Laboratory Petri Dish, Within the context of education, a Petri dish is a metaphor. It represents the close examination and relationship building with students in order to thoroughly understand them. Many educators and educational institutions use this tool as an initial step in addressing performance disparities among student groups
Similar to when a biologist uses a Petri dish, Nexgen the examination itself requires the person(s) conducting the examination to contextualize their observations. In education, these observations typically result in deficit thinking regarding the perceived abilities of students, who by now are grouped using terminology that gently ostracizes them (ie struggling learners, at-risk, etc.).
While the educational institution learns an exceeding amount about these students, what they do with the information is crucial. Knowing what students need in order to be successful, the places they come from, and their personal stories can, at best, provide students with supports designed to help them and, at worst, be used to force them into becoming more like the dominant group (affirmation through assimilation).
Petri dish online
Educators who truly and authentically attempt to understand their students through empathetic and open-minded observations and actions should be commended. This is where the Petri dish in the educational context is considered an effective strategy.
At the same time, Laboratory Petri Dish educators who pass judgment on marginalized student groups or their culture(s) perpetuate the same practices that produce performance disparities among student groups.
Like the Petri dish, the mirror is also a metaphor within the educational context. This term represents self-reflection that leads to a change in practice for students. Essentially, it all boils down to what YOU change in order to increase positive outcomes for ALL students.
For decades, educational institutions’ theoretical beliefs have been aligned with the notion that we will do anything to ensure our students’ success. Practically, the actions of the organization have been, we will do anything to ensure our students’ success, except change the structures &/or people that promote disparities.
Similar to when a beautician provides you with a mirror at the end of an appointment for final approval, in a sense, you have control over what happens next. You can either give the okay and proceed accordingly, or you can request/demand changes. I believe that in education, we have to do a better job of processing past the superficial when we are looking in the mirror. Taking ownership of learning outcomes can be difficult, personal, and emotional work, but it can also serve as an opportunity for us to implement practical strategies that support the theoretical beliefs of the organization.