Alison reports from the road

So I'm in Elon, NC, right now, blogging from the guest bedroom of Peter Felten and Sara Walker's house. Sara, of the apparently defunct blog "I was to be a ham," is an unbelievable cook. She and Peter hosted a dinner party tonight for me and several Elon Women/Gender Studies faculty (that's the name of their program--Women/Gender Studies, with the slash), and here was the menu:

  • Sweet potato curry and tomato soups, layered parfait-style in tiny elegant long-stemmed glasses, with a parmesan crisp emerging from the top
  • Beef tenderloin with mushrooms and a really good sauce (not gravy because there's no flour--I asked)
  • Creamed spinach
  • Wild rice with a bunch of funky stuff in it (orange peel? pecans?)
  • Eclectic gathering of mushroom guys
  • Glazed carrots
  • Molten chocolate cake with raspberries and little polka dots of raspberry puree around the edge of the plate
Crazy good stuff.

Here's something I learned when trying to help clean up afterward: you're not supposed to dry crystal with a damp dishtowel. It needs a fresh towel because it picks up any kind of bodily oils. The rest of you probably already knew that. Honestly, it's a really good thing that Walter and I don't have too much nice stuff, because I'm pretty much at the point where if it won't go in the dishwasher, I won't use it.

Other news from Elon: I taught a class and then led a three-hour feminist pedagogy workshop for faculty, and I think it went well. I was somewhat nervous beforehand because Peter was one of the people who invited me there, and I respect his thoughts on teaching so much--he's one of these people (like Deandra) who is just exceptionally good at talking to teachers about their teaching and drawing them out, getting them to see things in new ways. I thought, "Who am I to be doing this workshop? Peter should be doing it!" As it turns out, I am qualified to do a workshop like this. And Peter said the nicest thing when he was introducing me to the group; he said that he has an "Alison" part of his brain that he'll sometimes refer to when certain questions come up.

If I do a workshop like this again in the future--and I'd like to--I'll probably change a few things. I did some Theater of the Oppressed stuff which was interesting but needs to be fine-tuned a bit, and it may have been that folks wanted more concrete strategies. But they seemed to enjoy it, and I really enjoyed meeting them and hearing their thoughts and their experiences.

Favorite concept emerging from the workshop: Education isn't about safety. Feminist pedagogy is dangerous.


Maig said...

Yay Alison, you're such a rebel...dangerous and bad-ass. I'm glad things went well for you. I imagine teaching teachers would be interesting and different.
THanks for the report.

Alison said...

Yes, teaching teachers is different--in some ways easier, because teachers love to talk, and most of the ones who come to teaching workshops love to talk about what's going on in their classes. So you don't really encounter the sea of blank stares that you'll sometimes get in a college classroom. But on the other hand, they're smart, and they are aware that their time is extremely valuable, and their expectations are high.

I actually really enjoyed it, but I'm sort of out of practice doing it.