SELF & OTHER COMPETENCY
My Commitment to Helping my Students Become More
Open-minded, More Tolerant, and Accepting of People
Who Are Different From Them
Our MAT 48 cohort was a vibrant example of open-minded, all-embracing and loving people who accepted others completely, no matter how different. We lived this commitment of inclusion. And we knew there would be no question of our not following through in our teaching to help our students embrace this outlook on life. Acceptance does not imply neutrality, or mediocrity of spirit. It often requires introspection, careful observation of the self, and thoughtful reflection.
We can accept others whose beliefs differ to the extent we think them irrational. It is the person
we are embracing, not their ideas - however fictitious those ideas are, or might seem. This acceptance is critical to successful learning experiences. We, as teachers, must help our students break through their self-imposed cultural walls, to help them allow themself to be open to their entire repetoire of capabilities.
I had two students in my internship class from the same country, but with very different backgrounds. Class and educational experiences were barriers to their learning and participation
in the class. In order to fully engage my students in their own learning, I would often create exercises that paired students with each other. These two balked. The more educated equated the other’s lack of education as a lack of intelligence. In fact, the more educated had less intelligence than the other. I pushed them unmercifully, but kindly, and with encouragement to both. (Let’s call the more educated, A.) I did resort to google translate to make sure I communicated precisely that
B was highly intelligent and that A should be patient and persistent. I engaged in their learning directly by demonstrating how A could actively help B. The three of us worked together at one exercise. I wasn’t sure I could help enough, but it worked! From then on, they helped each other, even with lessons I had not asked them to work together. In that single regard, it was an experiment for me. But, it validated my faith in people to come together if they can recognize commonality.