The Sea, The Waves and The Ocean

Not a single day goes by I hear and talk about the strategies to cope with the expectations of the present and the concept of time. In an effort to be present at the moment, we surround ourselves with the socially induced prescriptions of self-care techniques such as yoga, meditation, and herbal and natural remedies to reduce stress or medical prescriptions, which enables us to basically function. We face with the force of the expectancy of efficiency and speed in replying e-mails, preparing course materials, keeping up with our research and courses. And there is the rest of our life as well… While we are required to navigate between the actuality of our past knowledge and potentiality of the knowledge waiting to be grasped by us in the future, the present imposes its own priorities on us. As we move on to one black screen to another, we juggle with images, models, texts, applications, websites, to do lists, calendars, taking notes, and etc. How well are we wired to juggle? What do we do in the gap between focusing and multi-tasking?


In his article Is Google Making Us Stupid Carr discusses the impact of the NET as a universal medium, which has been shaping our lives. Carr argues that while the NET is subsuming different mediums, it re-creates them in its own image, allowing multiple distracting elements to scatter and diffuse our attention.[1] Furthermore, the good old media seems to be forced to comply with the thresholds set by the new media[2]. Before this radical change, Carr refers to a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick to address the contradiction embedded in the way efficiency shapes our lives in somewhere between human and machine. As the line between the human and the machine is blurring, should we be concerned about our intelligence as Carr underlined?


Farman problematizes the way we interact with the black screens and argues that the anxiety triggered by the effect of disconnection with the “real world” is not a new phenomenon[3]. Referring to Plato’s denunciation on writing, which causes an interruption in the “meaningful presence that comes from face-to-face interactions.”[4] Is the effect, which digital media creates, similar to that of writing? Or is it just a naïve reaction to a new and mesmerizing gadget such as a kaleidoscope?

Reviewing the responses to Carr’s article, I realize the diversity of opinions concerning our relationship with the digital world. Thompson presents an optimistic perspective focusing on the benefits of collaboration between the human and the machines[5]. Addressing the monumental chess game between Kasparov and the computer Deep Blue, he argues that the result of this game paved the way for a new form of intelligence in the making, rather than the beginning of a dystopic future.


I agree that we need to come up with new ways to talk about the digital world and breaking the monopoly of the companies, which are shaping the aesthetics and the politics of this new social realm. Furthermore, in order to access to this new territory, we not only rely on economic means but also our social and cultural capital, which enables to create strategies to experience the benedictions and the maleficence of the new world.


Digital media users across many oceans back and forth countless times every day. What have we been doing before sailing in the ocean? We taught ourselves how to swim, we built canoes, boats, sailboats, ships, catamarans to travel from one territory of thought to another. As we explore the ways to reach the open seas to grab our surfboards to enjoy gliding on bigger waves. As we reached the oceans, we started building better equipped and faster ships to map this limitless world, which made up of imaginary units.

I believe what we deal with is not the questions concerning digital media or how we adapt to this change or whether it is bad or not. I believe the real issue is the pervasiveness of the idea of what we may become within this new realm. Remembering not to forget the historical link between discovery, territory, and domination, I suggest that our desires should not be fixed on being the captain of a grandiose ship. We should allow ourselves to enjoy watching the ocean, to have the joy of swimming, to experience the serenity of spending the whole afternoon in an old boat anchored in the middle of a beautiful lake. I found these moments to be the mediums, which we can create to fill the affective gap between the necessity to pay attention and to multi-task.

[1] Carr, N. 2017. Is Google making us stupid?

[2] Ibid

[3] Farman, J. 2017. The myth of the disconnected life.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Thompson, C. 2013. Smarter than you think. New York: The Penguin Press.

Reshaping the Relationship Between Teaching and Learning

This week’s topic made me revisit some of my convictions about teaching and learning, bringing these essential questions back into my mind: How do teaching and learning affect each other? Is the relation between teaching and learning unilateral or bilateral or completely separate? Are these processes simultaneous or sequential? Or do they have a temporal pattern at all? How does the form of teaching inform the content of learning? I see that my answers to these questions would significantly differ from my experience as an undergraduate student than my experience as a teacher. The former me would have fundamentally different answers than the latter. Observing the extent and the depth of this gap, I came to appreciate the power of Paulo Freire’s approach to pedagogy, which inspired me to review what I knew about the epistemology of teaching and to start shaping my teaching philosophy. For me, Freire draws a road map to becoming an influential educator by inciting curiosity and by providing a variety of information that will guide the students to find who they are and what they want to do with their life. My take away from this week’s readings is that both the teacher and the students embark on a journey together in which they learn from, they are inspired by, and act in solidarity with each other as they create an environment, which embraced the joy of learning, promotes braveness, and builds trust.


