Archive for July 2014

My Interpretation Of Indigenous Learning And The Theories Of Adult Learning And Development   Leave a comment

It is the passage discussing indigenous learning that stood out for me with regard to the theories of adult learning and development. In summing up the passage, it is the holistic learning aspect which incorporates the mind, body and, spirit as it connects to nature. It is social learning based on community, family and one’s ancestors. This is where storytelling and passing down of information from one generation to the next is done through traditions within a culture. The indigenous learning theory reports that informal learning has equal or greater value to formal learning (Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon, 2010, para. p. 42).

My interpretation of indigenous learning includes the view that knowledge is shared as one learns through narratives, storytelling, rituals, and modelling. It is about passing on wisdom to help empower an adult learner in the many different facets of their daily life. It is based on wholeness as a community and/or family as Ntseane (2007) noted, “Learning in Botswana…incorporates family, community, and the spirits of one’s ancestors” (p. 42). When cultural values merge with critical thinking the result is problem solving and decision making.

Each adult learner brings their personal cultural context into the learning environment. It is the responsibility of the educator to know their students, backgrounds, culture, and values in order to successful teach. According to Santor, Reid, Crawford, & Simpson (2011), “Really knowing students means knowing what knowledge they bring to the classroom and how their cultural practices, values and beliefs shape them as learners and, as producers of knowledge” (p. 67).

The chosen concept applies to my experience of listening and telling stories. I personally have no family (except my four kids with paws, cats). My close “family” are my friends, yet my larger “family” is being part of the LGBTIQQ (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual. transgender, queer and questioning) community. Each individual who is “family” has their stories to tell, the good, bad, and indifferent. When we listen, we learn and hopefully connect to the narrative and take that new knowledge to use for future occurrences in our lives. In my opinion, this is the beginning of social change for the positive as we learn to become more humanistic and compassionate through oral presentation.

How can we confirm that indigenous learning is beneficial? Take a minute and think back to your parent, grandparent or other elders and the stories they told about how they grew up? Do you recall details? Then you have learned about a piece of history which stayed in your memory.


Kasworm, C., Rose, A. and Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2010). Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.

Santor, N., Reid, J.A., Crawford, L. & Simpson, L. (2011). Teaching indigenous children: Listening to and learning from indigenous teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 36(10), 65-76. Retrieved from,

Image: Retrieved from,




Learning Experiences and Development: Transformative and Experiential Learning   Leave a comment



The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change ~ Carl Rogers

            This paper will compare and contrast two learning experiences that involved some kind of instruction that I have experienced as an adult. The two learning experiences are closely related as both are involved in participating in the medical field as a non-medical person.

            I had spent most of my life as a primary caretaker for my ill mother. I was her only child and relative. I was young when she was diagnosed with diabetes and then six years later with rare ovarian cancer. She was told she had six months to live. She proved the doctors wrong. The remainder of her life had been spent in physical trauma, in a car accident that crushed both legs (told she would never walk again and she proved them wrong), quad bi-pass etc. She was a strong woman in both in mind, body, and soul.

            As a child her needles scared me. When she would administer a shot to herself I would become frightened and run out of the room screaming, “No needles, no needles.” As she grew older her eyesight began to fail. She was in a rehabilitation facility to learn how to walk again after a six month split between two different hospitals. Her muscles were atrophied making it difficult to walk. I stepped in to be her primary caretaker when she was released.

            It was time to step up to the plate and learn how to test her sugar levels and administer insulin shots. I was scared and feared causing pain as I performed the injections and testing of blood, but it was a life or death situation. Was I forced to learn? No. Did I need to learn? Yes. Not only out love for my mother, but as an adult learner and the desire to make the world, my mother’s and mine, a better place to live in. My mother always said, “It’s you and me against the world.”

            Two days before she was to be released, the rehabilitation center became my learning environment and Nurse Linda was my instructor after I asked for assistance in teaching me. Tough (1971/1979, 1978, 1982) named my self-directed actions as adults learning projects:

            …to indicate that they crafted their own plans to learn – for example, something of necessity (fixing a broken toilet) or value (discovering genealogical roots) – and explored both material and human resources in the process” (Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon,  2010, p. 40).

I had spent a total of an hour and a half with her over a two day period seated on a cushioned bench. Her pushcart was filled with medical supplies and medications and three oranges on top of a tissue box. Her pace was slow as she used laymen terms in explaining how blood sugars are tested and why. I listened and observed how to load the mini needles for lancing and how to utilize test stripes for blood sugar monitoring. She let me prick her finger tip to test and then came mime. Then she picked up an orange, talked about how similar it was to human skin and I used it as my testing resource. My mother needed two different types of insulin. I held both bottles in my hands trying to create connections with each of them in order to store it into my memory.

            Then came the needle, what I feared became my barrier in which I needed to overcome in order to be successful in administering medication through a needle. I held the needle and watched her draw from the insulin bottles into the needle then tap it for air bubbles. When my turn came to fill the needle my hand began shaking uncontrollably. Through trial and error I accomplished my goal after a few attempts I filled the needle. My confidence was growing as I attempted and then succeeded in injecting the orange. Through trial and error Linda guided me and shared her knowledge of how to be effective in my new goal. Traces of incidental learning appeared as Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon ( 2010) mentioned, “That is, depending on their life experiences, existing knowledge, and motivations, learners have varying degrees of self-directedness and can develop it further, motivated by self or others direction” (p. 17). I engaged in meaning making of the experience and formed new beliefs and values while reflecting on making sense of what it all meant to attain new knowledge. Mezirow’s theory (1990) incorporated make meaning, “To make meaning means to make sense of an experience; in the process of reflecting critically on experience, people are engaged in making meaning” (Taylor, Marienau & Fiddler, 2000, p. 29).

            It was an experiential expansion of knowledge as Boud, Cohen, and Waler (1993) commented, “…looked at the individual learner, emphasizing reflection and the context in which the learning occurred (Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon, 2010, p. 39); and transformative learning as Mezirow (1991) stated, “This process results in individuals being permanently changed. We can never return to the way we were (Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon, 2010, p. 41).

            My second learning situations that involved some kind of instruction that I have experienced as an adult began with my ex-husband, Charles who was a female to male transgender and needed a weekly shot of testosterone. I became the chosen one because of my experience with my mother. I built upon my knowledge as these shots were done in the butt area whereas giving insulin shots could be done in the arms, legs or stomach.

            I would like to go back six months prior to him getting top and bottom surgeries followed by T shots. He was still a she (Charlie Marie) and we both wanted children. We researched adopting a baby from Guatemala, but $30,000 was out of our reach. I had a blood disorder and was told at 20 years old, I could not have children. Charlie was younger than me and had the parts to make us parents. We researched for two weeks for a donor and a doctor for an artificial insemination procedure. We found both.

            I learned from the doctor about couples like us who have families now because of the process. I learned about the procedure and not the turkey baster version. I learned about frozen sperm and how many can be alive in a small vile. Technical terms would fly around the room as the physician gave great details leaving little room for questions. We were told that she may not get pregnant the first, second or third time after the insemination was completed. He was right.

Three procedures and no baby.

            We were now going down the path of fertility treatments, meaning shots. We were distraught about the earlier results, but refused to give up. My learning went from experiential to transformative as Mezirow (1978), remarked, “…transformative learning occurs when one experiences a disorienting dilemma” (Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon, 2010, p. 41). There was a new place to give a shot, two inches below the belly button, prenatal vitamins to research and a new way to plan meals. The Dr. explained that I would be using thicker needle and showed me the proper way to do an injection. A month later, Charlie Marie had what was called, a chemical pregnancy and the beginning of the baby self-aborting.

            It was threw these two environments that I learned how to sustain a life, my mothers and how to change life for the better (my ex-husband and T shots) because of knowledgeable medical professionals that instructed me. Both depicted experiential learning through, current experience, new experience, and learning from experience. (Kasworm, Rose and Ross-Gordon, 2010, para. p. 39-40). However, prior experience had been viewed in the latter environment. The transformative concept related to my action learning and reflection as Hallows & Murphy (n.d.) mentioned, “The transformative learning theory addresses the teaching challenge of completely revising students’ previous knowledge. The theory describes the conditions and processes necessary for students to make a significant knowledge transformation and paradigm shift” (p.3). Informal learning is depicted in both as self-direction plays a key role in obtaining knowledge.

            In conclusion, I have chosen these two situations in particular because it was my learning that helped to benefit others and help them to obtain their goals. Each learning environment story revealed parts of my learning and development as Daloz (1986) reported, “Education is a transformational journey that should promote development (Merriam, Caffarella, & Baumgartner, 2007, p.138). I learn by building on past knowledge to create new interpretations of my experiences for future reference.


Hallows, K. & Murphy, J. (n.d.) Experiential and Transformative Learning: New York Financial

Institutions Visits. Retrieved from

Kasworm, C., Rose, A. and Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2010). Handbook of Adult and Continuing

Education. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.

Taylor, K., Marienau, C., & Fiddler, M. (2000). Developing Adult Learners: Strategies for

Teachers and Trainers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Quote: Retrieved from,




My Final Research Results~ Gender And Sexual Orientation Bias Language In Research   Leave a comment


Some say that sexual orientation and gender identity are sensitive issues. I understand. Like many of my generation, I did not grow up talking about these issues. But I learned to speak out because lives are at stake, and because it is our duty under the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to protect the rights of everyone, everywhere ~ UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

As non-conforming genders and diverse sexual oriented individuals declare their voices in present data and research, it is becoming clear that the responsibility is on the author to examine their questionnaire and free it of bias and discrimination which leads to oppression of marginalized groups. As Murdock & Forsyth (2011) commented, “Growing awareness of the problem of gender-biased language has led to a series of formal guidelines warning authors to exercise care in their word choices (American Psychological Association, 1975, 1977; John Wiley & Sons, 1977; Harper & Row Publishers, Inc., 1976; Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1976)” (p. 40). I am interested in using the lens of gender and sexual orientation to understand and examine how biased language is utilized in contemporary research. Sexual orientation bias in questions can be subtle and awareness is slowly increasing in the field of practice for contemporary social issues of adults in the LGBTIQQ community. Denmark, Russo, Frieze, & Sechzer (1998) stated, “Whenever values and assumptions – whether related to gender, race, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status – affect the research process, bias can operate” (p. 582).

