Teaching is the heartbeat of my work.  My teaching practice parallels my ethnographic research practice — which at its core, is about establishing dialogic relationships. I believe that attentive listening, abiding curiosity and reciprocity are key ingredients in all pedagogical/ethnographic encounters.

Critical Childhood and Youth Studies

The class will examine the basic tenants of critical childhood studies and its intersection with feminist theories, critical race theory, disability studies and political economy.  We will examine how different institutions, discourses and systems shape how childhood is experienced: including family, school, the juvenile (in)justice system, media and consumer culture.  While attending to the force of structural inequalities in cultural and economic arrangements, we don’t want to risk rendering children or adults invisible. Thus we will look at adults with whom children are in relationship, including parents, teachers, police, and counselors; and we will together build an archive of children and youth-generated materials that exist within our particular fields (education, sociology, women’s studies, critical psychology, urban planning, etc.)  Finally, we will consider methodological and pedagogical strategies used by various researchers and practitioners working with rather than on or about children.

Qualitative Research

This course distills knowledge from the social sciences and humanities, presenting qualitative inquiry as an art and a science. You will learn to approach qualitative research as an iterative, “discovery” process, and one that requires reflexivity – broadly defined. The course is designed to deepen your thinking about your research topic, questions, and various epistemological and intellectual conflicts in doing social analysis.

Culture, Identity and Education

This seminar focuses on schools as sites of social struggle and individual agency where children and young people learn about social and cultural differences, contend with social inequalities and injustices, navigate complex racial, ethnic, gender, class, and sexual relations, manage complex emotions, and create their own complex, multi-layered sense of subjectivity and social identities.

The course has three goals:

1) to use contemporary ethnographic accounts of urban schooling as a means to interrogate and theorize about the connections between self, culture and society. We will not presume that society or culture precede or determine lives but that there are complex relations between personal meaning and cultural meaning, between individual lives and society that are made visible through these ethnographic accounts.

2) to consider the practice of ethnography – as an art, a science, and a craft. In an effort to learn about these habits of mind, you will be required to spend time outside of class engaged in some ethnographic observation and writing up field notes which you will share with classmates. Special attention will be paid to issues of representation and using ethnography in the context of educational evaluation and judgments. If you are not already involved in a research project where you are able to conduct fieldwork observations, then this may not be the course for you.

3) to consider educational ethnography – its past, present, and future – as a way of bridging theory and practice; analysis and advocacy on behalf of educational equity and social justice.

Visual Research with Children and Youth

In the past decade there has been an explosion of research projects “giving kids cameras” as a means to study their social lives and subjectivites “through their own eyes” — especially how children/young people contend with an array of life challenges including immigration, economic hardship, social injustices, illness, violence and social trauma, barriers to education, to name a few. This course considers the philosophical, theoretical, methodological and ethical issues involved in such projects across several disciplines — (e.g. anthropology, sociology, education, cultural studies, public health, media studies). The course is open to students from all disciplines – humanities, social sciences and the arts – who are seeking to use image-based research as a means to understand childhood/youth contexts and the complexities of how individual children/young people comprehend and take action in their lives.

The aim of the course is three-fold. First, it seeks to expand students’ knowledge about and critical assessment of the use of visual data and analysis in projects with children/youth. Second, it offers students an opportunity to learn about the co-production and complexities of one strategy of visual data analysis being used in my on-going participatory visual ethnography of transnational childhoods. Students will produce a visual narrative for an individual child as a means to condense and display salient themes and patterns in how a child is using his/her photos to tell about his/her life across several contexts, spaces and time. Third, through discussion of other visual narratives (and those that are produced in class) students will develop conceptual and methodological skills to be applied in their own visual research with children/youth.

Permission of the instructor is required and students will need to know or learn IMovie or Final Cut Pro.

Doing Narrative Analysis

This course will introduce students to the uses of personal narratives in social science research across the disciplines of anthropology, sociology, psychology and history as a way to better understand the links between individual life trajectories and collective forces and institutions. We will review the theoretical and epistemological foundations the analyses of personal narratives as applied to questions of identity, subjectivity, agency and social processes that are related, but not limited to urban schooling. Recent advances in narrative research methodologies will be examined, particularly those qualitative approaches that focus upon interview and other autobiographical sources of data. Students will be introduced to various interpretive analytic approaches and guided in applying such approaches to data. Topics will include locating theme, voice, plot, metaphor and audience in personal narratives; issues of performance, memory and consciousness; how we learn to tell stories in childhood; how “grander” narratives (e.g. popular cultural myths, social movements, media representations) shape personal narratives; and the intersubjective nature of storytelling and listening.

Feminist Theories and Pedagogies

This course considers major discussions and debates about the role that (multiple waves of) feminisms and feminist theories have played in educational theories, practices, and policies. Topics include feminist critiques of knowledge production — how knowledge is produced, valued, and assessed, by whom, with what interests, for whose benefit, and with what costs; different epistemologies – “ways of knowing”; the relationship between gender, teaching and learning; the current stand-off between feminist educators and critical theorists over a number of issues, most notably power and representation; and various applications in feminist classrooms to account to difference—in gender, class, race, sexualities, and ability.

InQ13: East Harlem Focus

InQ13: Reassessing Inequality & Reimagining the 21st Century: East Harlem Focus was a participatory open online course (“POOC”) offered by the Graduate Center of the City University of New York in partnership with the Ford Foundation in Spring 2013. The course utilized new technologies and activist-academic partnerships to explore current understandings of social inequality within the context of East Harlem. For more info, read the course summary.