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Going Inward

The Role of Cultural Introspection in College Teaching


Edited By Susan Diana Longerbeam and Alicia Fedelina Chávez

Going Inward is a pragmatic text for faculty in all disciplines who desire to deepen their reflection on teaching. Through the culturally introspective writings of faculty in a variety of academic disciplines, readers will gain a deeper understanding of faculty cultural influences on college teaching and student learning. This book introduces readers to cultural self-reflection as a powerful tool for insight into how our values and beliefs from our cultural and familial upbringing influence our teaching practice. Cultural self-reflection is a process for generating insights and empathy toward serving students from backgrounds and cultures both similar to and different from one’s own. The integrated design of the book’s three parts – cultural introspection, faculty culture and teaching autobiographies, and developing a culturally introspective practice – makes this book helpful to teaching faculty and academic administrators.
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From the beginning of our work with two cohorts of faculty at the University of New Mexico and Northern Arizona University, we cultivated a strengths-based approach to teaching across cultures—encouraging faculty to reflect on strengths from their own cultures and to also identify, notice, acknowledge, and engage strengths from their students’ cultures in service of learning, in all academic subject areas. Faculty rose to this challenge, moving beyond laments they may have had about students to look candidly at their own assumptions and practices and to grow and develop in their teaching.

Engagement in culture and teaching autobiographies especially meant looking deeply inward and contemplating origins, meaning, and manifestations of cultural values and paradigms and relating these to their teaching. Cultural introspection facilitated many revelations among these cohorts of faculty, enabling strengths-based transformations and innovations to teach more effectively across the diversity of students in their courses.

In this work, we honor Indigenous cultures when we capitalize meaningful words such as Mother, Elder, and Indigenous. We also do not italicize words that do not appear in English, to center the importance of language that has no English translation yet evokes deep elements of the human experience. ← ix | x →


Susan Diana Longerbeam

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