On flipping the theatre studies classroom… back again (part 2)

My last post reported on a workshop I recently co-organized with my colleagues Natalie Alvarez and Jenn Stephenson at the CATR annual conference in Calgary. The premise of the workshop was simple: it gathered teachers of theatre and performance history, asked us to think about the benefits of the “flipped classroom” model for our courses, and encouraged us to share our ongoing experiments in active learning.

Lots of great insights emerged, and I learned a bunch of terrific new things. We also, however, used the opportunity of the workshop to air some grievances about flipping, and the second half of our session turned into a really provocative discussion about the politics of the flipped classroom.

In this (second) post on the workshop I reflect on that discussion, and I end with some thoughts about the place (or lack thereof) of arts and humanities voices in the broader discourse around flipping.

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We’d shared our research, talked about Grahame and Jenn’s blended learning experiences at Queen’s, and 90 minutes had come and gone. We took a break, and when we resumed it was time to talk about challenges we’ve encountered with the flipped model. (God, does Moodle ever suck! And students are crap at posting to WordPress.)

That’s when one of our auditors raised her hand and said…

“How is assigning readings beforehand, and discussing them together in class, different from ‘flipping’ the classroom?”

Then we all burst into fits of giggles, nods – and tears. (Well, not literally. But almost!)

What’s a flipped classroom? It’s a classroom in which students come having done pre-prep, reading or listening to content in advance. It’s a classroom where various kinds of group discussions and problem-solving activities take place, live, between us. It’s a classroom in which students are invited actively to engage in knowledge production, to use their embodied minds to test ideas on their feet, and to work collaboratively to challenge status-quo assumptions.

In other words: it’s a typical arts and humanities classroom.

More than that, in fact: it’s a very typical theatre and performance studies classroom.

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It’s not every A&H / T&P classroom, of course: I’m not suggesting that rote instruction, lecturing, and gob-smackingly boring sage-on-stage stuff doesn’t happen in the arts. On the contrary: I was subject to plenty of it myself when I was an undergraduate student, and I have seen it in more than one classroom I’ve peer-assessed as a tenured professor.

But let’s face it. Arts and humanities teachers invented the flipped classroom, and theatre and performance, along with all the other fine arts practices taught at college and university level, pioneered embodied learning. Whether we’re talking vigorous class debate about medical ethics on display in a contemporary British lit class discussing Ian McEwan’s novel Saturday, improvisation in a directing class exploring the fate of the murdered wife Desdemona in Othello, or experiments with found objects in a creative writing class focused on contemporary poetry, the pedagogical basis is the same. Student labour is framed as thinking, writing, speaking, and sharing in the room on the day. It often involves in-class collaboration. It regularly involves play. There’s often a chance to report back, to create something to share, or at the very least to get up and move around.

Which is why our workshop quickly moved on from sharing our (rather dry) findings from the flipped classroom “lit review” that opened our session to sharing best practices already in our collective teaching repertoire. As Jacqueline Taucar helpfully observed, we need to ask whether it’s the “flipped classroom” – the shiny new model, complete with how-to kit – that gets results, or the active learning component at the heart of the flipped classroom that really fires students up.

Our hunch was the latter. And around the table, numerous terrific (and fun!) examples of great active learning exercises came to light.

  • Jenn talked about her first-year theatre history students exploring the concept of “historiography” in a practical way as they worked in teams to compare and contrast the assumptions framing two different chapters in their textbook;
  • Martin Julien shared a task that saw students interviewing one another about their understandings of feminism, then reporting to the class on their findings;
  • Tony Vickery wowed us all with a description of his performance studies class on fantasy and cosplay, where students build their own board games (strictly low-tech!) and then play one another’s offerings to test their effectiveness. (The board games are all based on one or two of the theories/practices read for class);
  • Marlis Schweitzer shared our colleague Richie Wilcox’s hilarious scheme for teaching complex performance theory, in which students get to create a retelling of a well-known fairy tale in the style of a theory “ism”. (Little Marxist Riding Hood: bring it on!)

Notably, virtually all of these examples involved minimal or no technology.

So why, you must now be wondering, did we all get together to talk about “flipping” our classrooms if we’re already experts and our teaching practice is already flip-friendly?

The answer is simple, frustrating, and symptomatic:

Because what we have long been doing has now got a name, outcome stats, administrative momentum, and a budget line.

