Mind the Gaps Applied: Institution/Systems [7 of 8]
Gaps of Power Perspective [5 of 8]
The following two scenarios reflect the application of how one might apply Mind the Gaps to promote inclusive action. The first scenario shows an administrator using the Mind the Gaps framework to consider how to address a conflict at the school. The second scenario demonstrates how a proposed government action was evaluated under the Mind the Gaps framework and illustrates the responsive action that sought to promote conscious, inclusive action for social change.
As the principal of the private school where a bullying incident occurred, Mrs. M considers how a response to the situation might be most inclusive.
1. Gaps of Culture
Mrs. M questions how the approach to handling the situation would appear to someone who felt uncertain about the school’s commitment to the girls’ education. She wonders whether the private school status might make a student or parent uncertain about whether the discipline was based on wealth or on culpability.
She decides to call all the families into meet with each other and the administrators. She considers that this approach fosters the kind of open communication that the school advocates. She wonders whether the parents may feel a perception of partiality since she has a conflict in complete neutrality for economic reasons, and she decides to hire a neutral mediator who can facilitate the conversation. She considers that a mediator has the ability to foster dialogue and understanding and the practice of mediation/facilitation is generally accepted across communities. To be certain, she asks all sets of parents whether they are comfortable with having a mediator present to facilitate the dialogue.
She doesn’t consider that the remaining parents may have concerns about the situation, nor does she consider that the other students not directly affected may have residual concerns arising from this event.
2. Gaps of GPSE
Mrs. M does not recognize any geographic considerations in this case, but there are political concerns. Mrs. M recognizes that the two sets of parents involved between the instigator and the victim have vastly different political outlooks, social status, and wealth. The instigator’s parents are wealthy, prominent business people with a lengthy lineage of family who have graduated from the school; the victim’s parents work in the public health and government, and both parents are second generation immigrants of comfortable means but limited wealth. She wonders how to create a more level playing field for the conversation, and decides that it will be the work of the mediator to balance these disparities.
She does not consider that the two sets of parents come from vastly different backgrounds may have different experiences of justice in their personal history, nor that they might have different understandings of the cause of the situation and diverse needs to have a sense of justice achieved. She does not consider that other students may identify with qualities of the victim and in turn from empathic identification they may experience a sense of ongoing fear from this event.
3. Gaps of Systems
Mrs. M was aware that her approach to this situation was dependent upon trust in the school’s handling of difficult situations as well as in trust in the mediation process. She recognized the potential mistrust of the school’s commitment to discipline arising from the need for funding as well as the mission to educate its students. To promote a sense of confidence in the school’s commitment to neutrality, Mrs. M chose to use a mediator.
To inspire confidence for the handling of this situation, Mrs. M decided to work with a coalition of teachers, parents, and students to identify and develop a way to handle a future incident with consistency and transparent, while retaining flexibility.
Mrs. M did not consider whether the victim’s parents who have a health background are familiar with mediation and whether they would be comfortable with mediation. Mrs. M does not check to see whether the mediator has experience with multi-cultural conflicts and does not consider what qualifications the mediator might need to have to establish legitimacy with the parents.
4. Gaps of Power Perspective
Mrs. M reflects on her power in this situation and sees that while she has authority at school, she does not have authority over the parents and in many ways, she is accountable to the parents. She considers that by inviting a mediator to facilitate the conversation she will enable the removal of any power conflicts that she might hold in this situation.
Mrs. M did not consider that her position could be perceived differently between the two parents. While the instigator’s parents who are wealthy patrons of the school feel comfortable expressing their perspective and needs, the victim’s parents who do not have a strong economic relationship with the school do not feel equally entitled to ensure that their perspective is understood and their concerns are met. She also does not consider that the victim’s parents are concerned about their relationship with the school and ensuring that their daughter will not have a difficult time, whereas the instigator’s parents do not even consider that stating their thoughts would have any implication on their daughter’s educational experience at the school. These are difference arising out of the parents different power positions and the perspective of their privileges. Mrs. M is not aware of her own privileged perspective and thus, is not able to be sensitive to the ways that privilege informs actions.