My dissertation, "We Want to Be Parts of Constellations: Neurodiversity and Philosophical Pedagogy," is all about how philosophy as a discipline (at least mainstream, analytic, Eurocentric professional philosophy) can and should be open, accessible, and truly inclusive of all through the lens of undergraduate teaching.
I use personal narratives of my own experience as a multiply neurodivergent philosopher as my starting point to examine how typical philosophy pedagogy creates unnecessary barriers of access and inclusion to neurodivergent students. With a better understanding of neurodivergent differences and strengths, coupled with inclusive pedaogogy principles and practices, we can make philosophy courses more inclusive and welcoming,
By paying attention to neurodivergent motivation and thinking patterns, as well as diverse and interdisciplinary methods and sources of knowledge, we can better understand what it means to do philosophy from a neurodivergent approach--and how that not only only opens brand new avenues of inquiry, but also fosters the foundations needed for philosophy to become a place where everyone can find connection, community, and belonging in pursuit of understanding and wisdom.
My lens for research, teaching, and philosophy generally is always grounded in the material. By this, I mean that I work from bodies and embodied knowledge, lived experience and everyday practice, concrete particulars, and paying attention to what authors, perspectives, and issues I am engaging with as a central component to my work.
This means choosing to use non-traditional and interdisciplinary research epistemologies, methods, and sources of knowledge, and to prioritize engaging work from thinkers chronically underestimated, ignored, or excluded from philosophy for centuries as a facet of oppression.
I bring together inclusive pedagogy, neuroscience, neurocrip/queer frameworks, and critiques on the limiting, exclusionary norms of mainstream traditional Western philosophy to explore how changing our approach to the sources, topics, questions, and methods used to teach and develop philosophical research can create greater authentic inclusivity and a richer, more expansive discipline.
Philosophy courses and teaching practices rooted in frameworks of inclusive pedagogy,--and in the spirit of bell hooks' radical, transgressive teaching--and designed around community, collaboration, and empowerment through Universal Design for Learning and strengths-based learning are integral to a discipline that will invite and encourage people from all backgrounds to join the millennia-old dialogue of wisdom and wonder.
Neurodiversity is underrepresented and misrepresented in philosophical research, and neurodivergent philosophers are an invisible group. By actively and authentically including the perspectives, voices, concerns, and practices of neurodivergent scholars, neurodivergent students are empowered to participate in the discipline.
Dotson's article, "Concrete Flowers: Contemplating the Profession of Philosophy," is a critique of mainstream Western philosophy's norms that serves as a guiding framework for my project.
hooks' text, Teaching to Transgress, is a touchstone of my inclusive pedagogical praxis, and her accessible academic writing through personal narrative influences my own writing style.
Patricia Hill Collins
Collins' seminal work, Black Feminist Thought, provides key theoretical tools that help frame a radical and explansive approach to philosophy that makes it accessible for neurodivergent individuals.
Form and Method
My dissertation models a neurodivergent approach to philosophy using non-traditional sources, methods, and communication styles, showing how we can do important philosophical work that is accessible and inclusive without having to adhere to the norms of traditional mainstream Western professional philosophy.
Inspired by the arguments and style of scholars including bell hooks, Tressie McMillan Cottom, and George Yancy, I am writing in a conversational tone using personal narrative and drawing from lived experience and community-based knowledge in connection with influential ideas from scholars from marginalized and historical excluded groups, particularly Black women writers.
My methods and my examples also illustrate practical changes and concrete alternatives instructors can introduce and offer in their teaching to make their courses more neurodivergent. I want to make clear that creating more accessible and neuroinclusive courses is possible and obtainable through small but significant changes, with a range of options available so that instructors can design changes that work for their courses and their teaching styles and aims.