In today’s Inside Higher Ed, Shari Dinkins offers advice for faculty who teach blue collar students, from flexible deadlines to choices of texts, to seeking ways to experience the real demands of physical labor.
One the one hand, I’m grateful that more people seem to be writing about such things.
On the other hand, I wonder why we still do have to write about such things. Shouldn’t highly educated faculty know that there are things about their first-generation students that they can’t possibly know, and be at least curious enough to ask?
To answer your last question: No.
I did research on this subject in high school, and one of the things that came out of it was that college is the ultimate indoctrination into the guild of middle-class values.
And middle-class values are such the de facto presumption, that working-class kids seem like deviations from the norm … and unless someone spells out these differences, even highly educated faculty are going to wonder why these kids just don’t “get it,” when that’s not the problem.
I wish that my colleagues knew about the experience their working class students face. But most of my colleagues are middle or uppper class–and I’m at a community college. None paid for their own education… and certainly not by the sweat of their own wages. My college, like many, has an office to support first-time college students. These support systems seem to be in place because most professors do NOT have the same experience as their student population. I suspect that those of us who do have some of the same experience as our students bring something valuable to the table. Maybe.