I believe, referring to educators as “learned scholars, community researchers, moral agents, philosophers, cultural workers, and political insurgents”[1] in the Freirean sense highlights an important aspect of the role and the position of the educator (70). According to Freire, teachers should focus on multifaceted critiques of dominant power in designing their curriculum, which encompasses curricular and instructional strategies. The actions informed as such should aim at creating a better learning environment, as well as at establishing a better society. Thus, for Freire, individual empowerment, which incites social change, cannot be thought apart from the learning process.


I am not sure whether Freire’s framework would be appealing for all educators, but his observation on the way in which the educational institutions can be both impediments or chances to fight oppression. His entire work and education philosophy has been focused on mapping the strategies, which he referred as “liberatory action” [2]  and which enable students to intervene in dehumanizing processes within institutions. In that sense, his approach has emphasized a process-based model of teaching in which students is empowered to think free from the dominance of the previous knowledge and to imagine their future free from the imposed norms and standards of the society through the development of their conscious.

What makes Freire approach distinct from the conventional teaching approaches is the way in which he problematized teacher’s authority. While he underlines the necessity of a type of authority that “respects the being and experiences of students”[3], he strongly opposes an authoritarian pedagogy, which operates by making “deposits of information in student mind banks”[4] and by making the student demonstrate learned information, as s/he is asked to “give it back to the teacher in the same form it was provided to” her/him. Freire conceptualizes the way of learning based on such relationship as “banking pedagogy.”[5] The students are considered as “”containers,” into “receptacles” to be “filled””[6] by the narrated account of the teacher.


Freire argues that the one-way structure of the relationship between students as “the depositories”[7] and educator as “depositor,” does not only produces a misguided system but also tear off humanity out of students. In breaking the cycle of reproducing the same knowledge in the same form, he offers an alternative method, which he called problem-posing education. Freire juxtaposes both approaches regarding the roles and positions of the student and the teacher/educator in detail. I found that among three of them had answers to my questions. First, this approach removes the hierarchal positioning between the teacher and the student in banking pedagogy and brings them to the same level where they create the knowledge together. It also embraces the student’s effort to develop consciousness and attempts for critical intervention in actual conditions. Finally, in problem-posing education, “people develop their power to perceive critically the way they exist in the world with which and in which they find themselves.” Within this process the lines that divide the roles of educator and students blur, leading both of them to reflect simultaneously on themselves.


Going back to my questions, I see that Freire’s thought would answer most of my questions:

To learn, then, logically precedes to teach. In other words, to teach is part of the very fabric of learning. This is true to such an extent that I do not hesitate to say that there is no valid teaching from which there does not emerge something learned and through which the learner does not become capable of recreating and remaking what has been thought. In essence, teaching that does not emerge from the experience of learning cannot be learned by anyone[8].


I argue that Freire would address the relation between teaching and learning as a bilateral unfinished process in which both of these actions take place both simultaneously and sequentially, claiming that particular instances of learning may happen independently. According to Freire, the form should not dictate the content in the process of learning and teaching, since” the process of learning, through which historically we have discovered that teaching is a task not only inherent to the learning process but is also characterized by it.” Although I am not sure whether I can commit to such a passionate and ambitious agenda of teaching, I came to realize that Freire’s contributions to philosophy and epistemology of pedagogy and his courage to seek ways to deal with the actuality without referring the suppression of past. Most important of all, I am thankful for bringing a new perspective, which challenges the monopolization of knowledge not only by individual actors but also certain forms of teaching that are capable of transcending our humanity, paving the way for dehumanization practices.

[1] Kinchloe Joe L., “Paulo Freire (1921-1997)” in The Critical Pedagogy Primer, 2004, 70.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Kinchloe Joe L., “Paulo Freire (1921-1997),” The Critical Pedagogy Primer, 2004, 74.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Freire, Paulo, “The Banking Concept of Education,” Pedagogy of the Oppressed, 1993, 71.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Freire, Paulo, “There is No Teaching Without Learning, ”Pedagogy of Freedom, 2001, 31

How to Build An Inclusive Academic Environment

Last week was not one of the best weeks I had this semester. I was trying to cope with the feeling of being lost in my teaching and academic experience when one of my professors referred to the concept of diligence as part of his definition of the qualitative side of our work as scholars. This concept led me to think about the way we perform our daily teaching practice and interactions in the classroom and work environment. I have found out that as the workers in the knowledge production process, we have to cope with the contradiction between reductive pragmatism and immense idealism. Thus, the gap between these extreme approaches is the space where our conscious and unconscious processes are negotiated. I realized that becoming a scholar/teacher required a diligent and constant effort to navigate within this gap by paying attention to our biases and prejudices, by opening space for diversity, and creating an inclusive environment.



The excerpt[i]from the ‘Hidden Brain’ by Shankar Vedantam illustrates an extreme example of the extent to which individuals may act indifferent to immediate human suffering. During the incident at the Belle Isle bridge in Detroit, a woman of color tried to avoid verbal harassment by a man, who later chased her to the Belle Isle bridge with his friends two other friends. Beaten and injured severely, she climbed to the edge of the bridge to save her life. The moment she realized that her perpetrator will not stop and that there is no one to help her, she jumped off the bridge holding on to the slightest chance of her survival. All happened before the eyes of many bystanders, who acted as spectators of a horrific scene rather than witnesses to a brutal crime. Vedantam argues that those who came forward as witnesses later “did not have the insight into their behavior.”[ii] Presenting that our mind works in two modes, pilot/conscious and auto-pilot/unconscious, Vedantam argues that “the autopilot mode can be useful when we’re multitasking, but it can also lead us to make unsupported snap judgments about people in the world around us.”[iii] The “hidden associations”[iv] between new situations and preconceived beliefs start shaping our unconscious when we are as young as three years old. Thus, these connections, centered on the dichotomy of the Self and the Other, determine how we value human life. The moment some of the bystanders changed their minds and admitted their guilt was when they found out that the victim was a mother of a thirteen-year-old.


The Belle Isle bridge incident proves that the life of a woman of color becomes worthy when she had the title of mother, which is respected and sanctified and with which the spectators of the horrific scene at the bridge can identify. Thus, the mind tends to fill the logical gaps with our social and moral judgments, partly shaped by the conventional thought patterns of the society in which we were born, raised, and live. The sense of familiarity or foreignness shapes the way we feel and act within a particular environment. Katherine W. Phillips introduces that it is not hard to understand why people prefer a homogeneous environment over a diverse environment. The conformity of the former is easier to handle than the former: however, Philips invites us to look closely into the benefits of diversity before judging and eliminating it. Thus, she presents some studies showing that diversity increases productivity, and enhances decision-making and problem-solving skills since it pushes us to change the way we think about the problems and issues with which we deal. Philips concludes that “when we hear dissent from someone who is different from us, it provokes more thought than when it comes from someone who looks like us.”[v] Although this idea is plausible, we also need to ask the conditions under which we hear about the dissenting opinion of someone.


In her book, Whistling Vivaldi, Steele shares her experiences in her academic career. Steele presents our perception is segregated by the actor/observer dichotomy. Her example concerning a discussion on racial bias in the university setting illustrates the miscommunication between the administration and some students, who recently become aware of their status as a member of a minority. Steele captures a significant point that everyone is not heard the same, as she switches from observer’s perception to actor’s perception, and shares her realization as follows: 

“These students lack motivation or cultural knowledge or skills to success at the more challenging coursework where underperformance tends to occur, or they somehow self-destruct because of low self-expectations or low self-esteem picked up from the broader culture or even from their own families and communities.” (22)


In the face of the rigidity of structures of cultural domination and social organization, I wonder whether the actors would feel safe to make their voices heard in the first place. Also, even if there is enough evidence to invest in diversity in our highly pragmatic professional life, is such belief capable of removing the glass ceiling? I believe as long as we rely on our observer perception, to which Vedantam refers as the hidden brain, we could only come up with suggestions such as “try twice as hard ignore what other people think”[vi] or “just have faith in yourself”[vii] to the struggle of the Other.


