Connecticut College Magazine · Winter 2004


The Fight for Human Rights

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Why I teach
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Michelle R. Dunlap

Michelle R. Dunlap
Michelle R. Dunlap

Associate Professor of Human Development
Joined CC Faculty: 1994

I believe that there are two types of teaching: one that maintains the status quo, and the other that has the potential to emancipate an individual from the status quo. Of course the two forms of teaching are not mutually exclusive. However, I believe that the latter direction is the greater motivation that encourages my teaching.
Systems of privilege, sexism, racism, heterosexism, classism, and other status quo “isms” have been maintained, in part, through elementary, secondary, and post-secondary formal education institutions and curricula. And each of these “isms” can contribute deleteriously to the individual and collective human development experience. If our students do not understand this, then they will go out into the world when they leave Connecticut College and inflict the same old status quo on people less economically powerful than themselves. I sincerely believe that through emancipatory teaching, we can help to interrupt the cycles of ignorance, prejudice, and oppression that have created two separate and unequal social worlds in our society.
When I am blessed to receive letters from alumni who claim that a course or research experience that they had at Connecticut College helped to prepare them for a very diverse and ever-changing world, then I know that we are making progress. Or when, just last week, three students (arm-in-arm) stopped by my office, one of African descent, one of Latina descent, and one of European descent, to say hi and talk together for a few moments (and I just had to take their picture!), then I know that we are making progress. In moments like these I am reminded of why I teach.

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