Yet critical social iustice education dmands a ditrerent level of engagement

Yet critical social iustice education dmands a

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Yet critical social iustice education d€mands a ditrerent level of engagement than studenls may have been prepared for in their previous schooling. 'Ile second challenge we fa€e is thal many students see the content in the social sciences as toft" and therefore rrriecrive. On the oiher hand, Astronomy is seen as "hard" and therefore orjective. ]lus students are unlikely to argue wirh As, tronomy findings until they have some mastery in the n€ld. They are more likely to focus oo gaininga basic understanding ofthe wrious theories and not on whether they agree or disagre€ with those theories. lf they perform poorly on tests, thcy mighl fe€l frustrated with the professor for being too hard," but still recognize their own lack of knowledg€ as the primary cause ofthe poor grade. Yet in the study ofsocinl po\aer,lhe behavior ofour imaginaryastronomy stud€nt is not un, common. And, unli'rlonaicly, he ir often taker seriously by other students-even
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tba seen as a kind of hero for "spenkiDg up ro" the professor. Because stu.lents oftefl dont see the study ofsocial power as a form of s.iefl.e, they feel entitled to put tt on a par with theirown opinions and dismiss ir. Inacademia, oneiJ arguments musr stand up ro scrutiny by peers who are spe. cialists in the field. This process is called peer rerre\ and it is the cornerston; of how academic clainN areevaluated. fte majority ofthe academic s.holarship used in critical social iustice courses has undergonepeer review. Ihese worlc aretaken up byotllers in the 6e1d lyho re6ne, add to, cha enge, and enhance the arguments, 'rhis scholarship n published only when other scholars who have expertise in th. topic have found the content and claims to be credible aDd retevant to advancirg knowledge in the 6eld. Students (especia y those in introductory criticat social iuruce."uhe., J,e \eldom in d posrrrnD lo diiSree wirh rhe.ch;tdh lhey rerd. Ahhough some studenrs may bring important firsthand experiences to the issues Gu.h s being a member ofa parricular minoritized group under study), rhey too can benefit from grapplingwith lhe theoretical framework before debating it. For the novice reader, grapplingwith the conceprsjs the first requirement. To facilitate doing so, practice the following: Read theassigned mateiial ctosely and carefully. Use a dictionary and look up newwo.ds. Ac€ept that you may need to read allorpart ofthe material more than once. Ifthere are concepts you dont understand, raisethem in class. Strive to make connections toprevious ideas and concepts alreadystudied in the Focus on understanding rather than agreemeDt. Consider whether..I disagree" may actually mean "I donl understandl and ifso, work on understanding. Remember und€rstanding a concept does not require you Practice posing questions. Because mosr ofus have been socialized to care more about getting the answers right, we may not have developed the skills required for posing questions. Fearing that asking questions might reveal that we don t know the answers, we may make botd statem€nrs that lack intellectual humility.
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  • Spring '17
  • TomMcCollow

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