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A working definition by Talila "TL" Lewis: "A system that places value on people’s bodies and minds based on societally constructed ideas of normality, intelligence, excellence, desirability, and productivity. These constructed ideas are deeply rooted in anti-Blackness, eugenics, misogyny, colonialism, imperialism and capitalism. This form of systemic oppression leads to people and society determining who is valuable and worthy based on a person’s language, appearance, religion and/or their ability to satisfactorily [re]produce, excel and "behave." You do not have to be disabled to experience ableism" (Lewis, 2021).
Coined by Liz Jackson, this term is meant to highlight how individuals with disability are often viewed as people who are in need of saving. The notion of access friction asserts that society must accept that disability can exist without the need to be fixed or be the object for inspiration. For more, view Liz Jackson's talk: Honour the Friction of Disability.
Accessibility refers to the design of products, devices, services, or environments for people who experience disabilities. Ontario has laws to improve accessibility for people with disabilities, including the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), the Ontario Human Rights Code, and the Ontario Building Code.
The inclusion of a support, device, system, or method to level the playing field and improve access for people who experience barriers (see the Duty to Accommodate section of the OHRC).
Learners play an active role in determining learning objectives as well as self-planning and self-organizing with support from the educator (Dumont et al., 2012).
The science and practice of adult learning. Learn more by clicking here.
Anti-Black racism refers to stereotyping and systemic discrimination that is directed toward people of Black African descent.
“Anti-Indigenous racism is the ongoing race-based discrimination, negative stereotyping, and injustice experienced by Indigenous peoples within Canada. It includes ideas and practices that establish, maintain, and perpetuate power imbalances, systemic barriers, and inequitable outcomes that stem from the legacy of colonial policies and practices” (Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, 2020).
Anti-oppressive practice (AOP) involves “unlearning the tools of oppression and dismantling inequitable systems” (Berila, 2016, p. 4). The practice of anti-oppression is the intentional effort to work from an anti-oppression framework through which the systems of individual, structural, and systemic oppression are understood
A range of analyses and actions meant to counter the social construct of race and the impacts of racial prejudice and systemic oppression. Antiracism is centred on the social construct of race and its social impacts, and interrogates white privilege through challenging contexts created by racist structures.
An antiracist is “one who is expressing the idea that racial groups are equals and none needs developing, and is supporting policy that reduces racial inequity” (Kendi, 2019, p. 24).
“Antisemitism is a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred toward Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed toward Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, toward Jewish community institutions and religious facilities”(The International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, n.d.). Antisemitism is also a form of racism.
Any item, equipment, or product that assists someone experiencing difficulty with a task, to increase or improve their functional (visual, physical, or cognitive) capabilities.
Tom Humphries coined the term audism in his 1977 dissertation, describing it as “the notion that one is superior based on one’s ability to hear or to behave in the manner of one who hears.” The concept of audism re-emerged in the 1990s, beginning with the work Mask of Benevolence: Disabling the Deaf Community (1992) by American psychologist and speech researcher Harlan L. Lane. Lane described audism as a way for the hearing to dominate the Deaf community.
Deaf-gain (in contrast to hearing loss) is defined as a “reframing of ‘Deaf’ as a form of sensory and cognitive diversity that has the potential to contribute to the greater good of humanity” (Bauman and Murray, 2009). For example, discoveries have been made in the fields of language, linguistics, cognitive science, technology, sociology, architecture, education, and transnational cultures due to the contributions of Deaf and Signing Communities (ibid.). For more about oppressions rooted in audism, visit: Rochester Institute for the Deaf Info Guides, Gallaudet University, this Canadian Hearing Society report, and the Canadian Association of the Deaf.
This mathematical term meaning “consisting of two” is often used to understand the social construction of identity. For example, the idea that there are only two genders can be referred to as a “gender binary.” Using a social constructionism lens, these binaries are also socially constructed opposites, where one has social value vis-a-vis the other.
Bloom’s Taxonomy comprises three learning domains: cognitive, affective, and psychomotor. It assigns to each of these domains a hierarchy that corresponds to different levels of learning.
A person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.
“Cisnormativity is a cultural and societal bias that privileges cisgender identities and gender norms” (Egale, 2020).
The amount of information that working memory can hold at one time. In educational psychologist John Sweller’s 1988 journal article, he describes cognitive load theory, which argues that working memory has a limited capacity, and that instructional methods should avoid overloading it with additional activities that don’t directly contribute to learning.
