Valerie Kinloch’s Call for Humanizing Pedagogy

I was honored and fortunate to present at the College of Education (University of South Carolina) with Valerie Kinloch (The Ohio State University), addressing Exploring Educational Equity.

During Kinloch’s sessions, I learned a great deal, and was prompted to think deeper and further about addressing inequity, especially in educational contexts—issues of race, class, and gender.

One of Kinloch’s most powerful messages warned about “putting on and taking off an equity hat”; in other words, addressing equity and diversity must be systemic and collaborative—not a one-shot workshop, course, or simulation.

At the heart of Kinloch’s message, I think, is her call for humanizing pedagogy, which is the cognate for naming, confronting, and replacing dehumanizing pedagogy, policies, and practices.

Since there is overwhelming evidence that the U.S. remains inequitable along race, class, and gender lines, we must also acknowledge that formal schooling reflects and perpetuates those inequities.

For me, the dehumanizing practices and policies in education that disproportionately impact vulnerable populations of students—black and brown students, impoverished students, English language learners, special needs students—include harsh “no excuses” charter schools and discipline policies, high-stakes testing, gatekeeping and tracking of students for challenging courses and programs, overcrowded classes, underfunded schools and programs, and inequitable assignment of experienced and certified teachers.

Dehumanizing practices and policies, for me, are all connected by deficit approaches to teaching, learning, and people.

Kinloch’s call for humanizing pedagogy is an encompassing challenge facing all educators interested in social justice and liberatory education.

This call raises the stakes about “they’re all our children”—regardless of race, class, or gender.

This call raises the stakes about the centrality of culturally relevant pedagogy as the foundational approach to teaching all children for a just and free society.

This call raises the question: Who is asking what of whom, and why?

This call raises the stakes about what it means to be an educator.

Listen, and then act.

For Further Reading

For White Folks Who Teach in the Hood… and the Rest of Y’all Too: Reality Pedagogy and Urban Education, Chris Emdin

If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?, James Baldwin

What These Children Are Like, Ralph Ellison

2 comments

  1. Lloyd Lofthouse

    It’s obvious that the oligarchs – Gates, Koch, Walton, Broad, etc. – and their minions – Brown, Rhee, Duncan, Eva, etc. – think that dehumanizing children is the way they should be raised. Except for their children. If we need evidence to prove that avarice is more powerful than common sense and humanity, this is it, and it explains why the Bible has 100 verses about greed.

    For instance: 1 Timothy 6:9 and 6:10 – “But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into man senseless and harmful desires that plunge people l into ruin and destruction.” and “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.”

    And then of course, there is the Tenth Commandment: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.” The oligarchs and their minions covet control of our children and the wealth and power that will bring them.

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