Today’s sermon, from Inside Higher Ed, draws a distinction between what schools are supposed to be for—education—and what they’re doing to train students about proper ways of thinking about diversity, especially when they enter college. (Click on the screenshot to read.) The authors’ mini-bios are at the bottom of the post:
And here are their premises:
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, colleges and universities across the country have enthusiastically embraced training as a tool to promote racial justice. These trainings go by different names, including sensitivity training, diversity training and antiracism training.
Here are some things training is good for: customer service, Excel and CPR. One thing it’s not good for: diversity, equity and inclusion.
At a time when trainings are proliferating across institutions of higher learning, people could be forgiven for confusing training with education. But they are vastly different and should be seen as such especially when it comes to issues of diversity. The purpose of education, bell hooks reminds us, is critical thinking. Requiring “courage and imagination,” the “heartbeat of critical thinking is the longing to know — to understand how life works.” With hooks’s words in mind, here are 10 ways to tell training and education apart.
Training makes assumptions; education challenges them.
Training is packaged; education cannot be contained.
Training rewards compliance, education curiosity.
Training is having to say something, education having something to say.
Training tells you what to think; education teaches you how to think.
Training answers questions; education poses them.
Training is generic; education all about context.
Training simplifies the world; education reveals its complexity.
Training promotes conformity, education independence.
Training is performative; education is transformative.But training is woefully inadequate when it comes to confronting social problems such as poverty, discrimination and racism. These are long-standing, knotty and complex issues that defy ready-made solutions. Any serious effort to address them must start with education, a process for which there are no shortcuts.
Consider these two hypothetical examples of a college trying to deal with issues of race and diversity. The first is a prototypical training module; the second takes an educational approach.
You can peruse these two forms of training in the article; the “prototypical training model,” probably found more often in secondary schools than in colleges is a bit exaggerated for most institutions (it’s certainly not applicable to mine), but bits of it are par for the course in many colleges.
The second approach will not be used because it involves discussion and thought, and things that might offend people. But in the end, I have to agree with the authors, for I think discussion is unifying and propaganda is divisive. And what better way to start one’s college education with an educational agenda?
Often proven to be superficial and ineffective, diversity training should not be the default response for institutions. Instead, colleges and universities should invest in the most powerful tool of all to combat racial injustice: education.
Authors (from the article):
Amna Khalid (@AmnaUncensored) is associate professor in the history department and Jeffrey Aaron Snyder (@JeffreyASnyder) is associate professor in the educational studies department at Carleton College. Their writing on education, censorship, diversity and social justice has appeared in CNN, The Conversation and The New Republic.