liv: Cartoon of a smiling woman with a long plait, teaching about p53 (teacher)
[personal profile] liv
I must say I really like teaching the Tumblr generation. They get a lot of flack from older pundits for caring too much about social justice and identity politics, but I just find it really refreshing working with people half my age who take gender and sexual diversity completely for granted, and have a sophisticated analysis of racism, and are constantly asking for the curriculum to be more globalized and more diverse.

Five to seven years ago, when I was new to teaching, I was a bit shocked to find how homophobic the student body was. I live in a bubble and I started out believing we'd moved on from the Section 28 era. But I found that my straight students were, at best, absolutely ignorant of anything to do with sexual diversity. They giggled when discussing a case study about a lesbian couple, and they had vaguely heard of gay men, whom they assumed to be obviously effeminate, but thought of gayness as a rare and exotic condition. They asked questions like, you know how gay men have a different way of speaking, doesn't that mean that being gay must be genetic? That kind of thing was well-meant, though it must have been pretty miserable for non-straight students in the group. The worst instances were things like when a particular student was absent from a tutorial group, and a fellow student mentioned that they thought the absentee might be GAY, as if this were some kind of scandalous gossip.

The last few years, though, those who were born in the last years of the 90s (I know!), and came of age in the era of same-sex marriage and internet social justice, they're completely different. They'll remind teachers to be more inclusive of identities beyond just "gay" and "straight". They take it absolutely as read that their colleagues and patients include a diverse range of gender identities and sexual orientations, they can talk (without prompting) about the difference between sex and gender. And I noticed the materials for the class on gender and sexuality (which I was supposed to facilitate but an administrative muddle meant that I actually didn't) now cite Kate Bornstein and mention things like the trans community's justified grievances against medical gatekeepers. So, you know, the medical school is moving forward too, it's not only the students.

Even a few years back it was often difficult to get the students to have sensible discussions about racism. The white students would talk about not seeing colour and saw racism as an outdated issue with little relevance to the modern world. Or they'd complain about political correctness and how they were scared of getting into trouble for accidentally saying the wrong word, and worry about patients being "over-sensitive" and seeing imaginary discrimation whenever they didn't get what they wanted. And the Asian and Black students would look increasingly uncomfortable but rarely felt able to enter the discussion. Nowadays they don't even pick up the bait of "do you think racism is still a problem?", they only hesitate over whether they're allowed to say "duh" to a tutor. Without making a fuss about it, the groups naturally let the students of colour lead on discussions about racism, with white students asking questions and adding minor corroborations. They do discuss topics like whether anti-white racism exists, in a sensitive and nuanced way, including things like anti-Polish and anti-zigan prejudice. I witnessed a really fascinating discussion between two Black students in a particular group recently, where one repeated the claim that racism is always present but the targets shift: it used to be Jews, then it was Black people, but now Black people are ok and it's Muslims that face problems. And it was the other Black student who challenged him, no, anti-Black racism is still a major issue today. Judging by accents I think the first student is probably from an immigrant background and the second British raised.

The last few weeks of term have a bunch of teaching about disability, and yes, the students still struggle intellectually with the social model, but they've got a lot more aware of ableism and are committed to eradicating such prejudice from the medical community. Even the "soft" ableism of worrying about how disabled people would have poor quality of life and therefore don't benefit as much from medical treatment seems to be almost gone. I did my best devil's advocate and couldn't get anyone to concede any compromise on strict equality between disabled and abled patients, including a clear grasp of the concept that equality means adapting treatment to the individual rather than offering strictly the same treatment to all. The lesbian couple I mentioned earlier? Now nobody even questions the idea of two women seeking fertility treatment, and they were pretty game about the idea of deaf mothers actively seeking to conceive a genetically deaf child, understanding that some people consider being Deaf to be a cultural difference not a disability.

So I'm not saying that everything is perfect and prejudice within the medical world will die out as the older generation retire. But it's such a joy to work with these students who want us to improve our teaching to be more social justice focused, compared to only a few years back when students kind of resented hearing about prejudice and inequality, cos obviously they're not racist so why waste time that could be used for learning physiology.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 01:47 pm (UTC)
hollymath: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hollymath
This is good to read. :)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 10:42 pm (UTC)
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
From: [personal profile] alatefeline
+1

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 01:48 pm (UTC)
jae: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jae
Yeah, my experience is similar over here in Canada.

