Arron J. Hahn Tapper in his article A pedagogy of social justice education: social identity, theory and intersectionality’
(work in progress)
Reading this text my initial thoughts was how this article from Conflict Resolution Quarterly related to race. Tapper’s article exampled theories and practice that are centred on the conflict between Palestinians and Jews and ways in education that can address this issue. Reading deeper and focusing on the concepts of conflict resolution and social justice I considered how this applies to the framework of teaching and learning within Art and Design education and issues surrounding race. Tapper’s paper is to explore theoretical and practical understanding of social justice through conflict transformation programs that aims to transform negative destructive conflict to positive constructive conflict.
Tapper first mentions that in the field of conflict resolution practitioners and theoreticians in that field are regularly using the term Social Justice Education however are not putting it into practice. Their focus is in intergroup work. I make connections and my understanding of this is that there is a focus on working with different racial groups however lack the element of embedding social justice within their models.
‘Some argue that without integrating elements of social justice education into models aimed at reducing, managing and resolving conflict between groups, programs will fail.’
Therefore failing to recognise and address issues of inequality amongst marginalised groups. Social justice education is the aim of this unit and what we are trying to achieve.
The core pillars of a Pedagogy of social justice education I can relate to through my studies on this Inclusive Teaching and Learning unit, we have covered the three educational pillars which Tapper highlights his focus. Likewise, we have looked at Freiren notions of social justice and elements where teachers can enforce their position of power to fill the minds of students rather the recepricol approach to facilitating and sharing knowledge and practice.
Therefore, Tapper’s references to Freirean concepts within the article only confirms my understanding of the importance challenging the status quo. Thereby application of interventions to address the imbalance in this case the lack of diversity within the higher education sector in the UK and focusing on UAL in particular.
I found the social identity aspect a really important factor to a Pedagogy of Social Justice Education. The conflict to be addressed in the case relating to intergroup education is one of race and racism within spaces of the university setting. Recounting Tapper’s discussion on Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (2006) everyone one in the classroom are not from the same starting point in terms of social status and identity. This I am aware. I consider to share of my own identity and through discussing my practice.
I think it’s absolutely imperative that student’s identities need to be taken into account in all educational settings. With this the teacher and students can learn about and from each other. A small example is teaching the First Year BA students starting with the theme of their identity. Students were placed into groups where they would not normally appear thus separated for their normal friendship groups. Within these groups students discussed and shared keywords relating to their identity. Students found that they had discovered something new and commonalties that they would not have known otherwise or taken the time to learn before. Moving on from this to work in groups to discuss and present their collective response to Marginalisation. The groups began to reflect on their own identities and their position in the world as well as engage in habitual, critical reflection (Tapper, 2013). This encouraged critical thinking out of the of the bubble of the classroom and to think of the bigger picture; understanding what goes on the world around them and how they might intergrate and inform concepts within their own practice. Ultimatley empowering students to become free thinkers and action makers for social justice.
Within the Banking System of power and oppression it is a concern how much a teacher’s identity and social status can potentially be (an actuality in many cases) a cause of conflict through their own ignorance and sheer failure to consider their students. Freire describes how such behaviour can be unintentional however none the less damaging:
Those who use the banking approach, knowingly or unknowingly (for there are innumerable well-intentioned bank-clerk teachers who do not realize that they are serving only to dehumanize).
The subconscious bias leads to the projection of their own and often eurocentric ideals and teaching methods handed down from their own educational traditional and predominately white experiences. Therefore this banking system of power plays out in the teachers choice of planning a curriculum, delivery of lessons that are neither inclusive or diverse where crits and assessments can be a platform for some teachers to wield their power of oppression. In my experience of secondary school teaching I have witnessed this. Teachers not making fair assessments on the attainment levels along the trajectory path towards GCSE two tier paper entry levels.
However this conflict does not soley arise from teacher to student but how all students interact with one another respectfully and in the space of the classroom environment how that its managed by the teacher. Thus the importance for a teacher to create a safe space for students to freely be able to share knowledge of their own identities to become critical co-instigators with the teacher (Freire, 2006) and respectfully learn and understand their peers.
Tapper’s discussion on Social Identity Theory section and intregroup encounters, seem to be just theories. Theories and concepts often emerge in the merry-go-round in education that encounter areas of social justice. Contact Hypothesis reminds me of a recent time when restorative justice similarly taken from criminal law system to resolve issues of conflict within the classroom. As a standalone belief without putting into practice and risk being unchallenged. In practice is to embed inclusive teaching and learning pedagogy can challenge issues surrounding certain conflicts by making a safe space for shared narratives and reflection for mutual understanding.