Discomfort, Empathy, and Risk-Taking: Where Learning Begins | Jeannette Lee-Parikh | 5 Min Read

May 9, 2022

One’s discomfort with any form of difference shouldn’t come at the expense of another person’s ability to survive and thrive as their authentic self. As humanities teachers in a globalized world, we should construct curricula and syllabi that are premised on inclusivity. No single narrative is inclusive. We should strive to be as inclusive as possible despite any discomfort that we, the curriculum designers and teachers, our students, and their parents may feel with any of the myriad types of differences existing in our culture. It is the only way to prepare students to live in an interconnected world.

Reading literary fiction is a particularly low-stakes way for students to encounter differences. It is an opportunity to develop empathy, reflect on one’s place in the world, and practice navigating complex social relationships. This is especially true now that the United States is in a historical moment when those of us who have been marginalized continue to assert our voices in powerful and meaningful ways. BIPOC and LGBTQ+ experiences are an essential part of the American story that can no longer be ignored or consigned to an elective or sentence, paragraph, or chapter in a book.…

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Jeannette Parikh

Jeannette M E Lee Parikh, Ph.D., is the assistant editor for Intrepid Ed News as well as the chair of the English department and head of community reading at The Cambridge School of Weston (CSW). Before CSW, where she has been since the fall of 2010, she taught at the college level for six years. She is an ISTE Certified Teacher and OER advocate. She is an experienced practitioner of integrating department-wide academic technology that serves pedagogical and curriculum goals. Her teaching philosophy exists at the intersection of the science of learning and cultivating creative thinking, joy, curiosity, playfulness, and self-awareness in all learners. She has presented at conferences on the importance of deep reading, critical listening, authentic discussion, and strategic writing in the 21st-century classroom.