Last year I wrote a blog about how my professors have made me a confused emotional mess. The main issues that I complained about was
1. my educators have assumed that I do not know things
2. my educators have acted as if I am container to fill information in. They do not engage with me as much as they should.
3. Because of 1 and 2, I have felt that my professor's have assumed that I was not capable.
I would like to add context to what I was saying. In my little rant I said that this was not a problem that I had witnessed just at UConn. It was a problem that I have experienced my whole life. I would like to elaborate on how I have experienced this in the past and how I have experienced this at UConn.
Primary and Secondary Education
When I was in Kindergarden I was tested to be in the gifted and talented program. I did not get in. I have no idea why. All I know is that I am gifted and talented. I am sure that I was back then but my teacher's assumed things about me that weren't true.
They assumed that I was not capable when I was.
They must have thought that I would not be able to contain knowledge in a way that would meet their standards.
I know you are probably thinking, oh shit this bitch is complaining about not getting into a gifted program when she was in kindergarden.
No, love. The feeling of being slept on by my educators is something I have had to endure for decades. As such, it has shaped the scholar I am today. It has shaped how I have gone about understanding my educational experiences to this day. I start with my experience in Kindergarten because it was the first time that my teacher's assumed I wasn't good enough to do something because I didn't contain information in a particular way. With it being my first and all , it matters.
So please allow me to draw on my many experiences of how my educators have worked to ensure that I have become a "confused emotional mess" so that I can get to my main point which is that my frustration for being in an educational system that practices the banking model of education is what led me to write that "Please Stop" blog last January. Tbc, when I say banking model of education, I mean that, my scope of action in the classroom has not extended beyond areceiving, filing, and storing the deposits. Instead of engaging with me with ideas, my teachers have tried to deposit information into me as if I am a container. I have been forced to patiently receive, memorize, and repeat this information. At times when I have failed to do so, I have been made to feel as if I am not capable, thus ensuring that I became a confused emotional mess.
Now, when I was in 4th grade my teachers started allowing some of the students in my elementary school to take the honors courses. I got into the English and History honors courses, I believe. I did not get into the science or math honors courses because I was not "gifted" enough. It's imperative to note that I did not care because I did not like science or math. I really hate that I developed a disinterest in science and math because I believe this sentiment is what has led me to be unsuccessful at containing information as my teacher's have wanted me to. Looking back, I believe that I developed this sentiment so that I could push feelings of inferiority to my unconscious and not have to deal with my insecurities on a conscious level. Dealing with my insecurities about my capabilities in this way has made me into an emotional mess because it has ensured that I navigate through academic hurdles without realizing why I am stressed, that I am stressed, or that there are plausible solutions to overcoming my challenges in academia.
This is evident when I think back to many difficult academic experiences. When I was in middle school, for instance, I struggled to complete courses I was in mandated that I take. Students in this college preparatory program that I was in were required to take honors courses. As explained before, I was used to taking English and History honor courses. However, I did not think I was good at math and science so I stayed on level for those courses. Because I was in the college preparatory program, I was forced to take either a honors math or science course. When I tell you that taking the science course was the most uncomfortable experiences!
I remember just sitting in class not being able to pay attention because I didn't think I was capable of doing well in the class. I couldn't understand what the teacher was saying because I felt like her words were going over my head. I spent half the whole semester half-trying because I didn't think I was capable of doing the material. It was like I couldn't give what I had to be successful in the course because I didn't think I could be successful in the course. This unhealthy way of being became common for me in future courses that I felt unsure about taking. For our intents and purposes, it is important to note that this unhealthy way of being has ensured that I have not contained information as my educators have wanted me to.
I would now like to take a moment to digress because I think some complaining is in order.
All this shit pisses me tf off because I have always been mother fucking capable.
I have always been smart. I can just hear someone saying, maybe you just aren't good at math or science. Naw bruh, I just never freaking thought I was good at it so every time I took a course in science or math I had anxiety about it. I never had people who believed in my ass, educators who worked with my ass to make sure that I felt comfortable or good enough to do it, so I never did well in those courses.
The shit pisses me off when I think about it because I just finished taking this mandatory ass logic course (which is basically math with letters). The whole semester was stressful af for me because I dead ass was like I can't do this. And I just know that the only reason why I thought that shit was because the idea that I can't do things has been ingrained in me.
I've even felt insecure about things I have been naturally good at.
Because of the shitty fucking banking model of education I have been dragged up in.
Because my educators made me doubt myself instead of strengthening my self-esteem.
Let me get back to what I was talking about before.
The idea that I am not capable because I have not shown that I can contain information has really fucked with me and it has really f'd me in a lot of situations. I remember when I was a kid my daddy was helping me with a writing assignment. (Props to my daddy for always helping me with my school work!) I remember him yelling at me, telling me I need to restructure my paper. See, I was trying to be creative in my writing. Unfortunately, my steps to be creative ensured that my writing was incomprehensible. I remember this because back then my dream was to become a writer. After this conversation with my daddy, I decided I did not want to be one. Please note, my daddy is the realest and was just trying to help, as a good father would. I was sensitive af back then (I still am.)
