Privilege – Lesson 1

Today, with fear and trembling (the good kind of course), I began incorporating activities on privilege into my intro to ethics class at our local community college. I feel really strongly about giving my students an effective framework to engage the contemporary conversation about privilege.

I wanted to make my lessons available here as a work in progress: to invite comment and critique, to share what I’m learning and invite others to share how they are teaching on this important issue.

I’m drawing heavily on “Connecting with Oppression and Privilege: A Pedagogy for Social Justice” by Dena R. Samuels. I especially like her suggestion to use in-class journaling around questions and activities. We used it today and I think it helped to create a sense that our classroom is a safe place and also gave the students a chance to engage their own thoughts more deeply than they might when responding verbally on the fly.

In the following activity, I found that cataloging our “passive” associations (communities that we didn’t choose) and talking about how these may or may not inform our identities differently than “active” associations set the stage nicely for the idea that privilege is a “passive” condition, one that informs who we are whether we actively engage it or not.

You can use this link to access the lesson. Please leave comments and suggestions here. Looking forward to learning from you.


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