One of the consistent arguments against progressive legislation, from both some conservatives and some radicals is that you can't legislate changes in attitude, and that changes in attitude will drive better, more equitable practices and policies. Policy alone fails to address inequity, and can create a backlash when it seems to require accommodations or changes that some people perceive to be unnecessary or that threaten people's status or ideas.

I don't get why attitude/policy is an "or" question. I believe that you can both create (and enforce) policies, such as equitable hiring policies, that address injustice and educate and communicate to change attitudes. Furthermore, if you really want anything to change, you need to do both, at the same time. You need to craft policies, such as accessibility policies, or diversity policies, or harassment-free workplace policies, that address inequities. You need to enforce these policies. But you also need to provide the people responsible for enforcement with the training and support they need to understand what the policies are supposed to accomplish and the issues that drove the creation of the policies. In addition, and most importantly, institutional support for the policies and the philosophies driving them needs to come from the top. If the powers in charge of an organization do not fully and intelligently support a policy, then the people responsible for implementing it will, at best, not have access to the resources they need, and at worst, wittingly or unwittingly undermine it. The problem is not whether you should use policy or education to change the status quo. It's how you should use each to reinforce and promote the other. You have to do both.

Over at FWD/Forward, Abby Jean succinctly and intelligently explains why it's not enough to make policies that encode principles based in social justice:

For an easy example, imagine a company with a policy that required that all newly hired employees be informed about their right to workplace accommodations for mental or physical disabilities. The company works with disability rights groups to create a pamphlet outlining who is eligible for accommodations, what potential accommodations may be available, and the procedure for requesting accommodations and documenting a need for them. The disability rights groups make sure all the information is correct, that the pamphlet is available in alternative formats so it’s accessible, and that it emphasizes that accommodations are an employee’s right, rather than a bonus provided by the company. It is, in short, the perfect pamphlet.

Now imagine how much depends on the person who hands that pamphlet to the new employee. Take one scenario: the employee goes through a complete orientation and then is asked to wait in the lobby. When the employee asks why, the receptionist sighs “oh, it’s some stupid thing required by company policy. Just wait.” After 15 minutes, the designated human resources staffer comes out and thrusts the pamphlet at the employee, saying “Here, take this. It’s something I have to give you for policy. You have to sign here to show that I gave it to you.” When the employee asks what the pamphlet is about, the staffer replies “Oh something we have to do for disability, or whatever. Nobody is ever stupid enough to ask for any of these things, believe me.”


Read more... )

Dear Friend, Colleagues, and Fellow-Travellers,

Can we knock it off with the puerile snickering over People of Wal-Mart, already*? Also with the classist Wal-Mart slang—"Walmart children," "Walmart creatures," etc?

I mean, sure, it's really easy to feel superior to a population of largely poor people, many of whom are fat, many of whom may be on social assistance, many of whom do not share our values, fashion sense, or resources. These people aren't like us. So we mock them.

But really? Is there any glory at all in mocking the poor, the dispossessed, the fat, and those who might be in ill-health? Somehow, I'm failing to see the humour.

Cut for ranting. )

I spent some time yesterday thinking about why I was so irked by my student's blithe request for Tuesday night's lecture materials—why I felt compelled to argue my own position, why I feel defensive, why I feel so very annoyed, why I went on and bloody on about it.

My hard-nosed nature and my pushover nature were at war with each other, you see.

And on my right shoulder, my hard-nosed nature argued )
My pushover nature tells me that earning a living is a basic need. I've argued for a long time that schools need to recognize the diversity of student needs and acknowledge the reality of student experiences. If we accommodate only a specific group of people—say people who don't need to work, or people who can work from 9–5, then we're excluding other students who might otherwise benefit from what we're offering. So, If I were really committed to a diverse group of students, I'd be working harder to make sure that I was accommodating them—after all, they're the ones paying the fees that make it possible for the college to hire me. And it's not like my student was off frivolling. She was working. So maybe I need to put my time-is-money where my mouth has been all this time.

Not everyone is privileged enough to have a job they can leave in order to go to class. And it's not her fault that I'm not organized enough to have typed notes for this lesson, to have powerpoints,* to do what some other instructors do. I shouldn't penalize her for that.

On the other tentacle, the offhand tone still bugged me, and I do feel that she's not living up to her end of the bargain.

So I e-mailed her back:

And, of course, part of my anger came from feeling defensive about the one lesson per semester that I teach mostly off the cuff. I should be more organized than that.

* I really, really hate making powerpoint presentations. I hate teaching from slides—irrationally, perhaps. In part, I don't like being tied to my plan—some of my best teaching moments come from taking advantage of teachable moments. In part, because fumbling from presentation software to the big-ass full-spread pdfs I project is cumbersome. In part, because my classroom is annoyingly set up, and I don't like being tied to the desk with the pc. In part because slide presentations are inherently one directional, and my teaching style is more interactive than that. And in part because I am old-fashioned and curmudgeonly.


zingerella: Capital letter "Z" decorated with twining blue and purple vegetation (Default)


RSS Atom
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags