9. Jennifer Warren – Schooling and Culture V2 issue 1

Jennifer Warren – Inclusive Unit – Schooling and Culture
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4AWjQ3wtyuncDZWdHhaVGp2dkk/view

-As teachers within Higher Education, do you think it is necessary to think about school and FE? What perspective might we gain by doing this?

– I believe it is important to know your student’s background, their identity and the knowledge they have already gained in their previous education. This will allow us as a teacher to not see them as ‘empty vassals to impart our knowledge on’ but to recognise and build off their current education and skills. This relates to Paulo Friere acknowledgment of the Banking Concept. As stated in the publication ‘It is important to think of students not just as students but as colleagues who hold information that is not accessible to adults or professionals.’ The teachings of Friere’s will help us gain a better understanding of our students and in doing so will enable us to help our students reach their full potential.

Are there elements of ‘Schooling and Culture’s’ model of academic publishing/research/teaching that we could use in HE? If so what? And how might we bring this into our practice?

-The first element I liked about this publication was the message of collaboration between the teachers, the students and the publication. The publication does not want to be seen as a definitive all-knowing book, it is about the suggestion of what people have tried and learned through their own practice, to build a community to share knowledge.  I find the aspect of asking ‘us’- both students and teacher to feedback really great as it will allow the publication to build a fair and open discussion about our current education system, that I believe is needed.

– I enjoyed reading the Article called ‘Classroom Do’s and Don’ts for Students and Teachers’. This article is about a workshop run with year 10 students with the aim ‘to collaborate in the making of an artwork’ within a gallery setting. The technique of an ‘unscripted day’ was used to help the students decide on a theme for their collective outcome. I found this technique interesting as it allowed the students to learn about each other in an open and safe environment, and decide on a theme they are interested in without influence from the teachers or creator. This is a technique I have tried to adapt to the students I support. As a practicing artist it is sometimes difficult to not have a creative influence on the students work when helping them to understand their briefs. Using this technique of asking open questions and discussion will help the students discover their own ideas without the influence of others.  This workshop is also a great opportunity to give students a chance to develop ‘from critical thinkers to production action.’

– Below is a zine workshop sample which was given to the year 10 students after they had decided on the theme ‘Rules and Laws’. I liked how the publication has given the reader of the publication the material to use in their own practice. The teachers can experience first-hand how a creative workshop could be used to cover subject much as gender, politic, class, race and history. They also give the teacher the opportunity to feedback to the publication, which will build new information on the current education system.

8. Richard Ward -the NCTJ Teaching Shorthand Good Practice Guide

Richard Ward – Curriculum Design
Based in the recommendations of NCTJ – teaching 1 hour without a break, a group of 20 students as a maximum, and a minimum of 120 hours, and yet the University states that you have to teach 50 students in one class at a time, only have 90 hours to teach the course, and 1.5 hours without a break – how would you manage this.

From reading the NCTJ Teaching Shorthand Good Practice Guide it is evident to me that like most practical skills, you can only truly learn this skill through practice. The NCTJ has outlines that 120 hours is the suggested amount of hours to teach shorthand. Richard has asked the question how would I manage to deliver a class to the NCTJ recommendations within the restraints of the university limitations. My answer is, with difficulty… without changing the structure of the course to smaller classes and more contact hours (which Richard mentioned in class that he has proposed within his elected unit) it would be tricky.  This being said the outline states ‘shorthand cannot be learnt and developed effectively in the classroom alone. It requires lots of practice outside classroom sessions.’ With this in mind and the information I have gained from this resource, I have highlighted the aspects I would enhance on within the current course structure.

Firstly, and possibly this most significant to me is this practice of shorthand outside the classroom. I would encourage students to use shorthand in lectures and everyday life, without the fear of making mistakes. A friend’s child who is reception class recently informed me that her daughter and fellow students are never corrected on their spelling if it is written telephonically. This method is used so that young 4-5-year-old are not discouraged by being told they are incorrect all the time but are allowed the freedom to explore and learn, to enjoy and connect with learning to write. I thought this was a really great lesson for all teacher to acknowledge. Obviously at some point there has to be an element of correction but perhaps if student learning shorthand where encouraged to explore this freedom with the skill at an early stage without complete accuracy they would gain confidence and a better connection to the skill. As someone with no knowledge of shorthand it feels to me like a completely new language and encouraging the student to use shorthand in everyday life without the worries of getting it wrong they are learning to embrace a new way of thinking and build a connection to the skill instead of seeing it as a barrier and test to overcome within their course.

The second point I took from this NCTJ guild was ‘To help retain [the students] interest, the best courses ensure that dictation material used in relation to the students’ work and interests.’ This is a technique I witnessed Richard Ward use in the observation I attended, he dictated to the fashion journalism students an article about Megan Merkle dress. This is an element I would enhance on further. Perhaps by getting the students to bring in an article they have highlighted of interest from another aspect of their studies they will start to make the link to the relevance of this skill to their future. This type of student-led learning can help students to become independent and responsible learners.  Podcasts on fashion designer, art movements and current events that are related to the student’s interest could be an invaluable source of dictation material. (Though I fear they may be spoken too quickly). These are the suggestions I would use to help students in the current course structure to make up for the decreased number of teaching hours suggested to be ‘recommended’.

On the issue of 1.5-hour lessons without a break- I would suggest dividing the lesson into two sections. The first section would focus on a new topic or technique.  In the second section of the class my suggestion would be to move the students around the classroom, by moving the students into smaller groups or even just to a new area of the room, can refresh their attention and help retain focus in a long class. Another technique that could be implicated in the second half of the lesson would be to ask the students what areas they would like to focus on, for example aspects they have struggled with in previous lessons. This could encourage them to start recognising their strength, weaknesses and areas to work on independently.

7. Opportunities and Challenges Refection

 In this session we completed a task which was focused on the opportunities and challenges of different aspects of teaching. In this reflection I have focussed on one-to-one teaching and the critique as these aspects link closely to my current teaching practice.

One-to-one Teaching

Opportunities:
– The ability to build a relationship with the student on an individual level.
– Prepare and adapt teaching methods in accordance with specific learning needs.
– Provide increased contact time for targeted guidance.
– Highlight and re-direct certain issues towards external support.

There are many opportunities that my one-to-one support role provides to the students. One of the most significant is the chance to build a student’s confidence in their work and social interactions, something that they may otherwise be lacking as a result of their impairment. A student I supported experienced anxiety when speaking to his peers about a personal project depicting his disability. By having a one-to-one tutorial with me he was able to gain the feedback he needed to proceed with the project. More importantly he also developed a technique of talking about the project in the third person, a method which enabled him to discuss the project with his peers without feeling anxious. As a result he gained a huge sense of achievement and a boost in confidence.

Challenges
– Lack of diversity in the opinions of feedback.
– Limited opportunity for peer collaboration.
– Feedback hindered by opinion or personality clash.
– Lack of counter arguments or feedback from which to develop.

I have sometimes found it difficult to provide practical support to students to help them achieve their goals whilst simultaneously ensuring they do not feel a loss of ownership. Striking this balance is a particular challenge in scenarios when a lot of the physical work is completed by the support worker.

Critique

Opportunities
– A wide range of feedback from teacher and peers.
– Students gain an understanding of their work through presentation and peer input.
– Develop valuable presentational skills in a safe environment.

Challenges
– A range of differing opinions from peers and teachers could be misleading.
– Outspoken individuals may overshadow more introverted students.
– Anxiety and language barriers can hinder a student in a critique environment.
– Students may not all receive equal time to present and receive feedback.
– Energy levels of teachers and students may drop towards the end of the session, speaking first may be advantageous.

 

I found this task really informative and helpful towards my SiP, within which I intend to take a challenge I encounter within my teaching practice and find present a possible solution. I am particularly interested in investigating the challenges around understanding and providing each individual student with the correct support they need. Key questions such as what if the student doesn’t know what type of support they will need? And How can a teacher find this out? When I have an initial meeting with any new student the challenge is establishing the type of support they will need. In some cases students are forthcoming and have a clear idea of the ‘help’ they require, either because they have had support before or a because the support has been allocated to a specific project. In other scenarios it can take some time to build the relationship and confidence of trust with a student before you can understand how they work and how to support them. In my SiP I hope to find solutions that would be applicable to both situations so I can always quickly and effectively understand my role for each individual student

6. DISPOSITIONS AND QUALITIES

 Notes on Barnett’s: Dispositions and Qualities

– Qualities have to have an action – you have to witness a quality.
–  Disposition is a character inside you – quality is an action of using that disposition.

