Learning Actions: Knowledge Gaps


Why identify knowledge gaps for anti-racism?

Recognizing that we have gaps in our knowledge, and that it serves particular interests to maintain these gaps can produce a bit of shock (particularly for those who are ‘well-educated' or are educators). This recognition, though, leads to productive, ongoing and multifaceted questioning regarding what we know, or don't, and why (and what we can do about that).  It can lead to questioning regarding what whose story is represented in ‘history,' by whom, in what form, and why, and to what effect? It can helps us to understand multiple perspectives on single events; it can encourage us to learn if there are culturally specific ways of interpreting events and ‘history' and even whether or not ‘history' is an appropriate term! It can help us identify, and counter, fears or assumptions that maintain certain notions of identity to which we may find ourselves resistant to change, and why. It can make us more critical recipients of ‘information' and better researchers; it can provide us with the evidence we need to demonstrate to those who insist otherwise that racism in Canada is not an isolated event but foundational, and ongoing.

Learning Actions for Identifying Knowledge Gaps

The following activities have been designed to help individuals identify their personal knowledege gaps.  Before using these activities, please read the Being a Facilitator. As well, try each Learning Action yourself and  reflect on your own responses. This reflection will be crucial to your success in facilitating these Learning Actions:

  • what did you know, and why?

  • what didn't you know, and why?

  • how did this make you feel?

  • how and where have you, or have you not, learned about the history of racism in Canada?

  • what gaps in your knowledge have you discovered?

  • what will you do about these gaps?

Notes to Facilitators

  • participate in/learn from the action well in advance

  • engage in debriefing/unpacking either independently or with other facilitators

  • be prepared with accurate information in order to ensure that the timeline or fact quiz you create with your group is accurate and inventories are undertaken responsibly and thoroughly

  • bring examples of your particular experiences and insights on ‘history' to the group, as encouragement and demonstration that each participant has particular knowledge to bring to a fuller understanding of experience or  ‘history'

  • enact the philosophy of collaborative learning by demonstrating that you too have gaps in your knowledge, which have systemic causes, and by sharing your own experience of discovering these gaps (surprise, frustration, etc.), that can help support open discussion.

Knowledge Gaps: Learning Actions