In June 2020, CMC announced its Presidential Initiative on Anti-Racism and the Black Experience in America. As part of this ongoing effort, individual CMC faculty, departments, and institutes are addressing race and racism. We asked faculty members to share their work in these areas.
Prof. Briana Toole is assistant professor of philosophy.
Why are more diverse approaches to teaching important to you?
I taught high school English in Baton Rouge through Teach for America.
One aspect of that experience that I took on wholeheartedly was that you have to teach every student. Not everyone will respond to the same approach. There’s a benefit to having a diverse set of students, who have different attitudes and perspectives. I am doing what I can to make every student feel valued and included in class. I vary it up so no one is ever disengaged.
How have you incorporated teaching diversity into your classroom and beyond?
Because I’m teaching the academic canon of philosophy, all of the philosophers are white men. It’s worthy to draw explicit attention to that fact. I ask my students, ‘Why is that the case that women and people of color are excluded?’ Faculty needs to model what these conversations look like.
“There’s a benefit to having a diverse set of students, who have different attitudes and perspectives.”
How do you think your approach can have a broader impact on CMC and society?
CMC students and colleagues are collaborating with me on Corrupt the Youth [a philosophy outreach program that Toole founded to work with high school students in under-resourced schools]. It’s really fun to work alongside them. Rima Basu [CMC professor of philosophy] recently started a chapter in West Hollywood for LGBTQ youth. Our aim is to bridge the gap between what students are learning in high school and what they will be expected to do in college.