I think my daddy was right in correcting me about my writing. The issue is that he became one out many educators who practiced the banking model of education to teach me things. Maybe I am wrong but I truly believe that after a life over-saturated with educators who practice this, one becomes a hot mess.
I will be the first to say that everyone should be held accountable. Everyone should be made to live up to academic standards. This does not stop me from wishing that I would have had more educational experiences where my educators investigated standards with me as they taught me to live by them. I wish that they had not made me believe that my inability to perform in a particular way meant that I was not capable. I wish that I had learned that my missteps did not mean that my very being was incapable. I wish that I had more educators in my life that I had taught me how to love learning, to love it and myself through the challenges.
When I was in high school I took this history course. One day my teacher asked me a question. I answered the question. My answer was nonsensical but it made sense to me. In my response, I tried to relate certain themes of the class together. The way that I did this was not clear and it seemed like I was speaking gibberish. Instead of thinking, oh maybe Taylor has something valuable to say, let me try and tease out what she means, my teacher just skipped over me and started discussing something else.
The same teacher was super surprised when I scored high on the AP exam. It was almost like she was shocked that I did well. It was the weirdest feeling- feeling ecstatic that she was proud of me while simultaneously feeling like shit because it was obvious that she didn't think I could do it in the first place.
I also remember taking an English course. I love the material but I wasn't good with multiple choice answer questions so I didn't do well on all of the quizzes. I think about that and I wish my teacher would have noticed my potential and tried to validate me while helping me to do well on multiple choice questions. She did not. These experiences may seem small but the reason why these experience stands out is because I have very little memories of people validating me. I mostly just have a lot of emotional memories of my educators skipping over me, ignoring me, and admonishing me for not containing information in a particular way. I think a lot of my insecurities stem from the fact that that a lot of my educator's have passed up on me to work with students who seemed like they had more potential than I did. They did not see me as someone who had potential because I did not contain information in the way that was expected. Because of this, they failed to help me develop any type of confidence in learning. They also failed to make me feel like I was listened to or that I was valued.
I think that decades of experiencing all of this made me write that blog in January. I really do. I think that it all reached to a boiling point and that I was just tired of dealing with people who didn't think I was good enough. When I wrote my blog I did not consciously recognize all of the things that I have stated in this blog. This is really the first time I have consciously thought about all this. Now, that I have I want to discuss how my professor's at UConn may or may not have attributed to making me a "confused emotional mess."
All of my professor's at UConn have been awesome. A few of them have even helped me to develop confidence in my academic work. I will say that some of them practice a banking model of education. Their intentions in this seem to be very wholesome and virtuous. It actually seems to be a byproduct of requiring students to consume so much info. I haven't talked to any of my professor's about why we have to get through SO MUCH material but it seems like many of their strategies is to throw as much information at me and my colleagues as they can so that we will somehow be able to say that we know "the literature" or so we can write awesome papers at the end of the semester. I don't know. Maybe they do it because they all love the material so much and they just want to share it with us. Maybe they love philosophy so much that they couldn't imagine taking any of the readings that off of the syllabus they carefully crafted.
I think people have long accepted that it is just apart of grad school that students have to read a lot. The issue with this, though, is that when you make students learn a lot, the only choice you have is to deposit knowledge into passive students. There isn't a lot of time to engage with the material or engage with students on material because everyone is just trying to make sure that we know what was said in the reading. Last semester, in my blog, I discussed how frustrated I was with my professor's doing this but now I see that because they think it is a must that we learn a lot. They believe that it is a must that they make themselves into the epistemological authority in the classroom; a belief that works to ensure that they ignore students' pre-existing knowledge. They do this because they feel the need to get through so much material.
I gotta say that I have thoroughly enjoyed many of the readings I have been assigned. I especailly enjoy the readings assigned on the primacy of struggle.
They have made me a better person, a better scholar. I would hate it if I had not read some of the readings they assigned to me any my colleagues. I just wish that the cost of learning so much wasn't that we had to sacrifice being able to think and actively solve problems, presented to them by teacher, along with teacher's. Many of my professor's have practiced awesome strategies to get out of the banking educational model. Many have been successful in their endeavors. Hopefully, one day I will be able to write a blog about what they have done that has worked. The thing I want to stress is that I was offended or hurt by some of my professor's pedagogical strategies because I was tired of professor's practicing the banking educational model on me. I think spending decades in an educational system that practices the educational model will have you frustrated. And honestly, I assumed that their practice of it meant that they did not think I was capable.
Now that I have been able to see things more holistically, I can become more accountable. I can take responsibility for my shortcomings. I can equip myself with the tools that I need to overcome challenges that come my way. I can paint my educators in a more humanistic way and realistic way. I can forgive others and myself. I don't think I could do that before. I don't know if I would have been able to do that in January.
Well- okay. That's it folks. Thanks for reading and please don't forget to share Kiss The Sky.