Inclusive Pedagogy

Inclusive pedagogy, is a good approach as it might give students equal chance to learn, to succeed and to aspire to better future. In environment where cultural identities are determinant factors in many aspects of life, it is very helpful to integrate technics and approaches that facilitate collaboration and promote better performances. However, to me, promoting inclusivity in an academic level is something good but should have not been a subject of discussion or extra work for educators and leaners. These kinds of issues should be handled at lower levels where children are more apt to learn and keep lessons forever. If that was the case, the kinds of crises (derogatory words, racial issues…) that are making people now more willing to integrate concepts such as diversity and inclusion would not need to take place in higher education. Likewise, listing all the diminishing worlds, or narrating all the nasty past to children of color or from a minority group that would frustrate them forever or even limits their performance is a waste of time. Better make them believe in themselves, proud of who they are and proud of their values can help them navigate through the obvious hurdles that they will have to face in life.  Children, when they are born, they are innocent and kind human beings. To my view those who stay good, strong, not racists or change (become bad, weak, less inclusive, bias, complex…) when they become adult do so because of the education, the information they have received at an early age. Universities to me are places where peoples should focus on scientific matters that can make the world a better place not concepts that to me come with another set of problems.

What is that set of problems?

  1. The diminishing aspect. The fact of willing to make someone feel that he is part of the group to me is already diminishing. That is why it was painful for me to go through some the readings of this prompt.
  2. More work for teachers. Creating an environment that will need to be entertained because if one day things do not work well that will lead to more worrying situations. So as an instructor you have to have an opened eye and be ready to intervene in case of problems. Isn`t this an exhausting task?
  3. We are all coming from different environments, have different backgrounds and different cultural identities. Concepts that are welcomed by people who have experienced racism or discrimination might be disturbing see shocking for students from a different horizon. Personally, I am not comfortable with those words neither with attending event organized for such purposes as to me it more makes the person feels different than making him feel included. Derogatory words, stereotypes and racist expression become a problem when you know what they mean. I remember that having read some books that talk about those issues for the purpose of some courses had made me learn more about what black, natives Americans, Hispanics, etc have experienced. But that also made me be aware of things that I would not care about earlier.

I think what would better help students to learn in an environment while respecting one another will more come from our authenticity, our passion and desire to give the best of us. To me, it would be more valuable to integrate how the university wants diversity and inclusion to be handled and the probable consequences if an individual does not follow the rule in the syllabus than willing to control some adults over time.

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18 thoughts on “Inclusive Pedagogy”

  1. You have some good thoughts here. I think the overwhelming refrain is that inclusive classrooms are important, and they require a distinct effort from teachers, which can take time. In my opinion, most teachers want to be inclusive, but sometimes it is a challenge–not because they don’t care–but because they do not know what all is exclusive. It can be subconscious, in fact. Teachers need to be educated about different cultures on a regular basis, especially in academia, which is often more diverse than the school districts drawn by the lines of a district.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I think if people (white, black, minorities..) grow up with the idea that he/she is a normal people like others, he is not a superior or is not less important than other, he/she will behave normally in any circumstances. And if this was the general approach adopted by parents and educators at lower level, higher education areas would not have to care about inclusion and others. To me, it is for people who are coming from those school districts drawn by lines of a district that inclusion and diversity are more relevant for. We other international students we started dealing with those facts here not where we are coming from. That being said, fixing racial and acceptance of others whatever their differences are would be easier in those school district than in academia. Before coming here most students are happy but a few years later if they are not mature and strong enough they started questioning their own values and personality and all based on these new concepts that make them discover other demeaning things stuffs.

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      1. I agree with you Oumou and it would be great if these values are enrooted in the children from the beginning but I think this seems to be an ideal situation and unknowingly/knowingly there are biases present in all of us. And we may not have the required knowledge to recognize that bias and therefore it is important to talk about these issues at university level too (and especially with people who are going to be in academia or in the industry).

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  2. Sure, it is good to talk about those issues at universities. I am not denying the importance to do so but I think it would be more helpful to try to eradicate those problem in the school districts where kids are more apt to learn and assimilate facts instead mobilizing too much energy and resources at universities which have a lot more to do than reeducating adults. Thanks for you contribution Khushboo.

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  3. Oumou,
    I think that you have a very interesting perspective, especially with your background from Senegal. However, I have to disagree with you when you say, “To my view those who change (stay good, become bad, weak, strong not racists, inclusive, bias, complex…) when they become adult do so because of the education, the information they have received at an early age.” I believe that a lot of our views as children come from our parents, grandparents, and those who have raised us. Therefore, I think that going off to college, away from home and away from parental influences, many students finally have the ability to “find” themselves and explore other ways of thinking. A great example of this is my cousin, lets call her “E”. E was raised in a very mormon household where she was taught one way of thinking. When she went to college, her eyes were opened to many other views and ideas. It was in college that she reassessed her childhood values and developed a totally different belief system. She is now in her 40s and is able to look back at her childhood and see how she was negatively influenced by her family and positively influenced by her college experiences. Her change came much later in life and was primarily due to her college professors.

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    1. Hi Anna,
      I think by putting there the sentence “I believe that a lot of our views as children come from our parents, grandparents, and those who have raised us”, you just confirm that people are who they are because of what they were told when they were young. What I am calling change is what occurs or what children become after receiving parents` or whomever`s education (which can have good or bag effect on the children) . What I want to highlight is that as teachers at lower level contribute as well to the upbringing of children, emphasizing more on diversity and inclusion in those learning spaces can help make the children eyes opened and make the work easy for colleges and universities.
      I think I have mentioned in the first part of my blog the benefits of inclusive pedagogy.
      It is good that your friend did benefit from her college experience and has her eyes opened and I am sure many of us have experienced the same.
      Thank you for your contribution.

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  4. Hi Omoule,
    I enjoy your blog. I have similar experiences with you. When I arrived in America for the first time, I didn’t recognize racial or derogatory expressions. Over time, I became aware of such expressions and actions from friends and books, and I became a sensitive person. Sometimes it is even more painful to know such a meaning.

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    1. Hi Seungbee,
      Thank you for your contribution. I am glade that someone who experience the same thing put it out there. All the effort educators in academia deploy to make learning environment more inclusive is good but is not without side effect.

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  5. You raise some very important issues Oumoule. I agree with you that some of these matters ought to be part of the upbringing of kids. If the kids grow up with the biases, there is very little help that education in later stages of life can do to help. Also, sometimes what you do not know, does not exist. In efforts to create inclusive environments, we may end up bringing to light things which should better have been left to lie.

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    1. Sure that is right “sometimes what you do not know, does not exist”. The environment where kids grow weather it is at home or at school is determinant in his life. Trying to help them know something else can be helpful. My point is just that this task becomes a easier when they are at a younger age.

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  6. Hi Omoule,
    Your post this week (and this amazing comment thread) is challenging me to think differently about diversity and inclusion. On one hand, I do see where Anna and Khushboo are coming from; but to read your words and Seungbee’s, I am left wondering what can be done? I wonder what else can I do as a person, as a teacher, and as a role model for those around me? I know that as a parent, I am 100% personally responsible for the values and lessons that I share with my daughter, and as such, I am raising her to see value and worth in all people and to be kind, curious, and respectful of cultural and physical differences. And yet, there is only so much any parent can do, and then it’s up to the rest of the people in a child/young person’s life to help “raise” them through experience. So, I do support teaching the importance of diversity and inclusion at the university level because unfortunately so many seem to have missed those lessons. It would be great if we didn’t have to. But until society changes, we have to seize every opportunity we have to create learning moments and to make the case for a just and civil society. University may be both the first and last time a person is exposed to these ideas.

