A fair learning environment

I think this week’s topic –“inclusive pedagogy” is very meaningful and worth each teacher to seriously think about it. In old times, a teacher did not only transfer knowledge to their student, they also bring their students many more valuable things such as helped them establish ethics, encouraged them to learn, listened to them and helped them solve their problems. The teachers influenced their students through positive learning attitude and noble behavior. This is the reason that teachers are respected by people and society. In modern education system, the responsibilities of teachers are refined. Each instructor is generally only responsible for one subject: English teachers will teach English, Ethic teachers will teach ethic, and many school have psychology assistants who are specifically responsible for listening to students. Students do not choose and follow only one teacher for their learning anymore. Such a “diverse” environment provides students more options. However, do all these teachers follow the same teaching ethics? Do they show same respect to all students? Does any of them have bias in culture difference or race? Do they treat all their students in the same way?

 

When I was in primary school, teachers always judged students according to their academic performance. There was one time I forgot to bring my book in one class and I have to read the text book together with my classmate. The teacher was very unhappy with this and she directly blamed my classmate why she forgot to bring her book to school, since my classmate’s GPA was much lower than me so the teachers assumed that it was her bad. When the teacher knew that it was my fault, she did not blame me and just told me do not forget it next time. I felt very embarrass that time and I think all of my classmates learned from that day: teachers would judge you based on your score. This kind of bias even followed me to my college study. My GPA was just average during my college life but I was very involved in research work, and my graduation project was chosen for “excellence graduation project award” that year. However, one of my college instructors showed his surprise in front of me since he thought another student who wins scholarship each year should get that award. I don’t think he want to hurt me or totally judge me based on my GPA, but his reaction proved that he would evaluate his students by his hidden brain (subconscious).

Thus, it turned out to be a challenge for all teachers that whether you can treat your students with the same criterion and provide a relatively fair learning environment. After reading “from safe spaces to brave spaces”, I felt very inspiring to learn the following common rules for teaching behavior: 1) agree to disagree, 2) don’t take things personally, 3) challenge by choice, 4) respect, 5) no attacks. Since I came to America for my PhD study, I strongly felt the positive effects of above rules. Most of my teachers have shown me a great example of how to be a good instructor: they carefully listen to each student’s voice and give their thoughts, they objectively evaluate different opinions from students and some of them even encourage an opposite opinion, they are very patient to solve student’s questions even when students are really emotional that time, and they always provide many options for their students to complete a learning task such as different format of assignment, extra credits, how many exams they want to take (students do not have to take final exam if they are satisfy with their current score), and who are the team members in group project. I never meet a situation that teachers do not show respect to students or have a bias due to culture/race. Probably because I am from an interdisplinary program, teachers in my class all highly encourage different voices/ideas/perspectives based on each one’s own subject, culture or personal experience. Although it is still not easy for each teacher to avoid the influence from his/her hidden brain, everyone can do it better as long as they do not take things personally. In other words, teachers may try to only evaluate student’s performance/opinion on the subject rather than relating it with the person. It will benefit student’s learning process if all teachers try to create a brave space for their students to express their voice with confidence and comfort.

4 thoughts on “A fair learning environment

  1. I like how you brought up how all teachers should think about inclusion and asked the question if teachers have the same standards. I don’t know if every teacher is given the opportunity to think and explore these questions to the same degree we can in this class. Can they think about what goes into inclusive learning? We don’t always factor into the discussion about everything we need to do for inclusion. We aren’t going to stop the unwelcoming bad moments, but we can help to make less of them. We create the common ground and discover how to be inclusive together.

  2. It is really hard to not make assumptions. I think a lot of times we humans are on auto drive (not consiously thinking about our actions) and therefore don’t’ really giving people a chance to prove themselves. Having been on the receiving end of academic bias as well (when a Professor chose to focus on my work and prove me wrong when I was clearly right) i have to say it’s pretty ugly and will continue without an academic system which mandates adequate training for its faculty.

  3. It is really hard to not make assumptions. I think a lot of times we humans are on auto drive (not consciously thinking about our actions) and therefore don’t’ really giving people a chance to prove themselves. Having been on the receiving end of academic bias as well (when a Professor chose to focus on my work and prove me wrong when I was clearly right) i have to say it’s pretty ugly and will continue without an academic system which mandates adequate training for its faculty.

  4. I like akin’s comment about auto drive. It seems so easy for teachers to make assumptions with the idea that they are helping students to learn things like discipline, but those endeavors can’t be at the expense of inclusion or equality. Great post – thanks for sharing.

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