The Pedagogy of Performing Learning and Teaching to Increase Students' Success in the African Diaspora and the World Class and Beyond

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Soraya Mekerta


Fred Newman “Performing the World” and his theory and practice of the “performative” are particularly useful in that students’ learning increases significantly more when students “perform” learning and both professors and students “perform” teaching. In addition, Paulo Freire’s revolutionary teaching pedagogy, the problem-posing and problem-solving methods of education, which he opposes to the banking system of education, and in particular the concept of conscientizaçaõ, are also very helpful to increase students’ awareness of how they learn and how they know that they know what they know. Moreover, James Baldwin’s famous plea in “A Talk to Teachers” by which he calls for the necessity to be truthful in letting students know that the environment they are accustomed to is no accident, is also useful to heighten students’ awareness that there is a direct connection between living and learning and between “performing” and living, learning, and teaching.

The paper seeks to examine how these theories, which are rooted in performing the acts of living, learning, and teaching, become strategies for success in the classroom and beyond.


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Author Biography

Soraya Mekerta, Spelman College

Soraya Mekerta, PhD, is an associate professor of French and Francophone Studies at Spelman College. She is the former director of the African Diaspora and the World Program (ADW), and she is a past president of the African Literature Association (ALA). Dr. Mekerta holds a PhD in French (University of Minnesota), a master's degree in French (University of Minnesota), a  Maîtrise and a license in English (Université Paul Valéry, Montpellier, France). Additionally, Dr. Mekerta received training as a performer at the Conservatoire d’Art dramatique in Nîmes, France. She teaches in French and in English, a variety of discipline-based and interdisciplinary courses. These include all levels of French and Francophone language, culture, civilization and literature, Francophone Film, the African Diaspora and the World, a required two-semester course sequence for all first-year students. Occasionally, she teaches Introduction to North Africa and the Middle East, and Women Studies. Dr. Mekerta is the recipient of the Vulcan Teaching Excellence Award from Spelman College (2009). A comparatist, Dr. Mekerta works at the intersection of several interdisciplinary fields. She has presented at national and international conferences, and other venues, and has published articles both in the area of pedagogy, French and Francophone literature, and global social movements.