La lucha: to dialogue [The struggle: to dialogue (the word dialogue is crossed out)]

Author: Kate Berniz

Berniz, Kate, 2018 La lucha: to dialogue [The struggle: to dialogue (the word dialogue is crossed out)], Flinders University, School of Education

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In this PhD, like a ‘mojada’ (‘wetback’ – a migrant ‘illegally’ crossing borders), I set-off on risky crossings into alien and patrolled terrains in Spanish language(s) education and academia (Anzaldúa, 1984, p.31). My ‘negotiated’ and disrupted entries at checkpoints along the journey of reflexivity on collaborations in a university, in schools, and Spanish classrooms created visceral and intellectual chaos, with costs. Unresolved epistemological and ontological tensions are demonstrated throughout my mestiza (hybrid) (Anzaldúa, 1987, p.101) ‘testimonio’ (testimony) (Reyes & Rodríguez, 2012, p.526) of the ‘messy’ knowledges, politics, and alliances (McGloin, 2016) that emerged with participants (Freire, 1996; Conquergood, 1998). This thesis performs (Denzin, 2003) ‘intersecting’ practices and relations (Collins, 2015, p.50) in participants’ wor(l)ds (in the word world) (Freire & Macedo 1987, p.29) in which pedagogical and scientific baggage (ideologies and interests) are ‘spoken back to’ (Tuhiwai Smith, 2012, p.40), abandoned and transformed in an act of ‘calling back’ (Anzaldúa, 2015, pp.1-2).

It is ultimately my praxis, or ‘mystory’ (Ulmer, 2004), built on subjective, aesthetic, (Marcus, 1994, p.384) and ‘imaginal’ (Anzaldúa 2000, p.19) experiences, which served (and can still serve) collective interests (Rorty, 2010, p.27) within limits in this project (Arnott, 1998, p.73). Rather than narrowly pursuing disciplinary ‘goals’ (Kristeva, 2002, p.10), the textuality of writing and ‘collaborative’ practices in this study and thesis respectfully ‘move’ readers to (a) experience being a ‘marginal’ other (relinquish some power) in order to (b) experience and understand the “racial grammar” of this PhD (Donnor & Ladson-Billings, 2017, p.201). The study is written for and in parts by ‘marginalised’ participants (without an ‘othering’ agenda) (Jones & Calafell, 2012, p.958). It employs ‘thick description’ (Geertz, 1973, p.312) and ‘messy text’ (Marcus, 1994, p. 389) to provide intimate ‘ethnographic’ (Conquergood, 1986, p.179) excavations ‘mediated’ (Marcus, 2007, p.1143) in symbolic and material ways in:

1. An enactment of a critical pedagogical approach to Spanish

2. The struggles to engage in a Freirean inspired ‘dialogue’

3. An alternative messy post-positivist form of research practice where pluralistic voices and products contribute to knowledge and practice

4. The creation of subaltern political knowledge; of hybrid discourses, experiences, and practices: firstly, a positivist, third-person, detached, left-column account; and secondly, a post-positivist, first-person, and creative mestiza right-column testimony.

Two ‘stories’ stand at the heart of this thesis: the struggle to engage in ‘cognitive’ theories of learning and motivation (Dweck, 1986) and the struggle to enact a ‘Freirean’ dialogue and messy subaltern ‘praxis’ with participants. Freire’s (1996, p. 62) description of praxis, to which I still subscribe a decade after this PhD began, and even when my practice in this thesis and beyond it fails to realise its ‘transformative’ intent in the everyday, inspires my lucha (fight):

Education as the practice of freedom – as opposed to education as the practice of domination – denies that man [sic] is abstract, isolated, independent, and unattached to the world; it also denies that the world exists as a reality apart from people. Authentic reflection considers … people in their relations with the world.

Despite risks taken in this PhD, I believe la esperanza es lo ultimo que se pierde (hope is the last thing that is lost), and so have ‘arrived’ momentarily to a different entry point, to mestiza activist ways (Pérez, 2005, p.1). The thesis fights for ‘academic freedom’ to speak back to and up to racialized, institutional, and political practices that other this working-class-mestiza (Jones & Calafell, 2012; Tuhiwai Smith, 2012). It seeks freedom to push the borders of positivist narratives and their ‘relationships to power’ for the participation of ‘marginalised’ others in the structures and practices of education that, unchallenged, may silence them too (Anzaldúa, 1987; hooks, 1984; Lorde,1979; Tuhiwai Smith, 2013, p.20). The thesis is a call to action to give ‘a fair go’ (a fair chance) to Spanish students, and Spanish teachers, and their early career researcher allies.

Keywords: Critical Pedagogy, Spanish as a Foreign Language Learners , Mestiza consciousness, Messy Text, Critical Creative PhD

Subject: Education thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2018
School: School of Education
Supervisor: Ben Wadham