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.

Assessment of educational ability And Challenges

Assessment of educational ability to me should be a way to see if students are leaning. If that is the case, you move forward; if not you assist them by providing helps. This is to my view the best way to assess learning; it should not be a way of selecting best students, qualifying or disqualifying students to move at a higher level or a way of punishing them. Unfortunately, this is the most spread way assessment is done across the globe and it is more problematic in underdeveloped countries. I am even wondering if the way of assessing learning is not among the main factors that are holding some countries in Africa behind.

Is it possible to address this learning assessment approach and make it better for a better learning outcome?

To me it will be difficult because even in developed countries attribution of rewards based on good performance (weather it is about good grades or participation in class) is so rooted in education and all actors (educators, parents, students, leaders) even think that it is indispensable.

I think at younger age, when students just start school they barely know what they are there for.  But kids appreciate when they are praised. At school when we give a good answer for a question and teachers say “excellent” or “Good job”, etc we feel some joy, some pride. And the same reaction or feeling is noticed with good grade. At home parents are proud and some even show much more love and provide us with more presents than our siblings if we do well at school. These behaviors of teachers and parents motivate us as kids to work hard but which effect are those behaviors having on the students who did not do well. Never fully understood.

Growing up and being more mature our perception of grades or what motivate us to work for good grades can shift but still grades occupies a good place. For some being among the best is always a challenge while other just care about finishing their studies.

I have mentioned that assessing knowledge in the best way is more challenging for underdeveloped countries. The following are elements that one can face while willing to provide students with assistance after unsatisfactory results:

  1. Large number of students in the public schools in some places.
  2. Lack of material and human resources to provide assistance and support to the student in need.
  3. The fact of studying not because this is the field of study you want to focus on for what you want to do or become in the future but because of what can help you get a job and make money. It is not rare to hear mentor telling their mentee if you are choosing a field of study weather local studies or abroad choose a field that will allow you to get a job once back home. They do not hesitate to tell students “choose what can help you make money not what you want”. Even though this does not apply to everybody, it is a fact.

Mindful Learning, Good. How About Mindful Decision Making?

Education happens everywhere and it is an important element if not the most the most important one in an individual professional and socio-economic growth nowadays.  And it is all about learning and teaching meant to transfer knowledge and skills. Mindful learning as described in contrast to mindless learning by Ellen J. Langer in Mindful Learning is a perfect tool to overcome challenges and hurdles. I think it would be great if mindful learning was applicable everywhere in all circumstances as “being mindful leads us to greater sensitivity to context and perspective, and ultimately to greater control over our lives” as stated by the same author.  To my point of view, “standardizing” this way of learning would not only lead to good learning outcome but would as well make life easier for certain groups of people. For instance, some people mostly minorities who not only can undergo inadequate learning approaches or experience calls the seven pervasive myths in “The power of mindful learning” as anybody else, they can also be victims of stereotypes. And these in addition to being limiting factors on students’ performance at school also affect their evolution within the communities in which they evolve and society in general.

I have put standardizing in quote because I do not think that it is feasible and my thought is based on reasons such as those given by Sir Ken Robinson in the TED video “How to escape education’s Death Valley” while talking about countries (Australia Canada, etc) that did have a good education system compared to America. He said: “They individualize teaching and learning; they attribute a very high status to the teaching profession; they devolve responsibility to the school level for getting the job done. While all is happening in those countries, according to him “One of the culture here (meaning America) has been to de-professionalized teachers.

I was surprised by this fact because even though I did not know that much about American education system. If this was said in regards to some countries which organize conferences and other evens to improve their education system or bring some changes while the situation is not evolving at all I would not have the same reaction.  But life is a continual learning we always learn from what we do.

What countries who are left behind in term of good education system can do to fix their problems I think will not only be applying or encouraging mindful learning at school level but at the upper level as well where most of the important decisions are made there is a need for “mindful decision making” if it is correct to say it that way. Maybe that will help avoid the establishment of mind-sets that lead to neglecting the main actors of a given sector while making decisions. This delays advancements.

