How To Adopt Inclusive Pedagogy?

Inclusivity is vital more now than ever. A learning environment should be a safe space. My intent as an educator is to create a learning environment characterized by a positive outlook. I, too, am concerned about our world and our society, and am deeply disturbed by what I see. However, I have made the personal choice to have a positive outlook during these trying times.

I know that there are students for whom it is harder to adopt a positive outlook. News that is upsetting to many can be deeply traumatizing for some. In many ways, it is a privilege to state that I’ve made a choice to have a positive outlook. But if I can create an environment devoted to learning and positive ideas which can be experienced inclusively with everyone in the class, then I think I will have achieved something meaningful for everyone.

Unfortunately, some students struggle to adopt a positive outlook for a multitude of reasons. Understanding why is proving to be an arduous challenge. I mainly attribute this to my lack of exposure to other worldviews. I grew up in a middle-class family, was never plagued by any major health or familial issues, and came to VT for college (like many others in my school district). During undergrad, I majored in one of VT’s flagship programs, primarily befriended classmates. It wasn’t until after graduation when I realized I unintentionally never sought out extremely diverse perspectives, opinions, and/or schools of thought. One of the resources on this week’s page was Harvard’s Implicit Association Test (IAT). I decided to take the “Gender-Science” IAT; my responses unsurprisingly “…suggested a moderate automatic association for Male with Science and Female with Liberal Arts.” Although my teenage and early college years were perfectly stereotypical, I lacked diversity, which is now proving to be problematic when trying to relate to students.

Thankfully, we live in an era where accessing information takes milliseconds. Being at home gives us more time to pursue our interests. I’ve taken this time to culturally and globally educate myself. It’s been fun and enlightening, and I can definitely sense the payout of being aware of new perspectives. I hope to carry this mentality with me when I leave graduate school, as workplace cultures are a totally different beast.

3 thoughts on “How To Adopt Inclusive Pedagogy?”

  1. Hi,

    I like your article, and I appreciate that you acknowledge a privilege that you are able to choose to have a positive outlook. I myself have that privilege too, as I share similar experiences with you growing up.

    You mentioned about students struggling to adopt a positive outlook in the classroom, and the challenges of understanding why due to the lack of worldviews. I really like the way you phrase this and knowing that we may not be able to relate or empathize sometimes with our students with different backgrounds, and acknowledging it as something to work on. On the positive outlook front, I think trying to understand students’ backgrounds and acknowledge their experiences are important to facilitate learning classrooms that are situated within the system that minoritized certain groups of people. Although helping students to adopt positive outlook is important, I also think it is vital to challenge those who may have certain privileges in the classroom to think about how systemic issues may have caused certain students to experience the classrooms differently. This is where the idea of “brave space” is useful.

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  2. I really appreciated that you acknowledged privilege when you wrote, “it is a privilege to state that I’ve made a choice to have a positive outlook.” I was recently listening to a podcast, and the host made the point that privilege really is just an ability to choose. He was talking about healthcare, and how those who are most disenfranchised are often most frustrated by the lack of options available to them.

    Like you, I choose to be an optimist. Despite the fact that we are facing a racial reckoning, a hyper-polarized political system, and a deadly virus, I choose to believe that the future will be better. That it must be better. But I also struggle, because I recognize that for so many that are less fortunate, the stress and despair of the present doesn’t allow for considerations of the future. You wrote that “I’ve taken this time to culturally and globally educate myself. It’s been fun and enlightening, and I can definitely sense the payout of being aware of new perspectives.” I think that is great, and I feel the same regarding my growth as I’ve reflected on this year 2020. But I also think it is very important to recognize that our experience of positivity is only possible because of our privilege.

    Great post, thanks for sharing.

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  3. Hey Jaisohn, I apologize–I left a comment just now and something weird went down with my WordPress so I don’t see it here. I just wanted to say that I respect your discussion of your privilege–that is a difficult thing for folks to start talking about if the idea is relatively new to them, so thanks for that.

    Also, if you are going back to industry when you finish at VT, something to think about is how to incorporate ideas about inclusivity (inclusive pedagogy, even) into your workplace. It’s important to remember that you can have diversity without being inclusive. Inclusivity means that everyone has a seat at the table, a voice that is valued, and equitable opportunities. Looking forward, you will be equipped with tools that some of your colleagues may not, so being mindful in those workplace situations about what it means to be inclusive might mean teachable moments among colleagues.

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