Passion and Change: How Reading Lolita in Tehran Deconstructs Power
In authoritarian systems of government, the manner in which leaders rule over the people leave citizens very little power to bring change. Though pockets of dissent exist, it can be unnerving when one realizes that dissent only implicates those dissenters in troubles first perpetuated by the rulers themselves—in chaos, people cannot convene, they cannot organize or seek change because all change requires cooperation. Only in education, reform and cultural awareness do people find a weapon that can be utilized as agents of change. Azar Nafisi, in her multiple roles as educator, culture agent and dissenter put a foot forward in the process of proving that dissenters can organize, educate and inspire and, in the process, serve as a liaison of change for those who live and experience her expertise in and out of the classroom.
Culture is unique in its role within education. It creates meaning that is different for each one of us—our experiences within family circles, national borders and classroom walls shape meaning and ideas, regardless of subject. In addition, it is, as Sonia Nieto (1999) pens, “invariably influenced by the environment in which it exists” (p. 133). Teaching English Literature in Tehran, a dubious job at best, could, in the turbulent times of revolution, be thought of as near blasphemous. Iran, with all her traditions, particularly in literature and religion, naturally does not take well to outside influence, cultural diversity and dissent. What Dr. Nafisi was able to do with dissent, cultural diversity and western influence through the words of the writers studied and discussed, was nothing short of amazing.
Whether she was leading ...
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...n losing those positions, intellectualism lost, students lost and the country as a whole lost. The brilliance of her teaching method matches more thoughts of Freire, “the task of the teacher, who is also a learner, is both joyful and rigorous” (Freire, 2005, p. 5). Rigorous, indeed, especially given the predicament she often found herself.
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