Pedagogies of Care

There has been much talk over the last two years about maintaining “continuity” of
instruction and assessment, but it's even more important for us to talk about how we maintain the communities at the heart of our educational institutions. Sara Goldrick-Rab and I write, “We need to design our pedagogical approaches for the students we have, not the students we wish we had. This requires approaches that are responsive, inclusive, adaptive, challenging, and compassionate. And it requires institutions to find more creative ways to support teachers and prepare them for the work of teaching. This is not a theoretical exercise — it is a practical one.”

Many of the students we work with don’t know where they will find their next meal. The most marginalized students at our institutions are finding themselves and their work increasingly policed — by faculty members, by administrative policies, by ed-tech “solutions,” and by the actual police. Meanwhile, the majority of faculty members in higher education are precariously employed. In the introduction to Critical Digital Pedagogy: A Collection, Sean Michael Morris, Chris Friend, and I write, “Education must be a practice done with hearts as much as heads, with hands as much as books. Care has to be at the center of this work.”

We have to design for the least privileged, most marginalized students, the ones
more likely to have felt isolated even before the pandemic: disabled students,
chronically-ill students, BIPOC students, queer students, and those facing basic needs insecurity. We need to design assessments, write syllabi, develop policies, and imagine new ways forward, for these students, the ones already struggling, already facing exclusion. We have to start by finding out who our students are, what they need to be successful, and how our institutional mission does (and sometimes doesn’t) align with our practices.

Jesse Stommel, “Care is a Practice; Care is Pedagogical”
Catherine Denial, “A Pedagogy of Kindness”
Learning for Justice “A Trauma-informed Approach to Teaching Through Coronavirus”
Soraya Chemaly, “All Teachers Should Be Trained To Overcome Their Hidden Biases”
Sara Goldrick-Rab, “It’s Hard to Study if You’re Hungry”
Audre Lorde, “The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action”
bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress, “Chapter 1”
Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Chapter 2


Jesse Stommel, DPL Founder and Director
Jesse Stommel is co-founder of Digital Pedagogy Lab and Hybrid Pedagogy: an open-access journal of learning, teaching, and technology.
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