Teaching is (Re-)Creating Meanings

During my class at the prison this week, there was a meeting in the room next door with three English Teachers and over a dozen Students discussing and negotiating (potential) English Curriculum and Pedagogy. After Class, I walked out of the prison with these three English teachers, who were bantering about the importance of “dangling modifiers” and proper use of the semi-colon. This was a raw reminder to me of how much I viscerally reject intense analysis of grammar and syntax. Semantics—the deep meanings embedded within the words and symbols we use and string together—are much more important to me, as long as they can be translated and communicated in a way that I can understand and interpret meaning from. The English language is temporary and transformable, not sacred and static; it evolves in a dynamic and multidirectional relationship with cultural forms and meanings. This is why I find Word Work so important; clarifying the meaning behind these fluid strings of symbols we call words. As I continue writing about my experiences teaching and observing and learning in Classroom spaces, I will simultaneously work to (re-)define and unpack the concepts and symbols I use to represent my thoughts and interactions in these worlds.

In this specific set of Work Work, The UPPERCASE version represents a formal classification, membership, label, role… The lowercase version represents organic, natural, non-institutionalized concepts, roles, positions, experiences...

class (n): a collective group of teachers and learners engaging in shared learning experiences

Class (n): a formally and/or institutionally classified group of learners engaged in shared, formal, and institutionalized learning experiences and/or processes

classroom (n): a space and/or place for teaching and/or learning

Classroom (n): a formally, institutionally, and/or physically designated space and/or place for teaching and/or learning

community (n):  a collective group of people who are somehow attached and accountable to each other

Community (n): a physically, geographically, and/or politically demarcated group of people

curriculum (n): a set of lessons and experiences geared towards learning

Curriculum (n): a formal and/or institutionalized set of subjects for study

learn (v): to gain or acquire knowledge and therefore see your world anew

Learn (v): to gain or acquire knowledge that is formally approved, institutionalized, standardized, mandated, or strictly directed

lesson (n): a process and/or moment of teaching and learning

Lesson (n): a formal, planned, institutionalized, and/or politicized process and/or moment of teaching and learning

pedagogy (n): a dynamic set of tools, techniques, and methods for teaching

Pedagogy (n): a formal and/or institutionalized set of strategies for teaching

student (n)a person who is currently learning something from someone or something else

Student (n): a person who is formally, institutionally, and/or politically assigned to the role of “learner”

teach (v)to expose someone or something else to a novel form of knowledge and therefore a new lens with which to explore the world and experiment with meanings

Teach (v): to guide someone towards a formally, institutionally, and/or politically negotiated goal of knowledge and capability

teacher (n): someone who is currently facilitating a moment of learning for someone or something else

Teacher (n): a person who is formally, institutionally, and/or politically assigned to the role of guiding “learners”

word work (n): the unconscious and perpetual process of interpreting symbols and producing meanings from them

Word Work (n): a formal process of defining, unpacking, and playing with concepts, etymologies, and meanings

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