We do not live in a binary world because we are a multi-gendered society. Research has proven that almost every continent throughout history, cultures have acknowledged, valued, and incorporated more than two genders for instance, berdache and two-spirit. Terms such as transgender and gay are strictly new constructs that assume three things: that there are only two sexes (male/female), as many as two sexualities (gay/straight), and only two genders (man/woman). (PBS: Independent Television Service, 2011, para). Why does bias language occur in research text? My focus changes to what beliefs, values and assumptions the researchers have that influence their research results as reality is constructed by their own social environments (Merriam & Simpson, 2000, para. p. 97). Our world is complicated and must be reflected in research wording to keep up with the times as the authors realize the importance of respect and participating in social justice in turn, creating social change.

Research Questions

RQ2. Should a researcher have knowledge in the Queer theory and Postmodernism regarding fluid reality to better understand their own bias?
RQ3. Should a researcher explore gender environmentalism, constructivism, and essentialism prior to preparing a questionnaire?
RQ4. Should a researcher understand what sexual orientation bias language means and why it matters?
RQ5. Can political and sociohistorical contexts influence a researcher’s questions?
RQ6. What strategies could be used for researchers to assist in altering the behavior of utilizing gender and sexual orientation bias language?
RQ7. What are my limitations for the research?
RQ8. What are the effects on a participant when bias language is utilized in a research questionnaire?
RQ9. Is there a connection between self-identified sexual orientation, bias and racial/ethnic identities?

Theoretical Perspective

I am using the lens of gender and sexual orientation to see this research through. The framework of ideas that make sense to ground my research study begin with the postmodern ideology as I feel it would be influential in shaping how diversity and power is perceived not only to the author, but to the adult learner within the researcher. It is this concept that reveals that identities are not fixed and do not determine who we are and that it can be changed. The concept confronts social ordering of identities and privileges heterosexuals and all else are considered “the other.” When this theory is applied to their questioning, dialogue will occur as they write and speak to the needs of the participants similar to an educator speaking to the needs of their students in their language (Pappas & Jerman, 2004, para. p. 55).
According to Wolfe (2014), “I believe that this concept questions categories in which researchers need to be more aware of as well as its constructs” as this ideology proposes that there is not one universal truth but many as in the case of multiple genders in our society. As a researcher revises their reality it enables the individual and adult learner to deny some of the influences of radical power therefore, being able to critically reflect on the conscious and distorting influences. McGettigan (1998) commented, “While individuals are not capable of generating completely “emancipated” social environments, nevertheless, the capacity for individuals to redefine reality and, thereby, ascertain “moments of truth” implies that it is possible for individuals to obtain an awareness of their real interests.” It can be argued that the process of redefining reality provides the basis for a solution to the paradox of emancipation. (McGettigan, 1998, para. n.p.). Multiple truths are created through language, through narrative, and through culture. This alternative construction is described by Brookfield (1992):

Postmodernism also holds that meaning is malleable and that there is no core, unequivocal meaning waiting to be discovered at the heart of any speech, written text, or visual image. Similarly, it rejects the idea that adults have a core, fixed identity that can be discovered through investigation and analysis (p. 77).

Social changes influence the use of language therefore, a researcher needs to be sensitive to the needs of the participants as it can influence the researcher-participant relationship. When an author is unprepared, lacking knowledge or sensitivity by using bias wording, inclusion is missing from their critical thinking of how to create a successful questionnaire by using gender neutral words and phrases, by not using the words man or woman, by avoiding the connections between men and their occupation and women by their bodily characteristics. For example, within my qualitative research questionnaire I posed the question to two participants, “How do you feel about the question, are you biological male or female” and revised it after reviewing my research findings to read, “How do you describe your gender?” In this instance, as a researcher I did not intend to exclude participants by the words I chose. I revised the question to create an inclusive environment for the contributor as I critically reflected on my own bias and assumptions as Stephen Brookfield (2012) noted:

These assumptions are sometimes correct. At other times, however, the assumptions we base our decisions on have never been examined. Sometimes we hold these assumptions because people we respect (friends, parents, teachers, religious leaders) have told us they are right. At other times we have picked these assumptions up as we travel through life but can’t say exactly where they’ve come from. To make good decisions in life we need to be sure that these assumptions are accurate and valid – that they fit the situations and decisions we are facing. (p. 12).

Gender and sexual orientation bias language is something that is used daily by most people as August (1986) remarked, “As our language demonstrates, such sexist stereotyping, whether unintentional or deliberate, is not only familiar but fashionable,” which affirms my research perspectives thus far as bias language does exist in today’s research. These results were in agreement with the recommendations of the American Psychological Association’s, “Guidelines for Nonsexist Language” (1975,1977): (1) generic phrasings were perceived to be somewhat biased and sexist, (2) designation and evaluation stereotyping was perceived to be extremely biased and sexist, and (3) neutral alternatives were judged to be appropriately nonsexist.(p.39). It is the postmodern theory that allows a researcher to change lenses and view identities and reality more fluidly. There is also a Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concern in the American Psychological Association which acknowledges language and culture are continually changing. Therefore, language may be ambiguous in reference, history has revealed that homosexuality has been connected with mental illness and criminal behavior and it is these stereotypes that create bias, prejudice, and discrimination (American Psychological Association’s, Guidelines for Nonsexist Language, 1975, 1977. para).
How valid are research results when skewed by participants that do not answer a question truthfully, have a fear of being truthful or selecting the “other” option because their answer is not offered? I found my experiences parallel to defining my identity. When in a lesbian relationship, I checked off single and when married to a transman legally I checked off straight. Neither of the responses were accurate for instance the latter, I was pansexual and not heterosexual according to societal beliefs. Hence, skewing the results. According to Savin-Williams (1994) who analyzed studies of hidden populations [in the closet] found they are problematic due to sampling bias, which may reveal findings that are not representative of the group and may, consequently, provide the foundations for misleading generalizations (Melendez, Bonem, Sember, 2006, para p. 23). I may be part of the hidden population when it comes to any forms or surveys I fill out since being pansexual is not an option. Research questions have what is called the “other” as a response when nothing applies or maybe the participants are not comfortable in discussing their sexual orientation or gender. Many participants will choose “other” because transgender, intersexed, pansexual, queer, or questioning are not given as a response. The idea is to study and understand the “other” in a proactive manner by acknowledging and revealing the existence of the other in a respectful way through language and then sharing the knowledge.

There is a link between politics and change associated with postmodern ethics, and self-conscious (Kong et al., 2002, p.241 cited in Price, 2011. para.). It became clear that postmodernism assumes that social constructions are self-confirming…reality beyond social constructions does not exist (Ratner, 2002, para. n.p.) Whitehead (1929) commented, “…challenged the notion of development as the core of life, arguing that since growth is organic, it cannot be controlled or determined. (Wilson & Hayes, 2000, p.527).
The second framework of ideas that make sense to ground my research study is the queer theory seen through the lens of gender and sexual orientation against the back drop of bias language in research. Cossman (2012) describes the ideology, “Queer theory has developed as an interrogation and deconstruction of the multiple discursive productions of sexuality, seeking to denaturalize the assumed connections between sex, gender and desire” (p. 7). It is based on understanding, inclusion and the breaking down of old assumptions while creating a safe space of acceptance for non-conforming participants, researchers, individuals and adult learners to learn and grow. The foundation is through fluid reality, sensitivity and holistic methods of understanding, learning and teaching through process and by using a contextual lens when viewing genders, sexual orientation, and why they matter (Wolfe, 2014, para.). Pappas & Jerman (2004) remarked:

Looking at the structural component of the contextual lens means focusing on how relationships of power across race, gender, class, disability, and sexual orientation affect the ability of adult learners who represent these groups to participate actively in learning processes (Caffarella and Merriam, 2000; Cervero, Wilson, and Associates, 2000; Tisdell, 1993,1998; p.25).
This ideology is the rethinking of culture and a collection of intellectual philosophies relating between sexual orientation and gender. In order for a researcher or adult leaner to explore the concept of identity they must first critically reflect on and challenge their own basic assumptions for instance, how is gender constructed and is sexual orientation innate? This is an important phase as this theory can be put to practice by preventing bias language whether in a questionnaire or in every day discourse resulting in social change. Spargo (1999) remarked:

In challenging our most basic assumptions about sex, gender and sexuality, including the oppositions between heterosexual and homosexual, biological sex and culturally determined gender, and man and woman, these thinkers are developing new ways of exploring the issue of human identity (p. 7).

Research Methodology

My qualitative research incorporated many different ways in finding answers although limitations were apparent in my sampling. I was only able to interview two individuals, a straight woman and a transgender man. What made it more difficult was the mandatory number of questions that could be asked on the second inquiry, I was confined to only five questions. I believe these barriers to obtain data intensified as both responses to my questionnaire were received by e-mail. No body language could be used or other variables such as tone of voice or eye contact. These factors meant relying more on scholarly reporting in the field including articles and journals, YouTube videos, classroom videos, and basing the study on action research as Merriam & Simpson (2000) reported, “…is one of analyzing, getting facts, identifying the problem, planning and taking action on the problem…” (p. 125). I selected my focus, identified theoretical perspectives, focused on research questions, collected data, analyzed and now reporting my findings as my plan for my research is to continue learning and growing to share my knowledge.

This type of investigating according to Denzin & Lincoln (2000) was, “…born out of concern to understand the other” (p. 2). I took this quote to heart. I began with a journal that incorporated showing dates of research, important quotes that could help in the progression of my study, ah-ha moments, questions, struggles, realizations, and what stood out for me. For instance one aha moment came when I began to link research bias language, postmodernism, and education as I have found that the ideology of the conception of same sex relations incorporates the examining of the of homosexual revealing no clear type of a person, and opening up multiple truths. It is the old closets that weaken and the new closets that grow. The type of participants has changed and new ways of thinking help in recognizing diversity. The approach is more action oriented, active, reflexive, and reflective as it is decentred, and deconstructed. It opens the door to dialogue on culture and politics.