“Colonialism is the historical practice of European expansion into territories already inhabited by Indigenous peoples for the purposes of acquiring new lands and resources. This expansion is rooted in the violent suppression of Indigenous peoples’ governance, legal, social, and cultural structures. Colonialism attempts to force Indigenous peoples to accept and integrate into institutions that are designed to force them to conform with the structures of the colonial state” (Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, 2020). “Colonialism remains an ongoing process, shaping both the structure and the quality of the relationship between settlers and Indigenous peoples” (TRC Final Report, 2016).
A framework for a collaborative/constructivist process for creating deep and meaningful learning through the development of social, cognitive, and teaching presences.
A group of committed individuals who come together to engage in a collaborative process of sharing information, experience, and skills with the goal of learning from each other, enabling professional self-development, and building the capacity of its members.
“A Critical Digital Pedagogy demands that open and networked educational environments must not be merely repositories of content. They must be platforms for engaging students and teachers as full agents of their own learning” (Stommel, 2017). Leigh A. Hall speaks further about the topic in this video.
Pete Rorabaugh writes, in “Occupy the Digital: Critical Pedagogy and New Media” (2012), “[CDP] is primarily concerned with an equitable distribution of power. If students live in a culture that digitizes and educates them through a screen, they require an education that empowers them in that sphere, teaches them that language, and offers new opportunities of human connectivity.”
This field of study questions systems of power and questions social norms and social structures that stigmatize disablement.
“Critical pedagogy is a teaching philosophy that invites educators to encourage students to critique structures of power and oppression. It is rooted in critical theory, which involves becoming aware of and questioning the societal status quo” (The Edvocate, 2020).
Used in the context of colonialism, cultural appropriation refers to the adoption or seizure of knowledge, cultural or spiritual elements, or practices of a colonized or oppressed group by a more dominant group.
Cultural safety is an “outcome based on respectful engagement that recognizes and strives to address power imbalances inherent in the health care system. It results in an environment free of racism and discrimination, where people feel safe when receiving health care”. First Nations Health Authority
Culturally responsive teaching (CRT) attempts to bridge the gap between teacher and student by helping the teacher understand the cultural nuances that may cause a relationship to break down – which ultimately causes student achievement to break down as well (“Getting Started With Culturally Responsive Teaching,” 2019).
Culturally sustaining pedagogy (CSP) not only affirms and connects to students’ cultural backgrounds but aims to sustain them in learning spaces. CSP encourages brave spaces to help students think of themselves, and others, in ways that move beyond a threatened identity. CSP promotes equality across racial and ethnic communities and seeks to ensure access and opportunity. CSP also supports students to critique and question dominant power structures in societies. Django Paris and H. Samy Alim describe the key features of culturally sustaining educational settings in Education Week’s “Author Interview: ‘Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies’” (Ferlazzo, 2017).
The term curriculum refers to a course of study that in the province of Ontario encompasses standards, content, and a variety of teaching approaches and assessment strategies. In some jurisdictions, the term curriculum may refer only to content and the term pedagogy to the method of delivery. From an adult education and learner experience model, and in the context of decolonizing curriculum and AOP frameworks, content and content delivery are inextricable, and curriculum design itself is a highly holistic endeavour, employing an ongoingly reflective and iterative process.
Culture is defined as a way of life and learned ways of acting, feeling and thinking based on a group who share common language, beliefs, values, traditions, social norms, and identity in a society. Deaf culture is the culture of Deaf people based on a signed language and values, traditions and behaviour norms specific to the Deaf community. Deaf culture offers a strong sense of belonging and takes a socio-cultural point of view of deafness (Deaf Culture Centre, 2022).
“Decolonization refers to the process of deconstructing colonial ideologies of the superiority and privilege of Western thought and approaches” (Antoine et al., 2019, p. 5).
“The digital divide is the gap that exists between individuals who have access to modern information and communication technology and those who lack access” (Steele, 2019).
