By Gerald V. Paul
Guyana-born Dr. AlissaTrotz, respected community leader, was the recipient of the 2013 University of Toronto President Teaching Award recently.
“It’s an incredible honour, one that reminds me this is an ongoing process. There is so much to learn,” a humbled Dr. Trotz said.
Dr. Trotz was recognized for her work with students at the Women and Gender Studies Institute and in the Caribbean Studies programme, where she serves as Associate Professor.
Passionate on women issues, Dr. Trotz posits on addressing Domestic Violence: How about Starting with Women? “It is possible and all too easy to talk about and around women in a way that makes them, and the very real violence they experience, mysteriously disappear. They are there as victims who need protection. What we need to realize is how such an approach, by treating women as requiring others to act on their own behalf, is not only paternalistic but dangerous. It is dangerous because it reproduces the same ideas about women being weaker, lesser than, second-class citizens in our society, ideas that help produce the violence in the first place.”
According to Dr. Trotz, her responsibility as a teacher is the facilitating of students to fully recognize their own capacities. “It’s not just about my relationship with students. It’s also about facilitating relations among students and bringing their diverse experiences into the class in ways that really enhances the learning experience.”
Dr. Trotz revealed that they are so many notable teachers who have influenced her past, but the first and most formative teacher that comes to mind is her school teacher in English literature from Guyana, the late Mr. Pat Fredericks. “He really encouraged us to be creative and imaginative, to take risks in our work, and to go beyond the requirements of the examination syllabus. He also encouraged a love of language and a love of words- and a love of the worlds those words can open up. Those experiences with him have shaped the teacher I try to be today.”