We’ve all been told from above that this thing called “flipping” is something we need to know about. Students are consumers, and we need to offer best practices that lead to strong outcomes. (Duh.) Data (typically based on teaching in the sciences, which has recently discovered flipping and wants to share it with us) shows active learning works better than passive learning. So we’ve been instructed by our resident teaching and learning experts, and encouraged by our gung-ho administrators, to learn, all over again, what it is that we already know – now neatly packaged into a model that can be easily sold across disciplines and around the world.

Or, put another way:

Arts and humanities instructors have had our teaching mansplained to us by the neoliberal university.

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Let me be clear: I’m not saying flipped classrooms are bad things. They have many, many virtues – though they also have some significant blind spots, like assuming that the internet is a panacea as opposed to a massive time suck, that all lecturing is bad and uninteresting, and that all students learn better within “activity” frameworks. (All of these things are, um, not true.)

I’m also not suggesting that T&L centres and senior administrators are wrong to support active learning (not at all!), nor that I resent the discovery of active learning’s value in the sciences (holy mary jane, of course not!).

I’m also not trying to imply that teachers like me have been awesome at gathering data on our own classrooms and shouting about the success of our models. We do this, sure, but probably not enough; it’s obvious we need to do more of it, and perhaps do it better. Some of this problem is on us, and we need to get busy.

What really bothers me, and many teachers like me, though, is that our own universities rarely bother to notice the entire faculty (faculties, in my case) of “flipping” experts on their doorsteps. They don’t visit our classes, I doubt they read our teaching publications (check out the top theatre pedagogy journal in North America here), and all too often they don’t think to invite us to present on panels related to active learning models.

(Last autumn I was asked – thanks to my forward-thinking colleagues Aisha Haque and Nanda Dmitrov – to host a session on community engaged theatre and its classroom applications at Western’s big fall teaching conference. This was the first time such a session had been offered; a number of key people, very skeptical when the session was first floated, were surprised at how well it was attended and received. Again, I say: duh!)

Nope, we don’t routinely get asked or read or invited. Instead, we are routinely told:

  • that studying the arts can’t get students jobs;
  • that our research lacks “impact”;
  • that we work on obscure topics without enough practical merit to encourage students and their parents to invest time and money in our classes.

So here’s my provocation. Could it be that, in the arts and humanities, our “impact”, our “value”, and our “interest” to students in search of both learning and jobs (yup, both of them, folks) might lie in the exceptional classroom experiences we can offer, as well as the remarkable pedagogical models we have pioneered and are eager to share with students and peers alike?

Could it be that as teachers we might inspire, change lives, redirect interests, and model excellent pedagogy – and not just for future teachers, but for current teachers across the disciplines as well?

If this is a “creative” economy, after all, our active(ist) arts classrooms are where creativity comes to life.

And yes: if you ask us, we’ll very happily talk about our awesome, crowd-shared, long-tested models with you. We’ll even make you get up on your feet! Just ask.

Please.

Kim

Hands. Off. My. Saturday.

So last night I had a small meltdown. This was the third or fourth meltdown in as many weeks; it’s March (lately February) and I am incredibly overwhelmed at work and exhausted from winter’s pace and relentless cold, fatigue, and stress. (Even Emma the dog, typically a face of snow-covered splendour, hasn’t been her usual treat this season; mostly, I’m just fecking tired and ready for it all to end.)

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(Yup. That’s Emma. Ready for winter walkies… as usual.)

Last night’s meltdown was special, though, and in its specialness rather instructive. I was sending a series of emails related to a recruitment event happening on my university campus next week, seeking student and faculty volunteers to support our Theatre Studies table. While messing about with this event, I realised that I’d almost missed the fact that ANOTHER event, a regular and university-wide (and thus fairly high-profile) recruitment fair, was happening this week.

On Saturday.

Nobody had told me. Even though I am, with the help of a *very* small team of dedicated colleagues, running our theatre program solo right now. Which means, of course, that ALL of us needed to be mobilised, and quickly, and arrangements seen to STAT, so that we did not end up missing the thing entirely.

First, I freaked out. I am not embarrassed to say that I was trying to eat dinner at the time (this is what March amounts to for me, friends; sitting at the dining room table – HEY, AT LEAST I’M AT THE TABLE! – on a Monday evening, circa 8:30pm, stuffing leftover biryani into my face and drafting emails on my laptop all the while). Some rice and bits of cardamom may have been coming out of my ears. Suddenly, panic set in. It felt like – even though this is obviously mad-as-a-hatter territory – the program might live or die on its visibility at March Break Open House.