The obvious barriers have to do with physical access – for instance, a broken elevator poses a literal barrier to a wheelchair user’s access to the second floor of a building. However, barriers take other shapes, too. In an academic setting, timed tests in a classroom might prove difficult for someone with a learning disability or a student who can’t handwrite their answers easily. Attendance or sick-day policies in the workplace might be an obstacle for someone with a chronic illness whose ability to function may fluctuate daily. Barriers can also be attitudinal, as in the stigma that surrounds disability or the discrimination that people with disabilities often face. Attitudinal barriers might come in the form of an ableist remark made by a stranger. They may also appear in more subtle forms, like problematic portrayals of disability in a movie or TV show.
“Disciplined inquiry that requires a knowledgeable teacher with the expectation that discourse progresses in a collaborative constructive manner and students gain an awareness of the inquiry process” (Garrison, 2007).
In response to negative stereotypes, the phenomenon where learners disconnect their sense of self-identity with academics (Verschelden, 2017).
“Diversity is recognizing our individual differences. Differences can be age, gender, race, place of origin, colour, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, religious beliefs, marital status, family status and culture. Differences can also be in our values, talents, work experience, language and communication skills” (Man, 2020).
The Doctrine of Discovery was an international law devised by Romanus Pontifex (1455) and issued by Pope Nicholas V (1493) that gave license to explorers to claim “vacant land” and resources based on the notion of terra nullius (Latin for land of no one). Lands not occupied by Christians were considered to be vacant and therefore “discovered.” Learn more here: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery.
A concept arising in the 17th century, empiricism held that reality was observable (versus abstract, metaphysical, or philosophical) and was affirmed by scientific evidence gained by testing and analyzing data. Related to positivism.
Equality, in the context of education, means everyone gets the same learning resources and supports (Posey & Novak, 2020).
Equity means supports and resources are adjusted based on learner variability (Posey & Novak, 2020). “Equity is hearing someone’s voice about what they need and providing them with that” (Emdin in Chardin & Novak, 2021, p. 61).
Learning guided by context, learners’ motivations, discovery, and interactions within the learning community (Dumont et al., 2012). It is a process by which knowledge and skill is gained from experience and through reflection on that experience.
An attitude or belief “that we consciously or deliberately hold and express about a person or group” (Chardin & Novak, 2021). This can sometimes contradict an implicit bias.
“The goal of formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can be used by instructors to improve their teaching and by students to improve their learning. More specifically, formative assessments:
- help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work
- help faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately
Formative assessments are generally low stakes, which means that they have low or no point value” (Eberly Center, 2021).
Educators make decisions about the goals for learning, strategies, and how learning will be assessed. Educators also take care of feedback and evaluation (Dumont et al., 2012).
“[N]egative stereotypes in a particular domain (e.g. negative stereotypes about women in math) [that] can contribute to the maintenance of inequality within societies by impairing the performance of negatively stereotyped groups” (Martiny & Nikitin, 2019).
Attitudes or beliefs “about other people, ideas, issues, or institutions that occur outside of our conscious awareness and control” that impact our opinions and behaviours (Chardin & Novak, 2021).
The provision of conditions and environments where all individuals are respected and their contributions valued, and individuals who might be otherwise marginalized have equitable access to resources and opportunities.
“Inclusion into the given is not enough. Our journey away from exclusion must move beyond inclusion and enact a more intrinsically pluralistic first principle for construing higher education itself – an epistemology of diversity that envelops and informs all we say and do, in an educational trajectory that has a radically open future” (Carlson, 2016, p. 58, as cited in Verschelden, 2017, p. 113).
“Indigenous people identify as being descended from the Original Peoples of what is currently known as Canada. In this context, Indigenous peoples include people who may identify as First Nations (status and non-status), Métis, and/or Inuit and any related identities” (Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, 2020).
“Indigenization is a process of naturalizing Indigenous knowledge systems and making them evident to transform spaces, places, and hearts” (Antoine et al., 2019, p. 5).
There is no single definition of Indigenous knowledge. The worldviews of Indigenous peoples reflect the unique cultures, languages, governance systems, and histories of Indigenous peoples from a particular location and are dynamic and evolve over time. Knowledge-holders are the only people who can truly define Indigenous knowledge for their communities.
Refers to the trauma that gets passed down from people who directly experience an incident to subsequent generations. In the context of trauma experienced by descendants of Canada’s residential school system, “under the guise of educating and preparing Indigenous children for their participation in Canadian society, the federal government and other administrators of the residential school system committed what has since been described as an act of cultural genocide. As generations of students left these institutions, they returned to their home communities without the knowledge, skills, or tools to cope in either world. The impacts of their institutionalization in residential school continue to be felt by subsequent generations. This is called intergenerational trauma” (Menzes, 2020).
