For this week's blog, the focus is to reflect on the topic of inclusive pedagogy. As sophisticated this term is as complicated this concept to achieve. Reading the article of culturally responsive teaching by Gay (2002), one of the stated assumptions that caught my attention implies the importance of such inclusion. “…when academic knowledge and skills are situated within the lived experience and frames of references of students, they are more personally meaningful, higher interest appeal, learned easily and thoroughly” (Gay, 2002, p. 106). I agree with parts of it, yet kept thinking, How realistic it is to be inclusive without being Bias in the first place, not to mention, having such experiences in different classrooms would set some difficulties to obtain such. Adding to that, trying to merge the process of learning with the culture and lived experience of students and have the time to prepare and concentrate. These all the first insights I had once I heard of this term (inclusive pedagogy) that is unfamiliar to me.
So, I went further and tried to get familiar. In the book chapter about safe spaces (Arao & Clemens, 2013), the authors identified inclusive pedagogy in relation to having a safe space and feeling safe while being able to participate fully and feeling comfortable expressing themselves. Yet they have realized it is not adequate. Therefore, a new definition about having brave spaces emerged that brought a positive response as “ …We have to be brave because along the way we are going to be vulnerable and exposed…” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p. 141). In addition to providing a list of ground rules for both students and educators to established these spaces “ agree to disagree, don’t take it personally, challenge by choice, respect, and no attacks” (Arao & Clemens, 2013, p. 143). noticeably all are ground rules for any conservation or debate between two people to ensure respect.
Reflecting this on myself as an international student in the united states with a different culture brings up observations on how I tried to fit in or be more engaged. On some occasions, the teacher does help and in others, many educators “including myself” we are not prepared to teach ethnically diverse students until pointed at or being noticed that you are not engaged. As mentioned in the reading (Gay, 2002), knowledge about cultural diversity is imperative to meeting the educational needs of culturally diverse students. Yes, I strongly agree, yet not all are accessible to this type of knowledge, not to mention, that educators should have the feeling of need to obtain such responsibility.
Acquiring such knowledge, in my opinion, needs the willingness to reflect on our biases and misconceptions with an open mindset. As an educator, I can not say that I have dealt with such matters before, but I recall one incident at a workshop in Germany working with both Jordanian and German students. Being aware of such diversity, a discussion of a religious conflict developed. An issue of forcing students to do a follow-up site visit at a bar occurred despite knowing that most of the Jordanian students were Muslims. The students asked me for an excuse for not attending. I passed this concern to my German colleagues, where he showed me a reaction of disappointment as he did not understand the problem. It has led to a deep discussion, ended with an agreed solution of changing the venue to respect the need of all groups to attend. I believed that _despite the change_ if he did his part of understanding the new culture he is working with “ no drinking rule for Muslims” coming to Germany, this issue would not have been raised and we would not have felt excluded. I remember the comments from students after this incident, and how it affected their performance of the workshop negatively afterward.
These incidents require us to be responsive to different cultures and diverse individuals. The example that Dr. Murzi provided us during our contemporary class for the product exercise he used on his students to bring up new ideas of upgrading. Showed how can different cultures and diverse students provide new insights for the class. I resonated with this example during my Landscape architecture history class last semester. In this class, I had to prepare a presentation about landscape performance, so I designed it in a way that reflects my Arabic culture perspective. After the presentation, the Prof. came towards me and said: We are privileged to have you given this presentation as we have learned new information about this matter we were not aware of. Not only it made my day, but it also made me realize how much we can add to every class if we have been given the chance or were brave enough.
Arao, B., & Clemens, K. (2013). From Safe spaces to Brave Spaces. A New Way to Frame Dialogue Around Diversity and Social Justice. In The Art of Effective Faciliation (pp. 135–150). Stylus Publishing LLC.
Gay, G. (2002). 2001 Aacte O Utstanding D Issertation a Ward W Inner. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2), 106–116. https://doi.org/10.1177/0022487104267587