Use of self/self-reflection

Our own birth stories, family structures, life experiences, and societal influences form our sense of identity and how we think about other identities. Our identity is the lens through which we view the world; it grounds us, guides us, defines who we are and what we do. With different opportunities and interactions, our identities evolve and require self-reflection. This is the process of deliberately paying attention to our experiences and behaviours, understanding how our meanings of the world are formed, and noticing the role these play in decision-making. Self-reflection requires us to critically consider our role within the context of moral, political, and ethical issues.[1]Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), pp 195-202. Retrieved from http://www.chowardbostic.com/articles/ Howard%202003.pdf


Cultural Humility

Self-reflection leads to cultural humility, which involves listening without judgment and being open to learning from and about others. Cultural humility requires us to learn about our own culture and our biases and is the building block to cultural safety.[2]Indigenous Health. (2017). Cultural Safety: Respect and Dignity in Relationships. Prince George, BC: Northern Health. Retrieved from https://www.indigenoushealthnh.ca/sites/default/files/2017-03/booklet-cultural-safety-web_0.pdf


Self-reflection questions to consider:

  • Where and how does your identity fit within the organization?
  • What steps are taken to ensure that you, and others with your identity, are represented and heard in your team, the program, and the larger organization?
  • Whose identity is underrepresented, and whose voices are not heard? What steps can you take to amplify those voices?
  • How can you hold decision-makers accountable for their actions?
  • Think about meetings where you are a participant: What efforts are taken to ensure the meeting is accessible, equitable, and representative? How are decisions made? Seek information about the criteria behind decisions, question whether members from different cultures, race, religions, sexual orientations, physical or mental health disabilities, etc. were consulted, and request knowledge on future directions.
  • What is your level of knowledge and comfort with the history of people from groups that have and continue to experience marginalization?
  • What steps can you take to increase your own awareness, and how can this information support you during everyday life?

ChallengesWithin postsecondary educational institutions, this  challenges us to understand how our positionality and privilege in areas of race, culture, and social class shape students’ thinking, learning, and understanding. Experiencing this process of reflection and learning one’s own biases, privilege, and roles can be a challenging practice, and create feelings of stress and discomfort. Accepting these feelings creates space for our awareness to grow and is extremely important as the groundwork from which to build upon. Appendix A offers an exercise to support this process, and the questions below encourage critical self-reflection.

With a stronger understanding of our own role and assumptions, we are better positioned to take responsibility in creating shifts in student experiences. Through the lens of the three factors defined above; freedom from discrimination and violence, social inclusion, and access to economic resources, we will explore how to advance equity and enhance students’ experiences through different levels of interaction, with a goal of creating cultural safety.


Cultural Safety

Cultural safety is an outcome of cultural humility, defined and experienced by those who receive the service – they feel safe. Cultural safety requires an acknowledgment that we are all bearers of culture and carry our own attitudes, beliefs, assumptions, and values, and is based on respectful engagement that can help students find paths to well-being.[3]Ibid.


References   [ + ]

1. Howard, T. C. (2003). Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Ingredients for Critical Teacher Reflection. Theory into Practice, 42(3), pp 195-202. Retrieved from http://www.chowardbostic.com/articles/ Howard%202003.pdf
2. Indigenous Health. (2017). Cultural Safety: Respect and Dignity in Relationships. Prince George, BC: Northern Health. Retrieved from https://www.indigenoushealthnh.ca/sites/default/files/2017-03/booklet-cultural-safety-web_0.pdf
3. Ibid.
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