"The whole movement of life is learning" (Krishnamurti). "To be an act of knowing, then, the adult literacy process must engage the learners in the constant problematizing of their existential situations" (Freire). "Once you learn to read, you will be forever free" (Douglass). "I can learn anything I have the desire to learn" (White, S.G.).

Monday, February 24, 2014

Critical Overload

So much of my day job in the ever delightful land of banking requires me to be critical –of myself, of my work, of my peers, of my team, of my leadership, of the organization. I am constantly questioning and pushing back on nearly everything. When I'm not pushing back, then I'm defending my work or my team's work. The demands are high and the pace is higher. At the end of every day, I’m emotionally and mentally exhausted. Now to be asked to read critically and against the text seems like I will need to have that same dynamic with my classwork. To be transparent, that makes me a little sad. 

I don’t need the class readings to be filled with bunnies and kittens, or read like fairy tales, because that’s not realistic. But I do like to come to the inviting land of learning and find something positive. I don’t want to argue with the text. I don’t want to argue with my classmates. I want to learn about new ideas and expand my mental horizons. I want to hear differing opinions with an open mind. I want to experience all of the joys of learning without suffering pain and anguish. Or at the very least, I don’t want my blood pressure to go up when I open the week's reading assignments. 

I don’t believe it has to be one extreme or the other, so an occasional jump in my heart rate is fine. A disagreement in the class discussion over a topic is to be expected. I realize that I am just one of many in the class. I’m simply hoping we can find a healthy balance.


  1. I appreciate your honesty. Finding balance can be difficult. If your challenges and critical thinking are motivated from positivity (sounds like it is), you should feel good about your decisions.

    As we have seen from our reading, a lot of what we feel is based on personal experience. I doubt that others perceive your challenges as a bad thing. So you shouldn’t feel bad.

    For me, the text never depresses me but educates me. It educates us in so many capacities of our life and allows us to understand one another. Use what we read to be wise, accept, and educate others. This is just one of the many positive aspects to critical thinking and our challenging texts.

    Talk to you soon.

  2. My job is process-heavy and repetitive and I love when we get to read critical theory for class and have discussions! I feel smart and useful. I like how everyone's background brings a different reading of the text. Did you always agree with the theory in 601? You might not have but perhaps you didn't have the language to express your frustration that you do now, having been through the program and gotten way smarter. I think that by posting this you are already thinking critically about the theory. EVERYONE WINS.

  3. Thank you, Shannon and Melissa. I appreciate your advice. I will work on remaining objective in my readings so that I don't get pulled into an emotional response. Truly, my post has more to do with the critical nature of my job than our classwork. I need to be careful that I am not displacing my emotions inappropriately! This was very helpful, thank you.

  4. And one more hopefully encouraging point, Jen: what this course tries to do is provide you a way to read critically that is, at the same time, detached and systematic. In other words, to find a way to be critical with out burning out, getting high blood pressure, plunging into a negative vortex, or falling into despair. Being critical can be very positive, but, as you so appropriately remind us, not without risks. And because there is so much negative criticism out there, it's hard sometimes to even imagine a constructive way to do this work...Thanks for this helpful post.


Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on this post. Diverse opinions are welcomed.