My research methodology included viewing theorist videos. Libby Tisdell suggests in her video that adult educators are too narrow minded in reading only research within the adult learning field and encourages more collaboration across other education fields. “I just think it is absolutely crucial if we are serious about educating that we have to look at the multiple ways that people construct knowledge and this is also related to culture using what she says are “…the not strictly rational ways of knowing, such as how people connect to spirituality through music, poetry and imagination” (Tisdell, n.d.).
My research methods led to the writing of a poem:

As I reflect on language and its bias against gender and sexual orientation with research, I still have hope that one day change will occur in how researchers use their words that harm others.
I’m tired and yet my mind wanders…language has power
Before I lay me down to sleep
I pray for a world where language
is not biased
against gender
against sexual orientation
as we know the pain runs deep
One that takes responsibility for
and acknowledges
gender stereotyping
and learn how
not to hit us
below our core
as we know the pain runs deep
Let me dream of questions
for my research
where there are no labels
where hidden populations
can be seen and heard
where there’s not a
sexist word
Don’t always assume we all are
Don’t always assume
when using a pronoun
the world just needs to realize
what has been done
and it’s time to
make it right
as we know the pain runs deep
Realize how bias is seen and heard
every day in our words
our songs
our narratives
break the chain
to make the change
as we know the pain runs deep
In today’s research
the time has come to act
not just to dream
but make it a reality
as we know the pain runs deep.

While in the midst of my research I created a visual representation of my progress:



            As an adult learner, researcher and individual in order to grow intellectually, mentally and spiritually I must participate and invite inclusion to help create a social change process. Not everyone in society is willing to critically reflect on sexual orientation and gender let alone associate it with bias language used in inquiry. What has emerged for me is a new lens, a perspective on social issues that have been in place due to traditional values and beliefs. While some authors understand the repercussions and are self-directed in abiding and following written guidelines for example, in using correct pronouns, others must be informed and directed to use proper language. This theme is similar in education. There are adult learners that benefit from in class settings though dependent on a teacher for being told what to learn as in Freire’s (1993) banking concept of education where the teacher teaches and the students are taught, where face to face contact is part of their learning process as they are comfortable within that environment.   Whereas, in education other students use their autonomy and self-direction for example, in distance learning, to participate while taking control and responsibility for their learning by using new knowledge to improve their lives and the lives around them. It is these independent students and researchers that critically reflect, become aware and conscious of potential bias. When this occurs they will try and correct it resulting in social change.

            It is interesting to note that if a researcher is uncomfortable with a topic of inquiry their questions could contain stereotypes. When stereotyping, discrimination and bias language is utilized it is the participant that could be confused, frustrated and/or having a sense of not being included in the study as the participant’s truth of reality and the researcher’s truth of reality are opposed.   Debbink & Ornelas (1997) reported, “Not all the people are at the same level in the process. Some are very advanced in understanding their own social reality and consciousness; others are at the beginning stages of understanding. But, the important point is that we all must determine our own reality and not have it predetermined for us by others. (p.27)

RQ1. Can political and sociohistorical contexts influence a researcher’s questions?

A researcher has established assumptions, beliefs and values that are in place prior to writing questions for a survey or questionnaire. Hence, the research process begins with bias feelings or attitudes that can affect the wording of a question posed to a participant.

RQ2. What strategies could be used for researchers to assist in altering the behavior of utilizing gender and sexual orientation bias language?

a) By addressing the issue of bias, judgments, and assumptions a researcher can critically reflect on how their knowledge was constructed and how it can be revised.

b) Using examples of lesbians, gay men, and bisexual persons when referring to activities (parenting or athletic ability) that are erroneously associated only with heterosexual people by many.

c) Using sexual terminology that is relevant to lesbians and gay men as well as bisexual and heterosexual people (when did you first engage in sexual activity? rather than when did you first have sexual intercourse?). (Committee on Lesbian and Gay Concern American Psychological Association, 2004, para. n.p.).

RQ3. What are my limitations for the research?

My limitations ranged from sampling of participants to distance feedback through e-mail only.

RQ4. What are the effects on a participant when bias language is utilized in a research questionnaire?

A participant can feel distressed, frustrated and confused similar to an adult learner. Sunderland (2004) noted, “Gender bias in a text may adversely affect language learning, but I would suggest that this is very hard to prove… Effects on learning of any text are impossible to predict because we cannot predict a given reader’s response to that text, including what that reader will ‘take’ from it (p, 153).

Implications and Conclusion

            In order to understand the philosophical assumptions which my qualitative research is based, is to see that reality is constructed by individuals in interaction with their social worlds (Merriam & Simpson, 2000, para. p. 97). Based on my preliminary findings, I find that research contains bias language when an author confirms the assumptions and beliefs set in society and defends them by using normative justification. There are choices that an author makes in using their power of consciousness and controllability when writing questions. Bias language could be used while the researcher is aware and intentionally selects what is considered the norm.

            The using of bias language in research questionnaires referring to sexual orientation and gender reflects on assumptions, values and beliefs that are malleable, that can be learned as well as unlearned. This can be done by creating a space where constructive discourse and feedback will lead to building upon the effective guidelines which are already in place. According to Mezirow (1981), “…process of becoming critically aware of how and why our presuppositions have come to constrain the way we perceive, understand, and feel about our world…” (p. 22). It will be a place of communication, the breaking down boundaries where responsibility and self-directed actions come together and work as a community to create social change. Friere (1973) commented:

Dialogue is (the) fundamental part of the structure of knowledge (which) needs to be opened to other Subjects in the knowledge process. Thus the class is not a class in the traditional sense, but a meeting place where knowledge is sought and not where it is        transmitted. Just because the educator’s task is not dichotomized into two separate    moments (one in which he/she knows and another in which s/he speaks about this knowledge), education is a permanent act of cognition (p.149).

My field of practice in contemporary social issues for LGBTQQ adult learners led me to the realization that bias language in research begins with the researcher, their assumptions, views and beliefs. Although in qualitative research it is acceptable for the researcher to have their presence within the results, it becomes their responsibility of where to draw the line and avoid bias language.



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Pappas, J. P., & Jerman, J. (2004). Developing and Delivering Adult Degree Programs. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Price , E. (2011). LGBT sexualities in social care research: Improving the evidence base for adult social care practice. Retrieved from, 

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Spargo, T. (1999) Foucault and Queer Theory. Retrieved from,  y.pdf

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My Course Description For A Future Class: An Introduction To Diversity, Binary System Failure and Sexual Orientation 101   Leave a comment


Course Description: An Introduction to Diversity, Binary System Failure and Sexual Orientation 101

            The foundation of the course is based on creating social change. The field of study has grown through the years and now the focus is on diversity. This entire course focuses on social change and introduces students to the field of queer studies. Through the multi-faceted lenses of the biological, social, and psychological factors that shape identities, behaviors and beliefs we will examine theories and critically analyze those that support and fail our ideals about the topics. It opens the door to diversity. Controversial issues concerning harassment and discrimination, today’s laws and sexual orientation will be explored. This introductory course will focus on two central questions: Is our society still binary based? Does sexual orientation matter?

            We do not live in a binary world because we are a multi-gendered society. Research has proven that almost every continent throughout history, cultures have acknowledged, valued, and incorporated more than two genders for instance, berdache and two-spirit. Terms such as transgender and gay are strictly new constructs that assume three things: that there are only two sexes (male/female), as many as two sexualities (gay/straight), and only two genders (man/woman). (Independent Television Service, 2014).

 Lesson 1 – 55 minutes

Introduction to Foundations of Terminology in Gender and Sexual Orientation


This lesson aims to introduce basic terms and meanings associated with the field of study frequently used by authors and society which will incorporate new concepts in which to learn.


  • Introduce the course and expectations of the student
  • Learners will be able to describe the basic meanings of the terminology
  • Students will be able to examine, explain and illustrate knowledge of terminology in the context of discourse using standardized means of communication

Relevant Teaching

            An ice breaker will be used to get to know my students using a Gay and Lesbian Trivia activity. The students will line up on one side of the room. I will pose a series of multiple choice questions. After I read all four alternatives, I will ask each student to hold their hand up when I read the answer they believe is correct. I will announce the right answer and ask the participants who held up their hand to take one step forward. (Student Action: Individual). Questions will range from what is the Greek letter symbolizing gay and lesbian activity? to what is a genderless term that can refer to LGBTIQQ people? to which term is sometimes used to include, transsexuals, transvestites and cross-dressers? After all the questions have been posed I will ask for a round of applause for those who had taken steps. I will give them each a Hershey’s chocolate kiss. I then invite those who did not take many steps or none at all to answer questions such as, for those who did not take any steps, how do you feel about the exercise?, for those who did take a few steps, how do you feel about the exercise?, what was the most frustrating part of this activity?, what was the most rewarding part of this activity? This is followed by partnering up with another student and discussing their reactions to the exercise. Student Action: Pairs.

            Also incorporated will be a pre-assessment to find out what learners already know called One Minute Papers as each student chooses one word out of the 78 words stemming from gender posted on a white board relating to gender and sexual orientation. They will write down one word and in a group discussion explain what they know about the word and its meaning. Student Action: Group.

            The third activity will be mind-mapping in the group setting by using a single word such as gender, transgender, intersexed or words like sexual orientation will be brought to the student’s attention as Melamed called this method Clustering: Moving from the simple to the complex. According to Frye (1963), “…any word can become a storm center of meanings, sounds, and associations, radiating out indefinitely like ripples in a pool” (Taylor, Marienau & Fiddler, 2000, p. 107). Through brainstorming, each student takes a turn in giving a definition of meaning which is done through personal reflections of prior experiences. Each new word association will branch out of the concept gender and will begin to produce patterns and groupings. The exercise will be useful in helping students to understand the terminology of the field by using it, discussing the meaning, and through reflection. Students will be able to understand social and cultural factors that influence their lives (Taylor, Marienau & Fiddler, 2000, para. p.105). A group discussion will enable discourse on what contributions were given that appeared new to the learner during the activity?, were there themes or patterns that had significance during the process?, and was the student feeling: uncomfortable, confused, or enlightened after the exercise. This is an opportunity for students to participate.

