This inquiry question arose out of a reflection of my own schooling experiences. In the latter half of my undergrad career, I became quite immersed in my studies as a humanities and social sciences student. I was so engaged with theories learned in the classroom that I wanted more than just to read about equity and race, identity and intersectionality, inequality and institutionalism- the list goes on. Being exposed to such powerful ideas shifted my own means of thinking; I became more critically aware of the systematic governance and maintenance of our society.
I am pleased that teacher candidates at UBC are required to take a social justice class, regardless of teachable area. The course just scratched the surface of contentious issues that exist in our society, and yes, in our classroom. I appreciated the exposure to others’ ideas, with the chance to hear and respond to them. Still, how does one approach such a largely complex topic without taking a moment to unpack what ‘social justice’ means to one’s teacher identity? I am still struggling with this topic, even as an individual who harnesses social justice as a personal value. So, breaking down these packed ideas to an even more basic level: What is respect? How do we show respect to our colleagues, friends, students?
It has been useful to reflect back on personal experiences in the position of educator and student in trying to answer such questions. Naturally, I felt equally comfortable with turning to previously conducted academic research to demystify my personal accounts and to approach my inquiry question from academia’s perspective. I predicted that the research findings would vary as the concept of ‘respect’ while universal is extremely subjective. How an individual demonstrates respect, or even defines respect varies (culturally, how you were raised, individually!). How do you define and demonstrate respect?
I like to think that Inquiry is an ongoing process, and that this inquiry question will extend beyond just this assignment. I am more than happy to continue grappling with these issues, having conversations with other individuals (educators or not), researching, and observing inside the classroom. But for the purposes of Inquiry II EDUC 451B- I look forward to sharing my conclusions with you! Please visit the ‘conclusions’ tab!