Deena Mandell is Professor Emeritus in the Faculty of Social Work. She taught at Laurier for 19 years and was named a Teaching Fellow in 2014. Her fellowship project was inspired by research conducted in the Faculty of Social Work which indicated that more effort was needed to foster a thoroughly inclusive learning environment. For her project, Mandell developed a training video for students, faculty and teaching assistants to address issues that arise when students from different cultural, educational and linguistic backgrounds are asked to work together in a university setting.
I have a genuine, life-long love of learning. My teaching has always been inspired by the desire to foster that love of learning in others. I thrive as an educator in sharing students’ curiosity, delight in discovery, the shock of new insights, and the desire (and confidence) to continue learning that such experiences give rise to. Integrated with this motivation is my commitment to genuinely inclusive education.
I see my job as an educator very simply. It’s to inspire and support students to engage in learning and intellectual growth, and identify areas where additional support is needed, rather than to deliver material and assess performance. I believe this purpose is shared by every effective educator I have ever encountered. This perspective necessitates student-centred learning, which can be challenging in an environment (ideally) characterized by student and faculty diversity. In my view, it is crucial to not only teach about difference in “the other” – i.e. the narrative of “difference from a particular dominant norm” - but to expand our own and our students’ understanding of diversity from diverse perspectives.
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