Week #10: Care-full Teaching

by Anthony W.

Pedagogies of care are a driving concept behind why I pursued an M.A. in DH and persisted onward to the Ph.D. in Urban Education. However, I didn’t come at it from the angle of being mindful of self-care (I mean, I’m pursuing a Ph.D., which is traditionally very anti-self-care lol) but rather from how to enact care through the projects and work we do together. I wrote about care a bit in my master’s thesis, the ways it’s expressed through educational decisions, and how transforming projects to be culturally conscious, exploratory, and positioning students as creators (for example, I allowed my composition students to cite themselves in their final research paper after they had produced digital artifacts) can be seen as a form of care-full learning. I think Jen’s mind map is a good representation of some of the ways I see care in learning spaces as well.

As you all appear to, I also feel strongly about the idea of self-care, considering how demanding working in academia and pursuing a doctoral degree can be. There are a lot of associated expectations/stigmas surrounding pursuing a graduate degree, such as sacrificing your social life, that I simply don’t believe are practical for me (or anyone) to have to accept in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. In many ways, the training processes we go through in our 5+ years as doctoral students prevent us from enacting proper care toward ourselves for prolonged periods. I recall once reading a tweet from someone who had recently finished a Ph.D., and it regarded their excitement when they realized they enjoyed and were good at cooking, followed by an explanation of how they assumed they weren’t a good cook and were constantly ordering in throughout their graduate studies due to simply not having time to practice their cooking skills and not needing to since food can easily be brought to your door now. This is a random example, but it did cause me to reflect and look at how often I prepared home-cooked meals during my M.A. program versus my Ph.D. program, and I agree with the author of the tweet; it is quite a staggering difference. All of this to say, care is a radical choice that should be considered throughout the entire institution, not just on small-scale teaching moves, or to be [just] practiced alone, or by bringing puppies onto campus to alleviate stressed students during finals and dubbing it care/wellness, but by restructuring systems to consider basic human needs and how to satisfy those first.

2 thoughts on “Week #10: Care-full Teaching

  1. Jen Hoyer (she/her)

    Anthony, I really appreciate your comment about motivation to do more study yourself out of a desire to think more about how to see/find space for care in education. And I also am grateful that you point out the need for systemic practices of care, rather than just individual acts of care. I was thinking a lot about that earlier today — librarianship, much like teaching, is a helping profession, and I think we often pride ourselves in our ability to be helpful, to find and make space for care, but at the end of the day, I wonder about the extent that it’s harmful for individuals to do that without the support of the institution — it overextends the individuals practicing care; it lets the institution off the hook; it even sometimes masks real systemic problems in a way that perpetuates larger issues. It’s really hard to balance. Like: totally, let’s put out coloring supplies and puzzles (and maybe puppies!) in the library during exam week, but also…what if our institution mandated zero textbook cost courses, so that students weren’t stressed out about paying for textbooks or scrambling to access library copies during exam week…

  2. Katina Rogers (she/her)

    YES to restructuring spaces in order to support basic needs. Grad programs sometimes ask me how to better support students’ overall wellbeing, and a big part of my answer is just to give them more money. Puppies and yoga are fine, but people need to earn a living wage. Echoing what both you and Jen have said, the structural pieces have to be the starting point.

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