Inclusive Teaching and Learning – Blog Task 1 – Gender

Supporting Trans Students – Blog
It is clear from studying UAL’s Gender Diversity website that the challenges faced by the LGBTQ+ community are not talked about or understood well enough. The various articles emphasise the importance of using conversation and dialogue as a tool to educate. Such dialogue can benefit the staff as well as the students, making the university environment more inclusive to everyone. I believe I could use the website as an invaluable tool in my own teaching practice. Firstly by informing LGBTQ+ students of the help, support and communities available at UAL and secondly as a means to educate all students on the correct terminology and pronouns used when interacting with their peers. If indeed all students read the resources it would encourage positive conversation and a healthy understanding of an often overlooked topic.

Pay It No Mind – The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson – Video
This video of interviews gives a brief insight into the life of Marsha P Johnson, an activist trans woman who struggled to be accepted for who she was, and throughout her life showed huge courage and kindness to those she encountered. Today programmes such as Ru Paul’s Drag Race highlight how far modern society’s perception of drag queens has changed, from persecuted to celebrated. Unfortunately, prejudice still exists in some communities, but certainly far less than in previous decades, thanks in part to people such as Marsha P. Johnson who was not afraid to challenge our perceptions through the way she lived her life.

I likened Marsha P. Johnson’s struggles to the artist and activist Keith Haring. Best known for his graffiti art in New York, his later work often addressed political and social themes especially homosexuality and AIDS. Nowadays Haring’s work is mainstream, popular and often imitated, although the core themes often ignored. Recently the clothing brand Uniqlo collaborating with the Museum of Modern Art in New York to produce a collection of Keith Haring apparel. The description on the Uniqlo website makes no mention of Haring’s foundation supporting young people with AIDS/HIV or the gay rights activism he was so heavily involved with.

Understanding Patriarchy, bell hook – Read.
The first and most striking message I took from this text is the notion that women are as prominent in creating patriarchal roles in the family home as men. Hooks talk about her experience of patriarchy in her home via violence from her father, she explains how her mother enforced these roles by complying and accepting his role of power. Hooks also highlights how boys that come from single-mum homes are just as likely to be taught patriarchal roles from their mothers as women in such households are far more likely to idealize the patriarchal male role and patriarchal men than women who live with patriarchal men every day’. She explains that is it unwise to put the sole blame on men, this will not help rid us of patriarchy, ‘Separatist ideology encourages women to ignore the negative impact of sexism on male personhood. It stresses polarization between the sexes.’

Following on from this theme, the second message I identified within the text is the idea that men are also victims of patriarchy. Men’s inability to express emotion is increasingly mentioned in current affairs. Samaritans statistics show the highest suicide rate in the UK in 2017 was men aged 40–44. In Understanding Patriarchy hook argues that patriarchal roles have made the show of venerable emotion a sign of weakness and lack of power. She recalls her brother being taught that a boy should not express feelings’ from a young age. Then, in adult life hook talks of her friends’ need to conform to patriarchal roles in order to be ‘noticed and valued’.

Including these themes in my own teaching practice – a brief
A great way to get students engaged and aware of a certain subject matter is to create a brief surrounding that topic. Providing students with a challenge can encourage a reaction where a lecture or presentation might not. The three resources in this reflective blog cover a variety of gender issues and could be used as starting points for a research-led project. Students could be tasked with creating a visual response to one of the three resources. The current student that I support is on Illustration and visual media at LCC, with him in mind this could be anything from designing a new book cover to making an animated interpretation of one of the themes.

Being tasked with creating a visual response means students are challenged to truly analyse and draw their own conclusions. This process of research and interpretation is an important part of higher education in art and design, it is crucial that students learn the skill of critical thinking and analysis. Tutorials and critiques on the work would then provide a comfortable environment within which a conversation that some individuals may find difficult to discuss can take place. Facilitating a conversation also provides an opportunity for students to inform their peers of any gender preferences they may have.

