The Opportunity of Adversity – Aimee Mullins’ presentation at TED.

Mullins had her legs amputated as a child and has made a name for herself as a model, athlete, and inspirational speaker. Her talk addresses how the idea that she’s “overcoming adversity” diminishes her. It’s a great illustration of the power of language and our stereotypes about people with “disabilities.” It’s a good video for discussing language.

A comment on the TED site is interesting, though: Mullins wouldn’t be as effective if she weren’t pretty.

 

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New technologies erode the boundary between the personal and the public, as Joshua Meyrowitz observed about television in No Sense of Place twenty five years ago. Since displaying ourselves is de rigeur, thanks especially to Facebook and Twitter, I feel less guilty about doing it on my blog, even though personal disclosure was never my original intent. In class, students appear to enjoy my disclosure. Still, there’s an art to disclosing appropriately in the classroom, one that has taken me years to balance comfortably. As one friend put it, it’s easy “to hold your students hostage” to your personal narratives in class, which is anRead More →

The end of the semester is drawing near, bringing the closing blues. This semester started in such chaos with all the campus changes. I hope Christmas break brings its usual re-energizing rest (a little under a month away). I have excellent students this semester, which carries me through the weekly grind. Here is a random list of changes for next semester’s classes: 1. A service learning component to the interpersonal class. The project will be designed around a new “conversational partners” program on campus to help international students learn English. To that end, I joined this semester and met a great partner. She’s Chinese andRead More →

I have almost completed the first week of class. I have two more classes to go, but I can safely say that my classes this semester are going to rock. I’m psyched about school now. My students have lifted my spirits. This is why I entered this profession. I just came out of a class where we did the “I am From Poem.” I have written about using this activity in class before. I enjoy this poem because it teaches me about the students’ lives. One of the poem’s stanzas is a list of sayings you heard growing up. Today, I heard some of theRead More →

Today in class, students were supposed to bring an editorial from a newspaper. More than half the students didn’t know what an editorial was or where to find it. What kind of education system do we have in this state? When students can’t tell the difference between an editorial and a news article, I get scared. I’m not talking about the more sophisticated position that questions the difference between information and persuasion, either: “there’s no such thing as information; all information is perspectival.” The students simply didn’t know the kinds of writing in a newspaper. It means that our educational system is not teaching studentsRead More →

Today and yesterday have been disappointing days. I assigned informative speeches to be delivered the day after spring break, and no speakers showed. Perhaps that was my mistake, and so I will remember to try something different next spring. However, absenteeism has happened consistently for each of the speeches we’ve done so far. It was just particularly bad this week. Of the students who did come to class, very few of them were prepared to deliver their speech. Students are fully aware that this costs them a letter grade on their speeches. I don’t understand why students don’t do their work. Consistently, students don’t showRead More →

Today, as an ice breaker to Intro to Women’s and Gender Studies, we did Beverly Daniel Tatum‘s “I am From” poem activity. Tatum, President of Spelman University, wrote the book Why are all the black kids sitting together in the cafeteria. I learned about this activity when I attended the POD Conference in 2002 with Dr. Saundra McGuire. I don’t remember the specifics of the activity, but I generally do it like this: 1. Write “I am from” and list the sights, sounds, and smells of your home. 2. Write “I am from” and list your family foods. 3. Write “I am from” and listRead More →

I decided to supplement how Julia Wood’s handles race in her textbook for Gender and Comm. I’m asking the students to read Peggy MacIntosh’s article, “White Privilege.” It’s very old, but still useful. Some links: WMST-L‘s discussion list archive on the article. If you want the whole paper, you can buy it from Wellesley.Read More →