The topic of inclusive pedagogy is a very important topic to me, as I try my best in all areas of life to be cognizant and inclusive of others. The Brave Spaces / Safe Spaces article by Arao and Clemens was particularly interesting, as it pointed out several issues in the creation of safe spaces that have traditionally irked me in the past, such as the usage in conversations of “agreeing to disagree” allowing sexist points to persist uncontested. It made me think of a resource (I have since forgotten where I saw it) that said that we cannot create safe spaces for a minority where we simultaneously allow others with attacking viewpoints to freely speak their mind.
Classroom settings are much more difficult to control with regards to heterogeneity in student opinions, some of which may be offensive or non-inclusive to others. I am reminded of a class I took in undergrad where a particular student had some unpopular and fairly offensive opinions about LGB folks. I was personally fairly put off by that student, and I assume others in the class were as well, but my professor couldn’t really start to fully dismantle the student’s arguments without coming off as directly attacking the student.
I am unsure what I would do as a professor in that particular situation. On one hand I wouldn’t want to derail my class with an argument, but on the other I would absolutely want to make it clear that that sort of opinion was disrespectful to others. However, it is difficult to think of a tactful, yet firm response on the fly, so I am glad that I am considering it because of this course topic. I think based on the article, I would want to clarify that I was not attacking the student personally before stating any sort of rebuttal. I also may want to challenge students by asking them to consider where those sorts of opinions come from, as I feel that occasionally people are very unaware of their own implicit biases such as those mentioned in the Harvard test. Overall, I think even with ground rules set, making spaces into safe spaces (or brave spaces) is a continuous and difficult task, though of course absolutely worthwhile.