I was conscious of using the correct terminology whilst writing this piece. Even after researching and educating myself of the correct pronouns and phrases I still found it difficult. I apologise in advance if my text contains any errors and would greatly appreciate any feedback.

https://sites.psu.edu/womeninhistory/2016/10/23/the-unsung-heroines-of-stonewall-marsha-p-johnson-and-sylvia-rivera/
https://www.uniqlo.com/uk/en/women/ut-graphic-print-tops/sprz-artists-collection.
https://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2017_Final.pdf

2. The Classroom: A problem or a Mystery & Understanding Art – The Play of Work and Spector.

The Classroom: A problem or a Mystery.

In ‘The Classroom: a problem and mystery?’ Dr Ian Munday suggests that some would suggest the classroom needs a formula to work’. He goes on to note that when a set formula is given in a classroom, students can strategise to pass without becoming truly connected to their work and being taught. Through experience it is my belief that classrooms should be a place for students to learn via freedom of play and experiences. Working one-to-one as learning support, the ‘classroom’ is a loose term with no two days or ‘classrooms’ being the same. This allows me to be involved with the student’s individual learning instead of viewing them as a set of problems to solve. It enables me to achieve the learning through play and interacting with the student’s environment.

The main summary I have taken from this text is: mystery is being immersed in your practice whereas problem-solving is having a problem that must be overcome.

The two examples Munday gives to demonstrate this understanding are the guitar and kitchen analogies. In the first, ‘Michael’ followed a set rules to learn the guitar but does not sound as natural or good as ‘Stuart’ who has embraced the mystery of playing. Michael sees the guitar as a set of problems to solve by learning all the cords to become technically perfect whereas Stuart may not be technically perfect but feels the music and embraces the sound, feel and the mystery. In the second example the author did not engage with the working kitchen he was in which ultimately meant he was not suited and was asked to leave. Some problems could have been solved easily, for example ‘practiced dishwashing at home to speed up’. However it was failing to embrace the ‘feel’ of the kitchen which leads to bigger problems. These examples both show that solving a problem is not the most important element, instead it is the mystery of being immersed.

I am interested in Munday’s observation that by imposing goals and rules on a classroom or your practice you can create barriers for mystery to occur. Doing so may limit creativity and free-flowing learning. In my teaching practice I can plan a lesson that is successful with one student but not with another. I believe you should be open-minded to things going wrong and as a teacher you must be able to adapt to your students.

 

I believe teachers should utilise the principle of play and freedom in their teaching methods, we should be involved in the students learning by creating a back and forth interaction. I could use this method in my teaching practice with interactive drawing excerises to encourage the students to think freely with their work. The techniques of timed drawing games in specific mediums and techniques, for example with your eye closed or with your left hand, can encourage free thinking. Such excerises allow students to create instinctive forms and enable back and forth unconscious play with the results. Ultimately through fun and mystery these excercises allow the students to be creative without feeling the pressure of a final result.

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Understanding Art – The Play of Work and Spector. Hans-Georg Gadamer

Here I have outlined the key elements I took from Gadamer’s text Understanding Art – The Play of Work and Spector.

  • Play is an action that goes on between the ‘players’ and is said to reach beyond consciousness of a single player. A back and forth flow will open up to the understanding of the art.
  • Understanding the art only happens in a dynamic, interactive and interpretive process of meaning.
  • An ‘event’ is crucial to the play process and the spontaneous back and forth movement that renews itself. This movement is connected to freedom and is an element that is essential to play.
  • Human play is conscious unlike nature which is not. Humans chose to interact with art to create willingness. It is a process that shouldn’t be forced, it happens and you become caught up in the game.
  • “for the game to really take place, the players must commit to the game and behave as genuine participants.”
  • Artwork creates for us the opportunity of knowledge. Every piece of art comments on something about our reality that effects everyone, so it can be seen clearly and with meaning.
  • Understanding the truth of it is just one part of the ‘play’. The artwork addresses us with this truth and awaits our response.
  • “The Spector has a task to fulfill to lend oneself to the truth and allow its clam to be made upon them. Allowing oneself to become immersed in the performance.
  • To be truly open minded you must be able to take on the works meaning without your won perceptions. A genuine understanding of the art.
  • For being open and experiencing these pieces of art, you become more knowledgeable and have new understanding on something other than just yourself. You have a new understanding ‘offered up by another.’