Next, I triaged the problem, realised whom I needed to contact and about what, and set about drafting a new round of messages. It was at this point, though – when I was emailing to ask various faculty and students and colleagues and friends which shifts they could cover – that I realised that what was going to happen this weekend to me was actually very, very bad indeed.

I was going to have to work on Saturday.

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I am an evangelist for Saturdays. Since graduate school, it’s been my one hard and fast rule: no work on Saturdays! I make exceptions only for immovable work events that also, ultimately, involve pleasure – conferences, for example, where I know a day spent listening to colleagues share their work will end with some kind of drunken debaucherie at, say, Au Pied de Cochon, or Olympia Provisions.

Why such a rule, above all other rules? Friends, it’s simple. Academics work ALL THE TIME. We live our work. The research is in our blood and bones. The things that give us joy also give us labour. It’s not hard – let’s be honest – to rack up 60, 70, 80 hours a week at this gig and barely notice, because hey, it’s also a pleasure to think about the artists we write and teach about while hanging around Facebook, and it’s easy to semi-draft the next paragraph of that overdue book chapter while walking the dog or bathing the kid or cooking supper. The work is everywhere. It never leaves us. We need to leave it – on purpose – or be doomed.

So ever since grad school, when I lived in a tiny, sweet apartment in downtown east-side Toronto (now part of the swish Distillery District, and utterly unaffordable to mid-career, middle aged me!), my rule has been that Saturdays are for Other Than Work, Period. I shop for food. I cook a lot of things. Emma the dog gets to visit the coffee shop I frequent in Wortley Village (London, ON) where I now live. There may be a martini or two come evening. Along with the Saturday Guardian, and maybe an episode or two of something new and yummy. (The Night Manager, oh my god!)

This Saturday, as it turns out, I’m going to have to fork over a few hours to work. And I just want to register how annoyed I am. Because, friends, time off is ALSO an activist issue, a feminist issue, on this International Women’s Day. We all know we work too hard – especially women, who still do the bulk of home and child care even while working professional, full-time jobs, and who are still shockingly underpaid for their labour.

And we all know, deep down, that after working too hard on stuff that really, truly, doesn’t matter THAT MUCH, we are far too drained to turn our attention to politically or socially activist matters, let alone matters of personal care. Overwork is a strategy by which we are conscripted into an army of consenting subjects, far too damn tired to stand up for inequality, for the rights of refugees, or against a complacent and increasingly right-wing political class; drained from the day, if you’re anything like me, you read the news online, sigh and rage a bit and wish you could find the energy to do something… before you then turn back to your “work”.

Dammit, Saturday. Come back. I need you more than ever.

Kim

 

On #DestinationTheatre (a field trip report)

One thing I’ll say about my life as an academic: it involves a lot of travel, and plenty of that travel is a real pleasure. Two weeks ago I was in London, England, at the school where I used to work, Queen Mary University of London. I was there with my colleague from Western’s new Theatre Studies program, MJ Kidnie, and our student Caitlin Austin. Our mission: to meet with a long list of theatre and performance people, from my gang at QM to folks at Shakespeare’s Globe, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the Shakespeare Institute and the RSC, with whom we might partner as we build our new experiential learning course, Destination Theatre.

We spent the week in meetings, but we also had a barnstorming time wandering the city with Caity and seeing it through her eyes as though for the first time. (Both MJ and I have lived in London before.) We saw an awful lot of theatre – imagine going to the theatre for work! – from a stunning, gutting, critically acclaimed production of The Oresteia trilogy in the West End, to a gorgeous, moving play about dementia cutting through a family (The Father), to a raunchy, modish Measure for Measure at the always-hopping Young Vic. Above all, though, we laboured as a team: meeting and tweeting (@westernuTheatre) and story boarding, all in the service of imagining what our new course will look like once all the glittering potential is harnessed and the inspiring pieces are slotted into place.

