In defense of the progressive stack: A strategy for prioritizing marginalized voices during in-class discussion

Teaching Philosophy 41 (4):407-428 (2018)
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Progressive stacking is a strategy for prioritizing in-class contributions that allows marginalized students to speak before non-marginalized students. I argue that this strategy is both pedagogically and ethically defensible. Pedagogically, it provides benefits to all students (e.g., expanded in-class discourse) while providing special benefits (e.g., increased self-efficacy) to marginalized students, helping to address historic educational inequalities. Ethically, I argue that neither marginalized nor non-marginalized students are wronged by such a policy. First, I present a strategy for self-disclosure that reduces the risk of inadvertent, unwanted disclosure while respecting marginalized student autonomy in a manner analogous to accommodations provided under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Second, I argue that non-marginalized students are not wronged because such students are not silenced during discussion and because non-marginalized students benefit from the prioritization of marginalized voices.

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Jake Wright
University of Minnesota, Rochester

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