Inclusive Pedagogy as a Way of Life

Diversity and inclusivity constitute a burning issue in higher education. Several research studies have shown the many benefits that diversity brings in many different situations. It has also been shown that embracing diversity, beneficial as it is, may not always be a natural thing to do as there is always a ‘hidden brain’ that functions on our individual implicit biases to inform decision-making processes of our unconscious persons, potentially, against the tenets of inclusivity. Discourse on ways of overcoming these implicit biases to make way for more inclusive pedagogical environments has abounded. In the thick of this discourse, a number of questions come to the fore: How long has it been known that inclusivity is beneficial? Whose duty is it to champion inclusivity? Is it good enough if one temporarily suspends their biases for the sake of creating a more inclusive pedagogical environment and then return to their original self afterwards? What can be done to ensure that inclusive pedagogy is more sustainable?

It would appear that knowledge on the benefits of diversity and inclusivity has been around for a long time. However, to this very day, embracing diversity remains a challenge not only in higher education institutions, but also in many others. Others have argued that very little is being done to create inclusive pedagogical environments as the spectrum of diversity continues to grow and its bands remain only partially understood. In spite of the many years that it has been known that inclusivity is beneficial, why is it still unnatural for others to embrace diversity? Perhaps in order to gain insight into this question, we need to figure out whose duty it is to champion inclusive pedagogy.

This far, it has largely been suggested that the teacher plays a primal role in ensuring that an inclusive pedagogical environment prevails. This approach seems to ignore the multidimensionality of the issue at hand. As has already been pointed out by others, most of the implicit biases that plague one’s unconscious decision-making processes develop outside of the classroom. If the sources of these biases are not adequately addressed, attempts at creating an inclusive pedagogical environment will only succeed in so far as what results portrays an isolated momentary experience that is not only detached from reality, but that is also superficial and vulnerable to catastrophic failure at any time. The classroom and the world that exists beyond it must be understood as a totality so that the responsibility of creating inclusive pedagogical environments is shared by teachers, learners, parents and the general public.

In an effort to create inclusive pedagogical environments, there are certain things that one may need to do. This approach, essentially, enables one to temporarily suspend their biases just so that they can be seen to be accommodative of diversity and then, once the need is over, they revert back to their original self. Is this good enough an approach? Probably not as it comes through as just being a convenient show off. Unfortunately, it would be very hard to tell if one is genuinely committed to diversity or they are just trying to side with the convenient truth at any given moment.

When all is said and done, we must all aspire for inclusive pedagogical environments that are sustainable. There are many things that might be done in order for this to happen one of which might be the exploration of the idea that the classroom and the world beyond it are a totality and that the duty of ensuring the prevalence of sustainable pedagogical environments belongs to not only the teachers, but us all. Inclusive pedagogy must become a way of life.

 

 

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14 thoughts on “Inclusive Pedagogy as a Way of Life

  1. Hey Amos, I really like your blog post. You have touched the real problems surrounding these diversity, inclusion, support… terms. To your question “How long has it been known that inclusivity is beneficial?” my answer is since a long time ago and that is why to me it something that would have not been a subject of discussion in modern days. To me it will not be the beauty of the literature on best approaches that one has to adopt to be more inclusive that would bring changes in certain people ways of seeing the ones who look or sound different from them. And in the cases where some changes occur, ensuring inclusive pedagogy sustainability will be difficult. Whatever we do, the implicate bias will remain. Great post!

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    • Many thanks for stopping by Oumoule! With knowledge of the benefits having been around for such a longtime, these things should have become a part of life now. I totally agree with you that complete elimination of the biases remains a challenge that we have to deal with.

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      • Amos – just as Oumoule noted, your post is very insightful. I agree the there is plenty of literature on this topic and finding answers is find to addressing the issues of implicit bias. In addition to teachers and the world beyond the classroom, I think universities as public institutions also have a key role to play to increase diversity, address issues of inequities and inclusion. In some fields, the clear and unambiguous lack of diversity among the ranks of teachers or professors has more to say about the program than the textbook values lecturers will espouse. I think increasing faculty diversity is a natural first step for many university programs to take when it comes to inclusive in pedagogy.

