Taking a Risk

Having Mindful Discussions about Race, Privilege, and Social Justice

in Critical Issues and Bold Visions for Science Education
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Abstract

In my experience, science teachers traditionally avoid whole-group discussions as they relate to topics considered to be “social” issues like whether Black Lives or All Lives Matter; or whether it is appropriate to allow the use of the N-word in the learning environment. Compartmentalizing issues of race, privilege, and social justice are not appropriate. Whenever and wherever thorny issues arise, they are to be problematized with great care and not dismissed in haste or relegated to classrooms belonging to the social sciences and humanities teachers. The purpose of this chapter is to take a risk and engage in an unorthodox, mindful discussion about race, privilege and social justice. Unique in academia, I use the authoring of auto-ethnographic, impressionist tales and writing prompts derived from reflections of the “Thorny Issues Heuristic” as mindfulness tools for discussing thorny topics with science teachers enrolled in a teacher preparation program at Brooklyn College of The City University of New York. The informal writing style of this chapter invites the reader to participate in an active dialogue with the purpose of sharing emotional narratives in their rare and authentic nature. The following is what I have learned from my students and how some narratives were painful yet encouraging; welcoming yet alienating.