Remember that annoying thing your parents always told you growing up? That phrase you rolled your eyes at every single time they said it? The beloved: “You’ll understand when you’re older?” Well, what about the moments you realized they were right? Isn’t it funny how often times, you don’t realize what you didn’t know before until life gives you the experience that teaches you the lesson?
I’m using this example to illustrate the biggest “what you don’t realize you don’t know” in the United States Education system: White privilege. With the over-abundance of white instructors in primarily non-white classrooms, “white privilege” often times goes unnoticed, and yet it renders a quiet and insidious disconnect between the instructor and child. Upon being educated about “white privilege,” its existence and reality as an issue is made clear. How can a teacher with so few struggles attached her race expect to know about racial struggles unknown to her personally and, therefore, expect to connect fully with her students?
So, how can instructors nation-wide learn about “white privilege” and get connected to their students? Fortunately, some states are taking initiative! Oregon, following California’s lead, has begun to implement “Courageous Conversations,” an effort to educate teachers about race-related issues in the school system and in the classroom in particular. According to the Portland Tribune’s article on “Courageous Conversations” “Schools beat the drum for equity:”
“Through intensive staff trainings, frequent staff meetings, classroom observations and other initiatives, the premise is that if educators can understand their own “white privilege,” then they can change their teaching practices to boost minority students’ performance.
Food for thought:
How exactly does understanding “white privilege” allow for connection between teachers and students?
Is education n “white privilege” enough or should some other action be taken? What about doing more to hire non-white instructors? Is hiring non-white instructors in and of itself discriminatory?