MJ with the London Eye

MJ with the London Eye

Eventually, in winter 2017, Destination Theatre will have its first full outing: 25 students from across the university plus two instructors will jet over to Britain for two full weeks of theatre, workshops, artists’ talks, guest visits to some of the coolest back stages around, and seminars with some of the best performance scholars in country. Their experience will be all the more memorable because of Caity’s contributions during our recent reconnaissance journey; her student’s-eye view proved invaluable to the work of imagining this course’s future shape. She saw things we two mid-career teachers simply could not, and that seeing shifted our thinking in key ways.

Caity at Shakespeare's Globe

Caity at Shakespeare’s Globe

How did we come to bring a student with us to London to help us plan a course? Back in April MJ and I won a grant from Western’s International Curriculum Fund to support journeys to London and New York in order to create partnerships for Destination Theatre. Sometime in late summer, as we were reaching out to colleagues and pricing flights, I got an email from Caity about her upcoming course load. Going into senior year she was a credit short for her Theatre Studies major, and there were no courses on offer that she hadn’t already taken. We started hunting around for alternatives – in media studies, in sociology, you name it – that might fit. She did a load of legwork and presented us with options.

While this was happening, I remembered that Caity would graduate the year before Destination Theatre’s first journey abroad, and that she had been crestfallen last autumn when she found that out. I also remembered what a reliable, thoughtful, mature student (and incredibly hard worker) she was. I talked to MJ: instead of “taking” (or, rather, missing her chance to take) Destination Theatre, could Caity help us to build Destination Theatre? We hatched a plan for a reading course in which Caity would split her time between test-driving some of the readings and assessments we had in the works for DT, and doing internship labour for us. As part of the latter she would join us on the London planning leg, consult with us from her vantage point as a senior undergraduate, and then write a final report for the Theatre Studies Committee. And, of course, in the process she would experience her own London theatre “intensive”, helping us to spot must-haves as well as also-rans for the first cohort in 2017.

We floated the reading course idea to Caity; she was excited and keen – even though the course would without question prove more work for her than an ordinary half-credit. Armed with her enthusiastic interest and commitment to the task, we approached our undergraduate studies chair to formalise the arrangement.

Making the most of every minute: Caity with Falstaff in Stratford-upon-Avon...

Making the most of every minute: Caity with Falstaff in Stratford-upon-Avon…

I won’t lie: despite our faith in Caity and the great-on-paper plan for the work she would do for us in London, MJ and I were a bit skeptical about outcomes. We weren’t sure, going into the journey, that Caity would really be able to tell us anything we would not see for ourselves. After all, course planning is a large part of our jobs, and we are both quite good at it.

Caity, however, quickly proved us wrong.

...and after winning a ticket to The Book of Mormon!

…and after winning a ticket to The Book of Mormon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

She was an outstanding secretary and third eye in all of our meetings with potential UK partners, a consummate professional as well as a genial participant. Most importantly, however, she consistently reminded us about the crucial differences between what students (and their parents!) will want from the Destination Theatre experience, and what we might value as teachers and administrators. For example: MJ and I focused a lot on costs, and assessed potential student housing with an eye to making the trip as cheap as possible for participants. But Caity reminded us that the cheapest option wouldn’t necessarily be the most attractive one for students: she bet that both students and parents or guardians would prefer to pay a few pounds more per night for secure, on-campus housing at Queen Mary, which would allow students to stay right next door to the spaces they would use for classes while in London.

She also reminded us that students will want to see as much theatre as possible while on the trip, but will also want to be tourists: for many of them, this will be their first journey to the UK. Old Londoners like MJ and me tend to disdain stuff like Madame Tussaud’s or the London Eye (the huge ferris wheel on the South Bank), and of course many university professors have bad allergies to anything that smacks of mass entertainment. But Caity was keen, and thoughtfully so: they might be tacky, sure, she told us – but that does not make tourist attractions less valuable for our purposes. Touristy things, she noted, are as big a part of the experience package we are building as any show is; they will be key to how Destination Theatre exposes students to a new, global city and its hugely diverse theatrical culture.

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In the spring I’m off to New York City to plan the second iteration of Destination Theatre. Caity’s “dry run” will be over by then, and I know I will miss having her along for the ride. Luckily, she spent part of the summer of 2015 in NYC on a short course at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, and she knows Manhattan’s theatrical ropes pretty well. You can guarantee I’ll be grilling her for tips before I get on the plane.

 

Still learning all kinds of stuff from students,

Kim

PS: stay tuned for a post by Caity on her experience – coming soon!

