English 5
History, despite its wrenching pain,
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.

—Maya Angelou

 


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This English 5 critical thinking class is a transfer course that examines texts and social issues that deeply affect the quality of our lives. Famed linguist and political dissident Noam Chomsky claims, "There has been a general assault in the last 25 years on solidarity deomcracy, social welfare, anything that interferes with private power, and there are many targets [including education]." We will take a critical look at some of those targets to examine how the abuse of power can make "targets" out of la gente (the people). The class theme is social justice from a multicultural perspective, and this class page, where you will find the course syllabus, schedule of activities, links to other pages and sites, and a wealth of other useful material, is the place to come to view many of the handouts and resources for this class. We will be taking a critical look at the causal connections from past to present, and what powerful forces have given them impetus. We will seek to empower those who have been left out of our history by an ideological approach to history telling, and how these margiinalized groups and movements have struggled against the entrenched powers that have historically run this country.
I hope the site helps you to become better readers, writers and critical thinkers as you make yourselves ready to meet (or even surpass) your goals whatever they might be.

Doug Minkler's painting of Dept. of Homeland Conformity

Like Doug Minkler's ironic rendition of our obsession with conformity and national security (above), we are going to examine how society and culture are influenced by forces that are sometimes not visible to the naked eye. Our people suffer from the impact of the social construct of "race" and racism; our people suffer when an ideological approach to history telling downplays the role ethnicity, class, and gender has on equal justice; our people suffer when minority contributions to our culture and society are ignored in traditional history textbooks and classes. According to Ronald Takaki, we need to remind all people "of William Faulkner's insight: 'The past is not even past.' Indeed, history has not ended. Rather it is sedimented into our present and our future. This powerful continuance of events and developments in our history requires us to know that history inclusively and accurately. [Takaki's] study of the past can enable us to confront the history of the enslavement of African Americans, the dispossession of Native Americans, the exploitations of Chinese immigrant workers, and the disciplining of Irish immigrant laborers. This understanding of our histroy can also guide us toward a future where we might be able to work it out and get along in our diversity. After all, how many nations in the world have been founded, 'dedicated,' to use Lincoln's language, to the 'proposition' that 'all men are created equal.'"

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