss the challenges of teaching the Occupation, and the strategies and ideas that educators have developed.