In the beginning of the semester, we talked about ways to create an inclusive classroom. From a physical space perspective, one idea might be to have a wheelchair accessible doorway into a classroom, or a build a lab countertop at a lower height. These ideas tend to be afterthoughts during the design process, so I feel one of my next steps in my search for inclusivity in the classroom is to go beyond the atmosphere, and step into the built environment. Inclusive design principles allow for the design of an environment to be accessible and usable by as many people as possible, regardless of age, gender, social or economic status, and disability. Architects and designers (both professionals and professors) are in position to be advocates for inclusive design and social equity. So, the question, for me, becomes how do the projects I assign in my classroom reflect inclusivity in terms of design? How can they change to future of inclusive classrooms?
Ultimately, my goal is to create this inclusive ecosystem, where the teacher’s mindset, the classroom, and the curriculum all work intersectionally and reflect an advocacy for inclusion either in terms of teaching methods or coursework. Basically, I want to create an inclusive ecosystem for my students while teaching them how to design for inclusion.
When we talked about PBL, I thought, yea, this what we do in studio. I get it. The only difference was that the facilitation of the teacher is a little more abstract and is intended to provoke more creative thinking. I also think PBL, combined with experiential learning techniques, is of such benefit to the students. There’s no better way of learning then to do what you are trying to learn to do. I do think, however, that the content being assigned these days need to change to reflect inclusive design.
Obviously, there are barriers for wanting a whole ecosystem of inclusivity. One major one is, not everyone wants to be inclusive or even cares about it. When you’re an old white professor who has tenure and has been giving out the same coursework for 20 years, why change it? I hope that over the course of my career I can put the idea of an inclusive ecosystem into motion, even if all the parts are always still coming together. Nothing will be perfect, and, like everything else, it will change with time; and I hope that I can change with it.