    I wish there was a way to have more of the benefits of this kind of teaching and less of the negative. Would you be willing to share (in private if need be) which prompts were painful for you to get through? Knowing that could help us lead the class better in the future if we are aware of the issue and can give a better brief on the prompt and what to expect from course reading materials.

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    1. Hi Slharrell,
      Nice comments! I agree with you, seizing every opportunity to create more friendly learning environment is great and it can help create a better word and the example Anna has given illustrate it well. As somebody who is in this course because of my need to pursue a carrier in higher education I will not do less than you guys are doing once in a class I will have to lead. However, as you said, our job would be easier if I have to deal with people already ready to interact with their peers and collaborate in interdisciplinary tasks with people from different background and who look or sound different in more respectful and peacefully manner.
      I do not think that this kind of teaching is not efficient. I just realize that it has a set of other side effects. And my my point is that caring more about the issues of diversity and inclusion at the schools districts is more helpful. Educators in universities would not have to care that much about those issues and people who come here to gain knowledge and skills, would get what they want and go back with just positive experiences without any shift in the single story they had on America (amazing country where you make money if you work hard, the freedom, the happiness, etc). Okay some might say if you do not want to be exposed to those facts stay at your places. We would love to but it is just that this place is part of our journey in this word and we have to stop by till the day we will have to leave. It is part of our destiny and we love and accept it but will express our thoughts and feeling when we are given the opportunity to do.
      Please do not worry Sara, I am completely fine with the course materials and the approach. Sincerely, this course is one of my favorite courses I have taken here at Tech. I am learning a lot.

      Thank you for this great contribution,

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  7. These are such important perspectives, and thank you, Oumou, for presenting this view and reflecting on your experience. It resonates with many others, especially international students, and I hope we will take this up this evening in class. I’ll just note here that I absolutely agree that childhood is a key developmental stage, and that the values and assumptions people “are taught” or absorb as children have a lot of resonance. At the same time, I believe we are all works in progress — we’ve never really finished “turning out.” This is one of the reasons we continue to be curious about learning new things and discovering more about ourselves and the world around us. The primary concern of education should be learning and enhanced understanding of how the world works and how we as individuals, societies, etc. shape the reality around us. And as educators, I think we have an obligation to cultivate inclusive learning communities at every level. For me, that has involved an ongoing effort to understand and appreciate difference — to recognize the ways in which power and privilege work for and against me depending on the context, to understand the kinds of assumptions students bring with them to the class, and to recognize and accommodate different kinds of learning modalities.

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    1. Thank you Dr. Nelson, I really appreciate your contribution.
      And yes you are perfectly right by saying “we are all works in progress ”. We change after hearing or experiencing the contrary of what we already know and this can occur in any step of or life. And based on the little I have experienced here, I know that what you have described as an “ongoing effort to understand and appreciate difference” is really relevant and I have said that it is a good thing in my blog. But I wanted also just to share something that international students can face which maybe certain are not aware of. And I do think that educators can use it positively. For example make students understand that there are places in the word where people do not have these problems instead of emphasizing more on what make people feel different, what white privilege is, what marginalized people, what make others left behind, etc. To me letting students know that can make some of them (poor, rich, majority, minority, …) who have retrograde behaviors say to themselves “wait a minute, we are calling ourselves civilized people, our country is the most powerful in earth, we are rich, we are not experiencing other challenging issues (war, hunger) then why should we entertain something that cause us only stress and keep us feeling unsafe and less happy. I think this can make a difference while going for inclusive pedagogy.

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  8. Hi Oumoule, I agree with you that “promoting inclusivity in an academic level is something good but should have not been a subject of discussion or extra work for educators and learners”! To be frank, the issue of racial discrimination is extremely rare in universities. Any obvious racial discrimination in education will receive widespread attention. At least in the classroom, I don’t feel the difference between different races. Everyone is a student studying here, and that’s all. The result of constantly emphasizing racial differences may be that we can never get rid of the shadow of ethnic issues. Thanks!

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