Exploring Anti-Oppressive Practices through Inclusive Pedagogy

I’ve been grappling with two questions about the institution of education that I used to frame my workshop: 1) How can an understanding of anti-oppressive practice shed light on how education systems preserve and reproduce racial inequities? And 2) How are we as educators implicated in the preservation and reproduction of racial inequities?

We know that historically underserved and underrepresented groups have been, and continue to be, denied full access to quality education. Though some progress has been made, the impact of exclusion is still felt today through admissions, Eurocentric curriculums, classroom management, pedagogical approaches and pathways.

By virtue of being a part of the institution of education, we are implicated in upholding and maintaining an inequitable system that has negatively impacted, for example, Indigenous and Black communities.

If we understand oppression to be what happens when an individual or social group is denied full access and potential in society, then anti-oppressive practices aim to recognize the oppression that exists in our society and attempt to mitigate its effects. An anti-oppressive framework helps us to understand our social world and the complexity of the experience of oppression based on people’s identities and social positions.

Our identities are in fact complex; they are not singular. Intersectionality, a term coined by Kimberle Crenshaw, explains how identity cannot be understood fully through a single lens. Our identities overlap and it is important to consider this when taking an anti-oppressive approach to our teaching practice.

What does this mean for education? How might an anti-oppressive approach to our teaching practice and pedagogy help transform (resist, disrupt, dismantle, rebuild) the institution of education?

One strategy we can consider is the practice of inclusive pedagogy, a student-centered and equity-focused approach to teaching. Inclusive pedagogy considers how curriculum, course design, teaching practice, and assessment can create learning experiences where students feel that who they are is valued, respected and protected. It also creates equitable access to learning and educational opportunities.

The goal in creating anti-oppressive learning spaces through inclusive pedagogy is for learners to be supported in actualizing their full potential and creating environments where everyone can flourish.

Let us all do our part.

Submitted by Maurice Riley Case, who presented their workshop An introduction to Inclusive and anti-racist pedagogies in post-secondary education at Dawson on Sept. 16 as part of Peace Week. Maurice is an Instructional Designer with Concordia’s Centre for Teaching and Learning, focusing on Inclusive Pedagogies. Maurice spent 12 years as an educator, and three years as the Instructional Coordinator for Black Student Flourishing at the Peel District School Board (PDSB) in Ontario. Maurice’s approach is student-centred considering the ways in which classroom environments, curricula and assessments reflect experiential knowledge, access to education, justice, and collective action. 

Last Modified: September 21, 2022