A disposition may be undone by a bad quality, for example without the qualities of restraint and respect the disposition of inquiry may lead to making claims that are unproven. A disposition requires certain qualities for it to work in a positive way. A bad tutor or an illness may also be factors that make a disposition ineffective. I believe that teachers have a responsibility to encourage and help a student fulfil their potential. Some dispositions can be permanent characteristics, whereas others are constantly evolving and are delicate to influences.

EMPISIEMIC VIRTUES – does the quality or disposition come first?

Qualities and disposition are mutually reinforcing and self-perpetuating – the more you practice a skill that you are good at the more you want to do it and the better you get. Barnett argues that this cycle can become a hindrance which steers one away from other ‘virtues’. To break this circle we can help the student identify why they have an interest and allow them the freedom to explore the area. To discover themselves if they have a disposition for something before teaching them why.

I agree with Barnett’s statement that teachers should be sensitive to student’s dispositions. We should be aware of the way a student might prefer to learn but avoid this completely dictating the way we teach them. What is more important is what we are teaching them.

The teacher has the potential to release a student’s disposition by encouraging them, and showing them faith. I am lucky enough to be able to tailor my encouragement to each student on a one-to-one basis, therefore I can take time to identify a student’s disposition and then teach in a way that allows that disposition to become a quality.

In summary, as basic formula that represents this theory is:
Interest + disposition + quality = a student reaching their potential.

  1. How do you recognise Barnett’s ‘qualities’ in the context of a course you work with?

Teaching my students in a one-to-one format allows me the time to get to know my students individually and focus on the specific qualities they might have. One student I support who is on the autistic spectrum and suffers from mental health issues shows courage every-day he attends university. He has often talked about the anxiety he suffers from the workload, tutorials and university environment. The other strong quality this student has demonstrated is self-discipline. Over the Easter break he worked in the library on his final project every day, as he puts it ‘keeping up with the rest of his year’ even though he has never been ‘behind’.

  1. To what extent do you recognise Barnett’s ‘dispositions’ in your own approach to learning?

The dispositions that applies to my own learning would be the willingness to learn – I have shown this disposition by financially supporting myself through this course. I took the decision to embark on this course out of a desire to become a better teacher to my students. I did so even though it meant returning to an academic situation, something I have always struggled with. This willingness to learn has enabled me to build my confidence as a teacher and highlighted how important it is to continue to learn and improve.

I have suffered from dyslexia all my life but with the disposition of determination I have learnt to persevere and find solutions to the barriers that it may cause. Reading Barnett’s text was a particular challenge to me due to the quality of the scan and the length of the chapter. Completing the assignments required of us can take me a long time but when the content connects to my teaching practice or when I learn something new I am encouraged to keep overcoming the barriers of my dyslexia.

  1. Are UAL’s Creative Attributes more like Barnett’s ‘qualities’? Or his ‘dispositions’?

I believe dispositions and qualities are listed in the Creative Attributes Framework, therefore I believe that a student requires both. As Barnett mentions dispositions need qualities to make them work, just as qualities need dispositions.

For example if ‘Making Things Happen’ or proactivity is a disposition then without the qualities of initiative and passion, this pro-activeness would not succeed in a university or workplace environment. Similarly the ability to demonstrate a unique talent through ‘Storytelling’ is highlighted in the Creative Attributes Framework, however without the disposition of willingness to adapt and a preparedness to listen this quality will be of little benefit to an individual.

Curiosity is listed in the group titled Navigating Change. It is an important quality for any professional or student, but without the willingness to adapt and remain motivated’ this curiosity cannot be developed into a successful outcome. If a student has a curiosity in a specific subject but is unable to remain motivated and focused they are unlikely to research and develop an idea to it’s fullest potential. Or if they have a curiosity in their creative practice but are unwilling to listen to feedback and adapt their approach there is a risk their work will not develop.

Ultimately I do not believe UAL’s creative attributes are more like Barnett’s qualities or dispositions but instead act as evidence that both are just as important as each other. Only when qualities and disposition are combined can a student or professional truly reach their full potential.

  1. How are these attributes taught and/or learned at UAL?

These attributes are taught at UAL through projects based learning, such as workshops, briefs, group projects, deadlines, critiques and tutorials which make up a substantial part of the curriculum. As a support worker I am not directly involved in how these attributes are built into the curriculum but have witnessed and supported the students whilst they learn these skills through the projects and social situations they are in.

The invaluable professional attribute of ‘presentational skill’ is built through to the Tutorial process.

When a student is consistently required to present their work they inevitably build confidence which will translate to the workplace environment. A student might have a strong concept behind their work but if they do not have the skill to present it the work may be misunderstood and not fully appreciated.

  1. How do these ideas connect with the theories you’ve been encountering on your elective unit?

The areas from the Creative Attributes Framework that most strongly link with the Inclusive Teaching Unit are ‘Showcasing abilities and accomplishments with others’ and ‘navigating change’. These attributes promote collaborative skills through openness and acceptance.

The attribute of ‘Curiosity’ (‘the enthusiasm to seek out new perspectives, to create and build on existing knowledge’) is listed in this area of the Framework. In university and the workplace one will encounter people of different opinions, faiths, gender and race. Demonstrating the curiosity to ‘seek out these new perspectives’ and realising the importance of ‘building on their knowledge’ will help develop a more inclusive and diverse environment and way of thinking.

I believe it is important to improve our university environment through the students. The attribute of ‘Connectivity’ (the ability to collaborate with others, create networks and develop and contribute to communities of practice’) emphasises my point that collaboration and group work in the curriculum is a great way to encourage diversity and acceptance within the university environment.

5. Marking Matrix Session Review

  

The images above show A) the incomplete marking matrix from a group of 4 participants in a taught session. It includes coloured squares to represent where our peers think we mark in ‘group discussion (image 1). And B) the marking matrix I developed after the session. (image 2).

I found the session on the marketing matrix very interesting. As a support worker I am not directly involved with the marking of my student’s work but it is a factor I must be aware of when teaching. Students have expressed to me that they find it difficult to understand the process and vocabulary used when marking. When writing our own group matrix’s we wanted it to be clearer, with simpler vocabulary, however we found it difficult to find the necessary words. For example in the phrase ‘excellent understanding of the text and task’ how do you measure excellence? Similarly, the phrase ‘engaged with material’ is used on the current marking matrix but it is difficult to give measure to the action of engagement.

This session did however help me to understand the marking system more. I believe that the students I teach would benefit from an exercise similar to the one we conducted. I would like to implicate this either at the beginning of the second year or during the lead-up to a submission deadline. Doing so could encourage the students to check they had met the marking criteria and to understand where their strength and weaknesses lie.

The benefit of this exercise was evident during the second part of the session when participants had to mark themselves and their peers on group discussion. My peers assessed that my strong points in group discussion are knowledge of the subject discussed and the contribution to the group. For example listening and developing on what other people have said. The points for improvement where presentation skills – offering my knowledge in a clear manner. Learning my strengths and weaknesses in this process was very insightful for me. I believe it could be equally beneficial to students at all levels in developing their understanding of the marking matrix.

Inclusive Teaching and Learning – Blog Task 3 – Race.

Visit the Shades of Noir (SoN) http://shadesofnoir.org.uk/

Shades of Noir is a creative platform that supports and showcases current artists, events and social issues of marginalized groups. It’s aim is to give students, graduates and staff a true representation of art and art history that perhaps our current society and curriculum does not.  By being an open, safe space for it’s users it encourages groups to articulate self-determination and liberate the struggles from oppressive structures both in education and society.’

The site should be considered a resource for all students and staff. It’s content primarily focusses on people of colour, however the articles and topics covered are applicable and educational to all. Teachers and students should be encouraged to use the site as a resource. In doing so they will uncover a diverse and representative range of creative and social influences. As well as acting as an educational tool, the site is also a place of community to BAME students, providing much-needed exposure and representation in the creative industry.

http://education.shadesofnoir.org.uk/case-studies/..

The case studies within the Curriculum section of the site were of particular interest to me. Not only do they offer invaluable first-hand insight into prejudice and racism, but significantly they also provide tangible suggestions as to how such cases can be avoided in the future. Significantly the examples given cover student and staff experience, and therefore offer a comprehensive insight from all perspectives. It is my view that these case studies should be promoted to staff at all levels so they are better informed of the challenges faced by their colleagues and students and be better equipped to support them.

My personal experience of working with a BAME student has taught how it important a sense of community connection is, whether that be race, faith or identity. My student has always excelled when he feels understood by his tutors and peers. When a tutor shows recognition and makes the effort to connect to a project the student feels vindicated and encouraged to continue working. On the contrary I have also seen my student become despondent and demotivated when his tutors have failed to appreciate his work on a cultural level. This is not simply a case of tutors encouraging their student, but more a case of them truly understanding them too. I believe Shades of Noir would provide valuable context to my students work. In turn it could have a positive impact on his work and mentality by providing a source of encouragement and community. I am sure he would learn a great deal from reading the case studies, as indeed I have.

