All posts by helenajao

Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement in Education

 A pedagogy is inclusive only when there are a diverse group of people equally engaged with biases discarded. Inclusive pedagogy can just be useful when we have radical educators who are intentional about teaching in an inclusive environment.  According to Katherine Philip diversity can be difficult if not well managed with intentions to bring innovations and development.

I believe having a diverse community does not mean that it is inclusive.  However, the community can only be inclusive when there is an intention to embrace each other’s difference regarding ideas and collaborate in enriching a healthy diversity. 

Inclusive pedagogy makes a pedagogy engaged and not static. I remember reading through the book known as Teaching to Transgress by Bell Hooks she laid emphasis on strategies on how to teach in an inclusive classroom which was also mentioned by Georgetown which includes getting to know the student, active commitment to the process of self-actualization for both the students and teachers to be empowered. These self-actualization process means to be aware of your biases, also give your student ground rules to help in structuring conversation.

Hooks emphasized that the learning ability of student is so diverse, and so there is a need for educators to be flexible. This is very achievable if the educator is fully aware of the various theories of learning ( experiential, critical race theory, feminist, transformative, socio-cultural e.t.c) and adopting these theories into the classroom makes teacher grow in the process.  In my home country, we don’t have racial diversity in education, but we have other forms of diversity instead in which one of it includes various learning styles, however one thing I think most educators in my home country fails to do is to be flexible in their ways of teaching.

As an educator learning through experience is mainly significant to me because it serves as a learning process and also a product.  I remembered during my undergrad in Nigeria almost all courses taken was taught through the banking system and there was no much experience attached to the learning and so I only learned it for grades, I had no idea on how to practically apply this knowledge. So, therefore, I believe firmly in both creating experience for the learners, allowing the learners to make their own experience that gives birth to new knowledge from their experience.

Most importantly I found inclusive pedagogy as very interesting and also challenging.  It is interesting because it creates a relationship and produces freedom for both the learners and the educator. Challenging because it can be so demanding in term of individual conscious effort to teach to transgress and the feedback from the learners might not be encouraging. There is a need for the learners to realize he or she needs this knowledge, if the learner cannot come to this realization then it might look challenging to achieve an inclusive pedagogy.

However, as an educator, I still ask myself the question of how can one genuinely differentiate if the skill learned by the learner will be for a long term or short term period? The reason for this question is that even after teaching learners a particular skill in a program, one cannot fully determine if the learner will attain 100 percent of the ability even after several years of the program. When does one stop follow-up? What if there is no trust between the learners and the educator and so the follow up done did not efficiently yield because the learners give untrue feedback to get more grant. As an educator, how can one address this issue?



The fears and love of Teaching

Thinking through the reading from Sarah Heel thought, and others post on authenticate self-teaching I realize that there are similarities in the thought on how authentic self-teaching should be.  I have little experience in teaching, more reason why I applied for this course, I just want to see if this passion I have carried for a long time is actually meant for me. Teaching has always been my passion, but I just feel I needed the right mentoring and guidance. I have had little teaching experience in the past, and I would say my thought was quite similar to what others had mentioned in class the only difference was the country and race.

I had the opportunity to tutor high school graduate aspiring and preparing to gain admission into the higher institution in my home country Nigeria. I taught them mathematics and biology, my experience with them was quite funny and familiar too. Some of the students were so grown and were entirely my age, and the fact I look younger than my age made me worrisome of how they will relate with me. 

My first-day teaching was really terrible because I could read their facial expression. I saw the curiousness on faces which I interpreted as doubt of what I have to deliver to them. Those looks made so nervous, but I got my nerves calm as soon as the Tutorial head came to my rescue, giving me the charge to send out any student not willing to pay attention to my teaching. These changed over time and they respected me after they discovered what I have to deliver to them was what they needed.

I have not done any teaching since then, however, starting my master’s program in the US as broadened my knowledge on the best way to teach. The class I TA has being a training ground for me, and I have been observing my professor, though I don’t intend to do exactly like him, I would be myself and make sure the primary goal is achieved, which is to ensure that engaging learning experience by both I and my student. In summary, I have these mix feelings of fears of not engaging my student and the love that I am actually following my passion.


