One thing that makes students feel comfortable to say what is on their mind is when a teacher or professor maintains a safe space in his, her, or their classroom. Personally, I have been in many classrooms that have felt like a safe space for me to share all of my opinions and thoughts. The concept of a safe space in the classroom has forced me to wonder, ‘How do we create that same safe space outside of the classroom and bring it into the world?’ If society felt like a safe place for everyone, more people would be able to be his, her, or their genuine self without worrying what other people will think or say.
The first step to doing this, would be somehow making people comfortable in society. Everyones beliefs and opinions will differ so every person should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts. People feel more open to speaking up and sharing their beliefs when other people disclose his, her, or their own beliefs first. This informs us that we need to be open with one another to ensure comfortability and vulnerability. Ever hear of the Social Penetration Theory (SPT)? SPT is a theory in Communication studies about people opening up towards other people. This theory focuses on depth in penetration, in terms of how open someone is with another. The more you open up, the more another person is likely to open up with you. Don’t be afraid to remind people “this is a safe place, you can speak your mind here.”
Certain social movements in the past have also created a safe space from vulnerability and openness. @gogirlgang has recently touched on the topic of these social movements such as the #MeToo movement in her previous blog post. Movements like the #MeToo movement and the #TimesUp movement, have created a safe space in the social media space. The reasoning these two movements were so successful was because people were coming together and showing vulnerability while opening up about their past. The key to getting people to feel as if they are in a safe space with you, is to be vulnerable and open up to others. If everyone was open with one another, more people would feel as if they were in a safe space to communicate his,her, or their thoughts. Besides being vulnerable with people to make them feel as if they are in a safe space, simply verbalizing that the environment you are in is a safe space, can bring comfort to people. For example, I have noticed that the teachers who announce that the classroom is a safe space at some point in the semester, usually have more open discussions where students feel welcome to share what is exactly on their minds.
PSA: V day is today and your favorite ShoutOut! feminists and the Students Against Sexual Violence organization will be raising awareness on JMU campus! The event will be held Wednesday, April 3 at 6:30 in TDU.