As scholars/teachers, I believe we have an important role in shaping the blocks with which we construct the frameworks of culture and social organization. The activity of teaching is part of our everyday practices in which we encounter and reproduce the hidden associations that are the by-products of the history of suffering. Our task is being diligent and self-reflexive, not only with our teaching and scholarly works, but also in our day-to-day interaction with our students and our encounters with the physical, political, social, and cultural structures of the university environment.




[i] See

[ii] Ibid

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Ibid

[v] See

[vi] Ibid

[vii] Ibid




How ‘The Hidden Brain’ Does The Thinking For Us: NPR, (accessed March 06, 2017).


How Diversity Makes Us Smarter: Scientific American, (accessed March 06, 2017)


Stelle, Clause M. Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do. New York. W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.

From Cooking to Becoming a Chef

In a recent conversation with a colleague, I realized how our intellectual processes are like cooking by yourself at home. Thoughts are food of our brains. We gather the ingredients, apply the recipes we learn, but most importantly we personalize it. We may not afford to cook at home all the time. We may need a quick snack or sometimes we even crave for comfort food. However, at the times we go to the restaurants we assess the authenticity of the recipe, the creativity of the use of ingredients, the mastery in cooking and service.


The classroom setting is where the teacher presents her/his best recipes with the ingredients as rich as possible. But it seems it is half of becoming a well-known chef. The design and serving are also artistic sides of becoming a chef, which is considered to be her/his signature of success. The success of the chef lies at her/his creativity and skill in using the cooking material, as well as adjusting different tastes in harmony. In that sense, a chef needs good observation skills, s/he needs to be mindful, to be open to critique and reflection, and to be self-reflective. Cooking
is both an art and a responsibility for a chef, like teaching is to a teacher.

Deel presents the dilemmas she encountered when he first started teaching. Her discussion reflects how we may easily rely on the conceptual models about teaching, which are more or less caricaturized, in depicting success of a teacher. The task of engaging students in discussions or speak out in the classroom environment is a preliminary benchmark of the quality of the communication between the teacher and the student. The silence or enthusiasm is a symptom of how well the engagement has been accomplished: however, focusing on the out-come will not contribute to making progress as Deel argues.

Two lessons Deel brought to the discussion on authentic teaching is invaluable in helping to readjust our focus on the process of teaching. Explaining the teaching strategy helps the student assess how much and/or s/he can digest an information. It also helps the way in which the intellectual food we prepared to be distributed fairly. Yet, teachers, like chefs, engages in a conversation with students through their own style, which may be too spicy for some or entire class, as well as too sweet or too salty. The teacher needs to create her/his own assessment  to serve what s/he prepared.


Finally, a chef does not aim at feeding but creating something unique and artistic. A teacher should not aim feeding the students, but s/he should set an example of how to become an experienced cook, to engage in a conversation about cooking and the way in which we process, use, and digest intellectual food, how we narrativize and apply a recipe, and the most importantly, how teachers guide students to cook their own beneficial intellectual food that will help them to survive and develop.

Let’s Share The Carrot and Break The Stick!

The school environment shapes us by the processes of assessment, comments, and categorization. It is one of the fundamental turning machines, which develops and molds the way we think. We become our future selves with how we did during our education. In a way, this experience determines what we will have access to in a competitive environment. In this sense, it may be the biggest investment of our lives. The goal oriented approach to this process would focus on grades as an indicator of where we deserve to be; however, in practice grades would not help at all, but discovering how we learn and solve problem which is embedded in the learning process itself.

As a student, I have never been motivated by grades. On the contrary, I rather feel stressed about them. However, I was not aware of other ways that is not defined by the pressure of grading, since this process will presented whether I should be considered either a good, intelligent, hardworking student or an average student with a tendency to laziness. Students are in a constant fear of losing their position of being a good student or under the surveillance in terms of their worth. I believe the grade-oriented relationship between educators and students turns the learning experience into a mechanical set of performances, removing the excitement of learning and inflicting the stress of failure.

