The Feminist Art of Writing About Teaching

Danica Savonick, SUNY Cortland
Thursday, August 2
1:00 – 2:15
Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute

Today I was honored to share some of my favorite writings about teaching with a group of passionate educators at the Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I was so grateful to our participants, and for everything they refused to leave at the door and instead throw on our messy table. As I told them from the get-go: this was an experiment. Together we tested the modest hypothesis that poetry can help us think differently about learning. I had never tried this before, and it was thrilling to see how these activities I’d been imagining (fantasizing about, really) for weeks were experienced by participants. Together, around that oblong table on the secluded fourth floor, we braved an impending tornado to try and unlearn, or at least briefly bracket, the ways we’ve been trained to think about learning through narrative.

In the wake of the workshop, I have come to think of these intrepid participants as the DPL Poets. I hope they won’t mind the moniker. #dplpoem


What would happen if we wrote about the classroom not through narrative, but as a collaboratively-authored poem? How can space—on the page, on the screen—convey the complexities of learning? Is the classroom, in Adrienne Rich’s words, a “prison cell,” a “commune,” or something else entirely, and what do metaphors make possible? These are just some questions participants will be invited to consider in this hour-long workshop, in which we think with and alongside four feminist teacher-poets—Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich—about the art of teaching. While these authors are most often studied for their literature, they were no less bold in their pedagogical creativity; in fact, their literary sensibilities shaped student-centered classrooms organized around social justice across multiple registers and scales. In addition to discussing the aesthetic, literary, and rhetorical strategies these authors use in their essays and poems on teaching, participants will experiment with the techniques we encounter and author short reflections inspired by their writings.

Read the full post on HASTAC.

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