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Using Lived Experience as Educator Expertise
Using Lived Experience as Educator Expertise

How to create classes that accurately reflect your experiences.

Rachel avatar
Written by Rachel
Updated over a week ago

What do we mean by lived experience?

At Outschool, we require a teaching credential or other specialized degree only in special circumstances. This means that in most cases if you have the experience and the passion, you can teach. Lived experience is defined as your own personal identity, an event or occurrence in your life, or a personal interest or passion that you’ve dedicated substantial time to.

How can I use my lived experience to teach on Outschool?

If you’re planning to use your lived experience for your educator expertise on a certain topic, we do look for a few pieces of evidence in order to approve your class. Here are some questions to consider when planning your class:

  • What information do you have to support your lived experience?

    • Consider adding in sources that present a well-rounded and holistic view of the topic at hand. How might you bring external sources in to support your own knowledge?

  • Are you planning to teach on behalf of an entire group of people or culture? Or are you framing your class around your own personal experiences?

    • It is important when teaching a class on a people or culture to understand the diverse and varied experiences that exist within one cultural group. For example, if you have traveled to another country on vacation, that does not necessarily mean that you have sufficient life experience to teach in-depth about that country’s culture. On the other hand, it would be considered sufficient life experience in order to teach about planning a vacation to that country.

  • How are you avoiding bias, and including multiple perspectives, in your classroom?

    • As usual, any class on peoples, cultures, and histories require the inclusion of multiple perspectives. When considering life experience, think about how your personal experience may be different from others in similar situations, and what additional sources or perspectives you may need in order to present a more well-rounded and accurate view of that topic. Check out three ways to bring multiple perspectives to your teaching for inspiration.

    • Another idea is to take advantage of Outschool’s policy on guest speakers! Bring others in to share a more well-rounded perspective of a specific topic or experience.

When do we require more expertise than lived experience?

As always, if you are teaching on a sensitive topic, additional requirements beyond life experience are typically necessary, and we do apply a higher degree of scrutiny to these classes in order to ensure they are accurate and objective, and more broadly representative of the topic at hand. Additionally, if you are planning to teach a class that encompasses an entire group of people or culture, we would ask for additional expertise and sources to help us make an informed decision.

How can I learn more about designing my classes around lived experience?

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