When the politics and histories that shape students’ lives emerge in class, Naila Keleta-Mae sees an opportunity for deep learning - not an interruption to her lecture notes.
The professor of Theatre and Performance in the Deparmtent of Drama and Speech Communication says some of her most effective teaching happens when the so-called “real world” of politics and the lives of students intersect. For example, a lesson on blocking on stage during a rehearsal, quickly pivoted to an engagement with the myths that early Canada was an uncomplicated refuge for enslaved Black people and that there was no slavery in Canada.
Keleta-Mae invites her students to think about the spaces they occupy and the positions they adopt in their day-to-day lives in relation to the world in which they live and the politics that shape it.
She calls this “risky business,” pointing out that it “asks students and teachers to look closely at their moorings and, at times, to untie systems of meaning-making that have held together their world-views for a long time.”
Keleta-Mae’s courses feature readings and videos that are chosen not just for the theories or content that they introduce, but for the historically underrepresented voices that they bring into the classroom.
This attention to who gets heard is also reflected in the exercises she does to improve the quality of student participation. In one of the exercises she has designed, a few weeks into a course she privately assesses the students’ in-class participation in terms of how much they've spoken up. [...]