KNOWLEDGE Sub-competency

Multiple Dimensions of Identity:  My Own and Others’ - Including Language, Class, Race, Gender,  Culture, Sexual Orientation, Physical Ability, and Religion

Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices, but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.
— Albert Einstein

SIT_MAT@50_ essay submission for the 50th anniversary alumni book
GD_My comments on Ron’s story
ICLT_Culture Bump

Looking at Dogme and its raison d’être of relinquishing the deductive process, my teaching is my learning. It is my need to understand how students need to learn; not how I think to teach. I am not the director as prime substantiator. My “self” is anonymous. It is my students who direct the learning process, and it is my job to guide them to their learning, without imposing my own way
of learning. I need to know what they already know, why they want to learn, and what they bring
to their learning - in addition to what they need to know. 

Recognition of conflicts which might arise in any group, whether these conflicts arise between and among the labels of language, class, race, gender, culture, sexual orientation, physical ability, or religion; transformation to lasting understanding and acceptance is our goal in effective teaching.

Imposed categorization of people is separative. We humans naturally differ from one another, but these differences are not measurements of our worth, but celebrations of our charm. Some divisions, such as the constructs of race and class, are those we deliberately impose. Since this essay is not about the historical and psychological reasons for delineating confines, I will only propose we look at our “man-made” divisiveness as analytically as we can. In teaching language, we encounter every aspect of students’ lives. The affective filter probability looms.

In my internship, where I had students from widely different cultures, races, religions, and physical ability, I made their comfort with each other and with my teaching my prime task. When I interjected language lessons with snippets of our cultural mores, I urged them to share their own customs. I then used these customs as bases to show how acceptable behavior here either differed
or remained the same as in their first country. Often, when I played music like Vivaldi, some students and I would dance around a bit. One day, one of my ebullient Syrian male students came up to me and danced with me for a moment. We laughed together and he said, 

You know, I cannot do that in Syria. I can’t dance with a woman, or hold her hand, or go on a date, unless she is my wife or sister.
— One of my students

I grabbed the opportunity to have a conversation with the class about appropriate behavior with women, and how respect between men and women was valued; that because we might hold hands, or even kiss, did not mean we would have sex with them. And we had a terrific discussion, even within their basic language skills.

As citizens of the USA, we are formed by our history of endemic racism. It is our responsibility to humanity that we recognize this, that we learn our history, and that we make the dissolution of this construct part of our legacy.