Classroom Collaboration – Trauma and Standpoint

If emotional abuse is prevalent in relationships, is it also common in the classroom?  Many people are unaware of verbal abuse as abuse – given the hierarchies of power in the classroom, one could easily see a perpetrator trying to establish or maintain vantage.

Some hypothetical examples:

  • Creative writing teacher feels that most students “can’t write,” and then uses punative grading to prove to these students that they should not continue writing.
  • A student with high expectations from home and a poor GPA feels that all writing is subjective, and that therefore the teacher should give an A.  When a lower grade is given, the student threatens to appeal the grade, call parents, file a complaint unless the grade is raised.
  • During a group project, one student decides that one classmate can’t be trusted to do A work.  This student takes the lead in the project, “cutting out” the “inadequate” student by “forgetting” to reply to e-mails, redoing that student’s sections, and complaining to others (perhaps even the instructor) about how “useless” this classmate is.

Note that these aren’t examples of “blatant” abuse.  Many would question my use of trauma theory to address these.  But they certainly fit under standpoint and the perpetuation of social hierarchies – hierarchies that primarily benefit the perpetrator.

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