Tonight I was privileged to attend the retirement presentation of one of our faculty at Portland State University. She spoke on inclusion and her experiences with thought leaders throughout her career. As a consummate educator she provided question prompts on each table and had us respond and ask those questions.
She shared personal stories of her own lived experience as a person of color. Her travails as a women of color pursuing a life in academia might seem like fantastical stories from ancient history to students today. Her ethnography documents momentous changes in our society but also illuminates how much further we have to go.
She defined Inclusion and Diversity:
Platforms for critical conversations and courageous actions across differences that are pervasive… Where diverse knowledge, experiences, histories, and cultures are affirmed.
She also described obstacles to inclusion:
Push back: the space between the ‘talk and walk’
She went on to describe her framework for inclusion as something that looks different wherever you go. It is situational. Not only this, but it is knowledge dependent. She defined knowledge on the institutions, people within them, community, students, parents, and policy makers.
Too many children have been marginalized.
Education depends on inclusion and diversity. Our curriculum, whether textbooks or lesson plans or another artifact, must be examined closely. Referring to Paulo Freire Dr. Temple discusses how she wants more than integration but participation that leads to transformation.
During her Fulbright experience she worked in Finland on their burgeoning needs related to diversity. Her scholarly inquiry there became both an expiration outside but also introspection around her own life.
From visiting a K market and discovering challenges unknown:
To living overseas during the attacks on the World Trade Towers and Pentagon – worrying for her daughter in Washington DC:
Through this experience she found herself othered and yet accepted. This led to literacy programs between two elementary schools in both countries. Two multi-lingual schools exchanging thoughts, ideas, and people.
Dr. Temple ended her talk with thank you in several languages and asked for our reflections. It was a somber, informative and transformative retirement experience.