Read Hahn Tapper (2013) ‘A pedagogy of social justice education: social identity, theory and intersectionality’, Pp. 411-
417 (and see diagram on p.426) 

What is social justice education? The article written by Hahn Tapper makes the argument that our universities will fail unless they can manage and reduce social conflict. To do so they must integrate social issues into their curriculum. This fragile situation highlights the disparities in ‘societal opportunities, resources and long-term outcomes among marginalised groups’.

Reading Hahn Tapper’s article on social conflict has introduced me to the series of studies described as ‘Contact Hypothesis’. This theory is said to have been devised by Gorden W. Allport who aimed to break-down social prejudice within education. Allport suggests that if two groups of people of conflicting opinions are encouraged to interact in appropriate conditions it can help to break down prejudice, preconception and resolve the conflict. The ambiguity here is that positive results are dependant on ‘appropriate conditions’ – as teachers how do we make sure the conditions are equal and correct? The Robber Cave experiment explains that intergroup activity and teamwork can greatly improve relations between peers, however if handled incorrectly they can also end up causing more harm than good. This experiment highlights the challenges faced by teachers in ensuring the environment they create is conducive to positive learning experiences.

It is further argued that even if the intergroup activity is successful inside the ‘room’ there is no guarantee it will change things outside. Although I can see this point of view I believe Contact Hypothesis theories should still be encouraged within our teaching. At the very least they will promote self-reflection and be the start of a critical thought process. In best case scenarios this self-reflection may then lead to a change in preconceptions and prejudices later on.

Trapper’s article on social justice education has been very reaffirming to methods that I already employ in my practice. I continue to find Paulo Freire’s The Pedagogy of the Oppressed to be an influence on my work and I am pleased that Trapper’s articles generally support Freire’s theories. Specifically it is the notion that ‘education provides venues for students to achieve freedom’ that I relate to. One of my primary objectives when teaching is for my students to gain a sense of freedom in their work. I try to aid my student to reach their potential despite their disabilities, and I think in many ways this is the ‘freedom’ that Freire describes.

The many artists and discussions on the Shades of Noir platform highlight that identity is an integral part of all student’s and professional’s learning. The same idea is discussed by Freire when he states that a student’s identity needs to be taken into account in all educational settings. I believe it is a teachers responsibility to understand their student’s ‘reality’ and reasons for studying. Our aim is to use a student’s passions and influences to direct their learning, to do so we must properly understand them ourselves first. The use of dialogue is an important element to achieving this goal. Freire explains that teachers must be ‘open to everything in the world’. True dialogue cannot happen if we are closed to contributions from others, in this case our students.

Watch the student film ‘Room of Silence’ from Rhode Island School of Design https://vimeo.com/161259012.

One of many comments that stood out to me was when one student expressed how important it is that tutors and peers do not feel ‘nervous’ when commenting on her work about race. She stated that ‘I need you to say something about this, how am I meant to learn? I could be making the shittiest work about race and no one would tell me…’

We must acknowledge that students of minority groups are being brave to talk about racial incidences and this should be encouraged. Only by creating honest, open discussion can an issue come to the forefront and resolutions be a made. I wonder if perhaps now that this video has been made and the teachers of this faculty have seen these honest discussions there has been a change in their experiences?

As teachers we should support, critique and encourage student’s individual and social identities in their education. If a lack of knowledge leads to a teacher failing to provide a full critique of a student’s work that teacher has two key responsibilities. Firstly they must direct their student to an appropriate colleague for better feedback, and secondly they must rectify the gap in their own knowledge. It is paramount to a student’s development to have access to communities and artists as reference points in contextual study. This is why the Shades of Noir platform and the case studies mentioned above can be so important – not only can it provide education to teachers looking to expand their knowledge but it can also provide reference points to students looking for inspiration.

4. Micro-Teaching Session.

Overview
Object-based learning is an effective way to encourage learners’ curiosity and have fun whilst exploring a new topic. It can also help explain techniques and skills in a way that is more digestible for certain types of students. I have often found short workshops to be an effective way to teach my students. Significantly I believe it demonstrates a way of working that students feel confident continuing on their own. I have observed that a student that has Asperger’s can find it difficult to follow a lot of instructions. Using the types of micro-teach sessions I showed in this workshop can help explain a technique or way of working in a fun and engaging way that encourages them to understand without getting anxious.