My Thought On How We Learn

How we learn? Some years earlier, many answers would be: “just from lecturers in classes, or from lab trainers”.

Such responses are not valuable anymore except in very rare cases which I believe are not involved in higher education. I think that educators and learners involved in higher education worldwide are all experiencing networked learning in both of its forms: in connection with other human beings or in relation to learning resources accessible to them or the ones they have believed are worth to be looked at.

As many would argue, that is a good because it can help learners be at the same page intellectually which to my view can result into more equal opportunities such finding jobs, economic conditions, and social live in places where there are many social, economic and cultural issues. In other places, the Net has lessened the tasks to students in non-English speaking countries. For instance, students in African French speaking countries some years earlier struggle to read and get what they want from and English text books they would find in some libraries or have a hard time have some French books that were not sold in their countries. Now they have more ways to access those resources. Though the web, they can google translate article and books, make some orders online and get them via their local postal services or services such as DHL, UPS, FedEx which are now present in some of those places.

However as there are many resources out there in the Web with different accessibility, having learners to be at the level can be challenging and worst if there is no guidance but only them interacting on their own with the materials which they have access to. In regards to this fact, one might have the following questions among many others.

How to access the best resources out there?  Are we using them in a best way and with ethic? Are the resources we have access to credible enough?

To the last question, I think the response will depend on our way of thinking which in turn is related to our culture, background social environment and experience as explained in the article what “Video Games Have to Teach Us”. t

Such questions are not raised in the case of a given course taught by an instructor even though at an individual level some preferences (face-to-face interaction, online course) can occur based on different learning styles. In such cases, thanks to the efforts of teachers who care about the impact of their teaching on their student future and who manage to do their best, each student can always find his or her path. We have the example of this wonderful and inspiring teacher in Jean Lacoste’s teaching innovation statement who has redesigned her course for the reason she has explained in these terms: “I wanted each option to support a specific learning style”. Her determination and the steps she took have resonated with her students and have led to considerable achievements which I think should be the dream of all educators.

Current understanding of pedagogy

As we all know, most of the time, the audience facing the educator in a classroom or in any other learning environment are novice to some of the subjects the educator covers. It is also obvious that learning is most effective when learners can easily digest the message that is being delivered to them. To handle the situation correctly, teachers need really good pedagogy which for me means a lot. It is a whole art, a passion, a way to deliver messages to an audience in a right way with ethic and authenticity. To me all what we do in live should be done with care, love and authenticity for a better outcome. Teaching requires an art to better satisfy the needs of learners.

I love saying that my current understanding of pedagogy is still the one I had many years ago when I decided to look in a dictionary what the meaning of “Pedagogy” was because of somebody I liked the way he taught us. It was when I started secondary school and my cousin, who older than me while talking about the teaching skills of some our professors said “Oh that one has good pedagogy”. I know, I heard about the word “pedagogy” before. But what brought me to look at it that day was the fact that the professor she mentioned was so good at teaching. I wanted to learn more about him by looking at that qualifier my cousin used to describe him. who I admire and respect a lot like many other students. I still remember the passion, the art he used to put out there just to make us feel comfortable and understand everything he was covering.

Today when I remember about this story it makes me have more admiration for all educators with good teaching skills who inspired me a lot and because of whom I did find out thing that was not paying attention to. For instance, the school we were in by that time my cousin and I was a private school called “Groupe Scolaire les Pédagogues”, with “pédagogue” meaning somebody who has the qualities of a good teacher, a good educator. I never wondered what the name of my school stands for but while looking for the word pedagogy, I also looked at other related words. I was later happy to tell to people who ask me that I was studying at les “Pédagogues”.

That was a small story that I wanted to share as it did occur because of an educator’s talent and art of doing things, specially teaching in the right way.

The question I have though is do people acquire pedagogy through learning or trough experience over time or it is just something some people born with, something natural in them?

I am asking this question because of these reasons. 1.) There are many theories on good teaching strategies out there that did not exist let`s say twenty years ago and at the same time parents mainly older people are complaining that teaching is not done in a good way anymore. 2.) I used to hear people saying telling to others “you have the vocation to teach, or to be a lawyer, etc”.