Teaching Privilege in the Class

This post originally appeared on Brady’s Teaching Blog.

Teaching privilege in class is important to me. It’s a truth. Further, I’m the poster boy for privilege. Honestly, I’m white, male, middle class, able-bodied, straight, all the concepts that encompass privilege. I have visions of me teaching about privilege in my classroom. Sometimes, though, I wonder how the composition of my classroom will respond to teaching about privilege.

I think that teaching white kids about privilege is going to be difficult, but not impossible. I think that students of minority will not have to be taught about privilege at all. The problem is, my classroom is going to be a tapestry of students, and each one will have a different outlook on privilege. Some will be victims of it, and some will be beneficiaries. In this classroom climate, how will I be able to teach privilege in a way that lets my white students see how they are privileged without minority students having to hear about privilege while they live without it every day? It just seems like a weird scenario that could be difficult. I think that white students need to have different conversations than the conversations that minority students need to have.

This is an anxiety I experience very often. While I’m happy that my classroom is likely to be a microcosm of the diversity in Canada, it’s going to be extremely difficult to make lessons and have conversations that any student can benefit from in their own way. How can I differentiate content regarding privilege in such a complex way? Further, what tension will I create between my students as I talk about privilege? Will my white students resent my minority students for my challenge of their white privilege? Will my minority students resent my white students for not immediately embracing what their privilege affords them? Do youth even care?!

I’m going to end this blog post before I rant further… These are just the things I’ve been thinking about lately!

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