Respect, Resistance, and Reality

Slowly, over the years, because I was willing to learn, my students taught me a new set of three R’s—Respect, Resistance and Reality.

First, Respect. Respect for them, and for every decision they took, every choice they made. Respect for myself.

Second, Resistance. They come back to school, that place of previous failures and humiliation, because they want what they think I offer—the key to a better life. I offer them different ways of learning: group work; choice; meaningful work; I invite them to join the teaching team and make decisions about how and what they will learn. But they resist my best efforts to do things differently, because it is not what they expect, and it scares them. They refuse to risk going back again into that position of failure and humiliation. I need to acknowledge their resistance publicly, to honour it, and to work with it. I need to recognize my own resistance, too, because it gets in the way.

Third, Reality. My work is most successful when I listen to what is really going on. Speak the unspoken thoughts and feelings. Do reading and writing that is real, in the real world. Find an audience for the voice; find information in response to questions; say yes to every chance to move the literacy work into the community, and bring the community into the class.

6 thoughts on “Respect, Resistance, and Reality

  1. I wonder if learner resistance is also linked to resilience? We successfully engage and retain. Our biggest challenges is around developing learners’ resilience and the ability to continue, once they move to a new provider. It’s staying and coping with all the unplanned for changes, resisting the tempation to “walk” when things go wrong. In Wales resistance is around institutional / organisational change, closely allied to the learner’s resilience to cope effectively with a less supportive learning environment. I’m constantly told our learners have to join the “real” world. Making changes to this “real” world is an on-going challenge but essential if a learner’s reality is to be understood and they in turn are respected and valued.

  2. Well done Kate. Very impressive. Even though i work for Sioux hudson Literacy/good Learning Anywhere and we offer (offered) a live online course in Creating a Blog, with Sandra Turner, I never got around to completing the course. Sandra recenty developed a Moodle course on developing a blog and I am making much better progress with the Moodle course as it allows for flexible time. The focus on my blog is reviews of childrens’ books/publications written by Canadian Aboriginal authors. i hope that I can make it as professional looking as your blog. wishing you future successes. Nida Doherty

  3. The phrase that resonated for me was “I need to recognize my own resistence too, because it gets in the way.” My teaching mentors taught me to stay real by recognizing that I am in the way on so many levels – and that reflecting on my thoughts, my reactions and yes, my resistance might just lead to my own learning. Resistance is predictable. Kate, I hope you can write more about how we can respect and honour resistance. People love examples. Thanks!

  4. “say yes to every chance to move the literacy work into the community, and bring the community into the class.”

    One of the earliest guidelines I adopted, when I started doing *interesting* work, was “Think of reasons to say ‘yes’.”

    Looking forward to reading more. 🙂

  5. You’ve opened a huge topic here. I’d just like to comment on the Reality section. I would suggest that trying to relate to or understand the learner’s reality takes a lot of listening and respecting. We, way too often, think we understand someone else’s reality. When factors such as race and age and religion and home environment are different for the learner and the instructor – the distance across which one has to understand is vast and complicated!

love to hear your ideas or experiences!

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