Inclusion in the classroom

As a white male with tons of privilege, this topic has always been an interesting and necessary topic for discussion for me. I grew up in a very affluent area and went to a very well off public school with very little diversity. I was raised to respect everyone as an individual and to remember that everyone has their own stuff to deal with. As a result, I’ve always wanted to be inclusive and politically correct and what not. But it can be very difficult to educate yourself. The internet can take you down many dark alleys while speaking to others in person tends to just get uncomfortable.

I think the Heineman podcast does a good job of breaking down the need for discussion. It can be especially important in school because we need to learn to have tough discussions at some point. I think we need to learn how to avoid offending people while talking about sexism, racism, bigotry, and all our other problems. I think we need to learn how to tell superiors their behavior is inappropriate. I think we need to learn to ask for enlightenment.

But I also feel that much of our society emphasizes not talking about issues. School is a tremendous place to do this because we generally try to emphasize the idea that there is no such thing as a dumb question. The problem is that we need some techniques, some ice-breakers, to get into the topic and to keep people from shutting out the discussion. Does anyone know how to do this? I honestly don’t know how to break through someone’s conscious, and unconscious biases.  Plenty of people tune out anything that doesn’t match their biases, so we can’t really have a discussion with others until we break that barrier. What are your thoughts?