Asking the world questions
Inquiry is at the core of what we do in the classroom. I encourage students to ask questions and disentangle the cultural and conceptual threads that help us produce knowledge about the world. I ask students the big questions first. Then, very much like in a labyrinth, after glimpsing the end goal in the center, we get tossed back out into the aether. Along the way we employ what Vygotsky called tools of the mind and do the work to get back to the center, to that question, where we started. Only now with new eyes from all of our explorations.
Inside this labyrinth the scaffolds we use are dialogues about texts brought into the classroom space. We work with photographs, maps, paintings, literature, academic writing and news articles brought into conversation through both new and old technologies. Students make connections between these texts they had never thought to connect before—new mappings designed from their interactions with this world of ideas.
As a trained cultural geographer and cartographer I can’t help but see the classroom as a space—one that is dynamic and full of possibility. Students should feel comfortable in this space and realize they can achieve great things through inquiry and scholarship and gain the confidence to take a chance to see what the pursuit of knowledge can give back to them in return. They can learn that they, too, can contribute to this pursuit and shape this space. We learn that mapping has both practical and metaphorical applications. Ideally, students produce their own maps and become cartographers of their own trajectories.
Teaching and learning have been at the center of what I do. I have taught at multiple levels—middle school, high school, college, university and in adult education—and have taught different subjects—geography, cartography, history, Spanish, English, and beekeeping. Learning is about inquiry, about knowing how to ask questions and how to explore them through a range of methodologies and through a wide variety of lenses. As a life-long learner I bring my own curiosities to the table to help students understand process and develop their own scholarly practices.
My students can learn how to find the universal and how to locate their own lives in the various cartographies of the world.
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