Considering the Classroom as a Safe Space

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In the APA Newsletter on Feminism and Philosophy, Lauren Freeman (2014) advocates that faculty turn their classrooms into “safe spaces” as a method for increasing the diversity of philosophy majors. The creation of safe spaces is meant to make women and minority students “feel sufficiently comfortable” and thereby increase the likelihood that they pursue philosophy as a major or career. Although I agree with Freeman’s goal, I argue that philosophers, and faculty in general, should reject the call for turning classrooms into “safe spaces.” I begin by distinguishing extra-curricular safe spaces from the classroom as a safe space. I then argue that although faculty should not object to extra-curricular safe spaces, they should reject curricular ones. I argue that the classroom as a safe space is currently an impractical and inappropriate goal given the nature of academic philosophy, and that encouraging students to think of classrooms as safe/unsafe does not facilitate learning. Nonetheless, I agree with Freeman that faculty should take steps to ensure that students from all backgrounds have the tools they need to be successful in the classroom. I further argue that faculty calls for safe spaces creates confusion concerning the educative environment one should expect to find at the majority of America universities.
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Archival date: 2018-07-12
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