During the first semester of my first academic year at VCU, my FI 111 classes used the concepts in Paulo Freire’s essay “The Banking Concept of Education” (Ways of reading, 256-271). The class used Freire’s idea of oppression when looking at the world by way of national historic documents and international news via newspapers. The second semester of FI (112), the students and I explored the early feminist ideas of Marilyn Frye (“Opression,”1983) and Simone de Beauvoir “from Second Sex” (Jacobus A world of ideas, p.173-185). I used basic feminist thought because I had a personal interest in the movement, having been revising a collection of poems that worked with feminist ideas. Second semester we got familiar with the notion of the sublimes and discovered connections between masculine and feminine sublime. Indeed, while the masculine sublime attempts to overwhelm one with experience, we found in de Beauvoir’s “feminine mystery” (p.179) Jean-François Lyotard’s “feminine sublime” (as cited in Freeman, 1997, p.162). In FI 112, the same lenses/concepts/themes are used and given definitions as a member of an academic discipline might use.
My hope was that the lenses became language for students to use in discussions and on papers and that the connections between Freire’s notion of oppression and de Beauvoir’s feminine mystery would be made. Concepts are chosen to suit my interests for my research and writing, but of course they must be able to be found by students. Having concepts that I am interested in is important so that students intuit my interest. So I try to choose concepts that seem rudimentary or banal but are able to reveal interesting notions with closer scrutiny. I have taught upper-level courses for several years and am aware of what one might expect from freshmen. During the second semester, we built on what we examined first semester, reading The Dew Breaker (2005) and watching “Thelma and Louise” (1991). Students found themselves examining the difference between Modernism and Postmodernism via masculine and feminine sublime.
To be certain that students understand the concepts and their contexts, they perform close reading of an essay that contains or better yet defines the concept. Students are going to read the essay at least twice under my supervision and then write a paper on it or take an essay exam. (The reading, journaling, and demonstrative writing here is transparent so students may model it in other courses that may have difficult readings.) Appendix B is an example of class times during the reading, journaling, and writing using the sequential and spiral curriculum. Appendix C includes the fall FI 112 semester schedule. However, though the sequential and spiral curriculum is modeled here, the particular lesson is for the reading of Paulo Freire and continues toward a paper on his concept.
from The International Journal of Critical Pedagogy