Act 3: Schools and Syllabus

Synthesis of Key Themes

  • Misbehaving racialized children rarely receive empathy from racist teachers. Instead, they are punished as if they were adults (Chapter 4).
  • Biological racism leads to a hierarchical categorization of racial groups based on a belief that certain races yield superior or inferior behavioural traits (Chapter 4).
  • Racism requires racialized people to need to be exceptional to achieve moderate success, and it has little empathy for “errors” (Chapter 8).
  • Racist policies are built on the notion of a monolithic explanation of a racial groups behaviour (Chapter 8).
  • Standardized testing is a function of racist policies as they do not account for historical or socio-economic barriers that can impact performance, nor do they allow alternate measurements of intelligence that reflect a racial group (Chapter 8).
  • The suggestion of an achievement gap that highlights varied intelligence across races is premised on the belief of varied performances because of race (Chapter 8).
  • Measuring the intelligence of how individuals are knowledgeable in their own environments and cultural norms is essential (Chapter 11).
  • Gatherings of racialized people can be perceived as anti-White (segregation) instead of as a space of solidarity against racism (Chapter 13).
  • Anti-racist approaches promote equal access and combine desegregation with integration. Thus, racial solidarity leads to greater diversity among all racial groups (Chapter 13).
  • Race is rooted in the appropriation of power, not in an individual’s immorality or ignorance (Chapter 1).
  • Moral and educational suasion believes that racist minds should be targeted first before fighting against policies (Chapter 16).
  • Anti-racist research is about producing research to affect policies to benefit racialized groups (Chapter 18).

Discussion Points

The following are some suggested themes and topics to be explored during this Act. Depending on your own frame of reference and the direction you hope to take, it may be helpful to do some preliminary research. Our suggestion is that you approach these themes in a variety of ways, including small group discussions, sharing circles, visual prompts, brainstorming activities, and annotations.

*Although you may be looking to offer contextual and factual information, prioritize establishing a collective understanding of your theme, and use this as a building block for further discussion and exploration with the group.

  • Definitions
    • Racist vs. Anti-Racist
    • Behavioural
  • Academic Privilege
    • Transdisciplinary Approach to Learning
  • Standardized Testing
  • Curriculum
    • Combatting Imperialist Epistemology
    • Incorporating Global Perspectives, Literature, and Ways of Knowing, Learning, Being, and Doing
  • Critical Race Theory
    • Standpoint Epistemology
    • Primary Accounts, Auto-Ethnographies, and Lived Experiences
  • Pedagogy of the Opressed
  • Blackspaces

Reflective Questions

To Know

  • In what ways have you experienced academic privilege – positively or negatively?
  • Can you think of a time that you attributed someone’s potential to their race?
  • How is this reflected in how achievement is measured and the diversity of voices represented at all levels of your institution?

To Be

  • How do your institution’s policies create gaps between access and achievement between racial groups? In the classroom, in faculty, and in senior levels of management?
  • What current institutional standards that are considered “professional” may be biased toward a particular racial group?
  • In what ways can you invite an alternate perspective into your curriculum, into your pedagogical approach, or in considering alternative forms of assessment?

To Do

  • Plato said, “Those who tell stories rule society.” Reflecting on your own contexts, what actions can you take to create greater equity while amplifying Indigenous and racialized narratives that have been silenced in your classroom, curriculum, and campus community?
  • What are some takeaways from this Act that you will use to design and facilitate ethical spaces that embrace this type of sharing while combatting imperialist epistemology (Thusu, 2010)?

Check-In: Feeling, Orientation, Inspiration (FOI)

  • Discuss one feeling that has surfaced for you during this Act.
  • Reflect on one new orientation you’ve gained from this Act.
  • Collectively brainstorm steps or actions this Act has inspired you to take.


Suggested Activity – Audit of Your Curriculum


  • In what ways do you currently employ multiple ways of knowing in the learning environment?
  • In what ways are your assigned reading lists reflective of non-Western, non-White theorists and frameworks?
  • How have you challenged imperialist epistemology within your pedagogy?
  • Have you accounted for ways of knowing, being, and learning from actors in the Global South without fetishizing, de-historicizing, or misrecognizing their differences?


  • How does your class arrangement or learning environment reflect your practice (rows, circles, pods)?
  • Is your approach an inclusive, transdisciplinary one that challenges academic privilege and values personal knowledges?
  • In what ways — whether through resources, technologies, or guest speakers — are you promoting and amplifying racialized voices?


  • In what ways have you invited your learners into the process of determining the criteria being evaluated?
  • How have the options you’ve given your students for their submissions reflected an acknowledgement of different strengths and knowledges?
  • How have your assessments encouraged your learners to explore additional or primary sources rooted in their own cultural (race, ethnicity, work, familial) contexts?


Using the single-point rubric below, reflect on how and if your current approach is anti-racist, and consider some areas you can enhance your learning approach to be more inclusive.

Concerns –
Areas that Need Work
Criteria –
Standards for This Performance
Advanced –
Evidence of Exceeding Standards
Curriculum – Is inclusive of multiple vantage points, celebrating the knowledges of various locales.
Engagement – Uses a welcoming approach that is representative of student experiences and reflects the varied heritage, histories, and perspectives of all, specifically amplifying disenfranchised voices.
Assessment – Is collaborative and reflects an appreciation for varied strengths, abilities, and knowledges, specifically primary sources from alternate cultural contexts.

Facilitator Tips

  • Encourage participants to jot down all and any ideas they have for change. This should be used as a brainstorming exercise.
  • Break participants into groups and have them share their audits with their colleagues.
  • Depending on your time allotment:
    • Have participants connect with a learning designer about their findings and brainstorm ways they can incorporate them into their future iterations.
    • Ask for anonymous formative feedback from your students.
    • Reach out to experts with lived experiences, and invite them into your process or classroom.

Suggested Resources


Bowleg, L. (2021). “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”: Ten critical lessons for Black and other health equity researchers of colorHealth Education & Behavior, 48(3), 237–249.

Dei, G. J. S. (2006). Introduction: Mapping the Terrain – towards a new politics of resistance. In G. J. S. Dei & A. Kempf (Eds.), Anti-colonialism & education – The politics of resistance. (pp. 1–24). Brill.

Gonzalez, J. (2018, December 2). 10 ways educators can take action in pursuit of equity. Cult of Pedagogy.

Matias, J. N., Lewis, N., Jr., & Hope, E. (2021, September 7). Universities say they want more diverse faculties. So why is academia still so white? FiveThirtyEight.

Showing Up for Racial Justice. (n.d.). Resources.

Tuck, E., Carroll, K. K., & Smith, M.D. (2010). About us and not about as: Theorizing student resistance to learning about race and racism from underrepresented facultyJournal of the International Society of Teacher Education, 14(2). 70–74.

University of Toronto Scarborough. (2021). Scarborough charter.

Zinn Education Project. (n.d.). Teaching materials.


Lindo, L. (2020). Why hugging out racism in education just won’t cut it [Video]. TEDx Talks.

Class, T. (Host). (2012). How is smartness defined in schools? [Video].

Gray, J. (Host). (2021). Open knowledge spectrums podcast – Exploring epistemic justice in open education [Podcast].


Henry, F., Dua, E., James, C. E., Kobayashi, A.,  Li, P., Ramos, H., & Smith, M. S. (2017). The equity myth: Racialization and Indigeneity at Canadian universities. UBC Press.


eth·nic (/ˈeTHnik/)


(Kendi, 2019, p. 56)

be·hav·iour (/bəˈhāvyər/)

(Kendi, 2019, p. 92)




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