Critical inquiry can add depth to our knowledge of higher education and the inequities inherent within our current educational system. This depth comes from the insights critical inquiry brings to light by looking at how the majority or group in power uses their power to make it seem socially acceptable to discriminate against minorities and keep inequitable systems in place. Critical inquiry looks at those on the inequitable side of the experience, although it is not without its flaws, or at least perceived flaws. I find it interesting that critical inquiry does not necessarily attempt to address the ways in which we can make our educational systems more equitable, nor does it attempt to be neutral. It does not attempt to give us the how, only a snapshot of what is happening and how inequalities affect those people in the minority. “Whereas Critical Theory aims at fostering human emancipation, it remains incapable of specifying a political action-strategy for social change. “ (Corradetti, 2011) It seems we leave this task to other forms of inquiry, so the role of critical inquiry is simply to uncover the problems, not to solve them.
Given we cannot always learn possible solutions, just what can we learn from critical research in higher education? It looks like we can certainly learn some inconvenient and uncomfortable truths. Just from the readings in class, my eyes and heart have been open to an incredible amount about what it is like to be a part of just a handful of different minorities. As someone in a position of relatively little power and in the minority as a female, but in the majority on the race issue, I can see the positions of both sides, minority and majority, to a point. The blockades of the majority are more than inconvenient for those in the minority, they can be crippling.
We can and should learn more about the experiences of students in groups other than our own. We cannot pretend to understand the experiences of people in other minority groups, even though there may well be parallels between certain groups. We may be able to relate to some of their experiences, but we cannot presume knowledge we do not have. I also believe these experiences are going to vary depending on factors such as a students’ geographic location, type of college/university, and how each individual within the group perceives their experience.
We can and should use the insights from critical inquiry to make informed and thoughtful decisions on how best to reach out to minority groups during their educational experience. “Higher education has attempted to meet the academic and social needs of this increasingly important population by adopting traditional institutional responses, such as providing special college outreach and transition programs, enhancing academic support services, and involving Latino college graduates as mentors and role models.” (Villalpando, 2004). However, “As Latino enrollments have increased, we have not seen a...