An overlapping and interdependent system of discrimination and access to resources resulting from the interconnectedness of social identities including race, gender and gender identity, ability, and class.
The knowledge, skills, or abilities being measured by an assessment that are not central to the learning demonstration (UDL ON Campus, n.d.).
Discrimination, hostility, stereotyping, and a form of racism directed towards Islam and Muslims. In Canada, the National Day of Remembrance and Action Against Islamophobia was declared on January 29, 2017, after worshippers lost their lives at a Québec City mosque.
LGBTQ2S+ is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, two-spirit, and additional sexual orientations and gender identities (PFLAG, n.d.).
The development of a variety of learning skills whereby the process of learning is not dependent on external direction.
A learning circle is a group of individuals with a similar interest brought together to explore ideas in a respectful environment. The circle is often facilitated by a teaching and learning centre representative and is often shorter in term than a community of practice (Northern Michigan University, 2022).
A learning partnership is an informal pairing or small group that supports each other through sharing information and validating each other’s work based on a shared interest. The partnership lasts as long as the individuals stay connected (Kerno, 2008).
Linguicism is a form of imperialism based on language which favours and grants power to the language of the dominant culture and its speakers.
“Experience that is not secondhand. It is experienced in how an individual perceives, describes, feels, judges, remembers, makes sense of, and talks about the experience” (Patton, 2002, in IGI Global, n.d.). In anti-oppressive practice, attention to lived experience prioritizes equity and social justice by emphasizing the realities of individuals whose lived experiences are made less visible by dominant culture.
“Marginalization is a long-term, structural process of systemic discrimination that creates a class of disadvantaged minorities. Marginalized groups become permanently confined to the fringes of society. Their status is perpetuated through various dimensions of exclusion, particularly in the labour market, from full and meaningful participation in society” (Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, 2020).
Mastery-oriented learning and feedback personalizes the teaching and learning environment so that students can move at their own pace as they build knowledge and skills using ongoing formative feedback. Feedback is modelled or framed in terms of steps to achievement (versus a fixed grade based on performance), and the work can be revised or corrected by the learner. The premise of mastery-oriented learning and feedback is that almost anyone can learn almost anything given the right instruction and given the right amount of time.
This perspective views disability as a medical issue or problem that needs to be fixed or cured by a medical professional. It positions barriers people experience as a personal issue arising from their physiological deficits.
This term, coined by Audre Lorde (1984), describes the process by which the social construction of identity is held in place by beliefs of normalcy ascribed to identities of privilege (e.g., white, male, middle class, thin, able-bodied, educated, etc.). This perpetuates the notion that people who do not fit these descriptions are deficit, not normal, deviant, and so on.
The term neurodiversity signifies that different brain functions and behavioural traits are part of a normal variation of human diversity. For more information, consider visiting these self-advocacy networks: Autistics United Canada or Autistic Self-Advocacy Network.
How humans perceive and understand the world and others around them is a constant negotiation of sensory input. What is “typical” varies dramatically amongst individuals and across experience and culture. Neurotypical describes individuals who acquire and display typical physical, verbal, intellectual, and social skills that proceed at a specific pace, and meet milestones for development and dominant standards. The term neurotypical arose alongside the term neurodiverse. People who are neurodiverse or neurodivergent are often subject to stereotypes and discrimination due to ableism in our society.
Terms used by some people who experience their gender identity and/or gender expression as falling outside the categories of man and woman. They may define their gender as falling somewhere in between man and woman, or they may define it as wholly different from these terms (GLAAD, 2020).
“Creative Commons defines OER as teaching, learning, and research materials that are either (a) in the public domain or (b) licensed in a manner that provides everyone with free and perpetual permission to engage in the 5R activities – retaining, remixing, revising, reusing and redistributing the resources” (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, 2022). OER Commons is a public digital library of open educational resources available at: OER COMMONS.
The unjust exercise of authority, harm, and cruelty upon some groups by a system of power.
“A student-centred approach to teaching and learning. Rather than focusing on what course content needs to be covered, [outcomes based learning] shifts the focus to what students should be able to do or know as a result of the learning experience” (University of Western Ontario, 2021).
