Such incidents reveal that, despite equality legislation and the good intentions of many teachers, racial and gender problems persist. I point teachers toward conducting historical analysis with their classes that reveal the ways in which habits have defined races and genders and the ways they continue to affect the perception of and response to identity categories. Children exhibit considerable knowledge of racial and gender difference as well as social implications of these differences. These acts occur, seemingly spontaneously, through an agent who redeploys the power of the cultural norms and linguistic structures that constitute him or her. Because repetition may vary, a space is opened up for newness—a space for growth and a space for learning. Referring to a perlocutionary view of language, Butler identifies the gap between the utterance and its effects as a space for resignification.
For Dewey, habits give one efficacy in the world. Earlier I explained how both thinkers envision the body as permeable. Dewey, Human Nature and Conduct, 40—41. Impulses, or instincts as he sometimes interchangeably refers to them , are unlearned activities, typically appearing as early as birth. In December, one white student, Justin Barker, began to taunt black classmate, Robert Bailey, who had been threatened with a gun and insulted by a white man the previous evening. Many decades ago, a key figure in educational philosophy, John Dewey, presented a useful and complex account of habit in his book Human Nature and Conduct. Sandra Harding Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1993 , 147.
The ability of each person to engage in such reflection is dependent, however, on their individual skill, the guidance of others, and the power relationships in which they are embedded. Lewontin, Steven Rose, and Leon J. Such incidents reveal that despite equality legislation and the good intentions of many teachers, racial and gender problems persist. The planters later came to see, however, that the Africans could adopt Creole ways, in effect becoming Creole and 36 Chapter Three closer to whites. Suddenly the term, intended as one 66 Chapter Four of domination and exclusion, becomes enticing to several students who excitedly proclaim their linkage to Pakistan or other foreign countries. Dewey values these categories of identity to some degree because they guide us in enacting our freedom and pursuing our interests; they teach us about ourselves and options available to us. Often classroom events are divided by gender and racial lines, lacking communication, cooperative learning across difference, and integration of all classroom members.
Jo Ann Boydston 1921; reprint, Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1988 , 243. Because the subject is constituted and enabled by cultural structures and norms, we should not try to overthrow habits entirely as though we could be freed from them but rather rework them in liberating ways. Formed through transactions between the environment and biological makeup, these habits shape the way our body both appears and operates. For example, in not so many words, it was recently pointed out to me that I am biased against the color orange. These differences allow for uniqueness of the self. One can see how similar prejudices regarding certain genders or races might behave likewise. Following that train of thought, they have suggested that teachers and students can combat racism and sexism by willfully working against injustice, often by changing biased beliefs.
Pinning down examples might also wrongly imply a definitive model for what or how to protest identity problems. Cornel West, Keeping Faith: Philosophy and Race in America New York: Routledge, 1993. Children who did not fit easily into one 38 Chapter Three racial category or another incited fear and concern among scientists and the public. In chapter 5, I develop an account of gender formation, maintenance, and change. In a spirit of social transformation, this book argues that when students learn to inhabit their races and genders more flexibly, many classroom problems can be prevented and current social structures of identity-based oppression can be alleviated. How can they prevent them in the future? These are real children who are discussed in later examples.
Unfortunately, however, those adult habits tend to shore up traditional ways of being. While Nussbaum, however, thinks that norms like equality need to be fully articulated, a Deweyan reading of coordinated habit would suggest that these visions do not have to be fully articulated. And it was naturalist Carolus Linnaeus whose 1735 Natural System first pinned down an extensive system of racial difference. Formal decisions to privilege certain groups become permissible. In result, the beliefs and activities of members of a society are well coordinated.
Renee frowns and looks unconvinced. On the other hand, if nearly every student protests without some sense of a shared project or goal, change becomes disorganized and sets up an institution that must penalize or prohibit certain acts so as to maintain a sense of order or purpose. Impulse scatters and obliterates them with its restless stir. Most habits are and, in many cases, must be repeated, especially those that culturally position the subject and are necessary for continued recognition. How can teachers more effectively handle these moments? They can do so suddenly on their own, they can play out intelligently and gradually, or they can be suppressed and tucked away.
Appleton and Company, 1896 , 68. He did not see that one of his major contributions, the philosophical exegesis of habit, could be an important tool for better understanding racial identity and race relations, especially as they play out in schools. In a spirit of social transformation, this book argues that when students learn to inhabit their races and genders more flexibly, many classroom problems can be prevented and current social structures of identity-based oppression can be alleviated. Sullivan, Living across and through Skins, 74. Veronica Vasterling has persuasively argued that because the reiteration takes place in the movement of language itself, agents really have limited intention over it. He spent little time, however, considering how his concept of habit is relevant to the embodiment of race and gender.
Feagin, The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism Lanham, Md. He enjoyed seeing the bright red polish decorate his fingers. Even as mind emerges, it retains traces of the body that can be stripped only at the expense of genuine meaning. These situations also reveal that better understanding and alleviating problems of identity is likely inherent in these events themselves rather than contained solely within theoretical exploration. In this chapter, I trace the study of racial habits from early modern science through contemporary genetic biology. Through transaction and the reworking of habit, objective changes to the environment, particularly to those institutions that preserve rigid identity distinction, including schools, may also be made.