Course Expectations, Pedagogy, and Learning/Dialogue Approaches
Despite the size of the class, it is my hope that this class is a lively educational space defined
by interaction, discussions, and critical thinking. That being said, this class is one of lecture and one where critical discussions, engagement, and activities will emanate from the lectures. It is important to take notes and engage in these conversations. It is important to produce a classroom that is open, respectful, and trusting. Following the above rules will contribute to a productive educational environment; of equal importance will be the respect shown for the class, its members, and the ideas discussed therein. As such, it is crucial that we adhere to certain guidelines.
- READ and be PREPARED
- Be respectful of others, in terms of engaging and listening to lectures, peer comments, and other course materials. Be respectful in terms of not talking to peers, not packing up early, not watching movies or listening to music during class
- Listen and listen
- Reflect on social location and work to understand alternative arguments, analysis, and narratives, as well as anger.
- Be aware of racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and other institutionalized forms of oppression.
- Be aware of the mechanisms of institutionalized racism, classism, sexist, heterosexism, etc., including that we are all systematically taught misinformation about our own group and about members of other groups. This is true for members of privileged and oppressed groups.
- Read in an engaged way, recognizing the ideology and politics imbedded in every text. Make notes in the margins – “dialogue” with the text, using exclamation points, questions or issue complete statements, questions or critiques. Ask yourself: what is significant in this piece, what elicits anger/sadness/laughter, but go beyond emotional responses to be prepared to make specific statements about the reading!
- Be aware of your own subject position, ideologies, privileges and prejudices. Recognize your own relationship to institutions of power and structures of domination. This can help you make specific connections to the reading, class discussions and other forms of feedback. Rather than proclaiming, “This article sucks,” or “You are wrong,” you can get more specific about the basis and origins of your reaction. For example, rather then engaging in a discussion about homosexuality with statements of disgust and contempt, it might be better to state: “From my position as a white male, who was raised with the teachings of the Bible, I find homosexuality a bit troubling, especially in the context of the arguments made by ________ on page ____.”
- Agree to combat actively the myths and stereotypes about your own “group” and other groups so that we can break down the walls that prohibit group cooperation and group gain. Read and listen with recognition of other people’s subject position and ideologies. LISTEN TO OTHERS!
- Reflect on our choice of language in and outside of class, striving to rid our vocabulary of racist, sexist, homophobic words, phrases. Recognize that your choice of words reflect your own ideological position and may bother others (think about how others may react to your words – not just content, but the way we chose to express those thoughts)
- Create a safe atmosphere for open discussion. If members of the class may wish to make comments that they do no want repeated outside the classroom, they can preface their remarks with a request that the class agree not to repeat the remarks. Also, think about your language (including body language), posture, etc. contributes to safe/empowering or disempowering/unsafe learning environment.
- Take Risks: I want this class to be a space where everyone should feel comfortable enough to disagree with each other. This needs to be safe space so reflect on the ways you engage others with your own pronouncements and how you react (with words, body language) to their statements – react privilege and positionality
- Read and dialogue in a politically engaged way. Racial Dynamics, for our purposes here, reflects power, and relationship to systems/sources of power. Power dynamics are contextual (situational) and relational. You may have power in some spaces and lack it in others, all depending on social location. Ask yourself these questions while reading and discussing within the classroom space: Is the analysis leaving anyone relevant out? For what reasons? Where is this analysis coming from? Whose knowledge base is being explored or forwarded?
- Speak with evidence and “facts” on your side. Despite the popular pronouncements that there are no wrong answers, there are incomplete, problematic, superficial, surfaced, and unsubstantiated answers. Reflect on your own answers and the basis of your conclusions
- Go beyond an either/or dichotomy. Incorporate a both/and approach rather than an “either/or.”
- Recognize the knowledge base of your peers. Its ok – recommended and great, in fact – to respond to a counterpoint with “hey, I’ve never thought of it that way,” or “well, you do make a good point – I’ll have to think about that for a while.” Discussion in this class isn’t about proving, embarrassing, showing off, winning, losing, convincing, holding one’s argument to the bitter end – its about dialogue, debate and self-reflections.