Noodle Expert Carmina Makar discusses her admiration for Paulo Freire and the importance of letting go once you've done your best.
Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?
So many people — dead and alive — have inspired me; I’d need to have a group of teachers! If I have to pick one, I’d love the opportunity to be with Paulo Freire for a year, see him in action, and dissect current issues and questions with him. I would talk about the way his work has been interpreted and used, but mainly, I would observe and try to learn beyond what he has written. It would be a privilege to witness his work with communities and learn from a critical standpoint about the word and the world.
What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?
“Just do your best.” As someone who generally tends to worry about outcomes, the idea of always doing my best has helped me feel at peace regardless of the result. There are things I can control and things that I cannot control, and really, after giving it my best, there is nothing else I can do except move on.
Where would you send a student who hasn't traveled before?
I’d talk to her to learn more about her passions, her background, and her plans. I would choose a place where she'd be exposed to a completely different language, somewhere that could offer rich opportunities for travel within the region, diverse landscapes from mountains to the seaside, something that proves a some challenges but also offers plenty of rewards. I offer these kinds of suggestions frequently, and for me, it’s the utmost importance to know the student first.
When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?
I remember a particular quantitative research methods course. I just did not understand the material. It was like learning another language. Despite all my efforts (see “just do your best” in question above ;), I made very little progress. I learned to acknowledge my limitations and make room for them.
Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?
I fell in love with education as part of my journey into communications. There were four concentrations for my major in communication studies: communication and marketing, communication and journalism, communication and organization, and communication and education. I had to choose one — I chose education. I started out by doing critical media literacy and popular communication, which is similar to popular education using different media vehicles. After that, I dove right in. I’ve been in the field for 15 years and my expectations have evolved, but I guess the initial expectation when I started out was that my work in education would be solely pedagogical in nature. In time, I learned educational practice is not divorced from structural context, and therefore, calls for a thorough and critical understanding of the nation state.