Classroom Practice

Classroom Practice


I’m beginning to think that, if we all talked more with each other that we could solve a lot of the things we’re all trying to handle in isolation. We have power as faculty members and we can use that power for good and by sharing our knowledge and helping our students. Whether they’re from marginalized communities or whether they’re students who would be considered part of the mainstream, that we have knowledge to share with them to help them succeed and we need to be those role models and model that in our classrooms and also model that with each other. And these, this group of faculty members, give me hope for our future. I was reminded by our President of the University, he came into a meeting and talked -not a Multicultural Faculty Fellows meeting- but he came into one of our Woodring meetings and said that, “A liberal arts education is liberating education.” And I would take it a step further and say that it’s education for liberation and that is what we’re practicing with the Multicultural Faculty Fellows together as a learning community of faculty members. I mean a lot of the work that we’re doing in the Multicultural Faculty Fellows is we’re talking about issues of equity and justice and diversity, but a lot of it’s situated in our work with students. Especially working with teachers, teachers can be fundamentally the most important person in a student’s life and sometimes they can do damage, even when they’re a very caring person. So, a big part of the work that I’m doing is trying to make sure that, you know, schools which are the primary institution that all of our children go through, are places that are safe and supportive for all children. Well I think once we start telling our stories and we are actually listening to each other, which isn’t always easy to do, again, that sort of moves us toward a recognition of both oppression and privilege and ways to hang onto the things that we really value in our society and still move toward a society that promotes wellbeing at all levels in a different way. We talk a lot about who’s not at the table, who isn’t here at Western, who do we wish would also be here. I really didn’t know what a faculty learning community was going to be about and I thought we would have a much more structured approach, which we started with.
It is really the way Kristen has allowed the group to organically organize itself that has been so motivating. I can’t speak for everybody, but I really feel a sense of ownership of the group. I am coordinating a brand new minor in Diversity in Higher Education and so I bring so many questions about the development of the minor, the classes in the minor, the core course in the minor that I’m teaching. So, that has been a laboratory for me to try out ideas, and the wonderful, wonderful feedback that I have gotten has been invaluable. But the feedback isn’t only in terms of ‘Have you thought about this?’ ‘Have you tried this?’ It’s been more emergent and by that I mean somebody else will be talking about their course, their dilemma and I will begin to hear a solution to something that I’m looking at. I’m beginning to think that if we all talked more with each other that we could solve a lot of the things we’re all trying to handle in isolation.

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