He acknowledges, however, that this was a success in handling students - what he and Shor both consider "doing to instead of doing with" (p. 5). Control was always at the forefront of his planning, leading to a domesticating rather than an empowering education.
From all of this, as well as the detailed description of Freire's process, my question is, where does my classroom fit into this spectrum of domesticating and empowering education? How much do I "do to" rather than "do with?"
Right now, I feel like my answer is closer to the "doing to" rather than "doing with" side...
Hearing the stories of Peterson's, Bigelow's, and Christiansen's classrooms was inspiring, but also overwhelming. Taking elementary school students to a protest rally and setting up a shadow day at a neighboring high school are experiences that I would love to design with my students. But as Finn's grad students recognize, this type of teaching is scary for so many reasons. It is controversial. It doesn't fit the traditional view of the curriculum. It might cause trouble (p. 178-179). And, another concern of my own, how does this work with special education students? This is my first time working with such a large population of students with IEPs and it's challenging enough to facilitate dialogic conversations with the majority of my students, so how can I scaffold for the IEP students' needs as well? My special education teacher is amazing, but also swamped by the emergency situations that keep popping up on team. I love that Bigelow and Christiansen work together. And I think that is a contributing factor to their success.
I guess it comes back to Finn's idea that "Teachers are supposed to teach, not blame children for what they don't know how to do. But when the make-believe school model is in effect and resistance is the dominant theme, don't expect this to be easy. Get ready for the 'enormous struggle'" (p. 175). This is hard to do when you feel alone in this attempt at something new. Sometimes I feel like I just want the kids to "figure it out" and "just be respectful" or "just make good decisions" because I was "nice enough" to allow them freedom and choice in their work. However, this usually ends in sour disappointment and frustration. So I immediately revert back to more traditional methods of teacher directed learning.
How do we balance these two? As a beginning teacher, with still so many questions, I get stuck on this all the time. I guess that's why I'm here...
While I poked around online to follow some threads from the article, I found this link to a Rethinking Schools article by Linda Christiansen for a series of lessons on "The Danger of a Single Story." She uses Chimamanda Adichie's TED Talk to discuss the Trayvon Martin case and help her students go beyond the single story of their own high school experience.
I also looked into the Study Circles mentioned on p. 168. Their website include information about how to organize dialoague, recruit participants, and work for for change.