Idea
The idea for my micro-teach came from a particular challenge my student has when creating narrative on his Illustration and Visual Media course. His current project is to produce a comic book story about his disability. I have noticed that when producing the storyboards he may inadvertently miss out sections of the narrative. This can mean his work doesn’t flow or make sense without verbal explanation. I wanted to create a micro workshop that will teach students how to illustrate their story clearly storyboarding, a necessary skill when working on narrative based projects.

Learning outcomes
The intention of my micro teach was for my ‘students’ to find engagement in the 3 objects presented to them and use their observational, inspirational and communication skills to produce a spontaneous collaborative narrative.

The Objects
The three objects I decided to use as inspiration were a pair of binoculars, a Nokia 3310 mobile phone and a small architectural model of an Indian Temple. These objects have strong personal memories for me but more importantly they carry a diverse range of themes for the group to draw inspiration from.

The Task
Each ‘student’ receives a sheet of paper divided into 12 squares in the style of a storyboard. For the first 3 minutes everyone uses the top row of squares to draw the beginning of a story inspired by the 3 objects in front of them. They are encouraged to be playful and creative whilst following two rules – firstly the story must be open-ended and secondly they are not allowed to use descriptive words. They must try to use only drawings in their storyboard. After the first three minutes everyone passes their sheet to the person on their right. Informed by what they see on the first row their peer then continues the middle part of the story without talking or asking questions. This will be the test, has each participant drawn their story in a way that clearly communicates to their peers.  The process is repeated for a final time to finish the story. Once the final 3 minutes are up the students reveal the full storyboard and discuss if the original narrative was correctly understood.

Review

The atmosphere is the group was relaxed. To begin with people were tentative of their drawing skills however everyone quickly became relaxed. The fact that the stories were generally quite abstract and fun meant everyone was able to be playful with their contributions. People quickly realized that executing a beautiful drawing was not necessary, the sketches could be as simple possible as long as they clearly communicated an idea. Working in a quick manner meant people were less precious over their work, especially when continuing onto someone else’s narrative. This method of working really helped to promote the skill of collaboration.

I think the workshop could be developed by increasing the timings to allow the participants more scope for detail in their narratives. Inhibiting people from verbally communicating was very interesting and I could sense people wanted to talk, perhaps given more time they would have more confidence in their own interpretations. As a follow up activity participants could be placed in their groups and asked to develop their outcomes. With further group work the outcomes could be evolved into finished storyboards which could then be applied to an animation or comic zine.

Here are some examples of the narratives created in the 1o minute micro teach.

 

 

 

 

3. Session Reflection: Theories of learning follow from philosophical questions about education.

Watching Dallas McPheeter’s film ‘5000 Year Timeline of Learning Theories’ has given me a new appreciation for the way teaching has, and continues to evolve. Gaining a broader comprehension of learning theories has helped me evaluate and understand my own teaching practices and the impact this has on my students.

The theories of learning that resonate with me the most are ‘Hands on Learning’ and ‘Adaptive Learning’. I feel these theories are the most relevant to the type of work I do and I believe I can continue to utilise them in my own practice as a Learning Support worker.

The below quote best summarises my interpretation of ‘Hands on Learning’:

“If you tell me, I will listen. If you show me, I will see,
but if you let me experience, I will learn” – (500 B.C. China Lao – Tse)

Although this statement was made in relation to apprenticeships I believe it is also relevant in today’s educational context. It describes the notion that when a person is encouraged to experience something for themselves they are more likely to benefit than when they are simply shown or told.  This is one of the key philosophies that John Dewey describes in his 1920 text ‘How We Think’. In his version Dewey uses the concept of ‘Abstract’ and ‘Concrete’ thought to describe the same principle.

In ‘Learning Styles and Learning Spaces’ Kolb & Kolb also make a similar observation when they state, ‘making space for students to take control of and responsibility for their learning can greatly enhance their ability to learn from experience’.

Lao-Tse, Dewey and Kolb & Kolb’s points all describe clearly the idea of ‘Hands on Learning’ and emphasise how important it is in the development of our students. Hands on Learning has often been the most beneficial method for my students, however I have experienced situations where individuals have found this approach difficult to implement on their own. It is our responsibility as teachers to provide our students with the necessary tools to think and learn in a reflective way, but we must also remain aware that this approach does not suit everyone. In some cases, a combination of abstract and concrete learning will achieve the best results.

