Inquirer is a journal devoted to teaching, learning, and scholarship at BMCC.
Another year has passed filled with issues that touch us as educators, scholars, and global citizens. From debates about testing in the public schools and other national discussions of teaching K-12, to the formation of the new CUNY community college; from ongoing attention to assessment and retention at BMCC and CUNY-wide, to discussions of how to grow distance learning classes in the soundest ways, intellectually and pedagogically; from widespread debates about general education and Pathways, to questions about how to build community in our shape-shifting departments, we have filled our hours outside of the classroom. Working on a diffused campus nestled up against Wall Street and Occupy Wall Street, both of which continue to capture our students’ imaginations, each of us teachers engaged in our various debates about learning, nestled within our departments, within a college, within a university, we have had yet another dynamic and busy year.
Colleagues have participated in workshops on Reading across the Curriculum, we’ve intensified our Writing across the Curriculum program, and we’ve celebrated the collaboration between colleagues and students on environmental issues, theater, music, and art. We have continued to hold faculty book discussion groups, joined yoga and symba classes open to faculty and staff, and the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Scholarship, even as we struggle to recall the words that yield its acronym, has reshaped a pivotal forum for cross-disciplinary faculty and staff discussions about the things that get us out of bed each day. We’ve held vital conferences bringing in educators from far outside of CUNY to discuss teaching literature and English as a Second Language in the community colleges, and we have given form and content to our commitment to environmental issues and to cultivating global citizenship in by bringing over a dozen local and regional environmental organizations together to share in the first annual Sustainability Fair. And this is to name but a few of our many conversations and engagements and accomplishments, all of which challenge and inform how we learn and how we teach, and re-shape what we say and do for our students.
This nineteenth volume of Inquirer includes threes sorts of constructive commentary on our many preoccupations. First are four pedagogical-practical reflections: on the intimate relationship between reading and writing; on the challenges of retaining online students; on the nature of teaching writing to ESL students; and on teaching Homer to students of varied skills and interests. Second are four pedagogical-personal recollections: of influential teachers from childhood; of a first class taught at BMCC; of a professor who understood that students are not all the same; of a professor born of two worlds who migrated to a third to write poetry and teach it, too. And third, gathered into the first of Inquirer’s Teachable Moment Symposia, are seven pedagogical-political interventions: on two types of public conversation; on the political economy of global inequality; on the fantasy of color-blind ideology; on the new technologies of political resistance; on the connections between recent strands of public dissent; on intimations of a New Deal for these times; and on warping of reality by the media. Each of these—reflections, recollections, and interventions alike—are offered as grist for our thought and action as teachers and learners. And, if it needs to be said, each is offered as an indirect gift to our students, without whom what we say and do around here would hardly matter.
This gathering of articles, predictably eclectic in both content and form, indicates once again the energy and thought and enthusiasm that goes into teaching and learning here at BMCC. Each of the authors reminds us, in his or her own way, of our engaged commitment to our students as we play our meager but crucial role in preparing them to be active and global thinkers and doers in this 21st century. Each article offers us food for thought and practical resources to add to our pedagogical and intellectual toolkits. And each provides grist for discussion to help us re-imagine our manner of thinking about learning and develop our manner of teaching. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we have enjoyed editing them.
Social Sciences & Human Services (Philosophy)