unravelling at night what she had woven during the day, as a clever ploy to “buy time” and stave off hungry suitors - Odyssey

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putting into practice Paulo Freire's theories on education

I'm feeling a lot of anger as I read about the University of X's success in their latest plan to try and ruin former professor DR. This time winning a lawsuit that will force him to pay $350,000 in damages. It appears that the judge (an alumni and donor to the UofX), Prof. J (someone I used to look up to), and especially the whole UofX administration (who Darth Vader used to look up to) have carried out a disgusting attack on someone who I have learned a great deal from.

To be clear. I think DR' use of the term 'house negro' to describe Prof. J' behavior was also disgusting. DR' defence is that it's true, that J' actions in defending the University from accusations of systemic racism fit the definition of a house negro. I don't know enough to weigh in on that, for me the general rule here is that you shouldn't use insults that could never, no matter how you behave, be applied to you. So for white dudes like DR and I that means no insults based on gender, race, etc... (unless you wanna pull out the 'cracker' or 'honky'...but they don't exactly have much bite). And yes, your mama jokes are still permitted according to this rule. DR and I have talked about this at length. What we agree on is that the $1 million lawsuit was clearly not about any 'damages' resulting from his blog post, but rather an attempt to silence and destroy a critic of the University. The UofX paid for all of J' legal costs, including the hiring of the lawyer of the newspaper covering the trial.

DR is for me one of the best examples I've ever seen of what a professor and a university COULD be like. I never paid tuition at the UofX. DR might not even know that because he allowed anyone to attend his classes whether they were registered or not. Also, because of DR (and others) I watched awesome political documentaries at Cinema Politica every Friday, always followed by debates and, most importantly, organizing. That was until the UofX succeeded in shutting it down. This is also where I met a dear person, whose friendship and camaraderie has been one of the most constantly awesome factors in my life ever since. The first camera that her and I ever used was DR'. He had a few that he lent out to activists and indy journalists whenever they needed it. The first time I ever used video-editing software was on a computer in DR’ lab that he let me use when I needed it. If there was ever a way he could help us in our efforts to raise awareness around the issues we were working on (Indigenous solidarity work, anti-war, anti Israeli apartheid, etc..) he would do it. In return he reserved the right to challenge us intellectually, to get to the root. If he doesn't think your thinking has made it to the root yet, he's gonna let you know. I didn't always agree with him, but I was always stronger for having been forced to explain why I disagreed.

I still get shivers when I think about how excited I was when I experienced DR' attempts at putting into practice of Paulo Freire's theories on education, I learned more than I have in any other institutional setting. That said, I'm sure that others have had the opposite experience. It's not for everyone, nothing is. But wouldn't it be beautiful if universities offered a variety of different kinds of teachers and teaching techniques so that all students could find the one that works best for them?? That was the idea behind “academic freedom”. To allow profs and students to experiment. When DR was fired for refusing to grade his students, despite having tenure and a ruling that academic freedom defends his right to experiment with different kinds of evaluation, it was clear where the UofX stood on the dream of a diversity of teaching methods.

A quick look through the archives at his UofX Watch blog and you'll see that DR believes that it is by provoking institutions you get to see what they're really like on the inside. Being a witness to the UofX's multi-year campaign to silence, fire, and bankrupt DR has been a key part of my own education. It played a big role in my decision to turn down law school and instead go learn Spanish in El Salvador (at a Freirian school of course). Which I consider probably the single greatest decision I've ever made (up there with not buying a Bargnani jersey). While I was in E.S., DR came down for two weeks to tour the communities of the North collecting video testimony of how they were successfully stopping Canadian gold companies from forcing their mines into the region. One of the ways was through music. I've spent a bit of time with DR and I've never heard him listen to music. That said. A few months after the trip I told DR that H was trying to raise $500 to press an album. Within the hour the cash was waiting for H at the Western Union in Sensuntepeque.

DR has said and done things that have pissed people off. I have heard people that I love and respect tell me why they can't support him because of x or y that he did. I respect that decision. I am not defending any of DR’ actions. He's more than capable of doing that himself. I'm pointing out a small % of the many positive things I've seen him do over the 7 years that I've known him. Unfortunately, most of the amazing things he's done are VERY rare among professors. And so the first reason I write this is in hopes that sharing a bit of this bright side of DR' complex story could inspire universities and the people inside them to flip the script and embrace another vision of how these institutions could work (start by reading and experimenting with Freire). The second reason is to continue to pass on some of the lessons DR' story continues to provide us about the vile way these institutions are currently working.

I will continue pressuring DR to put all this into a book entitled “The Fuckers: A Story About the University of X” so that I don't have to write to get these stories out, I can just write “Get The Fuckers!” and be done with it.



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