Tim Marshall is the provost of the university known as The New School. A friend forwards Marshall’s email on Curriculum Disruption Week with the assurance that “this is not a parody.” It’s not a parody, but it is almost funny! One might also say the descent to hell is easy.
It turns out that we are in the middle of Curriculum Disruption Week. Provost Marshall announces:
Leading up to the 400th anniversary of the first Africans arriving in Jamestown, Virginia, we are encouraging the New School community to engage in evaluating how this affects us.
From October 12-18, that effort, 400 Years Of Inequality, is propelled by a week of “curriculum disruption” in which classes throughout the university will be encouraged to “take a break from business as usual” and think of how the class’s subject area relates to 400 years of inequality, an effort led by Mindy Fullilove, William Morrish, Robert Sember, and Maya Wiley.
The diversity of perspectives and breath [sic] of the conversation will be transformative for us and we hope will launch a national engagement with this history and its implications.
Here are just two examples of planned disruptions:
● Margaret Samue, in her course “Masterpieces of Art in New York”, will look at famous works of art in New York City museums with her students and ask: What is a masterpiece? How has the idea of “masterpiece” changed over time? What factors contribute to a work of art being given “masterpiece” status, and who gets to decide?
● Kevin McQueen will be looking at the original redlining materials in his Community Development Finance Lab under Milano.
I encourage faculty and students to document their experiences over this week. A short video, photos of classes at work, tweets about you’re learning, all would help us document and understand this important undertaking.
You can follow the daily disruptions on the New School Twitter account, and for more information check out 400yearsofinequality.org.
Let your voice be heard and join the conversation with #400YearsofInequality.
Here are some suggestions from the linked page for disrupting the curriculum. Again, this is not a parody:
Some stories that might inspire the design of a class or group meeting are these:
● How the Freedom Riders broke the color bar on interstate buses
● How Woodstock contributed a sound track for a generation
● How queer people changed history at Stonewall
● How pink hats took over Washington on January 20, 2017
The stories of defeat and set-back are, sadly, also common. Here are some worth revisting:
● How the colonizers invented slavery and justified genocide of Native peoples
● How “whiteness” emerged from Bacon’s Rebellion
● How the 3/5’s compromise came to be law and all the consequences of that [Ed.: They clearly don’t know.]
● How serial forced displacement has been justified as “progress”
I love the Orwellian shout out for “diversity of perspectives.” As the man (if I may use that term) said, let your voice be heard, but it is probably best to whisper to yourself.