            The class will end by recapping and answering questions from the students and by having students write a one minute paper on their reactions to the lesson and post it in a journal.

Lesson 2 – 55 minutes

Gender and its Meaning


            The lesson will question what gender is to society and to the student while exploring briefly how gender is formed either through gender essentialism, gender environmentalism, or gender constructivism or a combination while taking an interdisciplinary look at gender in society. According to some authors gender is socially constructed through the expectation that is placed on an individual based on their sex. While others believe gender is biological and other’s lean towards the environment. Gender refers to psychological, social, and cultural differences between women, men, transgenders and intersexed.


  • Introduces gender roles and its impact beginning on a personal level and on a community and interpersonal level.
  • Students will be able to explore and describe differences in genders
  • Learners will connect theories and analyze the various concepts to gain better insight to the many genders that are part of our society

Relevant Teaching

Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, and Comment on prior class.

            I will ask the group to write down their personal definition of sexual orientation and gender and compare definitions to the student next to them. Each pair will report their findings in a group discussion. This opens up dialogue while giving and receiving feedback.

            I will use the Instructor Action Storytelling activity discussed by Yee (2005) to explain and describe my personal concept of gender. I will openly discuss my story of marrying and divorcing a transman and being on an MSNBC documentary based on the topic of transpeople legally marrying. I will answer student’s questions as they arise.

            Another activity for this lesson will allow students the opportunity to reflect on how their beliefs, values and convictions came to be and how firmly they are committed to them. I will ask students to spend a few minutes writing down their answers to these questions on a “Where I Stand on the Issues” chart. Note: I will tell the students that their responses are for their own use and will not be collected or graded.
Where do I stand on the following issues?

o     Gender essentialism

o     Gender environmentalism

o    Gender constructivism

            After students have spent time reflecting on where they stand on the issues they will break up into groups of four. Each student will select one issue to discuss with the group members. Note: I will tell the students that the point here is not to defend their position, but rather to discuss how they arrived at their beliefs. This will give students the opportunity to practice what has been taught and will be followed by a group discussion on student reactions to the lesson and to the three theories.

            Students will be asked to write a one minute paper to be posted in their journal based on their any thoughts or feelings regarding the activity. This will give students the opportunity to practice.

Lesson 355 minutes/15 minute break/ 20 minutes

Social Constructions, Environment and Biology


This lesson digs deeper into the meaning of gender, surrounding issues, and the various theories

associated in the field. Topics will include the biological basis of gender distinctions versus the environmental factors.


  • To encourage students to become more informed on what gender is
  • Students will be able to distinguish between differences in gender and begin to make meaning of the context utilizing various theories

Relevant Teaching

Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, and Comment on prior class

            Watching a documentary: Dr. Money and the Boy with No Penis (2004) followed by a group discussion on students reactions. The viewing of the documentary for students will be to practice what they have learned by taking notes and answering key questions for a written assignment.

1. How does gender environmentalism apply to David Reimer?

2. How does gender constructivism apply to David Reimer?

3. How does Gender essentialism apply to David Reimer?

4. Was David Reimer a boy or a girl? Why?

            Students will write a one minute paper to be posted in their journal based on their reactions to the documentary.

            A group discussion will follow and students will be asked to write a one minute paper to be posted in their journal based on their reactions to the class discussion. This will give students the opportunity to participate.

Lesson 4 – 55 minutes

Gender Stereotyping


This lesson aims to build on student’s understanding and knowledge of gender stereotyping. The point of this lesson is to explore different situations where gender stereotyping can alter an outcome, and can both physically and mentally damage a person. According to Henderson & Murdock (2011), “Therefore, students should gain a deeper understanding of how, for instance, their individually held beliefs affect the larger society and reinforce stereotypes and discrimination” (p. 2).


  • Learners will be able to identify and challenge gender stereotypes, emphasizing that gender is something that we can create in different ways
  • Students will investigate relevant issues of gender stereotyping and consider the social inequalities
  • Learners will be able to examine, describe, interpret, and identify gender stereotyping
  • Students willexplore and describe why gender stereotypes exist in today’s world

Relevant Teaching

Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, and Comment on prior class

            Beyond pink and blue: This is an activity examining how gender stereotyping affects relationships. I will use a PowerPoint presentation as a visual presentation defining sexual orientation and gender, general historical context, discussing gender characteristics, gender roles that are enforced daily, and examples of international, and national, gender inequality.

            A group discussion will follow and students will be asked to write a one minute paper to be posted in their journal based on their reactions to the class discussion. This will give students the opportunity to participate.

Lesson 5 -55 minutes

Gender Inequality and Power in Relationships


            This lesson will utilize a critical approach in examining perspectives on gender inequality and the role it plays in contemporary society as it forms experiences of gender. Topics include gender inequality and oppression, the structures of gender inequality, and examples of gender equality from around the world. Gender bias is considered a construction of the socialization process and it is the extension of patriarchal ideology. It is discrimination or hate towards people (Kaur, 2012, para.). Also, I will introduce the critical pedagogy theory as it asks first about these systems of belief and action, who benefits? The primary preoccupation of critical pedagogy is with social injustice and how to transform inequitable, undemocratic, or oppressive institutions and social relations (Burbules & Berk, 1999, para. n.p.). It is the dialogue that cultural action for freedom is characterized by and its preeminent purpose is to conscientize the people (Freire 1970a, 47, cited in a Burbules & Rupert Berk, 1999, para. n.p.).


  • Students will be able to identify relations of power and inequalities between genders
  • Students will be able to explain the struggles of gender minority groups
  • Students will illustrate knowledge of the codification of gender inequality
  • Adult learners will discuss the different forms of gender oppression

Relevant Teaching

Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, and Comment on prior class

            Prior to the class I would assign readings of several journal articles and a chapter from one of the texts. I will pair the students for a debate as Elliot (1993) commented, “For this reason and others, the use of the In-Class Debate in courses on gender is an effective teaching tool that allows exploration of both sides of relatively controversial issues (O’Kon & Sutz, 2004, n.p.). This will engage students in critical thinking and utilize research skills as they will have to defend a stance on gender and/or sexual orientation.

            On the day of the debate, the two students sit facing each other in front of the class. The debate begins with each student making an opening statement of no longer than 5 minutes, during which initial arguments for the pro and con sides are presented:

I believe that gender inequality is a natural consequence of biological differences and will always exist


Gender inequality is rooted in attitudes, society and culture and without effort, can be eliminated. (Amnesty International, 2013).

            All other students become the audience and can actively participate by asking questions and making comments. These students are held accountable for the material because questions about the debate topic are always included on a test. After opening statements, students can ask questions of the other adult learners and make arguments for their side. This will give students the opportunity to participate. They can also use their notes to refute arguments made by the opposing side. Students are encouraged to present information based on research rather than simply expressing personal opinions. Grades are assigned based on the quality of the prepared notes and how effectively each student used this information. At the conclusion of the debate, students are given an opportunity to communicate to the class which side of the debate topic they actually support and to express their real feelings. This “debriefing” is an important last step, serving a cathartic function for adult learners and permitting others to state their views more openly. Gender inequality is investigated through discourse (O’Kon, J. & Sutz, R., 2004. para. n.p.). Student Action: Pairs

            Students will be asked to write a one minute paper to be posted in their journal based on their reactions and what they have learned to the class.

Lesson 6 – 55 minutes

Discrimination and Prejudice: Gender and Sexual Orientation


            The lesson explores the history and different types of discrimination and prejudice against non-conforming genders and non-conforming sexual orientation individuals. I will incorporate critical theories and include topics such as, the new changes in the sex elements within the Equality Act (2010) regarding gender reassignment and sexual orientation. The newest change for sexual orientation is a reference to a person who has a particular protected characteristic is a reference to a person who is of a particular sexual orientation and a reference to persons who share a protected characteristic is a reference to persons who are of the same sexual orientation reported by a legislative website.


  • Students will be able to demonstrate awareness, recognize, and identify prejudices and discrimination against gender and sexual orientation.
  • Learners will be able to describe and explain discrimination and prejudice against gender and sexual orientation
  • Students will be able to understand the underlying meaning behind prejudice
  • Students will be able to propose approaches to create change and advance social justice
  • Learners will analyze and examine the prevailing social concepts about gender, the power inequities which is characteristic , and the ramifications of social norms

Relevant Teaching

Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, and Comment on prior class

            The purpose of this transformational learning tool, Guided Imagery as an activity can be used for the student to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes” and to look through a different and critical lens regarding discrimination and prejudice while developing empathy. The purpose is to open the door to straight adult learners in order for them to experience the societal stigma of being gay and coming out in today’s contemporary society. It is bringing the student closer to understanding and feeling what it’s like to be an “other.” Jost (2004) described this activity as an “an imaginary experience [that] feels so real that it can include sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and emotion”, and “it often uses images that are symbolic” (Henderson & Murdock, 2011, p.2). How it feels to be different is an exercise in Guided Imagery written by Adams:

            I ask the students to please get comfortable. If they chose they can close their eyes and sit back and relax. Concentrate as I take you to a world very different from the one in which we live—a world in which you are straight, but everyone else is not. In this world, almost all of the teachers and students in your school are gay. All of your friends and family members are gay; most of the doctors, judges, politicians and world leaders are gay. Celebrities are all gay, as are all of the priests, rabbis, Sufis, and imams. In this world, all of the books and television programs are about gay characters, and marriage is legal only for gay couples.

            Of course, there are some straight people, but they are ridiculed and whispered about. Clearly, there is something really bad about being straight. You have heard things like: straight people are sick; they are obsessed with sex. Programs on television sometimes explore the curious ‘straight lifestyle,’ describing how straight people are always getting pregnant or infected with HIV. In these programs, straights are like the characters out of an old circus sideshow—exposed for their oddities. Your friends have told you that straight people are often child abusers and you have overheard your neighbor saying that straights are emotionally disturbed and have no morals.

