To be a teacher and not to fight is a pedagogical contradiction
“Teaching is a political act.” This has been our mantra for a long time. What we mean by it varies, but it could be boiled down to “there is something at stake in teaching that is related to our values and stances, thus teaching cannot be reduced to a technical profession.” But how do we talk about the politics of teaching and teacher education when what is at stake is one’s own life and death? What took place in Ayotzinapa, where 43 student teachers protesting increasing college fees and political corruption, were kidnapped, tortured and murdered by drug cartels allied with those same corrupt state forces, moves us to reassess our commitments as teacher educators and public intellectuals. What does it mean to embrace the political nature of our job?
In the US, mainstream progressive education’s emphasis on social justice, multiculturalism, and diversity is still mostly about teaching other people’s children, as Lisa Delpit put it. If the personal is political, we have not managed to make teacher education and teaching personal enough, and thus, we have failed to help our student teachers grasp the full implications of understanding teaching as political. Our own professional organizations rarely speak out in clear terms against events like the massacre of Ayotzinapa (with some extremely important exceptions). Speaking just for myself, I have a hard time imagining my own students (or myself) putting their lives literally on the line to stand against the deep injustices affecting the communities in which they work. So, what do we do with those limits? What are the implications of, perhaps, not being political enough? How do we respond, as committed teacher educators, to a horrific event and the mirror it upholds? Because I, personally, #YaMeCansé