Yesterday. And today. There are not too many moments in life that witness a rupture in a single day. And most of those moments are more private, personal ruptures. Not a collective one like this. Last night before going to bed, I saw Audrey Watters wrote about being in mourning, and that is indeed what it feels like, the mourning of an unexpected loss.
As it happens, I used this blog yesterday to write about non-conformity. Canvas LMS is one small example of the triumph of “conformism,” and I argue that even in the face of pressure to conform, we should be nonconformists, and we should encourage in every way our students’ creative independence and nonconformity also.
I don’t take that approach to teaching because it effective (although I think it is), or because it is data-driven or research-based. I take that approach to teaching because it reflects my personal values, which are grounded in freedom. Not just the freedom of the majority, but of the minorities. Of the ultimate minority: the individual. And certainly not the freedom of the majority to make everybody else conform.
I am not optimistic for what the next few years will bring, but I will continue to promote the values of freedom, choice, creativity, diversity, and nonconformity in my classes. I will teach about the past not because I am driven by a nostalgic wish to return to that past but because I value the voices of the past. The voices of creative individuals, anonymous though they were. The fearless storytellers who used the power of words to speak their own truths. So that we might learn to do the same.
I teach writing. That was true yesterday. And that is true today.
I can shake off everything as I write:
my sorrows disappear;
my courage is reborn.
— Anne Frank