Unguessed Gestures in Effective Institutions: Poetry's Threats to Urban Schooling

Maya Ronit Pindyck

Abstract


Through an exploration of the perspectives of Teaching Artists who teach poetry in New York City public schools, this paper considers the curricular implications of Giorgio Agamben’s (2000) notion of gesture as an undirected, unproductive movement and builds a connected theory of poetry as antithetical—even threatening—to schools as progress-driven institutions of learning. I treat Teaching Artist perceptions as nomadic lenses through which to critically see and aesthetically re-sense urban schools. By interweaving poetic interpretations of interviews conducted with nine Teaching Artists and my own teaching memories, both as an English teacher at a Title 1 high school and as a Teaching Artist at various K-12 schools throughout NYC, I wrestle with the tensions between poetry and schooling in relation to dominant constructions and felt senses of “poet” and “teacher” in U.S. urban schools. I theorize the powers of art/poetry as a gesture (unforeseeable and necessarily impractical) resisting the notion of progress so familiar to educational discourses and practices: a linear movement and targeted effort towards “success” most intensely projected onto minority bodies.

 


Keywords


poetry, urban schools, education, Teaching Artist, nomad

Full Text:

Pindyck.PDF



JCT: Journal of Curriculum Theorizing is an interdisciplinary journal of curriculum studies. It offers an academic forum for scholarly discussions of curriculum. Historically aligned with the "reconceptualist" movement in curriculum theorizing, and oriented toward informing and affecting classroom practice, JCT presents compelling pieces within forms that challenge disciplinary, genre, and textual boundaries.

The journal is published by the Foundation for Curriculum Theory and is associated with the Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice, held in the autumn of each year. JCT is indexed in The Education Index.

NOTICE: As of December 2008, the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (Volume 24, Issue 1) and all future issues
are available freely and exclusively online to all individuals and institutions. More Information...

Contributors to the Journal of Curriculum Theorizing retain copyright to their work.

All other content: Copyright © Foundation for Curriculum Theory. All rights reserved.

ISSN: 1942-2563