The Benefits of Inclusive Pedagogy

Of all of the readings this week, the most impactful for me was the Georgetown course design on Inclusive Pedagogy, mainly from an argument I’ve had with other white men. I’m a white man, and I have friends, acquaintances, and coworkers who are white men, and for a long time (up to and including now), white men didn’t and don’t want to acknowledge white male privilege. There are many reasons for that, and I don’t want to get into that argument in this blog post, but one of the reasons I think white men refuse to acknowledge privilege is because of certainty. There is this idea that with enough experience and knowledge, one can find objective truth and adopt those truths into their perspective, and, as if it were possible, by removing all subjectivity from their perspective they have more certainty that their perspective is the truth. Through objectivity you are more often right and everyone who has any subjectivity in their perspective is more often wrong. It’s ridiculous. This is all to say that any “objective” standards are not any more fair or unbias than any subjective standards, because the individuals setting the “objective” standards have no real way to prove they are objective.

A white male peer believes that universities should be exclusive. That through a merit based system the best education and best students will be produced, and means to create more inclusivity leads to weakness in that system. There should be more weed out classes. There should be higher standards for entrance into undergraduate universities and graduate school.

This perspective is so frustrating because it’s set in some certainty that any of level of a merit based system is set in an objective reality. Someone, or many, or hundreds of people are setting standards and they all introduce a level of subjectivity that brings it further and further from objectivity. I really appreciated reading the couple papers that the course design cited that inclusivity benefits all. And honestly, I think it makes the most sense. The more individuals that are involved in anything, contributing a range of perspectives, offer the clearest picture. Subjectivity compounded gets us closest to the truth, not a few people who are so certain of their own perspective it eliminates the incorporation or understanding of the perspectives of others.

5 thoughts on “The Benefits of Inclusive Pedagogy

  1. Hi Earl,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I agree with you that the gatekeeping is not the way to conduct ourselves. More people have more to offer and their perspectives can contribute value to any conversation. I also think that it should not be up to certain people to determine who all merits being part of the conversation. I agree that subjectivity compounded gets us closer the truth. I think that is what we should strive for. We can learn a lot from other people. I always approach situations from a perspective that I can always learn something from someone else.


  2. Hi Earl, I agree with you that the “higher education should be exclusive” mentality is harmful and frustrating. It completely disregards the fact that every person is a natural-born learner and that practically every person is capable of anything if they set their mind to it. I’m glad that the materials were helpful to you. Keep pushing back against “what has always been” and the norms within your discipline. There is a considerable amount of privilege in higher education, even before applying labels about race, ethnicity, and background. Now that your eyes are more open and you have some clear tools for making inclusive learning environments, how do you think you will change going forward?


  3. You’ve nicely articulated how others view their white privilege. How do you view yours? I didn’t understand this concept, even superficially, until recently. I really didn’t have the perspective of how hundreds of years of oppression affect a race of individuals. We can talk about money as a limiting factor, nutrition, mental health and many other confounding effects of societal treatment. Understanding how these stresses effect epigenetic changes of individuals tossed my thinking in a totally different direction.

    My privilege set me up for success, developed a resiliency in me that many don’t have and provided a clear path for my future. This removed so many barriers to my success. What can i now do, with this privilege that built my amazing life? Now I need to use it, to help open doors for others. To support and share and encourage others. I want to use my own resiliency to provide for others, rather than create any exclusivity or simply focus on my own path.


  4. Hey Earl, interesting insight into the minds of those who think that merit-based systems work…or even exist. I fully agree with your point of acknowledging that even “objective” metrics were set by humans…who are both subjective and fallible. This even slips into research itself, when people hang their hats on results with p<.05 (a number arbitrarily picked by humans) and say that two groups are objectively different, for example.


  5. Hey Earl,
    As I was reading this article, I felt like I was reading my own writing since I also have a colleague that has similar thoughts. They believe that we should only accept students that are the best of the best but we seem to reach a wall in conversation where they cannot accept that privilege exists and that even the objective units of success are bound to have a deeper societal connection to privilege. I like the point you make with the idea that this is due to certainty being challenged. I think a good chunk of us understand the topic but I think it’s especially difficult to approach this topic with those that have never had it brought up or challenged.


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