The Spring semester at St. Olaf College started today, and I met the two classes I am going to teach: Post-colonial Literature and Folklore. I spent the time, as I always do on the first day, introducing myself, my teaching philosophy, and my expectations.
I stressed that I consider the classroom a special place, the only space for true, unfettered freedom of thought and expression. I do not believe such freedom exists anywhere else. Students should use this opportunity to the fullest extent possible, articulating their thoughts and perspectives, challenging, whenever possible, the thoughts and perspectives of fellow students and me.
I also began exploring the definitional and theoretical controversies around the concepts of "Post-colonial Literature" and "Folklore." In both classes, time seemed to fly so fast that I couldn't say everything I had wanted to say. I promised to continue this discourse on Wednesday, Insh'Allah.
I am happy to be back in the classroom, to be with students again, exploring issues together, in the kind of dialogic manner proposed by educators like Paulo Freire. I wish I could be as effective as Socrates and Jesus in provoking thoughts and challenging conventional wisdom or common sense, crossing boundaries and opening up new horizons of knowledge and understanding.
How I wish I could inspire all my students to be lifelong seekers of knowledge. I wish, through studying Literature and Folklore, humanistic disciplines both, that we could make ourselves better and better human beings.