Week Two: Inclusive Pedagogy

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.

3 thoughts on “Week Two: Inclusive Pedagogy

  • September 28, 2020 at 2:02 pm
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    I think you address a fairly important point. This class serves as a first step for us to acknowledge the need to be inclusive and culturally responsive in our methods of teaching but there is more to that. We will be often put in difficult positions inside our classrooms that require us to reply on spot with no previous preparations to such scenarios. I find the possible replies you mention are very realistic and helpful. You need to clarify to that students how disrespectful the comment was and the severe implications it could have on other people lives without insulting them either.

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  • September 29, 2020 at 11:03 pm
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    Allison,
    It is an interesting scenario that you bring up in your post. I can completely understand the dilemma. Do you, as a teacher, get to decide what is an appropriate comment and what is not? And if a comment is deemed to be inappropriate how can you handle it and still be inclusive? I really do not know the answer to those questions. I would think that you handle the situation as calmly and fairly as you can. I like to think readings and classes like this weeks help to put the idea in our heads of inclusive pedagogy and maybe that just that idea would lend itself to handling the situation better than we would have before. I also think that once you handle a situation like that you can go back and decide if you handled it well enough or if you need to change the way you would handle it for the future. I guess what I am getting at is experience will also help a teacher to figure out how to deal with situations similar to the one you brought up. As with a lot of things, gaining experience and knowledge will help a teacher to become inclusive and create a safe environment for learning for all students. You gave me a lot to think about. Thank you.

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  • September 29, 2020 at 11:54 pm
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    Hey Allison!

    I totally understand the struggle to find that balance you feel. On one hand, you do want to be upfront about your views and speak out against offensive comments. However, trying to do so while also doing it in an appropriate way is not the easiest to figure out, especially because you do hope to teach your students something and hopefully change their minds. One thing I’ve tried to do in my class is find subtle ways to introduce something. For example, in my public speaking class one thing we do at the beginning of each unit is show a Ted Talk to provide a real world example of connecting to our students. One focus we always highlight for our speeches is how can we make the topic relevant to our audience. Well, one particular Ted Talk we show is concerning the social networks of fish, and how it essentially makes the whole food chain work. I’ll make it a point to stress that it is easy to question how something that fishes do affects us humans, but ultimately if this social network is not working then overfishing happens and as a result affects our planet overall. I may not explicitly and directly be saying that “CARING ABOUT OUR PLANET IS IMPORTANT”, but if I can find a way to relate it back to them and their lives even subtly that could go a long way. Just a suggestion if you are trying to figure out ways to incorporate your beliefs into your teaching!

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