How can we teach with empathy, equity and justice in mind?
For too many years, instructors have left it up to somebody else to talk about the overt and systemic inequities facing historically excluded people. Now, every teacher is encouraged to face a powerful reckoning in higher education. “LACE, or Love, Authenticity, Courage, and Empathy, is a model for connecting people with values to bring about change. With LACE, change is not a checklist or a plan, but a lifestyle. By connecting the head with the heart, anti-racism and other forms of anti-oppression become who we are, not simply the work that we do” (Alex-Assensoh, 2020). Here are some examples:
- Love: Slow down. Rather than focusing on getting through the curriculum, identify the truly crucial information and focus on creating passion and interest; using the classroom as the context, invite students to select a relevant area to build courage and commit to using the term to build muscle.
- Authenticity: Structure ways for students to explain new information to one another, using examples from their own lives and experiences.
- Courage is contagious. Model it by daring to show up differently, assess differently, or engage differently with students.
- Empathy: Assign everyone in class a partner to interact with weekly via phone or text to talk about how the course material is resonating with their lived experiences; reflect on what you need to understand about the world today that the diverse students in your class are facing: Students with no internet or computers. Students living in abusive contexts and functioning with different levels of ability. Students for whom food and shelter are a daily struggle.
How can we include students as partners?
When faculty invite student partnerships, relationships are re-defined, with both students AND teachers becoming teachers and learners. The biggest difference is that everyone contributes on an equal footing, though not necessarily in the same ways. This effects student-teacher and student-institution relationships, as students gain voice. Faculty and students see each other as peers, as people who can meaningfully contribute to the process of teaching and learning.
Student partnerships may fall into one of four categories:
- Learning, teaching, and assessment (active participants in their own learning)
- Consultation on pedagogical and curriculum design
- Subject-based research & inquiry
- Teaching and learning based research and inquiry (SOTL)
(Healey, Flint, and Harrington, 2014; Mercer-Mapstone et al., 2017; Cook-Sather, Bovill & Felton, 2014).
Alex‐Assensoh, Y. M. (2021, February). Using Neuroscience and Positive Psychology to Enhance College Teaching and Learning. In The National Teaching & Learning Forum (Vol. 30, No. 2, pp. 1-3).
Cook-Sather, A., Bovill, C., & Felten, P. (2014). Engaging students as partners in learning and teaching: a guide for faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Mercer-Mapstone, L., Dvorakova, S. L., Matthews, K. E., Abbot, S., Cheng, B., Felten, P., and Swaim, K. (2017). A systematic literature review of students as partners in higher education. International Journal for Students as Partners,1(1). doi:10.15173/ijsap.v1i1.3119.
University of Oregon Division of Equity and Inclusion. L.A.C.E. Framework. Retrieved December 10, 2021.