Grading is reductive in the sense that it imposes a scheme to assess the performances of the student, who have variety ways of learning and processing information. If so, why do we rely on standardized ways of assessing? I believe it is a rather makes the outcome simpler to translate in to our highly industrialized and data-oriented world. Unfortunately, it still the benchmark indicator of how one can contribute to the society. I agree with the following suggestion by Alfie Kohn:

“…our point of departure isn’t mostly about the grading, but about our desire for students to understand ideas from the inside out, or to get a kick out of playing with words and numbers, or to be in charge of their own learning, then we will likely end up elsewhere. We may come to see grading as a huge, noisy, fuel-guzzling, smoke-belching machine that constantly requires repairs and new parts, when what we should be doing is pulling the plug.”

The standardized ways of assessing can be beneficial for the educators to present a depiction of the outcome the students’ learning process; since they are considered to be some sort of measurement and an indicator of success, so that the educators can assess their own performance as well. Yet, how and by whom these standardized ways are created, namely the founding principles of definition of academic success, is taken for granted most of the time. In a world constantly changing and connecting more and more each day, I believe educators need to do better than employing uniform understanding of assessment and to focus on what we can do to minimize the impact of academic assessment on the learning process as Kohn suggests.

It is about them

Last week we have seen the video by Mike Wesch about the way in which students feel invisible and unimportant in the classroom setting and in their interactions with their professors. As I mentioned in our class, that was no news for me. Ever since I know myself as a student, I have experienced hardships and observed how it reflected to my own learning process. Coming from a family of teachers, having been taught in both public and private educational institutions, in classrooms which range from 250 to 5 students, took hundreds of standardized tests, as well as specialized ones, whose subjects range from language to science, literature to geography, I came to realize there is no singular way of learning. And yes, a privileged position makes a difference in one’s learning experience. For instance, as the daughter of two good teachers I have no choice but to learn and to achieve. I am sure Mike Welsch’s son will be a fierce learner and achiever, as well. The list of different circumstances may be extended however, what I am curious about is how I can make learning experience more beneficial and desirable for my students. As I go over this week’s materials I started to find answers to my question both as an instructor and to better understand my expectations as a student.

Throughout the week, I have been contemplating on my mission, my responsibility, my plan, my schedule ect. It included so many “my”s that I forgot my students have expectations from this class as well. It was not about me. This class was about them and their learning experience. As Ken Robinson mentioned in his talk, learning is an individual process, which requires curiosity and creativity.

My position as an instructor allowed me to organize the class in a self-centered fashion. All I need to do was to assume. Thus, Langer discusses how myths about learning structure the way we organize and act as teachers, leaving no room for mindfulness in the classroom environment. Thinking what I needed to do at the basic level would suffice to clear my conscious about my responsibility as a teacher.

The rigidity of the habits reinforced by the myths about teaching and learning is mostly depended on the foundations of our education systems, command and control. How does this unbalanced power relation effect our teaching? What does it do to us as teachers? I argue that it may make us lazy, indifferent, self-centered, which in turn what we will be obsvering in our student’s attitudes towards the class. However, I believe the bigger danger lies in making us hold on to our teacher positions rather than being mindful about teaching and students’ learning process. Taking the myths and assumptions granted on teaching or following a certain standardized teacher attitude may prevent us from seeing our students and their needs. This is how we make them invisible and feel ignored.

Through his example on the Death Valley, Robinson underlines the importance of conditions that renders the learning experience either dormant or flourishing. I believe we first need to enable such environment through creating new categories, offering new ways of thinking, encouraging openness to new information, and raising awareness on more than one perspectives (Langer, 4). Most importantly, within the time we spare for preparing and lecturing, we shall prioritize student’s learning experience over our teaching position.

Social Media is the Final Frontier

[Enterprise log: I am leaving what I consider social reality… What we call a ‘face to face communication’… Behind me is a cluster of the bodily performances, the mimics, the sighs, the smiles, the rolling eyes, angry looks, nodding ect. … The question is what is out there beyond the blinking black cursor? Until now, my mission was to understand and to communicate through my personal Facebook page or Twitter account in investigating the realm of social media. Now, I have a new task… Learning about how I start a blog to extend my teaching experience as a GEDI.

I believe learning about new technologies of communication is not only a need but a must. While this new realm has been shaped by our actions, it also shapes the way we think and act. Stepping into this realm, I am challenging myself in becoming a subject of a new practice, which has already started establishing its unique cultural codes. I feel that exploring this realm will also be beneficial in observing the way in which individuals are being organized in forming a new society and in understanding the way in which our social reality has been restructured through our social media experiences.

Therefore, I say “I am on board for our next mission!”