An Instructor’s Guide to Understanding Privilege

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Overview

The following content and linked resources have been curated as a primer for instructors to better understand and attend to the ways privilege operates in the classroom. This resource is broken up into sections: Introduction to Privilege, Why Talking About and Acknowledging Privilege is Difficult, Privilege in the Classroom, and Further Reading on Specific Kinds of Privilege. Potentially unfamiliar vocabulary is in bold text.

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Invisible Knapsacks

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This discussion-based activity guides students in understanding privilege as a concept and recognizing the ways their own privileges benefit them and impacts daily life. If you as an instructor need a refresher or introduction to privilege before leading this activity, please review “An Instructor’s Guide to Understanding Privilege.” All other necessary materials are linked as PDF’s below.

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Mapping Social Identity Timeline Activity

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This activity asks students to create a visual map of their socialization in some aspect of identity (such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.) through the course of their life. Students will create a timeline of their lives, noting at what ages they learned particular lessons about their identity, by whom those lessons were taught, and how those lessons were taught.

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The Five Minute Poem

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This activity has students spend five minutes writing a brief four-stanza poem about where they are from. The poems can be shared in the large group as students introduce themselves to the class, in pairs or small groups, or could be posted to a class blog or forum. This activity can also be used as a prompt for a discussion about how where students come from impacts them in the classroom.

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The Spectrum Activity, Questions of Identity

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Overview

The Spectrum Activity Questions of Identity are questions for discussion or reflective writing that prompt students to critically consider their identities and the relationship between identity and context. These questions can be used in conjunction with the Social Identity Wheel and Personal Identity Wheel to prompt students in a discussion or reflective writing exercise about identity.

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Social Identity Wheel

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The Social Identity Wheel worksheet is an activity that encourages students to identify and reflect on the various ways they identify socially, how those identities become visible or more keenly felt at different times, and how those identities impact the ways others perceive or treat them. The worksheet prompts students to fill in various social identities (such as race, gender, sex, ability disability, sexual orientation, etc.) and further categorize those identities based on which matter most in their self-perception and which matter most in others’ perception of them. The Social Identity Wheel can be used in conjunction with the Personal Identity Wheel to encourage students to reflect on the relationships and dissonances between their personal and social identities. The wheels can be used as a prompt for small or large group discussion or reflective writing on identity by using the Spectrum Activity Questions on Identity.

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Personal Identity Wheel

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The Personal Identity Wheel is a worksheet activity that encourages students to reflect on how they identify outside of social identifiers. The worksheet prompts students to list adjectives they would use to describe themselves, skills they have, favorite books, hobbies, etc. Unlike the Social Identity Wheel, this worksheet doesn’t emphasize perception or context. It is best used as an icebreaker activity or in conjunction with the Social Identity Wheel in order to encourage students to reflect on the relationships and dissonances between their personal and social identities. The wheels can be used as a prompt for small or large group discussion or reflective writing on identity by using the Spectrum Activity Questions on Identity.

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