Reflection:

I found studying this text difficult to begin with, but by extracting the key elements and applying them to how I view art and my own experiences I began to connect with what was being said. I believe that play between art and the viewer is the freedom flow of information. I agree that a person may visit a gallery without gaining any connection with the artwork if they are not willing to allow for an interaction. Or a person may see a piece of art in one perspective initially, then an entirely different one as a result of an event or new knowledge of the artist. Gadamer is saying that a viewer must be open to these changes. Doing so will turn your experience into a ‘conversation’ with the art.

1. A Learning Model for the Future – Aoun, J. 2017.

A Learning Model for the Future – Response to Aoun, J. 2017. A Learning Model for the Future. In Higher education in the age of artificial intelligence. MIT Press. pp45-75.

This essay is about the effects of technology in our lives. It states that our current workforce is not equipped with the skills it needs for modern day jobs. The new discipline Aoun suggests in the essay is ‘Humanics’ which can be divided in to three main literacies, Technological Literacies, Data Literacies and Data Literacies.

Firstly, Aoun talks about how creative thinking can be encouraged through the way we teach. Pure creative talent is a gift that only very few people in the world have but by being encouraged to think divergently a student can develop creative thinking method. Divergent thinking is the creation of multiple responses in a flow of ideas and is associated with playfulness and willingness to take risks. It is the

Cognitive thinking is when we aim to find the single, correct, answer to a question or problem. This is the type of ‘thinking’ that advance computers are able to do.

Our current educational system does not encourage divergent thinking and is said to ‘kill creativity by stigmatising wrong answers’. I watched a TED TALK video by Ken Richardson which I found extremely interesting. Ken says ‘We don’t grow into creativity. We grow out of it, or rather we get educated out of it’ I work with a student studying IVM at LCC and he has Aspergers, he is an instinctively creative person and I am curious to think about how his disability may affect the way he thinks creatively.  We are told the knowledge of facts makes us clever or smart but I believe the ability to think divergently and creatively is an important skill to teach our students. Currently I think schools and universities could be doing more to teach students to think creatively as it will be invaluable to them in work and personal life.

The facts of ‘The Literacies- Technological, Data and Human.’

The new literacies arise from technology e.g. texts, blog, social network. These digital forms change the way we communicate. The ability to read and write used to mean power and freedom, now the ability to network with both humans and machines has a similar value.

Technological is the understanding of mathematics, coding and basic engineering principles.’ (P. 57) Letter and number have been studied in schools for hundreds of years as it was the fundamentals of human combination, now that technology is taking over this we must learn not only how to use technology but how it works, especially in the creative environment for example, how to make the new software program that will send image or data to each other.

Data literacies in short in the collection of information and how to read it.  The ability to read data can be extremely important in educating ourselves and advancing our knowledge. Aoun gives the example of being able to foresee ‘the spread of a virus across a continent to an individual’s dating preferences.’ P.57

Human Literacies is interacting with other humans. The ability to socially commutate and engage with others. I think this is the most important literacy. An office or university can have all the right facilities and technology but if it cannot create personal relationships within their society it will not succeed. Diversity is essential in human literacy for students to learn to their full potential.

Critical Thinking is ‘thinking over an idea in a skilful way and then applying them to create something new. Critical thought has many different element; for example, the understanding and applying of facts to a question or understanding how people are motivated or how emotions can affect them. When all these are applied to the context of a situation, a person is critically thinking. If a problem can be answered in a couple of yes and no answers a computer could resolve the issue but many real-world problems require critical thinking.

What these few captures explain to me is that a student does not come to university to learn from books or researching the internet. They learn from each other, from seminars and experimentation in the workshops. This involves teaching across subject areas on a project that are engaged with real life experience.

The ‘new model of learning’ tells us students want to know ‘what and why’ they are learning the lessons or skills we are teaching. This can be done by clearly indicating what is excepted of them in a curriculum.  Each lesson states the learning outcomes and how to build on their system and critical thinking. Students need to be able to understand how these new forms of teaching will help them in their goals not simply at university but industry. The main point that I understood from this text was that although technology is able to do more and more tasks a human would normally do, it/they cannot think creativity. Humans think creatively and have many ‘oceans of knowledge to cross’. This is showing the importance of teaching of thinking creatively and understand not only what technologies can do but what it cannot do.