Safe is a Place
On Coming Closer in a Classroom
Abstract — The intimate exchange of the ways we feel, think and act when we come together in a room, are things we could be more aware of and work with, if we want to change the milieu of our educational environment. We should question for whom the academy is a place that feels safe and open and for whom it still isn’t.
In each class there are more and more people who feel that their history and stories are missing, that they don’t have a say in what is taught, and of course they have started to speak out. Issues of ethnicity or colour, but also class, gender and sexual preference, all play a role in our lives and thus in our learning and making. The diversity of cultural and personal backgrounds means something for the way we talk, listen and work, so how can we share power, knowledge and experiences in order to be more than just a diverse group of students and teachers operating in the same old ‘colonial’ system?
The classroom should be a place where all students feel included and safe to share their story, experiences, and to discuss problematic aspects of given power relations or hidden practices of exclusion. Such a space should be provided by an academy, if we want everyone to have a part in what is taught, how and to whom, and to participate in the process of learning.
Referring to bell hooks, Frank Tuitt, Philomena Essed, Audre Lorde, Claudia Rankine and some other authors, ideas about difference are connected to the question of agency, aiming at a more inclusive perspective on the educational practice as a collective practice of freedom and possibilities.