B09: Short Tutorial Handout

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This is the online version of the short handout given out in our first tutorial titled “Short Tutorial Handout”. If you see any errors please free to let me know. This handout will be expanded into a longer handout in the first few weeks of class, to better represent the ways we elaborate on these points in tutorial, and the different feedback we express.

Revision history:

  • 11/01/2018 Original handout posted.
  • Any revisions will be noted here.

PHLB09: Short Tutorial Handout
For students registered in C’s tutorials, 2018

About your TA

  • You can just call me “C” (preferred) or “Charles”. My pronouns are they/them. This is my fifth time being a TA for bioethics. I am a PhD student in the Department of Philosophy and Joint Centre for Bioethics researching relationships between silence, exclusion, oppression, and resistance in the contexts of health and epistemology. I am always happy to talk about bioethics.
  • Please email me at cdf.uoft@gmail.com with the course code in your subject line. I try to reply within two business days, and you are welcome to email me again if I’m slow to reply: I think it is helpful and not at all rude. You can use my utoronto email address but I might be slower to reply there. If I cannot answer your question over email, I may suggest we arrange to discuss in person. You’re always welcome to try asking me things rather than assume the answer is ‘no’. We can arrange other ways of communicating as needs arise.
  • My office hours will be announced later in the term, and I will tend to have more around deadlines or when assignments are returned. You can always contact me to try and book an appointment.

Accessibility and inclusivity

  • I believe that access is a fundamental right
  • I understand “accessibility” very broadly, and acknowledge that many disabilities and illnesses are non-linear or imperceptible, that not everyone has the same relationship with the English language, that barriers to access rooted in oppressive social structures exist, that personal life can interfere without warning, and that I will never be able to fully anticipate all needs.
  • I respect that our needs can differ over time, and that new needs can arise, and that accessibility is a dynamic process, not a single event or action
  • I respect that not all accommodation needs can be “documented”, that not everybody is or can be registered with AccessAbility, and that not everybody has equal access to the means to have their needs “officially” recognized.
  • If you ever feel that you are not being included in tutorials, that your needs aren’t met, please contact me so we can navigate possible changes together.
  • All handouts and other resources for our tutorials will be posted and updated online at https://cdf.so/B09. I will try to make digital resources available in print too, including large format. Please let me know if there are alternative formats that would help make materials accessible to you.

About tutorials

  • The readings are where we go to try and learn. The lectures are where we go to better understand and make connections. Tutorials are where we go to further discuss, explore, challenge, and disrupt our beliefs and understandings, and to practice and develop our philosophical skills and engagements.
  • Ultimately: tutorials are our space to engage with the course in the ways we need to. They are flexible to what we need. We will strive to adopt tutorials to our needs, interests, and feedback.
  • Proposed daily outline:
    • We will start by passing around an attendance sheet, while C gives a very brief summary of the previous lecture to make sure everyone has some access to the content, even if they missed class or readings.
    • We will ask if we have any questions, clarifications, or things needing discussion around the topics or other course issues.
    • We will then pass around discussion sheets with prompts or case-studies, based on student emails sent to C, and current assignments or topics.
    • We will have a moment to think about the questions, and then join small discussion groups to discuss thoughts and questions about them, while the TA moves between groups answering questions, adding feedback and ideas, and mediating conflicts.
    • We may end with a class-wide discussion, by combining groups, or by continuing as we are, depending on our needs.
  • We will change this schedule based on our changing wants, interests, and needs.

Here are a few things to keep in mind when we are together

  • Nobody should feel forced to speak up (and C will never “cold-call” students), but we should always try to create room for others to engage and be heard. We should encourage respectful and compassionate engagement while leaving room for authentic feelings and reactions. Respect should be a tool for opening up communication and possibilities, not a tool for silencing or for closing opportunities for expression.
  • We all have different relationships to course topics, themes, and examples, and different people can have different experiences of going through the same things. We should avoid making assumptions about people’s experiences and identities.
  • We are meeting and studying on Indigenous lands, while Indigenous health issues, crises, and perspectives continue to be ignored or undervalued in healthcare systems, bioethics, and philosophy. This needs to be challenged and disrupted.
  • Philosophy and bioethics have a long history of prioritizing certain voices and people over others, and have actively and passively excluded other voices, people, experiences, and ways of knowing. These histories need to be challenged and disrupted.
  • Barriers to access do not only include disability, but also things like poverty, multilingualism, mental health, experiences of violence and oppression, access to housing and food, family and personal issues. We cannot always identify what lives people are living and when. Maybe they are sitting next to us. Maybe they are also us.
  • We are encouraged to prioritize our health, safety, and wellbeing, and we can skip or leave during a tutorial without explanation as we need. We are also welcome to show up to tutorials unprepared.
  • Some of us may speak quickly or slowly, and may use words or phrases we are not familiar with. We should acknowledge that people have different relationships with the languages used in this course, and should feel also comfortable asking what something means or to hear something said again.
  • We should feel free to stretch, move around, use computers and phones, eat or drink, as long as we also try to reduce the ways we may be disruptive to others.

If anything isn’t working for anyone, or if I have missed something important, please try to let me know so we can work together to change and address it.

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