"Cool courses" spotlight: EDUC 300: Community in education: Teaching and organizing

January 30, 2024

In this "cool courses" spotlight, Assistant Teaching Professor Edmundo Aguilar, Ph.D. shares information about a new special topics course he is looking forward to teaching called "Community in education: Teaching and organizing." Offered for the first time at the College of Education during spring 2024 quarter, the course does not have any prerequisites and is open to all undergraduate students at the University of Washington. Applying a Chicanx decolonial and humanizing framework, the course encourages students to discover the transformative potential of teaching and organizing, equipping them with the tools to bring about positive social change in their communities. The course will integrate classroom learning with fieldwork including interviews with teachers, activists and community organizers to help students bridge the gap between theory and practice. Learn more in our Q&A with Aguilar. Please note that responses have been lighted edited for length and clarity.

What makes this a "cool course" for undergraduate students? Who would benefit from taking it and why?

Even though this class is through the lens of a Chicanx decolonial framework, it will benefit every person who enrolls. The course content upholds principles of inclusion and belonging, creating a healthy learning environment where every student can reach their full potential and work toward living dignified lives in and with their communities. Decolonial education fosters educational environments that nurture a culture of rehumanization, with self-love being a fundamental concept within this framework. Furthermore, this class draws on Chicanx ancestral knowledge that fosters balance and harmony among all living creatures in an interdependent relationship. In essence, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or what your background is, we need each other moving forward.

What are some of the authors, texts or other materials that students will encounter? How will these challenge or deepen their understanding of the world?

This class is drawing from a praxis-oriented model for teachers and community organizers called TIAHUI (Nahuatl for “moving forward”). This framework originates from the historical struggle for Ethnic Studies in Tucson. Despite the dismantlement of the Mexican American/Raza Studies Department (MARSD) in the school district, a collective (XITO) has emerged, creating a living archive of resistance. They have successfully trained thousands of educators, organizers, school counselors and administrators. This UW College of Education course will mainly draw from the work of the XITO collective and foundational and up and coming scholars in the field of liberatory education.

What do you want students to contribute to the course and what do you hope they will take away?

I want my students to continuously strive to discover their life’s purpose and develop a love for themselves, their families and their community. I hope they will willingly share their lived experiences to contribute to the discussions, so we all can learn and grow together as a classroom community.

How do you like to learn with your students? What's your approach to the classroom environment and the roles within it?

My teaching style is rooted in Critical Pedagogy. This pedagogy creates an environment of mutual respect, love and understanding, and leads students toward liberation. Our students are constantly teaching us how to be better teachers. We just have to listen to them. Also, I always work toward seeing the students’ humanity before seeing the student. They let us know that trust goes a long way.


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