Irene’s approach to compassionate listening and critical challenge is an amalgamation of the work of many social justice teachers and scholars and of her own research and experiences, good and bad, in the classroom. This approach is simple and can be used along with the introduction in the book to some type of specific content about race. It can also be used for those moments in the classroom or group dialog when you are surprised by a question or statement about race.
1. What is your story? Where did that reaction come from? Then…
2. Does anyone else have a different experience?
3. Does anyone know the history of that term/situation?
4. Where does the reading say/film say that?
5. Has anyone seen any data related to that idea/situation?
Irene believes the reason this approach works, even when the tone is getting heated and honest, is that it activates critical thinking about emotions and personal experiences, combining experience and learned emotion with data and evidence that can be brought to bear in the discussion. It also works because it makes room in the dialogue for race-inflected emotion in the context of the rational fact based elements.
(Teaching and Race, pg 22)
Irene shares information and advice here from her book to use in your work towards creating meaningful content and dialogue
"One of the questions that I wish I had asked earlier in my preparation for hundreds of classes is 'Does anyone know the history of that term/situation?' Asking this question provides a way to consider the historical and social knowledge that shapes people's current understanding of racism and privilege….. White people's lack of experience with and understanding of the lives of people of color, particularly Black people, leads to shocking knowledge gaps and public policy errors that hurt us all. Blacks and Whites also often don’t know their history or that of other groups. In other words, students are operating in a fact-free historical zone with little or no accurate prior knowledge to attach any of their new information to a crucial feature of how learning works."
(Teaching and Race, pg. 57)