            Last year there was a big problem in your town because someone accused one of the teachers of being straight—parents don’t want straight people to teach their children—so, the teacher was fired even though she insisted that she was gay. There are few, if any, protections for straight people. You have heard that straights can’t lead scout troops, and that straights can be fired from their jobs or kicked out of the military if people find out about them. There’s even a story you heard last week about a kid who was kicked out of his own home because he told his dad he might be straight.

            This is all very scary for you because you are beginning to think that you, too, might be straight. More than anything in the world, you want your parents to love you, to accept you as you are. What will they say if you tell them that you might be straight?! The thought of telling them—of telling anyone—makes you sick to your stomach. Who can you turn to? Your brother’s talk nonstop about how cute the quarterback on the local football team is. Your sister has a crush on the latest supermodel. You wish you had a crush on someone of your own sex, but you don’t! It’s people of the opposite sex that attract you. No one in your family has these feelings—in fact, no one you know has them, so you continue to hide this scariest of secrets. Somewhere deep inside you understand that, if people found out who you really are, they would ridicule you. Worse yet—they might not love you anymore!

            Sometimes you think that you have to tell someone about this secret. You spend hours thinking about whom to approach. You remember when you were a kid hearing your dad tell nasty jokes about straights at the dinner table and everyone laughed. So, you can’t tell your family. You remember your family’s religious leader telling the congregation that being straight is unnatural and immoral and the whole congregation nodded in agreement. So telling the religious leader is definitely out. In health class you learned that it is normal to feel physically and emotionally attracted to people of your same sex. No one talked about being attracted to someone of the opposite sex. You are sure that what you are feeling cannot be normal and that no one can help you. Last week in math class, two of the popular athletes started taunting this shy kid and calling him ‘straight.’ The teacher just ignored it. You heard her laugh the week before, however, when the kid in the second row called out in disgust that the poem the class was supposed to read for English was ‘so straight.’

            All of this makes you feel really isolated and afraid. You are unsure what to do. Where can you turn? Who can you talk to? You can’t talk about your feelings at home; your school feels unsafe; you don’t trust your friends to support you. Having this secret is a little like having a piranha inside—it keeps eating away at your self-esteem, so that after a while you hate how you feel and you hate yourself, too!

            Ask the participants to sit up, open their eyes if they were closed, and reconnect with the group. Ask each participant to turn to the person next to her/him and take a few minutes to talk about how it would feel to live in such a world and what it would feel like if they had to keep so many secrets about themselves. Then, ask the pairs to discuss what those feelings might lead them to do if this were a real situation.

            Call the group back together and ask for volunteers who are willing to share their thoughts and feelings with the whole group. Write their responses on a white board. Add checkmarks when other participants offer the same or similar responses. Expect to hear answers like: feeling angry, sad, and isolated; dropping out of school; staying home from school; using alcohol and other drugs; breaking the rules; and feeling depressed. If students do not suggest these feelings and responses, suggest them yourself.

            I will explain that while the situation is, of course, fictional, it mirrors the real world faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed and questioning people. Say that, because they are often understandably afraid to ‘come out’ (reveal their sexual orientation) to others, gay, lesbian, and bisexual students, transgender and intersexed are forced to keep many parts of their lives secret. Sometimes keeping so many secrets leads to their dropping out of school. Say that, eventually, most gay, lesbian and bisexual, transgender and intersexed people, including people, find ways to tell the people who are important to them and find friends who are supportive of them. The struggle to decide who is safe to tell lasts all of one’s life, because there is so much ignorance and fear about homosexuality in our society.

A group discussion will include questions such as:

How would it feel to have to hide something as important and as basic as your sexual orientation, (the sex of the people to whom you are romantically, emotionally, and physically attracted)?

What were the first things you remember learning about homosexuality? Do you remember learning anything from your family? Friends? Community of faith? Was what you learned positive or negative?

Have you ever learned about or discussed issues of sexual orientation in class? What did you learn?

What movie or television character have you recently seen that is LGBTIQQ? How has that affected your thinking?

How would it feel to need to hide from other people your gender or the sex of those to whom you are attracted? How would that affect your life?

            Think-Pair-Share is the next activity. The purpose of the Think-Pair-Share activity is for students to participate in a discussion on prejudice and its effect on society and people’s civil rights. Student’s pair up to discuss the following questions:

What happens when people are judged by the way they look?

What is prejudice? (List examples of how prejudice causes some people to stereotype others.)

What are some examples of prejudice resulting in unfair treatment of people?

Why do you think some people are prejudiced?

What is tolerance? (List examples of ways people practice tolerance or respect toward others.) What do people gain or lose from respecting or not respecting other people’s diversity?

What do you think the United States and the world in general gain or lose from not respecting diversity?

What are some things that can happen when people practice intolerance over a long period of time?

What can people do to help create an environment that encourages respect for all persons?

            A group discussion will follow and students will be asked to write a one minute paper to be posted in their journal based on their reactions and their feelings on the topic. This will give students the opportunity to participate.


Lesson 7 – 55 minutes

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity


            This lesson will incorporate the historic, philosophic, psychological concepts, theories, gender, sex, and love. Topics include the impact of pressures on the development and expression of sexual orientations, biological developmental, and social influences on sexual orientations across the lifespan (Sarah Lemons, 2012, para.), gender identification, the social construction of sexual orientation, gay and lesbian identities, coming out, AIDS, pre- and post-Stonewall activism, transgender issues, hate crimes, bisexual and hybrid identities, and new voices. (Oakton Community College, para.). Gender is a process, day to day stratification system and structure. Daily actions reinforce gender, stratification equals men as a group have more status and power than women. Women are treated as the “other” and structure divides work in the home and economic production. It legitimates those in authority and organizes sexuality and emotional life (Kaur, 2012, para. n.p.).


  • Learners will be able to investigate factors that influence gender identity including sexual orientation
  • Students will be able to critically analyze issues pertaining to sexual orientation that influence adult learner’s decisions concerning sexual behavior.
  • Learners will be able to identify representations of gender identity and sexuality orientation
  • Students will examine the basic and functional traits of sexuality the social and cultural aspects of gender identity and sexual orientation

Relevant Teaching

Recall, Summarize, Question, Connect, and Comment on prior class

            I will use the Instructor Storytelling lecture to illustrate a personal real life situation of prejudice that occurred against my ex-husband (a transman) and I when we were at a family Easter celebration resulting in a hate crime. I will discuss theories that apply and will answer questions as they arise from the students.

            In using the Real World activity by Yee (2005) I will post the names of the theories and the authors on a whiteboard that I feel will make strong connections to the lesson. I will also list a few that are contrary. I will divide the class into groups of three and ask them to discuss definitions, theories, associations, and applications of concepts that were addressed in the lecture. One student from each group will address the class to discuss and define one theory that could address the occurrence of a hate crime followed by a group discussion. Student Action: Group.

            Non-gender specific dating conversation is an activity that offers the student the opportunity to practice what has been taught. Participants will gain a better understanding of the challenges faced by gay, lesbian, and bisexual, transgender and intersexed people when discussing dating, partners, or significant others amongst peers, friends, family and co-workers that they do not feel comfortable sharing their sexual orientation with. (USC Student Affairs, 2014, para).

            Each participant will partner up with another participant in the room to discuss the last date they had with a significant other or friend using non-gender specific language. The following words are not allowed to be used:

            He                   His

She                  Her

Boy                 Man

Girl                  Woman

            Each participant will have about 5 minutes to discuss a recent date. A group discussion will focus on the experience and its difficulties. The purpose is to have the student view gender identity and sexual orientation with a critical lens.

            The class will end by recapping and answering questions from the students and by having students write a one minute paper on their reactions and feelings about the lesson and post it in a journal.



            The assessment strategies will include of discussions, written/oral assignments, active and prepared participation in class, journalizing reflections, quantitative and qualitative testing and summative assessments. These will incorporate observing the learners throughout the lesson, testing through matching, multiple-choice or fill in the blank questions which will be conducted at the end of the unit resulting in a grade and a student project.

            The activities support each other as they build a stronger knowledge base for the adult learner. I begin with the terminology, the Gay and Lesbian Trivia opened the door to the study incorporating words that were used in the first lesson. The pre-assessment reinforced the prior lessons as words were focused on in dialogue. The mind mapping exercise will be useful in helping students to understand the terminology of the field by using it, discussing the meaning, and through reflection. In the activity writing down personal definitions of words opens up dialogue while giving and receiving feedback. In the Instructor Action Storytelling activity I am helping students connect terminology with reality and a real person. I believe in taking the holistic approach as I am teaching and learning simultaneously like Freire (1970, p. 80) had talked about and as Kasworm stated, “Holistic learning encompasses all of these various roads, including cognitive, somatic, affective, and spiritual domains along with artistic and transpersonal domains (p. 36).

            The next activity for this lesson will allow students the opportunity to reflect on how their beliefs, values and convictions regarding gender and sexual orientation will make critical connections as they reflect on what they have learned as it is building on the concept of gender. The next activity is watching a documentary: Dr. Money and the Boy with No Penis (2004) which is an opportunity for students to practice what they have learned in a written assignment. Beyond pink and blue was the next activity that supports the purpose where students examine, and distinguish between differences in gender and begin to make meaning of the context. The in class debate activity will engage students in critical thinking and utilize research skills to prepare to defend a position on gender and/or sexual orientation. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes is a storytelling activity and an extension of the prior lessons as it offers an opportunity to switch places with an individual and through imagery to see, hear, think and feel as the “other”.

Again I used an Instructor Storytelling lecture to illustrate a personal real life situation of prejudice which connects to the discrimination of gender. The next, Real World activity addresses theories that have been taught and the students begin to use them in practice.

The Non-gender specific dating activity engages the student in a dilemma in which non-conforming individuals must face. This is similar to put yourself in someone else’s shoes as I am encouraging new experiences in which to learn, reflect and grow. Each of these activities is like the building of my chili cheese dip.

            In summation, there are layers in which I create my unit and the dip staring with cream cheese, then a can of Hormel chili without beans then spreading out shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top, then black olives, green chili peppers on top, and last chopped tomatoes. My activities carry the students through the unit, layer by layer. If I did my job well, then it will be a happy ending for all.


