Who is we? Attending to similarity and difference as discourse praxis in the university classroom
Keywords:anti-oppressive pedagogy; critical discourse analysis; critical pedagogy; reflexive education; higher education
The word we evokes ideas of both belongingness and non-belongingness through its ability to create constellations of solidarity and exclusion. In education, its use has the power to draw invisible yet substantial lines between dominant and counter-hegemonic ideologies—and teachers and students—in ways that dynamically influence the operation of power between actors. Reflections emerging from a collaborative partnership between a student, teaching assistants, and professor during an undergraduate course on sex/gender and health revealed significant opportunities for critical pedagogical practice around we. This paper analyzes how we and related terms (like they, us, them, etc.) function in the higher education classroom and offers our analysis into the possibilities of using we as a starting point for anti-oppressive and reflexive educational praxis. Ultimately, we contend that we has the potential to work as an intervention countering dominant ideologies and normative assumptions operating in the classroom.