(Dis)gracefully navigating the challenges of diversity learning and teaching – reflections on the Social Graces as a diversity training tool
The Social Graces framework is 25 years old. In this paper we consider the Social Graces as a teaching tool. Roper-Hall, Burnham and their colleagues have created a recognisable and exible tool and have guided us toward using this tool with creativity and courage. However, in order for us to, in John’s words (1992, p. 27) “all become graceful” in thinking about and working with difference when we are with our clients, maybe we first need a context where we can engage with the social graces somewhat more un/dis-gracefully; where there is room for struggle and where things can get messy. Maybe the training space is the best place for this to happen, a space where we are freer to be “clumsy rather than clever” (Burnham & Harris, 2002, p. 25), get it wrong, and be curious primarily for our own benefit. I have argued that in our diversity teaching we need actively to attend to what ‘comes before’ in relation to creating a context where good diversity-learning can take place (Mills-Powell & Worthington, 2007); that is, to the values that underpin the graces. three ‘Ps’, namely politics, personal connection and participation, can help foster a culture where these values can be brought to the foreground. When acting from within these values, the social graces provide a valuable framework for our diversity adventure.