Bhumi B. Patel / pateldanceworks
I am a dangerous educator. I am committed to creating accessible and inclusive learning environments to support and empower students to think deeply and critically to engage the intellectual and social challenges of their time. The creative mind is a powerful tool toward systematic and cultural change when given the opportunity to both be challenged and thrive. My teaching is grounded in an equity-based, social justice-oriented, trauma-informed framework. For me, this allows for the creation of both a safe learning environment and promotion of empowerment and agency for each student that I teach.
To create an equitable, social justice-oriented, trauma-informed learning environment, I engage in the following practices:
As a queer, woman of color, I have been marked enough – different, an outlier, unworthy, less than. I have always known of the existence of that privileged scarlet letter. It follows me around throughout the world, but more importantly at predominately white institutions of higher education; I am marked as “different” within that space not because I am different, but because the space is filled with whiteness. I refuse to be philosophically or pedagogically adjusted based on whiteness. To be adjusted would mean being shamed, silenced. I will not mark, shame, or silence students in my classroom.
I ask students to engage in the progress of freeing ideas, freeing their bodies, freeing their imaginations. I want them to be challenged, not just by the work within the classroom, but the work that we must do outside the classroom to respond to our sociopolitical moment. I want the work we do to conceptually adjust, disorient, unhinge them. My responsibility is to enable students to bring new knowledge to their lives, and then encourage them to take the responsibility of using the tools I provide. A classroom is a collective pursuit of knowledge rather than an omniscient teacher sharing capital T truths.
In my classroom, I refuse to be silent in the face of racism, in the face of sexist and patriarchal hegemony, its subtle and systematic structure. I refuse to stay silent at the denigration of women’s bodies and non-binary bodies, or about the ways in which toxic masculinity has cultivated the assumptions about how bodies should take up space in the world. I refuse to be silent when it comes to holding space for the existential and psychosomatic dread and chaos experienced by those who are targets of bigotry. I refuse to be silent when it comes to queer and transgender folks who are targets of violence simply by existing. I refuse to be silent in a world where children are targets of sexual gaze and violence and where those with disabilities are mocked and still rendered “monstrous,” and where the earth suffers because some of us refuse to hear its suffering, where in many places, my ideas are marked as dangerous.
If it is dangerous to teach my students that all bodies are good bodies, to teach them to practice kindness to one another, to learn and exercise consent, to bring social justice into their art practices, to think critically about their positions in the world, then I am a dangerous educator and what I teach is dangerous.