MCC Daily Tribune
Announcing the Teaching and Creativity Center's Theme for 2020-21: Committing to Equity-Minded Pedagogy
"Let's begin by saying that we are living through a very dangerous time. Everyone in this room is in one way or another aware of that. We are in a revolutionary situation, no matter how unpopular that word has become in this country. The society in which we live is desperately menaced [...] from within. So any citizen of this country who figures himself as responsible--and particularly those of you who deal with the minds and hearts of young people--must be prepared to 'go for broke.'"
So begins James Baldwin's 1963 article "A Talk To Teachers," which--if one updated some of the language--could easily have been written today. That Baldwin's message is just as urgent as it was 57 years ago reveals a lot about the nation, ourselves, and our profession. It lays bare what we profess, and it exposes the "intolerable trouble" that we ignore at our peril.
Baldwin was speaking to teachers, and reminding them that whatever their content areas, the pernicious realities of racism--and the inequities that exist because of racism--are their responsibility to address. "The obligation of anyone who thinks of himself as responsible is to examine society and try to change it and to fight it--at no matter what risk. This is the only hope society has. This is the only way societies change."
Daniel Prude's lying naked on a cold Rochester street, exposed and vulnerable to those wielding force and power, and ultimately dead because of them, makes plain why it remains our (professors') responsibility: because there is no content area, no subject matter, nothing about our roles within higher education that is disconnected from the variables that were in motion that night. Watch the Daniel Prude video, witness the starkly different responses to those demanding accountability and change, and see the topics of your courses (and the difficult histories embedded therein) unfold in real time. From criminal justice to healthcare to other STEM fields to economics to the humanities to the social sciences to human and social services, not to mention the levels of organizational/institutional culture and policy, what happened to Daniel Prude, and the conditions that led to it as well as those reverberating from it, are very much our business as educators. If, like me, you are white, then it's a moral imperative to consider how an insistence on neutrality, or on "not seeing race," can stand in the way of taking racial equity work seriously.
In what we hope will become a much longer-term endeavor, this year the TCC will focus on equity (what it means, what it requires, what it doesn't) through our programming theme: Committing to Equity-Minded Pedagogy. If you participated in our programming last year, where we engaged in sustained reading of Bandwidth Recovery by Cia Verschelden, then you will recognize that we are not changing the subject.
At the 2020 June Teaching and Learning Conference, Verschelden encouraged all of us to not see equity issues as peripheral. One threshold concept, then, for equity-minded pedagogy is that the "nuts-and-bolts" of teaching do not exist in vacuums. Neither do the topics that we teach. Neither do we as professors, nor do our students. Rather than avoid that, let's address it, courageously and systematically.
Throughout the year, the TCC's Conversation series will offer "guided pathways" for applying an equity lens to the work one does. The six Conversations (three in the fall and three in the spring) are rooted in scholarship and evidence-based practices, and will provide faculty and staff opportunities to be challenged and engaged within a supportive framework.
Fall 2020: Theory & Learning
- September 11, 2020, at 12 PM: An Opening 'Talk to Teachers' with Prof. Tokeya Graham [English/Philosophy]
- October [date and time TBA]: What, Exactly, Is Equity, and What Does 'Equity-Mindedness' Mean?
- November 10, 2020, at 12 PM: Education Myths that Prevent Equity (facilitated by Prof. Natasha Christensen [Sociology])
Spring 2021: In Practice
- February [date and time TBA]: Inclusive/Universal design
- March [date and time TBA]: Syllabi Without Walls
- April or May [date and time TBA]: Testimonials
Specific details for each will be announced in the Trib, along with the meeting links. Look also for an upcoming announcement inviting faculty and professional staff to participate in year-long inquiry projects within departments or some other self-selected cohort, the outcomes of which will be the highlight of next June's Teaching and Learning Conference.
As educator and author Cornelius Minor puts it in his article "WE CAN DO BETTER: Spreading the Message That It's Everyone's Duty to Build an Equitable Future":
"Again, equity work is not easy. People of color did not create racism. Women did not create sexism. People with disabilities did not create ableism. LGBTQIA+ people did not create hate and exclusion. As such, they cannot be the only ones working to undo these things. This work is white people's work. It is work to be done by men and cisgender and heterosexual people. Working toward equity is not simply work to eradicate meanness. It is work to ensure access and justice, and we will make mistakes. To avoid work because we fear those mistakes is to dress inequity in 'nice' clothes. To date, that has not worked for us. We can do better."
Teaching and Creativity Center