Once I saw a question on ZhiHu (a Chinese website, similar to Quora), “How much will poverty affect people’s mind and body?” There are over 9 thousands of answers and most of them have over thousands of upvotes. I read most of the answers and fell into musings. Poverty is crucially related to inequality, minority, and diversity – those topics that are of great importance in the context of education. Move from the ZhiHu question that I put up in front, today I want to discuss how I come up with my inclusive pedagogy in a seemingly implicit point of view through the poverty question.
There are many reasons that can lead to poverty. One possible reason is that one is born with poverty. In other words, one is born in a poor family. Because of the “disadvantage”, this person may unconsciously develop his/her outlook on the world, life, and values that are inevitably tied up with money. There never exists equality. If you understand why people want to immigrate to Western countries or North America countries from middle east countries or African countries, you may understand inequality somehow. Inequality is the fundamental reason for poverty in that there is no alternative choice where one can choose to be born in a rich or poor family. Due to this irresistible inequality, one may suffer from poverty in all cases of life. Such as education, which is naturally lean to those who are not restricted by poverty. The fact is, however, how can education be so unfairly distributed to treat these poor people just because there is no choice left for them besides poverty? Do they deserve the poor education, poor teachers, or poor facilities?
According to the most recent estimates, in 2013, 10.7 percent of the world’s population lived on less than US$1.90 a day (World Bank). By comparison, we may call these 10.7 percent of the world’s population minority, those who may rarely meet their daily subsistence. This “poor” minority is mainly measured by income (or consumption). They may live in a different way as most of them are concerned about being alive instead of being living. Think about other minority that defined by race, color, religion, ethnicity, gender identity, sex orientation, etc. They all be possible to live in a so-called “absurd” way (in the perspective of the majority) as they just take great care of their meaningful way of living. Do they deserve the vicious abuse, the weird scan-looking, the cruel denial?
The existence of poverty and minority is one proof of diversity. We can’t ignore diversity, and we actually never ignore it. As is pointed out in Shankar Vedantam’s book, besides the conscious conversation, we sometimes are heavily dominated by our unconscious mind of thinking. We tend to define people by their appearances even though we are reluctant to admit it. We tend to underrate the minority population even though we may not realize it at all. We tend to express that we love diversity even though we, in fact, disrespect its existence. We unconsciously show our priority when facing those who are in poverty, defined as minority, or just merely different from the universal definition. We unconsciously put them in pain. However, do they deserve the pain?
Do we really care about poverty, minority, and diversity? Do we really take them into consideration when we talk about education? Yes, we do. However, care and consideration are not even close to enough. Pain is still there for them. What we need to do is to invite them to expose it, to examine it, and then to really heal it. We can’t just discuss inclusive pedagogy within the majorities. We should hear from their voices and let them express their concerns. We should bring the contradictory arguments to the table so that we can understand the underlying rationale. We should nurture and express our inclusive attitude in a sincere way that all of us truly believe in (consciously and unconsciously). We should understand that inclusive pedagogy is a collaborative effort of everyone.
Shankar Vedantam. How ‘The Hidden Brain’ Does The Thinking For Us
Katherine W. Phillips. How Diversity Makes Us Smarter
Brian Arao and Kristi Clemens. From Safe Places to Brave Spaces
Brittany Ford. Cyberbullying must be prevented at its roots