I have been sitting here thinking for a moment about what is normal for me? Am I even mindful of the normalness of my life, until like a fish I am removed from my water. For example, it seems completely normal for me to do things when others tell me what to do, as if this is what I expect. If I am to accomplish the goals in my life, someone other than myself is going to give me the directions on how to do x, y, or z. so when I am not told how or what is expected it creates this sense of wondering, which can sometimes feel uncomfortable or scary.
I have been writing academic papers for so long now that when I am asked to write something, I fall back into that normal mode and disconnect from my creativity and go through my own organizational process to create this paper. I follow the process and turn in a well written and well researched paper which follows all the rules I have learned about writing a paper.
While these rules are helpful, I also find that this form of writing becomes a job and disrupts my freedom and my feeling connected to my own inner self and to some extent my relationship with others.
So as I think about my students I wonder if not giving them this formulaic way of thinking is throwing them out of their own comfort zone. How challenging is it for them to wander into this virtual environment and be told they are the ones who will facilitate the discussions, ask a lot of the questions? How challenging is it for them when I ask them to start off each module by telling me what they think? That some say that is so difficult makes me wonder how have we taught and how was I taught not to question. How do we teach people not to question? I wonder about how in doing so have we also destroyed the ability to wonder? Have we limited people’s abilities to wonder why things are the way they are, or even if they are?
I wonder about my chair and how much of how she is, is based on the constraints placed upon her by external and internal factors? I wonder about something bell hooks said in 2014 about how we have lost the political activism and politics in gender studies that we once had when the field was just developing and evolving.? I wonder if the radical nature of the field had to conform to fit into the normalizing pressure of the institution.
I wonder about why I allowed the institution to normalize my own approach to pedagogy. Did I conform out of a place of fear that I would no longer have my paycheck? I wonder about how we create and maintain radicalism in a world where there is so much pressure to conform and walk what Alan Johnson called the path of least resistance.
Am I normal? What is it? What am I doing to practice and keep wonder alive and fully present in my life? Maybe this month, I will take time each day to explore the things that are normative in my life and move myself beyond them into a place of mindfulness and wonderment.
Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone and challenging me to think about that which I have never even paid attention to or to which I was no longer even aware I was doing. I think is going to be a fun and wonderful month.