EDU 6526 Strategies
Session 10- Making Discomfort Productive & Equity
How can a learner be made comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time?
The idea of being uncomfortable and comfortable at the same time seems slightly confusing and paradoxical, however, it is exactly what a classroom should offer a learner at times; to enable the learner to grow and expand their ideology. “… [R]eal growth often requires us to make our learners uncomfortable, and we have to help them deal with unfamiliar situations that we must create for them.” (p. 392). One way to do this is to present the learner with an uncomfortable situation in a comfortable environment. First, the classroom must be set up to appreciate and accept the individuality and diversity of each thinker/learner. There must be trust between the teacher and the learner as well as amongst the students in the learning community. As teachers we must encourage learners to overcome a certain level of fear to order to learn to think critically. “To grow, learners have to acknowledge discomfort and set tasks to help break the barriers of fear.” (p. 393). Secondly, learners, when given the choice may take the path of least resistance, but to truly develop their cognitive skills they must be challenged to explore their discomfort. “If the comfort of any given level of development is not challenged, the learner may happily forgo the important leaps in cognitive structure.” (p.393). If teachers do not challenge learners, do leaners miss the point? Learners, if not challenged can become comfortable with their knowledge. It is important then as teachers to encourage learners to question knowledge and information, critically, so that our students may form opinions that relate to their individuality. There is a caution, though, not to push the learner too hard, students should be “…challenged but not overwhelmed.” (p. 394). Lastly, it is paramount for the teacher to be flexible while learners work through their discomfort and ultimate discovery. By challenging learners to expand their minds and open their hearts to accept the individuality of his or her peers, original discomfort becomes a comfortable process of discovery.
How can you minimize inequity in your own classroom?
As noted in the previous question, environment is a very important aspect for allowing every student to feel a sense of comfort in a classroom. I hope to build a classroom environment that is respectful, honest, and accepting of each individual student’s skills, feelings, personality, ideology, and uniqueness regardless of race, ethnicity, culture, gender, SES… etc. I plan to set the tone of my teaching and classroom atmosphere by: establishing clear expectations of classroom environment and student’s behavior, through continuous modeling of appropriate and acceptable behavior, and laying the foundation for all future class meetings. I hope to develop an environment where the class is able to openly discuss opportunities, challenges and positive behaviors. Additionally, by incorporating a variety of strategies in the classroom I hope to reach students on a diverse academic educational field. “Models of teaching are blind to color, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status. The social system is not, but must be made so within the province of our education system.” (p. 419).
What can be done in your classroom to reduce the effects of poverty on academic achievement?
To reduce the effect of poverty on academic achievement in a classroom, it must first be understood that low SES does not equate to low academic achievement or ability. “[T]he condition of low achievement has existed so long that the children of poverty are stereotyped as inherently poor learners. And the students tend to stereotype themselves and generate self-handicapping syndromes; essentially, they may give up the fight.” (p. 410). I hope to positively acknowledge at a young age (elementary level) the unique and promising characteristics in every learner no matter what his or her SES may be. I will first learn about the students both socially and academically, and not prescribing to the idea that curriculum needs to be made easier or less rigorous as a way to address a student from a low SES environment. Quite the contrary I plan to use, “…challenging instructional strategies to improve the learning capacity…”(p.410) for each and every one of my students. I realize that this is no small feat. This type of classroom takes effort on the part of both teacher and the learners. It is through continued education, battling ignorance and building of knowledge for all those involved in a learner’s world that a reduction of the effects of poverty on academics can be seen. Again, as I have suggested in the previous questions, environment is the key. Establishing an environment that allows for social, emotional, and academic growth while nurturing the individual learners talents, skills, and challenges, that is what I feel would be the idea environment for all learners no matter what their SES.
Joyce, B Weil, M., (1996). Models of Teaching (5th Edition). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon