I’ve been reading a book called “Enhancing Adult Motivation to learn: A Comprehensive Guide for Teaching All Adults” by an author named Raymond J. Wlodkowski. He explains that sometimes in educational settings teachers are “not mean-spirited but, more likely, unaware that a perspective is missing, that a biased myth has been perpetuated, or that [they] aren’t covering topics of concern to certain adults” (Wlodkowski 2008, 125). Have you ever experienced this in an educational setting?
Unfortunately, I can recall many situations in which I felt uncomfortable, excluded, or singled out in an educational environment. I remember during my last year of undergraduate school, one of my professors made the assumption that I was Mexican based on my appearance, and consistently asked me to explain my perspective on Mexican family values to the class. That year another teacher looked around our classroom and said, “I see that there are no African American students in here so I’m going to give my perspective on their point-of-view” when the reality was (and is) that I am half African-American, but unfortunately neither teacher bothered to ask. Then there was the time in freshman year of high school when my English teacher allowed each student to pick their own book for the final project but because I was the only minority student, took away my choice and required me to read “The Color Purple”. Although it’s a great book, the fact that I was forced to read it, made me feel singled out and excluded.
Were these occurrences the worst thing I could have experienced? No, but these incidents, and ones similar to it sometimes discouraged me from participating in classroom activities because it felt like no effort was being made to understand my perspective. This, I’m sure has at times resulted in me taking less away from certain classes because “our motivation is constantly influenced by our acute awareness of our degree of inclusion in a learning environment” (Wlodkowski 2008, 126). In other words, we as human beings need to feel a sense of community and to feel supported in our learning environment in order to do our best.