EN TOUTE EGALITE
Produced and directed by Deborah d'Entremont
Produced and directed by Deborah d'Entremont
Volume 21 Number 4
In recent years considerable attention has been focused on some major social problems, and rightly so, for a truly democratic society must pay more than simple lip service to those principles on which it is built - equality and justice for all regardless of colour, creed, national origin and gender, for example.
The Office on the Status of Women, Concordia University, with input from a number of sources, has put together an excellent workshop manual and video combination entitled Inequity in the Classroom for professors and adult educators in the university/college/adult education setting, with the expressed objective of making these professionals aware of the racial and sexual bias often present in the classroom. Too often female and minority students are disadvantaged by the educational system.
The manual is divided into four parts: workshop, fact sheets, annotated bibliography, and selected bibliography. In the workshop section is a detailed description of the basic training session, exercises, reading material and questionnaires. The workshop was designed as a full-day program, but each of the sections - discrimination in classroom interaction, its consequences, ways to counter it - can be given separately in either two- or three-hour sessions. Each component of the workshop is clearly, directly, simply outlined with titles, equipment requirements, time references. Objectives are shaded on the page, making them stand out - a constant reminder to the particular emphasis. Included in the appendices are a self-appraisal questionnaire, which includes basic key questions and opportunities for comment, an activity, "What About Me?," sketches on alternatives, and alternative teaching methods.
The second component of the manual is a collection of fifteen pages of fact sheets, which focus on sexism, ethnocultural discrimination and racism, heterosexism, stereotypes, and discrimination in non-verbal behaviour, language and curriculum. Each of the fact sheets includes a definition, examples, data, consequences and alternatives.
Of particular interest is an excellent bibliography of 31 selected sources, each with a substantial summary and a breakdown of "themes" - contribution, strengths, weaknesses and appreciation. Such a thoughtful and critical organization provides a quick reference for anyone looking for material on the "Inequity in the Classroom" theme. The annotated bibliography is followed by another 26 pages of selected bibliography, a listing of sources under the headings "Discriminatory Classroom Interaction," "Stereotypes," "Discriminatory Nonverbal Behaviour," "Language," " and "Discrimination in the Curriculum." Over 250 titles in French and English are cited.
The video component of this package explores the same important themes; its emphasis, too, is on eliminating from the classroom sexist and racist bias whether in the professor's body language, classroom behaviour or teaching vocabulary.
Female students are interviewed, classroom situations are re-created, and reasoned analysis is offered: specialists from the American University, Washington, D.C., Concordia and Queen's universities and OISE, Toronto, among others, comment on the need to liberate the classroom so that inequity does disappear and every student has a full opportunity to question, to grow, to develop a sense of achievement.
Problems particular to female and minority students are presented and discussed. Solutions are offered. Professors, it is suggested, must not hide under the mantle of "academic freedom," which traditionally has been used to support the status quo, never to support issues for women. "Education is not a spectator sport"; to eliminate racial and sexual bias demands the full participation of the teacher or professor.
The technical quality is acceptable, the images are focused and the sound is clear. A French-language edition of both the manual and the video is available under the title En toute egalite.
Recommended for teachers/professors at post-secondary institutions and adult educators.
Paul Harrison teaches history at John F. Ross Collegiate and Vocational Institute in Guelph, Ontario.
1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995
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