Today, our spotlight is shining on Dr. Michael Cappello, who is currently Acting Associate Dean of Student Services and Undergraduate Programs and Chair of the Elementary Education Program.
Michael teaches in Educational Core Studies (ECS), specifically in anti-racism and anti-oppressive education. Studying anti-racism/anti-oppressive education is important because, “If we acknowledge that the society that we live in is racist, sexist, homophobic, etc… what do we do we that? How do we (un)learn these things? What might it mean for the future classrooms that we teach in? Some might hear this as negative, but I want to underline that this is positive,” says Michael. He quotes Dr. Cornel West, who says, “Justice is what love looks like in public.” Michael adds, “These commitments to anti-oppressive education are rooted in and motivated by love.”
Decolonizing education has become Michael’s passion: “As a non-Indigenous person, over the last 5 or 6 years I have become increasingly passionate about decolonizing education, and what it means to live into the obligations of being a treaty person in this space. I think that schools can become places where we unlearn the genocidal dreams of my ancestors and begin to imagine what it might look like to live ethically here, in support of the dreams/futures/nationhood of Indigenous peoples.”
As advice to students, Michael says, “Your engagement is the single most important determinant of your learning. Never do an assignment that isn’t meaningful to you. To be clear – this isn’t an invitation to not do things, rather an invitation for you to make your work meaningful. While the instructor and the syllabus all matter, you alone have the ability to ensure that your work has meaning for you.”
Outside of work, Michael enjoys the outdoors, and tries to travel to the mountains every year.