Framing our training
Welcome, Class 13; we’re excited to reflect and learn with you! This information sheet will prepare you for the training and to answer some frequently asked questions about how Class 13 works:
WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THE LEARNING?
Our delivery style supports participants recognise, reflect and respond to their racial and wider biases so that all children can access an education that promotes free expression, as guaranteed to them by Article 13 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
We do this by utilising a process known as praxis. While many definitions of praxis exist, we use Paulo Freire's. Who argued that praxis was “a central defining feature of human life and a necessary condition of freedom”. When we engage in praxis, there are no fixed instructions or ‘right answers; instead, we are greeted by continual learning opportunities.
The learning experience/journey will differ for participants depending on their personal and professional backgrounds. As a result, participants may draw different interpretations from the learning. An example of how learning might look different for various individuals can be found in the following proverb:
‘Kill the snake, but break not the stick’
This proverb has different interpretations, depending on the context. We invite you to reflect now, in the context of your week so far, what advice does this quote offer you? A different interpretation will likely come into being for every reader. With this in mind, Class 13’s approach offers participants concepts and ideas and supports them in applying in their settings.
We are unlikely to provide fixed actions for participants to carry out in their classrooms because there is no one-size-fits-all way to dismantle oppression. Instead, we are more likely to suggest ideas to which participants could draw their attention and support them in formulating their ows understanding/actions.
WHY DEFICIT THINKING?
Deficit thinking is the idea that young people from various "at risk" groups fail in school due to their individual circumstances, such as home life, social and economic status, gender, and race. By using a deficit thinking framework we can expand our understanding to an intersectional approach that goes beyond racism and incorporates all forms of inequality.
The current narrative is: “If only people knew what harm was being caused, they wouldn’t do it”, which is exemplified in discussions around unconscious bias or presenting statistics. Our deficit thinking framework challenges this narrative by starting with the assumption, “People do know, and yet they continue to do it anyway.”
The analogy of speeding is useful here: we know it is bad to speed, but we still do it – when we can get away with it. Our training is like the speed camera that forces action: there is a tangible consequence. The Class 13 approach requires action from participants to resist their role in systemic inequality. Because once it is understood, the deficit thinking framework is impossible to unsee. This shifts the narrative from allyship – standing in support of someone, to actual solidarity as we truly understand that nobody's free until everybody's free (Fannie Lou Hamer).
Class 13 understands racism as a system that pervades all aspects of society. As such, we adopt a similar position to social theorist Zeus Leonardo when we consider the possibility of racial pedagogy taking place in a ‘safe space’:
‘If we are truly interested in racial pedagogy, then we must become comfortable with the idea that there is no safe space for marginalised and oppressed. As implied above, mainstream race dialogue in education is arguably hostile and unsafe for many students of colour whose perspectives and experiences are consistently minimised. Violence is already there.’
In our experience, attempts to create a ‘safe space’ for racial pedagogy often promote safety for white participants only. We acknowledge the difficult feelings associated with the learning and and unlearning inequity. With this in mind, we step slowly into discomfort, acclimatising to new ways of knowing, understanding and being.
Ripple feedback is a long-term data collection project we are carrying out to capture the ripple effect of interactions you have outside of Class 13 with colleagues, friends, and family. Exchanges don’t have to be lengthy to be included; we are mainly interested in how many people you share your new learning with and in what capacity. Current and past members of our learning community can record interactions they’ve had about their learning by navigating to https://www.class13.org/ripple. We welcome you to continue contributing Ripple feedback even after completing the training.
HOW DO I CONTACT THE TEAM?
For anything related to the training, please contact us via email at Hello@class13.org, and we will reply as soon as possible.
You can also use the Hello@Class13.org email to vent to us about anything related to the learning process, such as frustrating interactions you might have relating to the topics discussed. Please indicate this by putting “vent” in the subject line. Anything you send to us with “vent” in the subject line will be acknowledged but not replied to in-depth unless requested. The purpose of a venting inbox is to allow learners to get feelings or ideas off their chest that they don’t want to share in sessions or run out of time to share. We read emails labelled “vent” and may use them to address common feelings or uncertainties in the group, but we will not directly address the thoughts shared in the email.
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Pedagogy of fear: toward a Fanonian theory of ‘safety’ in race dialogue, Zeus Leonardo & Ronald K. Porter