Paulo Freire writes in his class Pedagogy of the Oppressed: “How can the oppressed. . . participate in developing the pedagogy of their liberation?” He believed that the “pedagogy must be forged with, not for, the oppressed.”
If you substitute “poor” for “oppressed,” then you get a bit of what I’m trying to do with my anti-poverty pedagogy course design principles. My work is far less theoretically or potentially empowering than Freire’s, yet the question of how to craft a pedagogy with students seems central to both his an my projects.
I’ve explored holding focus groups, and experience at my college is that few students attend. I could cold call folks and offer money to answer a survey of questions, but a) I don’t have money for that kind of thing, and b) I hate people cold-calling me, why would I do that to others.
What I really want is for students to offer suggestions for everyday things I (and all professors) could do to make poor students succeed better.
My solution, thus far, is to find a way to collect electronic input, perhaps in the comment sections of this blog, and to set up a “Lucy-offering-advice-style cardboard kiosk” at Normandale during peak hours and ask for suggestions face-to-face. Whatever I do, I need to do it fast as the summer is flying and I need to build the course design partly on suggestions I don’t have.