So, part of my independent study is to observe the classroom. How it is possible for a classroom to function as an expression of varied experiences. How it operates as the practice of freedom. I am learning how to ask the right questions, use the right language and react to students’ varied opinions.
I am also learning how to operate a safe space in the classroom.
For me, a safe space is very important. I am a rape survivor, as well as having experienced different forms of sexual assault throughout the years, so safe spaces are necessary for me. I need safe spaces to exist so that I can be comfortable in my surroundings, without anxiety. A safe space is simply any space where anyone who lives on the margins can successfully navigate their environment, whether through words or movements. It is more of a feeling than an actual room — safe spaces function as a place where all people are welcomed and accepted.
Today I observed a classroom where it was not a safe space. There was a perpetuation of oppression. There was a lack of understanding other students’ experiences. Students were talking over each other, which made for a very disruptive class. It made me feel uncomfortable and was obvious that many other students felt uncomfortable as well.
I have my beliefs and values. I do not expect everyone to share those beliefs or values, but I do expect respect from my classmates. I expect students to respect the professor and not talk over her. I expect to see dialogue, instead of arguments and/or banter. I expect a lot from students because I know they are capable, at any age of acting as mature adults. As a student myself, it is shameful for me to see this kind of unsafe space for people who live on the margins.
Just a reminder that sexism, racism, heterosexism, and ableism exist. Power and privilege exist. There is a history behind these oppressive systems, but there is also a present. Hopefully through re-education, the future can be liberated from oppressive systems.