-J

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 02:56 pm (UTC)
jack: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jack
*hugs* Oh yeah, that's pretty positive. That was my impression, but I was never sure if it was *true* or just represented how I knew different people now than then. Hearing about a somewhat arbitrary sample of people who were accepted to med school, gives me more faith it's a wider trend.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 09:47 pm (UTC)
jesse_the_k: Human in professorial suit but with head of Golden Retriever, labeled "Woof" (doctor dog to you)
From: [personal profile] jesse_the_k
Does the values based recruitment include selecting for economic diversity as well? In the US medicine is often a family enterprise, which results in succeeding generations more insulated in privilege.

Also, many thanks for this positive news.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 03:11 pm (UTC)
watersword: Keira Knightley, in Pride and Prejudice (2007), turning her head away from the viewer, the word "elizabeth" written near (Default)
From: [personal profile] watersword
Oh, this warms my heart.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 05:07 pm (UTC)
sonia: Quilted wall-hanging (Default)
From: [personal profile] sonia
Thank you for sharing this. So encouraging!

I'm curious about "anti-zigan." Is that anti-Roma/Gypsy? I've seen that spelled tsigan, or cigan, but not with a z before.

Re: anti-zigan

Date: 2016-12-15 05:51 pm (UTC)
sonia: Quilted wall-hanging (Default)
From: [personal profile] sonia
Interesting! I didn't know there was an official term for the unfortunate reality. And Wikipedia says the z came via German, where it's pronounced like our ts. I'm used to Balkan transliterations where the c is pronounced ts.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 05:37 pm (UTC)
monanotlisa: Diana as Diana Prince in glasses and a hat, lifting the rim of the latter rakishly. HOT! (Default)
From: [personal profile] monanotlisa
Yeah, I don't know why they get so much flak. tumblr DISCOURSE! may make people eye-roll, but the underlying culture of questioning is the best thing to happen.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 08:19 pm (UTC)
sfred: (Default)
From: [personal profile] sfred
Hurray :-)

This stuff is true of the young people I see most often, but they live more-or-less in the same bubbles as I do so it's hard to know how general it is.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 08:51 pm (UTC)
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
From: [personal profile] cesy
It's encouraging to hear this - thank you for sharing.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 09:15 pm (UTC)
staranise: A star anise floating in a cup of mint tea (Default)
From: [personal profile] staranise
Oh, I'm glad.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-15 11:11 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] ewt
This makes me very happy to read. Thank you for posting it!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-16 12:31 am (UTC)
randomling: A wombat. (Default)
From: [personal profile] randomling
That sounds awesome. I'm really glad to hear it. (Also how quickly can one of them start treating me? Like, as opposed to (for example) the therapist who expected me to do Trans 101 at her instead of treating me for the completely unrelated topic I went to see her about?)

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-16 03:25 am (UTC)
lilacsigil: 12 Apostles rocks, text "Rock On" (12 Apostles)
From: [personal profile] lilacsigil
This is so, so encouraging to hear.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-16 04:20 am (UTC)
conuly: (Default)
From: [personal profile] conuly
That's so refreshing to read!

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-16 09:48 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
That is highly encouraging. So glad the younger students need less handholding.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-19 02:48 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
Inertia is a difficult force to overcome. It must be a lot easier to just be able to feed them information to keep them going, rather than having to get them started.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-17 11:17 am (UTC)
hairyears: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hairyears
The world is changing for the better, and it's good to hear it from the frontline of the change.

The best news of all is that you're working with the grain: these students have been educated and socialised into a more inclusive society in their school years, before they came to your class.

I guess that the next big effort is managing the pushback - backlash, even - as the Conservative minority in society are forced to confront their own failings; and the need to extend our education and socialisation efforts into the remaining schools and closed communities where racism and bigotry are still being inculcated into children.

In other news, openly bi people have been working on this trading floor here since I came back, two or three years ago; as are two transgender people, one of whom is still in the visibly gender-nonconforming stages of transition. The big deal isn't their existence: it's their acceptance, and this seems to have happened without anyone noticing - they are fully engaged in the social and commercial life of the trading floor, both market-facing and client-facing.

