Carrie, I really like the piece and would like to share it with a
fieldwork class of mine where we are working on using journals as
places for reflection as well as documentation. More importantly, this
captures many of the issues about power and solidarity that I'm trying
to analyze and that I struggle with in my relationships with students
as well as my children.
There is a struggle between Barb and Annalee and within each of them
that reflects the power they actually have and that they wish to have.
Annalee desperately wants to master the task of opening the door
herself; she wants autonomy and competence, and the two really are
inseparable. Barb struggles with her role as the powerful one--the
authority--not only, I think, because of the hurried NY lifestyle but
because of an agenda set somewhere that walking down hallways and
opening doors are trivial, and she's "supposed to" set an agenda that
will socialize this child into the world of adults. Barb so beautifully
recognizes some aspects of this. She sees that this task is not trivial
for Annalee and that building solidarity was more important. Barb uses
her own power as the teacher to give Annalee the power to set the
agenda. I think that what Barb accomplishes is to convince Annalee that
she's on her side, not because she knows what's best, but because she
wants to collaboratively set agendas and accomplish tasks. She
transforms a power struggle into a moment to learn about cooperation.
Barb changed as she stepped outside the role of teacher/adult as
typically scripted and Annalee changed as she discovered that some help
could be accepted without diminishing her role in an activity.
Maybe all this is obvious, but I'm grateful for the chance to describe
it in the terms I'm thinking with.
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