Network Learning

Network learning is quite imparting and experiential. It can both give a positive and negative reaction in so many areas, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be within an enclosed building because it has to do with technology. In this view, the research that was done by Dr. Michael Welsh, reveals that network learning gives learners access to express themselves without being seen physically and it improves the metacognitive aspect of the learner. In an academic, network learning produces teamwork as well, whereby individual learners try to learn by doing what they love with support from each other. This means learning inside knowledge, therefore making individual learners public humanist because the learning is not limited to a building. Finally, network learning can include a blog, twitter and so on, comprising of both the expert and non-expert.

Diversity & Equity and Inclusion in Recruitment, Hiring and Academic Career

Diversity, equity and inclusion in recruitment, hiring and academic career can be referred to the affirmative action which happens to be a policy that some developed countries adapted to allow equity in employment for both the minority and the majority. The initial goal was to bridge inequalities in employment and to promote diversity, also to redress apparent past wrongs, harms and hindrances. However, there is still gap between the recruitment of the minority and the majority in academic career. The caps and quotas limit some population(minority) over the other population (majority).

In academia the minority are sometimes stigmatised and treated differently by peer and professors who may believe that the success of the minority group in higher education institutions is unearned. Also the minority women often face pay discrimination which can be damaging for the future generation to come. There is need for conscious effort towards diversity, inclusion and equity in recruiting, hiring and academic career. This is important in academia because it reveals that the institutions practice what they preach about. Recruitment of diverse group of students and staff helps to foster inclusion and equity and this is what makes pedagogy interesting and complex. Cultivating a learning environment where students are treated equally shows that the institutions are deliberate about inclusion. Screenshot (65)


My home country Nigeria is quite different, in terms of having diversity in appearance, religion, and culture but not in race. Nigeria has diversity and inclusion in various sector but there is no hundred percent adoption of equity in some parts of the country. There are biases in recruitment and hiring in academic career. For instance, some institutions prefer to recruit student from the school’s geographical zone before recruiting other student and this also affects the academic staff when being recruited. 

Critical pedagogy & Inclusive Pedagogy

There seems to be a linkage between critical pedagogy and inclusive pedagogy in terms of empowerment of individual (learners) to achieve an inclusive education, addressing the inequalities of power and discriminary practice of underrepresented groups so to bring about inclusion. Critical pedagogy reveals the diversity in the academic sector and helps to bring changes which results in balancing. These changes which is the process is known as the inclusion while the balancing is known as the equity.


The idea that we should earn what we have and that we should not claim to obtain what we did not work for signifies integrity. Integrity is the quality of being entirely complete, it is the major pillar that our success or failure rest on. Integrity is what confidence is built on, it has a high influence of value and it facilitates our brand i.e. our uniqueness. For me, being able to do work or research myself gives me boldness and that is what integrity means.   More so, being able to succeed because of merit or other factors should not change our stand about integrity. Examples of lack of integrity in academia is plagiarism. This is a serious offence in academia and there are great people who have being alleged to plagiarism. One of them is Dr. Martin Luther King Jnr. A civil right leader who won a noble prize and brought a change in the United States. He pursued a doctorate degree at Boston university, wrote a dissertation titled “A comparison of the conception of God in the thinking of Paul & Henry “and successfully defended his dissertation. However, it was later discovered that some portion of his writing were taken from other authors examples Ralph Lurker( a historian who was responsible for Martin Luther King paper’s project).   Furthermore, his speech titled “I have a Dream” has also being claimed to have been stolen from another pastor. This allegation of plagiarism was discovered several decades after his death long he became a national hero. The allegation has become a footnote has this did not change people’s opinion of him. Meanwhile, if he was alive and still an academic, his reputation would have been snared with huge impact to his life work.

As for me, I ensure that whenever I use other people’s thought or writings I diligently cite them when necessary. This how I promote integrity in my work.


I originated from Nigeria which is a federal republic in west Africa. Geographically, it is located in western Africa on gulf of Guinea and has a total areas of 923, 768 km/square and which makes it the world’s 32nd largest country and this is about twice of size of the US state of California.  It has 36 states, one Federal Capital Territory which are sub-divided into 774 local government area and aggregated into six geopolitical zones which are North-Central, south-east, south-south and south-west.  My family ancestry hails from the south-west in Nigeria specifically from the largest city known as Ibadan. Coming to Virginia Tech for my masters program and seeing students of diverse backgrounds like me makes me feel welcome into the community.