Inclusive learning

March 1, 2018

The opening statement by Robert A. Clifton and Alexandra Burnett that “Canadian universities seem to be more concerned about political correctness than educating students” was forewarning enough (“Too PC on teacher ID”, Opinion, 22 February).

The authors do not appear to believe that the experience of being educated is a fundamental part of the process of being educated. They do not seem to have ever experienced what happens when a teacher takes their prejudice into the classroom (my O‑level physics teacher would not acknowledge the presence of girls in the classroom). They have clearly never experienced being in a place where every single teacher is different from you and thinks your difference problematic (I left my first secondary school because schoolyard antisemitism was actively supported by self-declared Christian teachers).

But what is most outrageous is the tendentious linking of supporting and welcoming students from non-traditional contexts, or from groups that historically have been excluded from teaching (ethnic minorities) or wary of hostile reactions to their presence (ethnic minorities, LGBTQ and the socially disadvantaged), with producing poorer quality teachers. Nowhere do the authors provide the evidence for such a correlation. They merely glide into it and ask us to assume that it is people from those groups who are the teachers who make up “the bottom 25 per cent…able to teach only about six months’ worth” of curriculum content in a year.

Nor have they taken into account the many, many studies that show that the students who do best on any kind of exam are those prepared for that exam; yet such preparation might not be available to students from some regions of Canada that experience underinvestment.

Farah Mendlesohn
Associate fellow of the Anglia Ruskin Centre for Science Fiction and Fantasy

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