Springe direkt zu Inhalt

Enabling Error-Friendliness

As Urmila Goel has written, professional behavior that critically confronts social power relations and inequalities is faced with naming these circumstances in order to respond to them. People can only modify their ignorance, prejudices, and resentments once they have acknowledged them. This almost always happens in the presence of people who are directly affected by these resentments.

The idea of error-friendliness is partly about preventing those who personally experience exclusion and discrimination from undergoing “irreversible negative results” (Goel 2016: 42). But it also means creating opportunities for everyone to develop and learn – although everyone must be aware that power relations will at times be reproduced and “speech can hurt, even unintentionally” (Ibid.: 43). In these teaching situations, “those excluded by the reproduction of power relations should not be left to face them alone. They should see these reproductions addressed and responded to” (Ibid.). She continues, “[meanwhile] the format for addressing and responding to the reproduction of power relations should provide learning opportunities even for those who have reproduced them or fail to comprehend the problem. They should be clearly presented with the consequences of reproducing power relations so that they can pay more attention to avoiding doing so in the future. These goals of error-friendliness are very challenging for lecturers” (Ibid.).

This challenge also demonstrates the importance of recognizing your own limits as a lecturer. This likewise highlights the limits of a chiefly didactic approach to discrimination: this approach requires complementary support measures and efforts at all levels of the university.


Goel, Urmila. 2016. Die (Un)Möglichkeit der Vermeidung von Diskriminierungen. In Diskriminierungskritische Lehre. Denkanstöße aus den Gender Studies, Hrsg. Geschäftsstelle des Zentrums für transdisziplinäre Geschlechterstudien der Humboldt-Universiät zu Berlin.

Version April 2017. Unless otherwise stated, this content is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International licence.