Negotiating Difference: from “Critical” Indoctrination to Meaningful Dialogue
Roundtable Discussion: Lucy Yang
Session C | 10:05 – 10:45 | Location: Room 1004
Integrating socially relevant and critical perspectives into one’s teaching is key to support students in recognizing unequal power relations and challenging established social structures and practices that reinforce such inequities. Kubota (2017) characterizes the critical teacher identity as one that is firmly committed to social justice; however, she notes that the dogmatic tendencies of the critical approach can correspond to a “privilege approach…where a teacher strongly believes that a certain view or ideological position is preferred and should be adopted by the students” who may be alienated due to their different views (p.212). Classroom discussions, particularly of controversial topics, often reveal significant ideological differences and the problem of the indoctrinating teacher and the silenced student can shut down meaningful dialogue. In what ways can we encourage a safe environment in which students can engage in respectful disagreement with empathy and non-defensiveness? How can we effectively unpack controversial ideas that are charged with prejudice, such as racist, sexist or homophobic statements, that are typically rejected immediately? The notion that “not all ideas deserve knowledge deconstruction…may be too naïve” (Kubota, 2017, p.212), particularly in the Trump era. The collaborative engagement in critical classroom discussion without the imposition of perspectives is essential to effectively address power inequities in effort to promote greater social justice.
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