Safe spaces and epistemic character: corruption, resilience and protection in the classroom

Monypenny, Alice (2022) Safe spaces and epistemic character: corruption, resilience and protection in the classroom. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis offers an account of safety in the classroom and focuses on the relationship between safety and protection. Using a critical character epistemological lens, I argue that a student’s ability to protect themselves from harm may vary in relation to their social positionality or carry significant costs.

I demonstrate how a range of epistemic character traits can aid students in protecting themselves from harm in hostile classroom environments. When theorising about epistemic character is done through a critical lens, the relationships between epistemic character and power structures in the social world are emphasised. I argue that the range of protective epistemic character traits available to a student will be affected by a range of factors, including how relationships of power and oppression affect the trajectory of their epistemic character development. Furthermore, the development and exercise of protective epistemic character traits, especially those which are conventionally classified as epistemic vices, can carry significant costs for students. Two such costs are (i) damage to epistemic character – the development of epistemic character in ways that are at odds with epistemic flourishing – and (ii) the constraint of epistemic character.

I then illustrate the relationship between protection and safety by presenting the following account of safety: a classroom is safe for some student S if being in and participating in the classroom does not put S at higher than tolerable level of risk of harm without S being required to protect themself in ways that cannot be reasonably expected of them. Means of self-protection which students cannot be expected to adopt include those which cause, or make students vulnerable to further harm, and those which significantly disadvantage them in other ways. I argue that unless educators have detailed knowledge of a student’s ability to take on risk, then safety is required to make the classroom accessible to that student.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Fisher, Andrew
Monk, Katie
Kidd, Ian
Webster, Aness
Keywords: Philosophy, Education, Classroom, Safe spaces
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 69549
Depositing User: Monypenny, Alice
Date Deposited: 31 Dec 2022 04:40
Last Modified: 11 Jan 2023 13:59

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