By Esther Kingston-Mann
This number of essays written via non-traditional college on non-traditional scholars files a fancy and not easy strategy of pedagogical transformation.
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At the same time, it is important to recall that our pedagogical powers and expertise, while real, are not infinite. We can never be sure that we will understand, predict, or deal effectively with every problem that arises. This is not as depressing an admission as it might seem. As in other areas of learning, pedagogical advances are seldom linear. If faculty—like students—recognize that difficulties are not a sign of incompetence, it may become easier for them to learn. Faculty socialized to see themselves as all-purpose authorities frequently find the challenge of learning through mistakes and misjudgments more difficult than do our students, who are inescapably aware that they are supposed to be learners.
There are no surprises as to which student groups will best comprehend which materials, but the patterns of intellectual sclerosis are a little different: progay students tend to deal with the antigay materials in an sheerly polemical way, while the moral opponents of homosexuality may politely ignore every source and argument other than their foreordained authorities. In both cases, I have to keep sending them back to the drawing board until deeper insight is attained. Coming Out and Leading Out 33 Understanding the person next to you, who can talk back, is more rewarding but may also be more frustrating than trying to understand a text.
If you ask what causes homosexuality, do you also ask what causes heterosexuality, and why or why not? How many kinds of sexuality are there, and how well do they ﬁt into the categories we use? What kinds of relational patterns have you seen between women and men, men and men, women and women? What kinds of relational patterns would you like in your own life or community? What do you mean by “man” and “woman,” and how well do your working deﬁnitions cover your experience of people? Of the many things that sex can do (such as give pleasure, enact violence, express love, make babies, explore fantasies, spread diseases, or seal a commitment), which if any do you think it must do in order to be moral and why?
Achieving Against the Odds. How Academics Become Teachers of Diverse Students by Esther Kingston-Mann