Equity talks inclusivity in education

Krys Shahin , Staff Writer

Equity held an event where Dr. Amer F. Ahmed and Dr. Mayra Padilla gave a presentation to faculty about the brain, mindfulness and inclusive pedagogy. The presentation was given April 25 to help instructors and faculty learn why inclusivity is important through neuroscience, the study of the brain.

“In our yearlong Equity Speaker series we created a variety of workshops, performances, and events for the campus community, with an understanding there are many critical factors in learning,” said Sabrina Kwist, dean of Equity and Inclusion.

The speakers seemed very energetic and happy to be talking about the issue to the crowd that attended their presentation.

“I flew across the country to be here today, so I think it’s a pretty important topic,” said Ahmed.

This kind of presentation and speech is not given to faculty for training, so these two speakers have tried to take it upon themselves to teach what they can in a limited time.

“We live in a society that values book knowledge, not social knowledge. What we’re trying to do is bring back peace into the classroom and society,” said Padilla.

In order to bring peace back into the classroom, this was similar to a short training session where interactive activities and lectures were given.

“This workshop provided tools to connect mindfulness practices combined with inclusive teaching practices to help restore the learning brain, and support everyone in the learning environment,” said Kwist.

Dr. Ahmed started the presentation off with the definition of diversity.

“Diversity is the fact of human difference that may make a difference in how we interact with one another with communities, institutions, and with ourselves.”

The speech continued on with the topics of implicit bias which can and often leads to microaggressions.

“Just because you have good intentions doesn’t mean you have good practices,” said Ahmed.

Dr. Padilla switched with Dr. Ahmed and began speaking about different studies that have shown a linkage in changes of genetics associated with trauma in mice.

“We have found that if we have two adult mice experience major trauma and they breed, their offspring or baby mice are then inclined to avoid that event even though it never happened to them,” said Padilla.

More statistics showed upward of 70% of all people have experienced trauma in their lives. That includes students and teachers alike.

“One in seven children experienced child neglect or child abuse last year and it was five times higher of a chance if the child came from poverty,” said Padilla.

The two presenters finished their PowerPoint and asked the attendees to take a moment to truly breathe and relax. Everyone, who was comfortable enough to do so, closed their eyes and took deep breaths in silence before being thanked and excused.

The presentation lasted an hour and catered food was distributed to everyone who RSVP’d to the event.