Love and Care: Playfulness as Inclusionary Pedagogy

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My teaching philosophy of writing and rhetoric has at its heart a queer playfulness that works in and around the liminal positionality of the queer instructor. Drawing from Gloria Anzaldúa, I complicate the tradition of the instructor and construe it as the nepantlera, or the in-between person whose goals are the healing of societal disjunctures and the realization of social (re)visions that include all people. Thus, my pedagogy is undergirded by what Chela Sandoval calls the hermeneutics of love, a method of mobilizing multiple perspectives, ideas, and experiences for an ameliorative, compassionate, and critical pedagogy. 

Prioritizing love, I enact a pedagogy that includes and accounts for the historicity of oppression and the potentials for new ways of remaking the world. To that end, I construe the material, experiential, and cultural boundaries of the classroom as the nepantla, or the liminal space between multiple perspectives, spaces, forces, and experiences. Construing the classroom as such allows for intersectional and productive meaning making, consciousness raising, and critical instruction. I draw from my experiences as a queer, raced instructor and perform my pedagogy within this instructive nepantla by playing with the strictures woven into the role of the instructor. I engage with students through an affective pedagogy of care, which can include working together through one-on-one interactions, using storytelling as classroom instruction, opening class with a comedic routine, or using New Media to assist with assignments or guide students through readings. This construal also complicates the hierarchical power distance between instructor and students, which I play with to better serve the needs of my students. 

I value students' well-being in and outside of the classroom, actively seeking out resources for them—such as financial, wellness, and professional opportunities—that are vital to success in higher education. Additionally, I am attuned to the difficulty of being a student in the current university system and socio-political climate, which is, frankly, stacked against and hostile to many students (queers, people of color, women, those living with disabilities, and all intersecting identities). I ensure that my pedagogy and assignments are feminist, antiracist, anti-homophobic, anti-transphobic, anti-ableist, and decolonial, cleansing the nepantla of exclusionary or marginalizing forces and imparting students with the skills needed to perform similar work in their own lives.  

In addition to the transformative work of rhetoric and writing, I attend to the practical nature of the field, paying close attention to multimodal composition in addition to traditional print writing. My philosophy contends that instruction should be fun yet practical and incorporate the technologies students use in their daily lives, as well as their extant knowledge. I also hold that assignments involving identity should not focus on similarities but rather differences, such as a critical literacy narrative that spotlights how material, social, and cultural differences shape experiences. Using disidentification, my pedagogy spotlights difference as a generative kairos for community, avoiding what Jonathan Alexander and Jacqueline Rhodes call the flattening effect, or the overreliance on commonality as coalitional impetus. Within discussions of difference, I guide students through the messy and sometimes uncomfortable work of collating as citizens for a common good, which includes interrogating what a citizen should do and perhaps, most importantly, who counts as a citizen.