Chapter 1 Questions

1. Select one or two quotes that seemed to stand out to you, make you uncomfortable, etc. Read them aloud to your group members. Comment on why you chose to highlight it… what does it mean for you?

Story of the planets was very eye opening to me! I found it interesting that although I may not consciously think that social issues are less legitimate in study and fact than sciences I might have previously believed that opinion and academics were more closely related. As this chapter mentioned, opinion has only a small place in the academic world and facts should go through the peer review process before anyone sees them as legitimate.

2. Under the sub-title “An Open Letter to Students”, a list of thought patterns is provided. Identify the ones that you feel you have heard yourself thinking/saying before. How do these hint at “common sense truth” (normative narratives)?

I found myself knowing that I have said some of these things, sometimes with a twist (but doing it all the same).

  People should be judged based on what they do

  • Our generation is more open minded
  • It’s focusing on our differences that divides us
  • Women are just as sexist as men

These “common sense truths” hint at the idea that I come from a privileged world view where I don’t see discrimination as a person of most majority. When I say these things to myself, it means I am not thinking critically and I believe the myth of meritocracy. Seeing these questions posed reminds me that I need to always look further into the ideas that I believe to be true. 

3. Make a list of terminology that is new for you, that you are confused by, and/or that seems important; Attempt to explain them in your own words.

  • Socialization
  • Platitude
  • Positionally

4. They offer some guidelines:

What is willful ignorance? What are some things you might try to do to practice humility throughout this course? (In Guideline #1)

Willful ignorance I see as a simple knowledge of another person’s worldview that you do not seek to explore and assume another group of knowledge has no problems. I will practice humility through admitting I do not know everything, and will not speak for others.

How might expressing your opinion be problematic? How might offering your opinion be useful? (In Guideline #2)

My opinion could be problematic because I would believe my opinion to be a truth, where my opinion is only my lived truth. My opinion could be useful however to help others see my point of view. And listening to other’s opinions can help me expand my point of view as well as knowing how my classmates feel about social justice related issues.

Examine Patterns (Guideline #3): If anecdotes are not universal, and are always from a particular perspective, then what role could self-story have in this work?

I don’t believe anecdotes should be used as evidence as they are not universal. Anecdotal evidence remains to be important for everyone’s self story, but does not indicate a universal truth. This is the role of self-story telling, and recounting an individual’s experiences.

Notice reactions / responses (In Guideline #4): The realization that participation in systems of inequality isn’t only done by “bad” people often leads to feelings of guilt, resistance, defensiveness, shame, grief, confusion, hopelessness, etc. What can be done with these uncomfortable or unsettling reactions?

Perhaps thinking about the viewpoints of people involved in these systems of inequality can bring a humanness back to them. I do not believe my grandparents are “bad” people although they participated in the systematic removal of my adopted uncle from his Indigenous home at the age of three without ever mentioning his culture and punishing him for his FASD. My grandparents truly believed they were saving this child and nobody even knew what fetal alcohol syndrome existed.

What is meant by ‘positionality’ or social positions (In Guideline #5)? In what ways is naming one’s social positions useful? How is knowledge ‘socially constructed’?

If I know where I stand in society, then I can recognize my privilege or what I am discriminated against for. If I know my positionally in society then I can assess another person and might be able to see their roadblocks more easily. Knowledge is socially constructed by our lived experiences and the majority voice indicating whose story is told in classrooms.

5. Make reference to their discussion of grading in order to challenge at least one of your expectations / concerns related to ‘being graded’. How might one begin to let go of an attachment to grades?

Grades are such a big deal to me! I will have trouble letting go of the idea of grades, however teachers don’t receive a letter or numerical grade based on their teaching, only their understanding.

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