Even when nations, such as South Africa and the United States, make a concerted effort to embody and implement inclusive education, an examination of these systems is still in order. Structural inequalities tend to linger and racism and discrimination also have pervasive and lingering effects on people, cultures and systems. In “Inclusive Education: A Tame Solution to a Wicked Problem,” Elizabeth Walton describes promoting inclusivity as “a Sisyphean task against the mountain of exclusionary pressures that the education system presents”. (2017, p. 86) Hence, Walton likens exclusionary education to a “wicked problem”.
Wicked problems are defined by Walton as problems that are “complex, dynamic, multi-faceted and intractable”. (2017, p. 85) The wicked problem of inclusive education mainly lies in not having a deep understanding of the problem of educational exclusion before attempting to carry out inclusive education. Inclusive education, particularly in light of historical apartheid and racial inequality, cannot be superficial. It requires depth and buy-in from all stakeholders.
Phasha, N., Mahlo, D., & Dei, G. J. S. (Eds.). (2017). Inclusive Education in African Contexts: A Critical Reader. Springer.
“Indigenous like corn, the mestiza is a product of crossbreeding, designed for preservation under a variety of condition.” ~Gloria Anzaldua
Cristina’s Social Location: My social identities are very perceptible to me at this point of time. I am a mother of two energetic kids, Vincent and Lila, ages 9 and 6. I am Latina, the daughter of Mexican immigrants. After 9 grueling months last year, my father Jose, age 75 survived a rare form of lymphoma only to come down with an excruciating chronic pain condition that has lasted for over 12 months. I am also a 3rd year doctoral student, struggling to balance coursework with a full-time job, and teaching an undergraduate course.
SA & US Inclusive Education: Both South Africa and the United States have culturally diverse populations. In both settings, educational systems clamor for greater inclusivity and cultural responsiveness to facilitate the engagement and learning of diverse students and populations.
Hammond Textbook: In Culturally Responsive Teaching and the Brain: Promoting Authentic Engagement and Rigor among culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students, an educator’s ability to be aware of culture, context and poverty is key to engaging diverse learners. A helpful tool for educators is ascertaining whether students have an orientation towards collectivism or individualism.
Changemaking: In the two different undergraduate Leadership Studies minor classes that I have taught at USD, both require students to focus on a social justice project that they are passionate about on campus or in the community. I am always amazed at the work and insights they produce. I’m definitely excited to reach across cultures and continents to step up to the challenge to collaborate with our counterparts in South Africa!
I chose this course is because I listened to the audiobook Born A Crime by Trevor Noah on a road trip to Arizona last year. Hearing his story in his own words was humorous and heartwarming. I knew very little about South Africa, aside from being vaguely familiar with the notion of apartheid and the leader Nelson Mandela. Hearing Noah’s story made South Africa real and enticing. He is both black and white in a country where there are tensions between those two realities. Being bicultural (Mexican and American) in the U.S., his story resonated deeply with me. Last year, I visited Belfast and studied educational systems in post-conflict environments and I drew parallels to the plight of Latino students in urban settings in the U.S. Studying inclusive education in post-segregated South Africa will also shed light on the Latino educational experience in the U.S. I hope to learn about best practices for inclusive education that can be applied to Latino communities.
I have started reading A Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. Similar to the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the race struggle in S.A. was also inspired by the civil rights movement in the U.S. There are parallels that exist(ed) between races in both countries – cognitive dissonance, need for unifying leaders, the grave ethical dilemma, etc. From watching the 2018 movie Chasing Feelings, I drew parallels to America’s attempt to define itself as post-racial society after President Obama’s election. The tension and residue from historical racial divide even in academic and intellectual settings still persists.