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Examining UBC anti-racist pedagogy as it pertains to First Nations curricular content : caring for the vulnerable student Avraham, Chavah S.

Abstract

Existing research on institutional racism focuses on identifying the problem, not on responses to it. The purpose of this research is to determine what is being done by instructors at the University of British Columbia to respond to racism embedded in the curriculum. Interviews were conducted with ten instructors in the Faculty of Arts undergraduate program in the Departments of Anthropology & Sociology, History, and the First Nations Studies Program. The study inquires into the techniques developed to respond to embedded racism and how both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students are prepared to read and deconstruct these materials. The participants were selected based on their reputations as excellent educators who are proactive in dealing with equity issues. The data indicates that instructors use anti-racist pedagogical techniques, specifically: creating a safe classroom environment where all students feel comfortable participating and challenging the content; using "self as the subject to connect concepts with lived experience and normalize those experiences without placing students in the position of representing their group; employing First Nations voice in the form of guest speakers, scholarly materials, and when appropriate, the students themselves; using a historical perspective in order to connect present day attitudes, policies and contexts with their roots in the past and to illuminate the intersections of events from past to present with social inequality and racism; teaching from a First Nations perspective or explaining it in comparison to Western perspective to legitimate Aboriginal ways of knowing and provide non-Aboriginal students with a fresh point of view. It was also determined that excellent teaching is not adequately rewarded, discouraging educators from taking the risks that are inherent in adopting new approaches and anti-racist pedagogical techniques.

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