Person-first language is language that puts a person before their diagnosis, such as being a person with a disability. Identity-first language is language that leads with a person’s diagnosis, such as being a disabled person. Within the disability community, there are variations in personal preference with regard to how one chooses to communicate their identity.
A research standpoint or theory holding that facts and knowledge are defined as genuine only by scientific proof that is rational or mathematical.
“A right or exemption from liability or duty granted as a special benefit or advantage. Oppression is the result of the use of institutional privilege and power, wherein one person or group benefits at the expense of another” (University of Southern California, n.d.).
Proprioception, also called kinesthesia, is the body’s ability to sense itself in a given space. Proprioception refers to the sense of movement, action, location, and relative distance. An example of proprioception is being able to touch one’s nose with eyes closed.
“Race is a term used to classify people into groups based principally on physical traits (i.e., phenotypes) such as skin colour. Racial categories are not based on science or biology but on differences that society has created (i.e. ‘socially constructed’), with significant consequences for people’s lives. Racial categories may vary over time and place and can overlap with ethnic, cultural, or religious groupings” (Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, 2020).
"Racism includes ideas or practices that establish, maintain, or perpetuate the racial superiority or dominance of one group over another" (Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate, 2020).
One who supports a racist policy through their actions or inaction, or by expressing a racist idea (Kendi, 2019).
The “central knowledge, skills, and abilities that formative assessments aim to measure” (ICI Global, 2021).
Sanism is discrimination against people who are othered through mental “illness” diagnoses, history, or even suspicion. Read more about sanism in the context of anti-Black racism in “An Introduction to Anti-Black Sanism.”
The psychophysiological definition of self-regulation refers to how we respond to stress, whether that be in a manner that promotes or restricts growth. Self-regulation as it relates to learning “involves more than detailed knowledge of a skill; it involves the self-awareness, self-motivation, and behavioural skill to implement that knowledge appropriately” (Zimmerman, 2002, p. 66).
Sensory cross talk refers to the way that the brain’s sensory systems work together. Until recently, it was thought that each sensory system that sends signals to the brain functioned independently. Using functional MRI technology, neuroscientists are now able to observe that in order for the brain to interpret sensory signals and come up with a response, the brain often combines information (cross modal) from multiple sensory systems.
The term settler is a non-derogatory way to refer to people who are non-Indigenous and who themselves or whose ancestors settled on or immigrated to land that has been taken from Indigenous peoples. Learn more here: Imagining a Better Future: An Introduction to Teaching and Learning about Settler Colonialism in Canada.
The Greek philosopher Socrates taught students by giving questions and not answers. This technique involved the students discovering contradictions in their own theories that would guide them to revision and solutions.
Solidarity is unity or alliance amongst a group or class of people who share awareness, objectives, standards, interests, or sympathies.
“The social-psychological threat that arises when one is in a situation or doing something for which a negative stereotype about one’s group applies” (Steele & Aronson, 1995). This concept has since evolved into the term identity threat.
Summative assessments (a term used interchangeably with the term evaluation) are used to gather information on how well a student has achieved the overall outcomes of a course of study.
The practice of making only a gesture or reaching minimal compliance to give the outward appearance of diversity and inclusivity of members of marginalized groups.
An umbrella term referring to a person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. People under the transgender umbrella may describe themselves using one or more of a wide variety of terms – including transgender (GLAAD, 2020).
The practice of being trauma-aware is based on the premise that people are more likely to have experienced some form of trauma than not. It involves taking steps to not “re-traumatize” or exacerbate harm already done. This does not require specific expertise nor does it require those who have experienced trauma to disclose their experiences. Rather, it seeks to encourage the development of various relational skills such as support, cultural sensitivity, mutuality, and trust building.
The design of curriculum and education environments that anticipate the presence of trauma in the lives of learners and the ongoing responsive development of resources and safer spaces that support success. Click here to learn what trauma-informed teaching looks like.
Many Indigenous oral histories and creation stories speak of a turtle that holds the world on its back. For many Indigenous peoples, Turtle Island refers to the continent of North America (the anglicized name assigned by colonizing settlers).
Variability is the quality of being subject to often random or frequent change. It is the state of unpredictability or lack of standardization.
“A social field is an organised, internally differentiated domain of practice or action in which unequally positioned social agents compete and cooperate over the same rewards” (Postill, 2013).