Pretty easy one this week – inclusion!
Well, of course not. First off, what does equitably mean?
Most of us are familiar with the meme showing three kids looking over a ballpark fence. In the first frame, titled equality, the three are each standing on one milk crate, so the tall kid has a great view, the middle-height kid has a decent view, and the short kid can’t see anything but a fence board.
In the second frame, titled equity, the tall kid has given his milk crate to the short one, who can now see over the fence like the other two. The point, of course, is that giving everyone the same accommodation (or curriculum or lesson) might be equal treatment, but it won’t lead to the positive results we hope for. The already-blessed (with height – or privilege, or money) will be even more so blessed. Those who lack that privilege will fall further behind. Such a situation isn’t equitable.
(A quick aside: there are literally dozens of articles about why the drawing is problematic – here’s one that makes me think a lot. But one thing is certain: it does get us thinking.)
What are the Milk Crates?
As informal educators, what are the milk crates – the supports that some need – that we provide for our learners? Here are a few ideas:
- Provide points of cultural connection, especially for those whose communities have been failed by past educators.
A great example of this strategy was described by the Exploratorium educators on the podcast – they celebrate community events like Trans Day of Inclusion and Día de los Muertos to make sure that everyone knows that everyone belongs at the museum. The ’everyone’ is critical – inclusion isn’t some sort of handout to members of under-served groups, but an absolutely essential part of the learning environment. Without everyone, we all lose out.
Use multiple modes of communication with approachable strategies like reflective dialogue. Art, storytelling, non-Western ways of knowing – these should all be part of a good, inclusive informal education program.
Pay attention to areas of friction between your subject matter and your learners – all your learners, as individuals and members of many intersecting communities. What makes your presentation hard for some students to take in? Work to smooth over those difficult areas and your program will already be a more inclusive one.
There are probably a lot more milk crates that we informal educators can make use of – if you’ve got some ideas, put them in the comments!