Over at the blog for the Bulletin for the Study of Religion, Stacie Swain has done the important work of interrogating the construction of the syllabus.
Beneath the fine print are tells from which the student gets a sense of your expectations for the learning experience--good, bad, and ugly.
What is it that we are are hoping students gain from our classes? What do we want them to experience? What excites us about what they'll bring to the table? What scares us about it? What are we too quick or too afraid to name in our courses of study?
When we tell an individual to “check your privilege,” we are in fact, putting ourselves in a position of power. It is as if our knowledge of their perceived privilege removes us from having any role within this system—enabling us to judge them.
But with this positive realization of privilege comes discomfort and shame; this guilt silences people. How then, can we discuss and acknowledge privilege in a constructive way that continues dialogue and motivates social action?