Adams, F. (2005), How It Feels to Be Different: Exercise in Guided Imagery. Retrieved from,

Beyond pink and blue: A lesson plan examining how gender stereotyping affects relationships.

(n. d). Retrieved from

Burbules, N. C. & Berk, R.(1999). Critical Thinking and Critical Pedagogy: Relations,

Differences, and Limits. Critical Theories in Education, New York: Routledge.

Retrieved from,

Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Rev. 30th Anniversary ed. New York: Continuum. Retrieved September 2, 2013, from

Henderson, A. C. & Murdock, J. L. (2011). Getting Students Beyond Ideologies: Using Heterosexist Guided imagery in the Classroom.

Retrieved from

Kasworm, C., Rose, A. & Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2010). Handbook of Adult and Continuing

Education. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.

Kaur, G. (2012). Gender as a social construct gender roles gender bias in educational practice.

Retrieved from

-construct (2010). Equality Act 2010. Retrieved from,

Lemons, S. (2012). Sexual Orientation Concentration. Retrieved from


Oakton Community College. (2014). Gender, Identity and Literature. Retrieved from,

O’Kon, J. & Sutz, R. (2004, August). Using In-Class Debates to Teach Gender Issues in

Psychology. E-xcellence in Teaching, 6, n.p. Retrieved from,

Taylor, K., Marienau, C., & Fiddler, M. (2000). Developing Adult Learners:

Strategies for Teachers and Trainers. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

USC Student Affairs. (n. d.). Educational Activities. Retrieved from,

Yee, K. (2005). Interactive Techniques. Retrieved from,


Image: Rethinking the Day of Silence. (2013). Retrieved from,

(2014). Lesson Plan: Examining Prejudice. Retrieved from,


 hand_rightAnnotated Bibliography

Adams, F. (2005), How It Feels to Be Different: Exercise in Guided Imagery. Retrieved from,

The author presented a story within his Guided imagery. It is a story that changes the life of one person as they became the other, an outsider to family, friends and society. It is written with deep emotion as a straight person who finds themselves as a minority associated with discrimination and prejudice as the world is gay. Adams (2005) discusses what an “other” feels, “All of this makes you feel really isolated and afraid. You are unsure what to do. Where can you turn? Who can you talk to?” It is useful to my unit to do an activity similar to role playing to help students reflect on their own actions.

Henderson, A. C. & Murdock, J. L. (2011). Getting Students Beyond Ideologies: Using   Heterosexist Guided imagery in the Classroom.

Retrieved from,

The authors examined the impact of guided imagery as a transformational learning tool. Henderson & Murdock (2011), reported, “Guided imagery has been recognized as an effective pedagogical technique (Drake 1996;Galyean and Krishnamurti 1981) as one creates images in the students’ minds by outlining a topic or area of focus to enhance learning and encourage critical thinking (Wheatley et al.1989) (p.2). The benefit of this exercise is allow a conforming gender and sexual orientation adult learner to experience what it’s like to be an “other.” The study discussed Heterosexism and Homophobia, Homophobic attitudes and heterosexist ideologies on college campuses exist everywhere. It is useful to my unit as it is an activity that erases barriers of age, race, education, gender, and sexual orientation.

O’Kon, J. & Sutz, R. (2004, August). Using In-Class Debates to Teach Gender Issues in

Psychology. E-xcellence in Teaching, 6, n.p. Retrieved from,

This brief study begins by addressing the fact that our would is ever changing and becoming more complex with the altering of gender roles as it is recognized by educators as O’Kon (2004) commented, “It is this diversity in perspective that sets the stage for a lively exchange of ideas in the classroom” (n.p.). The authors chose to show two formats of debate activities for the classroom setting to help in guide teachers in the field of gender since it is an effective teaching tool that explores both side of a controversial subject. (Elliot, 1993, cited in O’Kon & Sutz, 2004, para. n. p.). It is useful to my unit as different lenses can be worn by the students in which to reflect upon and learn from.

(2014). Lesson Plan: Examining Prejudice. Retrieved from,

Viewing Two Towns of Jasper is suggested by the author(s) to make a connection to four of the activities that are presented and based on prejudice. The objectives are to evaluate personal hidden biases, synthesize information from a variety of sources, analyze convictions, and commitment to social issue. (para. n.p). Activity four in particular is based on reflection. “The purpose of this activity is for students to consider how they have arrived at their convictions and how firmly they are committed to their beliefs” (n. p). In order to create social change we must first look within. It is useful to my unit as it gives students time to reflect on the hows and whys of their own beliefs and values.

Theory to Practice: How I Constructed A Future Gender And Sexual Orientation Class Unit And Theories   Leave a comment

There are three theories that have guided my direction towards my goals as an educator. The ideology of social reconstruction is viewed as a social lens in curriculum’s through critical study of power and culture. It reveals that there are unhealthy aspects of society in which survival is threatened due to our established methods created by society in which we respond to our social dilemmas. There is an underlying assumption that alternatives are available to prevent society from damaging itself further hence, education is a way to help problem solve society’s dilemmas. As I grow from an adult learner to an educator to a change agent to a scholar, I am responsible for developing learners as change agents who will learn how to participate in constructing a more just society. According to Knowles (1980) & Brookfield (1986), “The optimum role that adult educators fulfill is defined more broadly than the traditional teacher or professor, ranging from leader to facilitator to change agent.” (Knowles, 1980, Brookfield, 1986, cited in Pappas & Jerman, 2004, p. 32). This theory challenges the adult learner to question social assumptions, to reflect upon them, and then create action resulting in social change.

            I identify with this ideology as it gives me direction in my goals and strategies as a way to create a safe space and place for multiple opportunities of carefully guided group discussions that are reflected in my unit plan as Friere (1973) commented:

            Dialogue is (the) fundamental part of the structure of knowledge (which) needs to be opened to other Subjects in the knowledge process. Thus the class is not a class in the traditional sense, but a meeting place where knowledge is sought and not where it is          transmitted. Just because the educator’s task is not dichotomized into two separate moments (one in which he/she knows and another in which s/he speaks about this knowledge), education is a permanent act of cognition (p.149).

My unit will reveal group discourse regarding discrimination, stereotyping, and bias against non-conforming people which is considered a construction of the socialization process and it is the extension of patriarchal ideology (Kaur, 2012, para. n.p.). I would present a videosong presentation of four young men singing about cognitive bias that exist and incorporate a discussion period open to student reactions:

            Furthermore, the transformative learning theory begins with a disorienting dilemma that reveals a conflict between what an adult learner assumed to be the truth and what they have experienced in the past. As we mature it is our experiences that drive adult learners to develop assumptions in the meaning schemes of specific situations and meaning perspectives of broad worldviews. (Brookfield, 1992, para. p. 77). Cranton (1994) explains, “Transformative learning theory leads us to view learning as a process of becoming aware of one’s assumptions and revising these assumptions” (cited in Schroeder, 2005, n. p.). In my opinion, it is the analyzing of our assumptions, knowledge and the world around us that can challenge social oppression and develop transformative adult learners as Boyd (1991) stated, “…making the unconscious conscious, becoming aware of aspects of themselves of which they are not conscious” (cited in Dirkx, 1998, p. 7). Brown (2006) also confirmed how to confront oppression:

            By being actively engaged in a number of transformative learning strategies requiring the examination of ontological and epistemological assumptions, values and beliefs, context and experience, and competing worldviews, future leaders will be better equipped to understand, critically analyze, and grow in their perceived ability to challenge various forms of social oppression including racism, sexism, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, ableism, and classism” (p. 705).

            This theory gives me direction in my goals and strategies as it raises consciousness within our society through discourse and analyzing dilemmas resulting in adult learners beginning to develop awareness of structures within their society that may be contributing to inequality and oppression” (Dirkx, 1998, para. p. 3). It is transforming our frame of reference as active learner through critical reflection and examining beliefs, values and assumptions that can revise our assumptions, beliefs, and values in order to problem solve, create social change or justice, or when being involved in a communicative learning environment (Mezirow, 1997, para. p. 7).

            Boyd (1989) claims “…an outcome of transformative learning includes a change in self as an adult learner’s goal is to become an autonomous and a responsible thinker…” (as cited in Schroeder, 2005, n. p) although transitional learning also focuses on the community of adult learners. Mezirow (1997) discussed the self as autonomous, “Autonomy here refers to the understanding, skills, and disposition necessary to become critically reflective of one’s own assumptions and to engage effectively in discourse to validate one’s beliefs through the experiences of others who share universal values” (p. 9). As part of the developmental nature of an adult’s process of change, reflective discourse is necessary as it is the reflection of self as Taylor & Marienau (2002) stated, “…a self that can examine its own biases and assumptions, make and carry out thoughtful commitments, and reach out to others for mutual enhancement.” (n. p.).

            In addition, it is through gender studies in general and the queer theory specifically that gives me direction in my goals and strategies as I focus on fluid reality, sensitivity and holistic methods of understanding, learning and teaching through process and by using a contextual lens when viewing genders, sexual orientation, and why they matter. Pappas & Jerman (2004) remarked:

            Looking at the structural component of the contextual lens means focusing on how relationships of power across race, gender, class, disability, and sexual orientation affect the ability of adult learners who represent these groups to participate actively in learning processes (Caffarella and Merriam, 2000; Cervero, Wilson, and Associates, 2000 Tisdell, 1993,1998; p.25).

            It is based on learning outside the hetero-normative box. In my opinion, this theory offers potential of informing pedagogy in adult learning as I will apply theory to practice. According to Freire (1998), “Thinking about practice means thinking about the theory inherent in it. Thinking about theory means thinking about how it emerges “soaked in well-carried out practice (cited in Grace, 2001, p. 258). This theory has its own complexities as Gamson (2000) noted, “The theory insists that all sexual behaviors, all concepts linking sexual behaviors to sexual identities, and all categories of normative and deviant sexualities are social constructs (cited in Misawa, 2010, p. 30). It is about examining the shifting identities within our society as well as acknowledging these identities. Grace & Hill (2004) described, “The q in queer theory can never be defined in any stable way, since the notion itself rejects an essentialist epistemology that defines sexuality in a bifurcated, either/or way as gay or straight, hetro or homo” (cited in Brookfield, 1992, p. 77). As an educator I must be able to construct a safe learning environment in which inclusion is a priority as factors and assumptions regarding genders and sexual orientation are explored in order for learner’s stories to be shared. I believe this theory is based on listening and understanding to the various identities that exist in our society.

