Law discussion paper Barb Thomas Learning from Discomfort A Letter to My Daughters
Discussion paper instructions and questions
Discussion Papers –
You are to submit discussion papers on a minimum of four (any four) of the seven chapters of the course materials.
You are expected to refer to and integrate all (or in a long chapter most) of the readings in the chapter in your discussion paper on that chapter. Where a chapter includes both cases and articles, you are expected to discuss both in your paper, using the articles to help you critically examine the cases. In addition to the readings, you are expected to integrate discussion of our class discussion on that chapter into your paper. One way that you might do this would be to write half to two-thirds of your paper based on your initial reading of the materials and your preparation for class and then complete the paper after class by commenting on your initial response to the readings – eg things you missed, other students’ responses that differed from your own, contentious issues in class that you anticipated or did not anticipate. If you do this, please indicate which section was written before and which section after class.
The discussion papers are not intended to be a summary of the readings or of the class discussions. You are expected to engage with and respond to the issues that the materials raise. Try to look for themes or recurring issues within the section and discuss those as raised through the readings and classes rather than discuss each article or case separately. These papers provide an opportunity for you to think about, integrate and apply the readings.
Discussion questions on each week’s readings will be posted in advance. You may use these as a guide to your discussion papers but the intention is not that in your paper you simply go through and “answer” the questions posed. The questions are intended to spark your critical engagement with the readings, to start you on a path that you then make your own – ie the questions can be a starting point but not the end point for your papers. If you want to ignore the discussion questions altogether in your papers that is fine too but you should come to class prepared to discuss the questions.
Each paper should be from five to eight type written pages, double spaced. The paper is due in class the week immediately following the last class dealing with that chapter. Due dates are provided on the course schedule. If you wish to submit more than the required four papers, the best four marks will be applied to your final grade
Questions for class discussion
Barb Thomas, “Learning from Discomfort: A Letter to My Daughters”
I included this article in order to have us think about our own defensiveness, resistances, discomfort and hopefully to provide some insights and tools to help us not get stuck in a negative place.
1. Does this article help you see/understand your reactions to any of the preceding articles in this chapter differently? How?
2. What in your growing up affected your learning about the world? What major influences/events shaped how you understand the world?
3. Where does your understanding of racism? Sexism? Ablism? Class? Heterosexism and homophobia? Gender identity? come from?
4. Do you find Thomas’s five ideas at the end of the article useful?
Martha Minow – Sources of Difference
1. What is the dilemma of difference that Minow talks about? What is the catch 22 that it presents? Can you give an example? How does this dilemma relate to the critiques that Matsuda, Williams and Razack raise?
2. Explain in your own words the five assumptions that Minow describes as underlying the dilemma of difference. What examples does Minow give of each? Can you think of additional examples of these assumptions? Which of these assumptions do you hold?
3. What does it mean to say that we are each equally different from each other? What is the impact of such a statement?
4. What are your unstated norms?
5. What is the effect of these unstated assumptions? Why does it matter that they are unstated?
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