Social progress is happening in the 'difficult' industries.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-19 10:46 pm (UTC)
hairyears: (Default)
From: [personal profile] hairyears
Yes, I remember that long read from [profile] sideria. There's a good basic idea - 'mode 2' morality roted in group affinity - and a well-observed point about how acting out reviling people in an out-group is such a pleasure, for some.

The 'mode 2' idea is an interesting counterpoint to the ascent of civilisation: an imaginary starting point of 'savages' who have a little more or less loyalty to their immediate family than to themselves; the existence of 'primitive' tribal societies and clans, in which loyalty and affinity extends beyond the family among a culturally-homogeneous group; and more organised societies with social divisions and defined classes, where organised rituals of performative loyalty towards a figurehead, usually a king, provide a necessary structure for maintaining loyalty and a sense of common cause among a population large enough to fracture into competing factions and revert to tribalism. Or even to *be* cohesive and competing factions: these societies, including our own, are all about maintaining the sense of common loyalty, and managing (or milking) the divisions.

So far, so Whiggish.

It's a huge jump from national unity, or a cohesive society with a sense of shared values centred on national symbols, to a true 'mode 1' or 'Brotherhood of Man' identity.

One of the reasons for that jump being so difficult is simple, and deeply unpleasant:



The easiest way to form a cohesive and effective group with a powerful internal loyalty is to cultivate exclusionary behaviours against non-members and - most effective of all - to cultivate performative 'reviling' behaviours directed at a well-defined 'out group'.



Think nationalists, in the worst sense of the 20th century. Or Trans-Excluding Radical Feminists.

Or a standing ovation at the Party Conference, for a speech about getting tough on inner-city crime, migrants, and the verminously-overbreeding underserving poor.

Or indeed, a Trump rally, which exists in a continuum extending from bragging and blustering offence and vague incitements to violence; to smaller and increasingly secretive (but no less noisy) meetings where the offence is venomous and the violence is openly incited; and to cross-burning cabals where hooded racists move beyond performative displays of their violent urges into using their firearms and firebombs for murder.


However far it goes, it always has the same dynamic: it's far, far easier to create or dominate an effective 'mode 2' power base by cultivating exclusionary behaviours, than it is to create and maintain a cohesive and prosperous society of goodwill to all. Especially when there's an economic gain, for some, from exploiting an imbalance of power across differing groups in a divided society.

Also, Siderea doesn't have the perspective of growing up socialised and normalised to sociopaths, and the destructively dysfunctional community of defensive groupings they create when left to operate in a closed environment without an effective moral authority: Lucky Siderea. Or unlucky, given the immersive education coming to all citizens and denizens of the United States.

But in more cheering news: the memo about being better people has got out to bankers, who have internalised a fair amount of it; and it's getting out to doctors, as you well know.

The more, the merrier, indeed.

This may yet save us from the UKIP future as an isolationist economic basket-case, ruled by rent-seekers and sustained by money-laundering and remittances from migrant labour.

And therein lies a moral dilemma for me, and other would-be emigrants: the accelerating exodus of the best and brightest will drain these islands of their best hope of a better future, much as the Trump-voting 'Red States' are the product of generations of migration to the cities by the artistic misfits and the educated and the ambitious.

In short, a Trump Rally is the product of societal 'saltation', where the 'mode 1' moral citizens went elsewhere.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-18 03:01 am (UTC)
switterbeet: (hyena teeth)
From: [personal profile] switterbeet
This is so heartening to read. I get incredibly discouraged when I hear people younger than myself espouse sexist/racist/homophobic/otherwise prejudiced views and that has unfortunately happened a lot more in the past year for me.

(no subject)

Date: 2016-12-21 08:59 pm (UTC)
ephemera: celtic knotwork style sitting fox (Default)
From: [personal profile] ephemera
That is, indeed, good to hear, especially when you think of the impact that they will have on Actual People in their planned careers...

Soundbite

Miscellaneous. Eclectic. Random. Perhaps markedly literate, or at least suffering from the compulsion to read any text that presents itself, including cereal boxes.

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