            I identify strongly with this theory as I am pansexual, meaning I follow my heart and not gender when it comes to the affairs of the heart and feel a connection to the LGBTIQQ community. I am not alone as other adult learners and educators are non-conformers to the norms placed in our society. I felt an instant connection with Bettinger, Timmins, & Tisdell’s (2006) description of Tisdell’s queering sexuality as the journey of labeling ones sexuality is seen through a contextual lens, “ In describing living as a heterosexual, and then a lesbian, and then again as a heterosexual, Tisdell rejects the descriptor of bisexual writing, for me my sexual orientation is contextual, and related more to a person and relationship, than with one gender or another” (cited in Brookfield, 1992, p. 74). I believe my unit plan reflects this theory as critical reflection and discourse will be utilized through exploring the history of genders and sexual orientation, the meaning of genders and its social influences, and the impact of pressures on the development and expression of sexual orientation.

            In my opinion, the ideology of social reconstruction should dominate in the current state of U.S. schools. It is based on the concept of the educational system needing to guide and support adult learners in helping them to reflect and act on addressing the social injustices by changing their world. This can take place when knowledge, privilege, and power are focused on and the connection to oppression of the marginalized voices. It is the realization that the systems placed in society appears to be its downfall to of those who are in need the most. The educational system needs to change to benefit the oppressed as Freire believed (2005), “…that reflection and action were inseparable. He thought that reflection without action is merely “verbalism” and action without reflection is only “activism.” In other words, you cannot act without thinking and reflection without action will not change reality. Praxis is at the heart of transforming the world and thus becoming “fully human.” (p. 87).

            The ideology in my view that does dominate in the current state of U.S. schools is transformative learning theory because it has changed the way educators teach their students as adult learners are self-directed, in need of critical discourse, strive to be autonomous, and free from oppression. Freire (1993) commented:

            If students are not able to transform their lived experiences into knowledge and to use the already acquired knowledge as a process to unveil new knowledge, they will never be able to participate rigorously in a dialogue as a process of learning and knowing (p.19). This theory brings to light the importance of critical self-reflection and self-directed learning as Kitchenham (2008) described the connection between Mezirow’s (1978a, 1978b) initial theory and Freire’s (2005) concept to confront oppression within the educational system resulting in a view of perspective transformation in relating to emancipatory process, ” ….a conviction that meaning exists within ourselves rather than in external forms such as books and that personal meanings that we attribute to our experience are acquired and validated through human interaction and communication” and went on to say… In other words, meaning is individualistic and found inside the learner and teacher rather than prescribed by external influences such as written texts and speeches; however, that meaning becomes significant to the learner through critical discourse with others. (p. 113).

            I would endorse applying the queer theory to the teaching strategy of discourse between large and small group adult learners as an effective practice. Students bring an array of epistemological assumptions , beliefs and values into a learning environment and it is through discussions that stories are shared and reflected upon as Freire (1985), stated, “The nature of the dialogue is what forms the basis of critical consciousness” (p. 98). It is this theory that touches each student as questioning arises from deeper issues regarding genders and sexual orientation. Alexander & Gibson (2004) commented:

            Queer theory moves us beyond the multicultural task of accepting and validating identity  and moves us toward the more difficult process of understanding how identity, even the most intimate perceptions of self, arise out of a complex matrix of shifting social power. In this way, we believe queer theory has uses and applications for self-understanding that engage all students as they narrate their identities for us, tell us who they are, and give us-  and themselves-the stories of their lives, past, present, and future (p. 3).

            In conclusion, my involvement in this course has reinforced my orientations toward these theories as they reveal the fact that I don’t have to reinvent the wheel regarding my own ideas, beliefs and values in the field of gender and sexual orientation studies as there are others who in agreement who came before me. I have begun researching free newsletters and magazines to study theories that inform my practice. I will reread certain chapters in text books and refer back to those that went in to detail of assessments, activities and strategies. Being an eternal student I will continue to read selections from journals and books that will help me to be better equipped on my journey as an educator in the field of gender and sexual orientation studies.



Alexander, J. & Gibson, M. (2004). Queer Composition(s): Queer Theory in the Writing

Classroom. Retrieved from,


Boyd, R.D. (1989). Facilitating personal transformation in small groups, Part I. Small Group

Behavior, 20(4), 459-474. In Schroeder, C. M. (2005). Evidence of the Transformational

Dimensions of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Through

the Eyes of SoTL Scholars. Retrieved from,

Brookfield, S. D. (1992) Theoretical Frameworks for understand the field. In Kasworm, C. E.,

Rose, A. D. & Ross-Gordon, J. M. (Eds.), Handbook of Adult and Continuing Education

(2010 ed.) (71-81). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Brown, K. M. (2006, December). Leadership for Social Justice and Equity: Evaluating a

Transformative Framework and Andragogy. Educational Administration Quarterly, 42

(5), 700-745. Retrieved from,

Dirkx. J. M. (1998).Transformative learning theory in practice of adult education: An overview.

            PAACE Journal of Lifelong Learning, 7, 1-14. Retrieved from,


Freire, P. (1973). Education for Critical Consciousness. New York: Continuum. Retrieved from,

Freire, P. (2005). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Rev. 30th Anniversary ed. New York: Continuum.

Retrieved from,

Freire, P. (1985). Politics of Education. New York: Bergin and Garvey. Retrieved from,

Grace, A. P. (2001). Using Queer Cultural studies to transgress adult educational space.

Retrieved from,

Kaur, G. (2012). Gender as a social construct gender roles gender bias in educational practice.

Retrieved from


Kitchenham, A. (2008). The Evolution of John Mezirow’s Transformative Learning Theory.

Journal of Transformative Education, 6 (104), 104-123. Retrieved from,



Mezirow, J. (1997, Summer). Transformative Learning: Theory to Practice. New Directions For

            Adult And Continuing Education, 74, 5-12. Retrieved from,


Misawa, M. (2010). Queer Race Pedagogy for Educators in Higher Education: Dealing with         Power Dynamics and Positionality of

LGBTQ Students of Color. International Journal of     Critical Pedagogy, 3 (1), p. 26-35. Retrieved from,

Pappas, J. P., & Jerman, J. (2004). Developing and Delivering Adult Degree Programs. San

Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

PowerPoint presentation: ESC 6.2: Curriculum Theories and Ideologies. Retrieved from,

Schroeder, C. M. (2005). Evidence of the Transformational Dimensions of the Scholarship of

Teaching and Learning: Faculty Development Through the Eyes of SoTL Scholars.

Retrieved from,

Taylor, K. & Marienau, C. (2002). Developing Adult Learners: A Model. Retrieved from,



Review of Born into Brothels by Briski & Kauffman’s (2004) documentary   Leave a comment

Briski & Kauffman’s (2004) documentary was effective as a participatory action research project which was funded so she could observe by living with the people and become part of their community in order to get a glimpse into their culture. According to Rahman (1991), “At the micro level, PAR is a philosophy and style of work with people tp promote people’s empowerment for changing their immediate environment – social and physical – in their favor” (p. 80). Briski commented, “I knew I couldn’t do it as a visitor, I wanted to stay with them, live with them and understand their lives.” Briski took on the role of a narrative inquirer as Clandinin & Connelly (2000) discussed, “…they settle in, live and work alongside participants, and come to experience not only what can be seen and talked about directly but also the things not said and not done that shape the narrative structure of their observations and their talking (p. 113).

The photographer began with a project about women and began a second project about children and camera’s. It was interesting to watch her research goals change as she focused more on the children and their photography then her first intention of being dedicated to the women of the red light district. Were Briski’s goals scattered? Yes, because she was not a researcher or as she stated, “I’m not a social worker, I am not a teacher, that’s my fear that I cannot do anything… even helping them get an education is not going to do anything, but without help they’re doomed.” Was she prepared as a researcher? Probably not. The research was effective in showing the world of the unspeakable as research is all about uncovering the truth as Avijit described one photo, “We get a good sense of how these people live, and though there is sadness in it and though it’s hard to face, we must look at it because it is truth.” Briski was able to portray the violence, discrimination, social injustices, and criminal acts on women and children. Her research was effective in it resulted in opening the door to education to those who only wished for it as Kochi commented, “I keep thinking if I could go someplace and get education, I wonder what I would become.”

What was the researcher’s intention? To see the world through oppressed children’s eyes. In the end, the research may have uncovered the truth, but at what cost to the children? Yes, they were empowered for a brief moment in their lives, yet is was the traditions within their culture that pulled them back into a state of hopelessness as Puja, Manik, and Suchitra’s relatives pulled them out of school, Shanti ran away from school whereas, Tapasi ran away to school, Avijit and Gour are choosing to go to school in the future. It is sad to say that what was supposed to be a beneficial project turned into a lawsuit as many charges were made against the filmmakers as Fine Weis, L. Weseen & Wong (2000) noted, “…ethnographic method is more likely to leave subjects exposed to exploitation: The greater the intimacy, accordingly to Stacy, the greater the danger” (p.37).

I could see the participant’s stories being honored in the sense that respect was given to the children for their stories and for their artwork during the showings. It was their narratives that compelled Briski to institute a non-profit organization, Kids with Cameras, to link photography, education and new beginnings in honor of the kids who were the direct participants. The next question becomes who’s consented to the research in order for their stories to be honored? The parents, indirect participants of the children did not consent to their lives being portrayed negatively without interviewing them and their circumstances and to have both sides given although the research was on children and photography. These people lived criminal lifestyles and as indirect participants seemed to be dishonored since the researcher did not hear their side of the story. The lack of inclusion seemed to skew what was being tapped and swayed the viewer’s attention to see through the eyes of a photographer.

