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Creating our own educational tools…

March 4, 2010

In Tuesday’s class (February 16), Dr. Collins said that intellectual activism is important because it “creates the conditions that make the work possible.”

This statement points to the role of education in shaping our thoughts and, consequently, our actions. Education does not merely provide us with a set of facts to memorize. In fact, I would argue that facts (names of people, places, theories, etc.) are what we remember least. Many of us cram before exams and as the information pours onto paper, it leaves us. How else could we make room for next semester?

What resonates, however, is far more meaningful and often intangible. Our education structures the way we view ourselves and our world. While this educational residue is powerful, it can also be suffocating. As Dr. Collins mentioned this semester, students are often forced into false adversarial debates. We’re taught to think in binaries. And, when we leave the classroom, we take these divisive, reductionist formulas with us—as exemplified in many debates about integration and separatism.

In an article I read by Audre Lourde my freshman year, she said that “The master’s tools can never dismantle the master’s house.” Binaries are one of these tools.

We need to develop theories and ways of structuring arguments that aren’t so falsely dichotomous, that don’t distort our analyses and tear coalitions apart.

–Amanda Shirazi

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