PERSONAL/PROFESSIONAL MISSION STATEMENT
I am a courageous compassionate woman concerned about the general disconnection within and between ourselves, the natural world and each other. I value relationships, creative expression, health and social justice. Culture matters to me. I belong to a global community in dignity and human rights. My service is education ~ my work, to facilitate peace through innovative teaching methods that bring the whole body into the classroom. My calling is movement ~ the goal, to unleash the transformative power of expressive arts in Public Health.
Tamalpa is rooted in the work of Anna Halprin, who is among the first pioneers in the contemporary Western world to reframe dance from a performative activity to a healing art. The training program is lead by Daria Halprin author of The Expressive Body in Life, Art and Therapy and contributing author to the Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy Journal. Tamalpa’s pedagogy infuses movement with drawing and creative writing to access old known cross-cultural understandings of health and health care systems with new innovative ways of relating to each other that can increase community participation, personal transformation and social action. The study site, faculty and students provided me with a participatory learning environment that integrated theory and practice, honored diversity, and fostered embodied leadership, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills (with a special emphasis on the non-verbal).
Study Aims & Research Questions
The primary research questions guiding my sabbatical study were:
1. What sort of teaching encourages effective learning about health?
2. In what ways does group work aid individual learning, and in what ways does individual learning aid group work?
3. How does movement-based creative expression impact student learning?
For me teaching and research are one and the same channel to gain personal understanding, achieve empowerment and build community capacity. With a mix of synchronicity and purposeful coincidence I returned to San Francisco State University, the very institution that granted me two bachelor degrees more than 20 years ago, one in La Raza Studies the other in Spanish. My background in Primary Prevention, Global Health, Non-violence, Creative Expression and Youth Empowerment enabled me to co-develop a teaching praxis called Pedagogy of Collegiality. This teaching approach is rooted in critical education and contemporary feminist theory. I just completed co-editing the text Prevention is Primary: Strategies for Community Wellbeing. Currently I am working with Elizabeth Soep on the book Drop That Knowledge: Youth Radio, Learning and Media Culture.
San Francisco State University has been an oasis of creativity for me. I understood this from the first day working for the Department of Health Education. As a seasoned teacher I could rely on careful course preparation and lecture notes; however, it was impossible to pretend to teach as intended given the multicultural character of the classroom. Cultures as represented with diversity of age – some students still in their teens and others who are my elders’ elders. Male and female students speaking more than one language with ancestors from all other the world; many first and second generation students and others used to being called Americans with and without race/ethnicity consciousness. At SFSU there is diversity of income, from students who were homeless to others whose parents pay their tuition. We have sexual diversity and openness around sexual orientation, sexual preference and sexuality in general. My teaching style connects with the multicultures in the classroom – students from all walks of life, many who may be experiencing the very health disparities described in the scientific health literature. My teaching philosophy stems from five basic principles: empowerment through community involvement, cultural humility, asset-based education, unlearning and health in motion.