The children’s stories were connected to their environment and Darwin’s survival of the fittest theory. Those who were weak, the children, were overpowered and controlled. Those who were female were overpowered and controlled. The children were given the space to tell their stories through the lens of a camera. They told of abuse, neglect, social injustices, oppression, discrimination, despair, sadness and yet a hope for the future in all their photographs. Their space was filled with respect, lack of respect, the need to learn, the desire to be educated, fear of “the line”, and fear of the future as Avijit remarked at Puja’s house saw father beat mother over drinking money, “I wish I could take Puja away from here. When she grows up she’ll end up on the street. She’ll do drugs and snatch people’s money.” The space was used as a metaphor for going to the zoo to view the caged animals, as the children felt like caged animals in their environment and to show that the researcher will always be an outsider like the kids observing the animals at zoo. Their space was a juxtaposition of children laughing at the beach, dancing on the bus to their cultural music as all children do and the reality of their oppressed lives waiting for them to return. The photographer promoted kids art work at a gallery and auction to raise money for the kids. This empowered the children and changed their space briefly.

Was Briski a researcher since she never claimed to be one? The photographer felt an ethical responsibility to bring education to the oppressed children by teaching children of sex workers how and why to use a camera. Her techniques resulted in portraying an attachment for the participants as her concerns grew and as she searched through the red tape in order to help which conflicted with her photographic objective reporting. Although Peshkin (1998) stated, “…in fact, points out that subjectivity can be seen as virtuous, for it is the basis of researchers making distinctive contribution, one that results from the unique configuration of their personal qualities joined to the data they have collected (cited in Merriam & Simpson, 2000, p. 98). She was not a teacher or a social worker but a researcher and photographer who tried to implement social change within a small community that lived in the brothels of Calcutta. However, she took on tasks of a researcher such as in making sense of the telling rather than the tell (Lawrence, 2010, p.75) and weaving the participants original voice with her summary and interpretation” (Lawrence & Butterwick, 2012, p. 207). Her method of research created spaces of art through photography revealing power relations and inequities as Greene (1995) reported, “…speaks to imagination, a key dimension of arts-based teaching. To tap into imagination is to . . . break with what is supposedly fixed and finished, objectively and independently real . . . to see beyond what the imaginer has called normal or ―common-sensible and to carve out new orders in experience . . . to glimpse what might be, to form notions of what should be and what is not yet” (cited in Lawrence, & Butterwick, 2012, p. 207).


Briski, Z. & Kauffman, R. (2004). Born into Brothels [Video file]. Retrieved from,

Clandinin, D. J. & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Being in the field: Walking in the midst of stories.
Narrative Inquiry. 107-123. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Retrieved from,

Fine, M. Weis, L. Weseen, S. & Wong, L. (2000). For whom? Qualitative research,
representations, and social responsibilities. Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage
Publications, (4), 29-53.

Lawrence, R. (2012). Narrative Inquiry: A brief overview. Approaches to critical Inquiry and
research. 75-76. New York, NY: Sage Publications

Lawrence, R. L. & Butterwick, S. (2012). Synchronized Swimming: Arts-based Approaches to
Teaching Novice Researchers. Retrieved from,

Merriam, S., & Simpson, E.L. (2000). A guide to research for educators and trainers of adults: Second edition (updated). Malabar, Florida, Krieger Publishing Company.

Mohammad Anisur Rahman, “The Theoretical Standpoint of PAR,” Action and Knowledge, ed. Fals-Borda and Rahman (NY: The Apex Press). Handbook of Qualitative Research, Sage Publications, 77-87.



Social Justice   Leave a comment


Social justice reflects in our history of inequalities while revealing where we are today, tomorrow and the future. Social justice is about political, economic, and social rights for gender, sexual orientation, race, and class that has created heated dialogue in research, in classrooms and in everyday life which opens up dialogue concerning power and the disadvantaged. For most adult learners as our world grows, progresses, and changes it can modify values and beliefs as data is collected from numerous resources resulting in critical reflection and social change.

            In my heart I know there are more than two genders in our world and the “binary system” theory has failed and in turn we are seeing an increase in social injustices for groups such as the transgenders, transsexuals, intersexed, and two-spirit. I feel that social justice needs to be in place for all genders, non-conforming sexual oriented individuals, of people in different classes, and races as society still picks and chooses who to privilege and who to place in the “other” category.

            Being a woman I know firsthand the struggles for equality. I have watched one woman literally transition into a man and seen the tables of social justice turn in favor of the man he became. I witnessed this woman who only graduated high school and worked at a casino counting cash. The pay rate was nine dollars and fifty cents an hour. She had been employed by the casino for three years with only one raise and no promotion. She knew her forthcoming transition would cause a reaction at her job and so she spilled the beans at the time when being on testosterone helped in the appearance of being a man. She wore suits and ties and gained confidence on her journey. The company embraced the changes and offered her a promotion as a man and a large increase in pay. Where was the social justice in seeing a woman, suppressing her capabilities, and oppressing her career potential? As new lenses were worn a man was seen and rewarded partly due to his gender while the woman was being penalized because of her gender.

            Companies have the right to create their policies and to enforce them for instance, to question whether to incorporate and value diversity and if so then the workplace culture changes and becomes more open minded and respectful of others regarding applying the principles of what social justice means to gender, sexual orientation, race and class. I have experienced as an assistant controller at a seafood company the injustice of discrimination to men. I had worked at the company for five years and in the accounting department it was only me and the Controller, a male. We were growing rapidly and becoming more international than ever before after five years. I had been chosen to interview applicants to find an assistant to help me in the workload. I interviewed many diverse individuals and narrowed it down to three women and one man. I felt the man was the most qualified for the position. In discussing my decision with my boss I was told to follow the policy of the company and that stated no men were to be hired in the accounting department. He had forgotten that I spent three months writing the company policy with their lawyers. There was nothing in the policy that backed up his personal feelings. Although, I do remember having to put in place a paragraph that went, “If the owner of the company brings in an oozy to work, no-one else can bring in an oozy to work unless they have permission to do so by the owner,” but that is for a different topic.

At that time he was my mentor and after his demand I lost total respect for the man who was implementing discrimination in the workplace. Some workplaces and schools are beginning to incorporate social justice values and beliefs in mission statements, yet we have so much further to go to balance social justice leading to justice for all genders, races, classes, and sexual orientated.

            What is on my mind is how to create a society were social justice means something and to develop a plan for raising awareness. I think of educational values of schools that promote diversity as I would like to create a class based on gender studies in order to create dialogue of what is unfamiliar to most adult learners for instance, feminism or transgenderism while basing it on the acceptance and respect of other people. Merryfield (2006) stated, “The practice of critical and engaged reflection has a dramatic impact in facilitating learning around social justice, and the process is made particularly visible and interactive through the use of threaded discussions” (Guthrie & McCracken, 2010, n.p.).

            It is within the practice of adult education where social justice is confronted in a collective open dialogue within a safe environment incorporating theories of gender, class, race, and sexual orientation resulting in a transformational stage of participation and inclusion. According to Kasworm, Rose & Ross-Gordon (2010), “Scholars have emphasized the dearth of literature on the LGBTTQ issues in education, (Gedro, 2007), the need to challenge the heteronormative (Grace & Wells, 2007), a call for inclusion of LGBTTQ issues in various contexts including the adult education classroom and curriculum (e.g., Misawa, 2005), sexual differences as a learning opportunity (e.g., Gedro et al., 2004), and strategies used to conter heteronormativity (Wells, 2006) and to create more inclusive environments for LGBTTQ individuals (Harley, Nowak, Gassaway, & Savage, 2002) (Johnson-Bailey, Baumgartner & Bowles cited in Kasworm, Rose & Ross-Gordon, 2010, p. 344).

            Furthermore, one of my concerns that I find most troubling is the adverse reaction and negative criticisms, and the anger that people possess. It is important to tread lightly concerning religious beliefs, traditional narratives passed down through generations supporting injustices, and culture factors regarding gender, sexual orientation, class and race. History has proven there is a hierarchy in place for race, class and gender so how do you teach someone who will not listen as your words fall on deaf ears? How do you explain the social injustices of our world if they are part of the problem? We know that to motivate a learner is to teach them what is relevant and meaningful to their lives and I believe this begins with dialogue on social justice and the many different ways it affects them personally. Is it possible the learner is unaware of the injustices built into their own belief system? How can I as an educator break down those types of barriers? Is it possible for the adult learner to realize that nothing is written in stone regarding bias, racism and discrimination? Therefore communally we have the power break down the walls of stone to correct these wrongs and create positive social change. Social justice to me is where a diverse group becomes the place of a collective goal where all voices can be heard including those who were marginalized, stereotyped and disadvantaged where inclusion, participation and respect are what matters first.

            The concepts of social justice are creeping into facets of our lives and affect each one of us directly or indirectly. I am finding comfort in that my beliefs and values are shared and even hopeful that social justice will continue to be on the forefront of people’s minds whether in corporation workplaces, in classroom settings and/or in daily discourse. It is through these systems that the door is open to the awareness of injustices and discriminations in society while giving the opportunity to critically reflect upon solutions in order to create social change.

            I identify with adult education for social justice because as an educator it will be my responsibility to prepare students in how to deal with social injustices and how to teach problem solving methods that lead to social change hence, creating social justice. In my opinion, social justice is part of a progression in which to create change through community based learning as Freire (1993) wrote, “Problem-posing education affirms men and women as beings in the process of becoming” (p. 84).

In my future work as an educator of gender studies I know that there will be some animosity and even an unwillingness to challenge an adult learner’s perspective rather than confront them with personal beliefs leading to defensive words. I will interject with questions for reflections and begin with how do you think the other student feels after the negative comment was made?

Social justice begins with one person, and so on and so on.


Freire, P. (1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Rev. 30th Anniversary ed. New York: Continuum.

Retrieved from,

Guthrie , K. L. & McCracken, H. (2010). Teaching and Learning Social Justice through Online

Service-Learning Courses. 11 (3). Retrieved from,

Kasworm, C., Rose, A. & Ross-Gordon, J.M. (2010). Handbook of Adult and Continuing

Education. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.