Pedagogy of Anti-Racism 101

Uncategorized Sep 22, 2023

Anti-Racism Isn’t Just What You Teach, but How You Teach It 

Diversified book lists are a fraction of anti-racist teaching, not an accomplishment or destination. At The Institute, we are concerned with the official curriculum, and also the hidden and operational curricula of a school, classroom, or organization. Anti-racist education is about what we teach and who is on the walls, but it’s also about how we teach, how we engage with our students and their communities. 

Professors Nancy Kang and Silvio Torres-Saillant write: “Racism, for example, operates as a pedagogy that informs the thoughts, feelings, and actions of whole societies, not just individuals.” If racism operates as a pedagogy, a way of teaching, so too must anti-racism. Anti-racism must operate as a pedagogy that is rooted in love and wholeness, not in deficits or low expectations or excuses. 

Paolo Freire offers a liberating approach in his seminal Pedagogy of the Oppressed: “No pedagogy which is truly liberating can remain distant from the oppressed by treating them as unfortunates and by presenting for their emulation models from among the oppressors. The oppressed must be their own example in the struggle for their redemption.Saviorship and tokenization will never be anti-racist.

Some questions for reflection:

  • How do we ensure that our anti-racist pedagogy is actually guided by the oppressed (or the marginalized, or “those furthest from educational justice”,), and not simply about token representation or emulation? 
  • What are the power dynamics and histories at play with my identity and with community/classroom? 
  • Do I switch to lecture or other top-down modes of teaching and assessing when I am busy or stressed because it is “easier”? 
  • When do I see myself thinking from a deficit-based perspective (like ,thinking that considering a students' trauma/hardship means not ever challenging them or expecting less from them) and how can I shift that thinking? 

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