A Tale of Two Systems

Herewith, the text of my contribution to the Western “Alternative” 100 Days of Listening Tour. With thanks to all my colleagues who maintain the “Noah Confidenze” Tumblr site, here.

Dear fellow faculty members, staff and students,

I’ve been at Western since 2005, but from 2012 to 2014 I worked as a Senior Lecturer in Drama at Queen Mary, University of London. Queen Mary Drama is, according to the last two REF (“Research Excellence Framework”) exercises mandated by the British government, the top academic theatre department in the UK, and as of last December the top academic performing arts department, including but not limited to theatre. Its researchers are nationally celebrated and internationally respected writers and artists. They are also an amazing group of human beings who truly love each other and spend time outside of work together.

In spite of this exceptional good fortune and warm intradepartmental culture, however, over the last several years my QM colleagues’ working lives have grown harder and harder, the morale in the school of which they are a part dropping further and further. Research money is thin on the ground, but scholars are still expected to produce world-beating materials in time for the regular “dry runs” designed to prepare the college for success in the REF. New research centres are created according to what upper-level administrators think will best support the school’s brand, after only limited consultation with faculty members involved with or impacted by the schemes. Students, rocked by the Tory-Liberal Democrat coalition government’s decision to raise tuition rates across the UK to £9000 per year, are themselves increasingly demoralised, anxious, and rightly worried about job prospects on the other side of their degrees. Meanwhile, the REF itself (www.ref.ac.uk) – which requires every academic department in the UK to submit faculty research “outputs” for “quality assessment” according to their national or international “impact” – dominates every aspect of academic life. Thinking of a new book project? Ask first if it will be “REF-able”. Writing a book for students? Think again – according to REF criteria teaching-focused work will have no measurable research “impact”. Taking on a journal editorship? That means you’ll be helping other scholars publish their REF research, but what about yours? Can you spare that kind of time? Or perhaps you’re planning to write about a Canadian topic, or a South African topic, or an Icelandic topic? Careful: that work may be deemed only to have limited, “national” significance.

During my two years in London I saw first-hand the human “impact” this neoliberal quest for profit-driving, brand-oriented research has had on brilliant, politically engaged, activist teachers and writers. Everybody is tired; everybody is anxious; everybody is worried about their job, the health of their department, the possibility of future funding (all of these things are tied, in different ways, to REF outcomes). Faculty members fretful about their basic job security, hopelessly overworked as they try to shoehorn “world leading” research into the space between measuring impact and trying to teach the citizens of the next generation, have precious little time for political protest about what has rapidly become the status quo. And that, of course, is exactly what neoliberal governance models hope for. If we’re all too tired to think, smart and critically engaged professors become far less of a threat. And we become far more likely to take the soothing words fed us on faith.

I came back to Western last August, knowing that I had seen our future at Queen Mary. I had witnessed, and (barely) survived, the world in which we will all end up if we do not mount a sustained, vigorous protest against the corporatization of higher education in Canada, and against the decimation of critical inquiry as the university’s major contribution to the public good. The scandal that has blown up around Dr Chakma’s salary provision has given us a precious opportunity: a clarifying object around which to mount a clear and public debate about the future of Canadian universities, their increasingly slavish devotion to neloliberal governance models, and the very real dangers – for students, faculty, the public, and citizenship itself – of their appetite for power and profit allergic to thoughtful challenge. I urge us all to hold tight to this fight, even after the flames of Amit Chakma’s scandal burn out.

Yours in solidarity,

Kim

On the power of academic protest (take academia back!)

If you work in the Canadian university system you have probably heard about what’s recently been happening at my school, Western University. Our president, chemical engineer Amit Chakma, is at the centre of a scandal about administrative pay: his contract permitted him to take home double his pay packet at the end of his first term in office, in lieu of the administrative leave he was due. (What is administrative leave? It is a sabbatical given to scholars after several years in major administrative jobs in order that they may catch up on their research work. Since university administrators are traditionally drawn from the faculty, the assumption is they will return to active teaching and research once their admin gig is done.) Admin leave is not a holiday with pay: it’s a chance to get back up to speed in the job for which you are normally paid, and from which you had been seconded in order to do administrative labour for the university. Dr Chakma’s poor choice, to take a huge bonus instead of leave, sent the opposite message: that research leaves are a kind of “free money” opportunity, paid for by the suckers who hold the public purse.

