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Faculty Questions, Strategies, + Steps to Get Started

Last updated on Aug 24, 2020

Questions to ask BEFORE you begin

Decolonizing curriculum is a process.

The first step

  • A personal commitment to political change. To deny then racial nature of politics (and power)--both inside of and surrounding the classroom/studio--is to perpetuate the inequities created by colonization

Questions to begin the process no matter what field or subject

  • What principles, norms, values and worldviews inform your selection of knowledge for your curriculum?
  • Do you articulate your own social and intellectual position when you teach?
  • Who are you designing the curriculum for? Who is your ideal, imagined student and what assumptions are you making about their backgrounds, cultures, languages, and education?
  • Does your curriculum reflect its location here in the Bay (Oakland or SF and to what extent does it draw on marginalized histories, voices, and languages?
  • How does your teaching recognize and affirm the agency of Indigenous and marginalized and first-generation students?
  • Can you speak indigenous or regional languages and relate to the cultures and lived experiences of all students? Do you draw on these valuable resources in your teaching?
  • How does your curriculum level the playing field by requiring traditional/white -identified students to acquire the intellectual and cultural resources to function effectively in a global society?
  • How do you build community in the classroom where students learn actively from each other and draw on their own sources?
  • How do your assumptions about curriculum knowledge play out in the way you assess students? What can you do to make your assessment practices more fair and valid for all students, without inducing high levels of anxiety? What assessment methods could show what all students are capable of, drawing on their and promoting their agency and creativity?
  • How far do your teaching and assessment methods allow students to feel included without assuming assimilation?

Concrete steps

Specific Strategies

  • Co-Create Community standards with your students
  • Diversify your syllabus and curriculum--DO NOT SPRINKLE, MAKE THESE VOICES DOMINANT
  • Digress from the canon
  • Decenter knowledge and knowledge production
  • Devalue hierarchies
  • Disinvest from citational power structures
  • Diminish some voices and opinions during meetings/discussions, while magnifying other

What else can I do?

  • Acknowledge your role as a professor has been historically problematic: for example, if you teach English and writing, understand you are inherently complicit with forces that damage marginalized students
    • Further, by consistently promoting notions of a standard, correct and preferred language, you are perpetuating colonization, ensuring that future students will suffer the same marginalization
  • See yourself, your curriculum, your content and your classroom as existing within a historical context of racism, subjugation, and control
  • Become an accomplice, not an ally or spectator
  • See and address the trauma that colonization, poverty, sexism, racism, homophobia, eco-cide and other forms of oppression can and do cause for marginalized students
  • If in a hiring position - Hire faculty from Indigenous and marginalized communities in permanent positions
  • Hire the faculty that challenge you and then listen to them
  • Be inter/multi/anti -disciplinary --look and think beyond your canon
  • Design classes that have a “?” at the end of the title.
  • Make physical and intellectual space for Indigenous and marginalized students
  • Take the extra time with those students to help them learn to read, write, create and design like “Power”. Teach them ways to operate in this oppressive world.
  • Take the extra time to learn how these students think, read, write and create. Learn from them the ways we see and seek to change this oppressive world.
  • Respect their refusal to write and create like you, even after you train them well to write and create like you