Reflecting back to the philosophy statement you wrote at the start of the KSI, how do issues of difference inform your teaching philosophy? What is at stake for you personally in intentionally engaging diversity issues in your role as an educator?
How could I have gone through an “elite” elementary school, an outstanding junior high and high school, earn a Bachelors degree and a Masters from UVA, and never really have known about cultures of power? Remained blind to my role in them?
How many times did I say something with the best of intentions that actually marginalized a friend or colleague? How many times did I put up with being marginalized because I thought, “well, that’s just Southern culture.” How many times did I know something was not quite right, but I didn’t have the language to name the dissonance I felt?
I am angry that I was not exposed to this kind of education until now. I am frustrated that, as it stands, I know only a few of my students will be exposed to this kind of education, ever.
I am excited that there are possibilities for changing the latter.
The first paragraph of my educational philosophy reads:
“I believe the purpose of education is to create social and moral life-long learners who graduate with skills (analysis, synthesis, knowledge, creativity, adaptability, courage, etc.) to thrive in a global, digital, fast-paced world. School should prepare children to live as adults who will positively contribute to the life and sustainability of their local communities, their nations, and their world.” (emphasis added)
Diversity awareness plays an integral role in social awareness, and there are moral ramifications for even unconscious behaviors. Diversity awareness helps students to become conscious of actions that were formerly unconscious. In this way, they can more positively contribute to their local communities; communities which are full of people from all races, classes, genders, sexualities, religions, and abilities. We must help our students be intentional, and intentionality requires awareness of what is seen and unseen, along with the skills to navigate what happens when our eyes are wide open.