As a result of Chakma-gate, as this event and its aftermath have become known, my colleagues and I find ourselves exhausted and frustrated, as we constantly defend the nature of our work to friends, family, and beyond. The other week, to offer just one example, I found myself explaining to the farmer who produces my weekly veg box what sabbaticals are (essential, concentrated research time, during which the books and papers needed for tenure and promotion get written) and how difficult they can be to afford for many ordinary faculty members (at Western, you take a pay cut when you’re on sabbatical). I just wanted to buy my veg on my one free day that week! But when you’re confronted by (a totally kind, generally ethical) somebody who is pretty sure, based on his reading of recent events in the papers, that you are an overprivileged fat cat, well… it’s hard just to plunk down your $20 and walk away.

Professors – elitist ivory-tower dwellers blah blah blah – are easy targets at the best of times; now, Chakma-gate has got us mixed up in many minds with the bankers and politicians who cravenly screw the public over for money and power. The really sad bit, though, is that President Chakma’s contract provisions are only one very visible symptom of a much larger, systemic problem: university governance models, including at Western, rely increasingly on excessively paid career bureaucrats who dictate neoliberal policy from above to diffuse and vulnerable students and faculty below. As Terry Eagleton recently argued in the Chronicle of Higher Education, the impact of the problem is wide-reaching and most devastating for the liberal arts disciplines whose daily work is hardest to link directly to the profit motive. In other words: under Dr Chakma’s presidency, many of us in the ordinary faculty have felt left out and screwed over, too. And many, many of us have not reaped anything like the benefits he has – quite the opposite.

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That’s the depressing bit. The GOOD news is that Chakma-gate has also proven to be a truly galvanising force for faculty and students at Western who are fed up with a budget model that plays favourites among faculties and presses the arts and humanities to accept increasing austerity measures while lavishing money, support, and bling on STEM and the school of business. Protests, votes of non-confidence, and lots of discussion in the media have prompted Dr Chakma first to pledge to give back his “bonus” pay, and then to engage in what he calls “100 Days of Listening” as he speaks with different constituencies about our ongoing concerns. Looking out across our university’s rapidly decaying forest from the top of this particular tree, a number of my colleagues have chosen to take Chakma-gate as a real opportunity to try to arrest what sometimes feels like our intractable slide into a “new normal” – in which higher education is reframed as “job training”, with no room for the arts, social sciences, or any discipline in which the debating of ideas takes precedence over skill and content delivery in the service of increasing corporate profits.

This fight is a long time coming, and I can’t tell you how proud I am to be part of an academic community that is so geared up for it. For the two years I was in the UK, I lived and worked in the shadow of the dystopian endgame toward which schools like Western are marching. (I’ve written about this on the blog before; see here and here for two representative posts.) While I was part of the truly incredible Department of Drama at Queen Mary, University of London, one filled with brilliant community activists and scholar-artists, too regularly we felt like protest against the neoliberal hierarchy in which we were trapped was pointless and the system more or less immovable. The best we could do was keep calm, keep writing and talking about the problem, and then find a way to manage the workload amidst the gloom.

At Western, right now, I feel like we still have the chance to fight this fight and win – but the window is closing. As part of the ongoing protests in the wake of Chakma-gate, a handful of my colleagues have created an “alternative” 100-days-of-listening tour, in which faculty and students share their perspectives on the larger issues at stake via blog posts on social media, primarily through a dedicated tumblr account and the superb Facebook group, Take Academia Back. I recently contributed a blog post to the “alt” tour; it will be up shortly, and I’ll reblog it here at that time. For now, I want to urge all of you to click on the metadata links I’ve built into this post, read a bit about Chakma-gate and the protests in its wake, and follow similar stories on your home campuses and in your communities.

I also want to urge you, if you have not already, to join Take Academia Back on Facebook, to follow “Noah Confidenze”, our online protest alias, on tumblr – and to share in the comments below (or anywhere you think most productive) your own stories of fighting back against higher ed’s reductive and damaging new normal(s). Keep talking, and if you can, start mobilising! I know it’s extra work, and we’re all tired – but that’s the point, I suspect. The new normal wants us to be too tired to mobilise against it. That’s what makes it so dangerous.

'I love to come here because it reminds me of how I became a capitalist.'

This fight is too important to give up on. Our futures hang in the balance – and I know from my time abroad that it is not a future any of us would choose to live or work in.

In solidarity!

Kim