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  2. Amos- I think you offer extremely valuable insights into the difficulties that arise when it comes to inclusive pedagogy. In thinking back to our recent topic on our authentic teaching self, I cannot help but think that striving for inclusive pedagogy should be part of that authenticity of teachers and future leaders. Similar to your views, I dont think these things can be temporary inclusions into teaching or superficial changes for short periods of time, but instead, ways in which we live!

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    • Hey Blayne! Thanks for stopping by. You provide a great perspective of looking at this issue by referring back to the authentic teaching self topic. Indeed the authentic teaching self must strive to embrace inclusive pedagogy. It does very little help if inclusivity is only a temporary inclusion.

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  3. Hi Amos,
    I enjoyed your post.
    For inclusive pedagogy, it is very important not only to learn from teachers at school but also to learn from parents at home. Unfortunately, some children have a biased idea in a bad home environment. Is there any positive action that can be done to children in this situation?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Seungbee! Many thanks for stopping by. It is indeed true that some learners may come to school with biases developed at home. I guess that is where we now need all the stakeholders, including parents, teachers, the media and others, to join hands in trying to address those biases. The duty of ensuring that inclusive pedagogical environments prevail must not be left out to teachers alone. Nonetheless, it is important to acknowledge that getting all the concerned stakeholders to agree on this may not be easy.

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  4. Hi Amos,
    You are asking some tough questions in the opening (and throughout) your post this week. This notion of “sustainable inclusive pedagogy” is interesting–especially when you talk about being genuine vs superficial. I wonder how much people might bother to “play nice” in public or professionally, while still maintaining exclusive values within themselves. (I know they exist, I’ve witnessed it before!) You’re right, it can’t be sustainable if we aren’t reaching the ones who need to hear the message most. You go right to the heart of the issue when you ask whose duty it is to champion for inclusive pedagogy. Your answer: It’s all of us. All the time. And you’re right. This is a job that we all have to take on, staying ever-vigilant until we’ve reached everyone.

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    • Hey Sara! Many thanks for stopping by. Much as I have yet to encounter the ‘play nice’ kind, I also know that they exist somewhere and it is sad. We must aim for genuine inclusivity and its surely upon us all to pursue this ideal.

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  5. Amos, I really appreciate the point you make about sustainable inclusive practices. While I don’t think I’ve every thought of it that way, I often wonder if halfhearted inclusive practices might do more harm than good, forcing people to act in a particular way in the moment but then revert back as you described.

    I think to avoid that, it’s important to take a learning-centered approach to inclusivity. While it’s faster to take a teaching-centered approach by providing directives (e.g. “Use gender pronouns when introducing yourself.” or “You can’t say that.”), I feel like that might just confuse people and make them resent those practices. Instead, I think it’s important to open these ideas up as a conversation to generate understanding behind why we try to use these inclusive practices. Still, that’s easier said than done since it’s a time intensive process and requires some vulnerability.

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    • Hey Jake! Many thanks for stopping by. I like the perspective that you bring up by suggesting that being halfhearted might actually do more harm than good. I also look at it that way. I think being halfhearted may erode the whole meaning of inclusivity and render it valueless.I also agree that the learning-centered approach may be helpful in cultivating genuine inclusivity. And I would also add that this approach must include all stakeholders (Teachers and learners obviously but also parents and the media and others)

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  6. Hi Amos, thank you for your post! I love your idea that we must address the sources of bias first. Almost every Chinese who grew up in China knows that in the era when China was invaded by imperialist powers a hundred years ago, a park in Shanghai’s foreign concession clearly stated that “Chinese and dogs are not allowed to enter”. If we are always poor and backward, then we should not expect be respected from developed countries, and potential discrimination will always exist. Inclusive education may temporarily eliminate prejudice but cannot eliminate it.

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  7. Hey Ruixiang! Many thanks for stopping by. The present reality is indeed as you put it, but with inclusivity, we must hope for a departure from the business as usual approach and embrace diversity in all its forms, treating all others with dignity and respect as equals. Unfortunately, there appears to be no easy way in this pursuit.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your post, Amos. Your are completely right about implicit biases and develop though all facets of life, and in-classroom education is just a small part of that. That being said, I think the classroom is a good place to help students develop an awareness of the hidden sides of their brains. Open discussions that acknowledge these biases could stimulate that awareness to pervade other parts of life.

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