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Inclusiveness September 6, 2007

Posted by amybeth in School.

Yesterday I went to a workshop for TAs (teaching assistants) on ‘The Inclusive Classroom’. From the description (interpreted through the lens of my own interest background), I assumed that that we were going to be taught how to work with diversity in the classroom, particularly in terms of helping the various cultures that come to McMaster learn the material and excel as much as their peers.

That’s not what it was about at all. It had nothing to do with learning, perse, but with eliminating discrimination, making everyone feel welcome regardless of race, gender, disability or sexual orientation. While I am strongly against racism or discrimination of any kind and believe that we should definitely confront such when we find it, encouraging, instead, a fundamental belief in the equality of everyone, I get frustrated with the way in which ‘inclusiveness’ has become an obsession to the point in which one has to trip over one’s tongue in order to risk the least hint of potentially offending someone with their language, regardless of their true intentions. Can’t we all give each other a bit of grace and trust that, for the most part, people today are good intentioned and want to show respect to all peoples? Sometimes an accusation of discrimination creates more division than was ever intended in the first place, pointing out difference that was never even noticed in the first place.

One thing I found amusing was the way in which the workshop leader struggled to model what she was teaching. She was being so cautious in her wording, trying to avoid any hint of exlusion. At one point she was talking about some distinction between the dominant culture in the West and others but in doing so she used the word ‘whites’. Instinctively sensing that perhaps that was not the right choice, she scrambled for an alternative and came up with ‘non-ethnic’. Satisfied at last, she went on with her teaching.

Now is it just me, or does the word ‘non-ethnic’ strike you as even more problematic than ‘white’. For some reason, it implies that Caucasions have no ethnicity, but even worse, it implies that they, therefore, are the default from which all other ethnicities diverge. Now, if that isn’t culture-centric, I don’t know what is.

Any feedback? How do you feel about the whole inclusion issue? How do you react to the word ‘non-ethnic’? Have you ever encountered a situation where this extreme caution about wording has made a real difference in how a person feels about themselves (I’m not talking about preventing an overt reaction of offense…I’m talking about the true self-esteem of people)?


quit blogging??? April 26, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life, School.


When a friend posted this question, I realized it was time for me to quit thinking about posts I wanted to put up here, and actually do it.  For anyone who wants an explanation of what’s been occupying my time and preventing me from bloggin, read on (warning – the last section of the explanation isn’t safe for those who gross out easily).

Well, to begin with, as usual, life got a little busy for me at the end of the semester with end of term papers, studying for exams and marking assignments for my two TA positions. On top of that, I organized a Passover celebration at our church.  It went really well…we had a turn out of approximately 70 people. I taught on a lot of the symbolism, we had different people participating with readings, we had a skit, a billow red sea that we crossed over, an explosion of celebration with tamborines, dance and flags, a kid’s search for leaven, a slide show about the lamb of God, a meal, communion, worship and more. It was a lot of work…but a blast…and people testified to being really touched…yay!

For me, the revelation I got while preparing was really amazing. As I reflected on how God set the feast of Passover in place to commemorate his redemption of the Israelites from Israel and the way he tied the symbols of this feast into so many other symbols and prophecies that pointed to the Messiah, I was in awe of his love. His love for us has the strength of 6,000 years of force behind it. When Paul says that nothing can separate us from God’s love…he really means nothing. I was thinking of an analogy in that when we ladies hear someone telling about how their fiancee proposed, the thing that usually makes us ooh and ahh is the planning the gentleman put into it. Well, God’s proposal, in essence, to us deserves a really big awwww cuz it’s planning was beyond comprehension.

And then (this is the gross part), just as I was getting ready to take my exams, I got sick. I thought it was just a nasty cold and was struggling to study and make it through. But then, within the space of a few hours, my eye got all red, swelled up, and started ejecting yellow guck. I went to the doctor and she said I had a serious sinus infection that had built up enough pressure to seek release through my eye. YUCK! Anyways, I went on antibiotics, had to defer two of my exams, and have spent the last two weeks recovering. I still find I get tired really easy.

So…most of my time has been spent watching DVD’s of old TV shows, reading novels, and sleeping. Hence the lack of real profound thinking that would lead to entries for this blog.  But hopefully, now that I’m on the mend, I’ll get back to pondering about the mysteries…and the strange curiosities…of life.

K…safe question…has anybody out there celebrated a Jewish feast…how did you find the experience…did it add anything to your faith?

K…unsafe question…anyone else experience a gross or surprising medical condition (if its really bad…answer the first question).

Mudslide March 27, 2007

Posted by amybeth in Life, School.

Okay…yesterday I’m walking across campus when I see this group of people hanging out in the big grassy area in the centre. At first glance it appeared that they were just enjoying the nice sunny day by playing some sort of game (its frequent on nicer days to see a game of frisbee going). But then I looked closer and realized that the grass was one big mudfield and they were playing touch football.  They were sopping wet and covered in mud.

An hour later as I again passed the same spot, I saw that they were now running and sliding across a patch of mud just like one of those water slip and slide things kids play on in the summer. It actually looked kind of fun.

So there you have it…one group’s celebration of spring (or at least spring like weather). How do you inaugerate the season?

Back to School January 2, 2007

Posted by amybeth in School.
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I have good news and bad news. The good news is that its the new year…Happy New Year everyone!  The bad news is that its a new year and that means back to school. I like school. I’m one of those strange folks who actually enjoys an academic challenge. However, this year I could have used an extra week’s break. Sighhh.

But…more than likely I’ll get into the fresh classes and find new enthusiasm. Or so I’m telling myself tonight as I think about getting up early in the morning tomorrow.