Howard Gardener suggests ‘our intelligence is measured vertically rather than as a general set of abilities meaning that teaching should be adapted depending on the learner.’

 The study of personality theories has been conducted for many centuries, however more recently it is Gardener who has expanded the study a great deal. He has identified seven key learning styles that demonstrate the diversity of student learning. I have found Gardener’s theories very relatable and interesting to research. I find he explained his discoveries in a clear manner which is easy to understand.

By devising the seven key learning styles Garnder aims to educate us that teaching must be tailored to suit the learner’s needs – we cannot rely on one format for every student. For example as someone who is creative and dyslexic I find the Visual-Spatial and Bodily-Kinesthetic styles of learning to be the most suited to me. At the beginning of this course I found the research and writing formats a particular challenge and I believe I will find the observational and practical expects much easier to process.

What is happening now and beyond? (a mix of the two)

Technology is informing the way we learn therefore it affects the way we teach. Technological advances and constant internet access provides us with infinite information at our fingertips. However as Aoun. J suggests we must understand not only what technologies can do but what it cannot.’

I believe because information has become so obtainable we as a society only consume it on a skin-deep level. Technology is now a mainstay in the educational world and we have the ability to know anything at any time. Although undoubtedly beneficial in some capacity I believe that this ease of learning means we have become complacent with what information we retain.

As teachers we should show our students that information goes beyond a cognitive state. Rather than searching for instant solutions we should encourage our students to use divergent thinking skills when responding to a brief. This deeper approach to learning allows students to not only obtain a good understanding of the facts but also gain the tools to use information to gain more knowledge. Eventually this will mean that students learn as much from a process as they do from an outcome.

This method links to constructivism and active learning theories which state that students are not ‘blank slates’ – they have knowledge that teachers are to identify and build on.

 

Kolb, A. and D.A. Kolb. (2005) Learning styles and learning spaces: Enhancing experiential learning in higher education. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 4 (2) 193–212.

https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/system/files/kirsten_hardie_final.pdf
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2QtSbP4FRg
http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html

Inclusive Teaching and Learning – Blog Task 2 – Faith

Religion in Britain- Challenges for Higher Education

‘It would be helpful for academics across many fields and other crucial staff such as counsellors and librarians and managers of residences and administrators supporting courses to have better knowledge of religion in Britain (and in the world) today …It would include better understanding of the way religion has figured in history and how it figures in social relations and policy today as well as of knowledge of different religions themselves.’ Page 20

This point in the text is something I relate to strongly. I am conscious that I do not have a broad understanding of religion in the UK today. As teachers we are always striving to update and gain knowledge in our subjects in an attempt to remain up-to-date with trends, skills and the industry. Unfortunately I do not feel we pay the same attention to broadening our awareness of faiths and religions in the UK today. The stimulus paper entitles Religion in Britain has highlighted to me how important this is. Student interaction is the first step to rectifying this issue. As universities and cohorts get bigger we must not let the lack of contact-time we have with each student affect the value of becoming engaged with their extracurricular lives. As a member of support staff working one-to-one I have the luxury of time to really get to know my students’ needs and preferences and I think this additional connection has had a positive impact on the way I teach.

Alongside focussed discussions at designated times I believe it would be equally valuable to make religion part of open and informal dialogue. One method of achieving this could be the introduction of text and references into the curriculum that encourage the students to learn about all religions. Religion is often talked about and taught in the same context as ethics and values, rather than on its own. As staff we should give the topic of religion more focussed attention and be more aware that it is very much in the ‘public sphere’.

‘…the burden of integration falls disproportionately on the minorities. If their members want to maintain any level of collective identity or solidarity, they have to work at it, while the majority do not.’

As teachers it is our responsibility to create integration within our academic communities. We should be doing this by encouraging multi-focus activities that cover religious (and other) boundaries. If we do not do this we may reduce the learning quality our students receive and perhaps more significantly may affect the connections they make with wider society.

An example of this type of activity is Angela Drisdale Gordon’s ‘Ice Breaker’ case study which can be found on the Religion, Belief and Faith Identities UAL website.  This interactive task encourages students to talk about personal interests and cultural backgrounds. It consists of students asking each other a list of questions and sharing answers with their peers. They cover a wide range of questions from ‘what is in your fridge?’ to ‘do you have a faith?’

This type of activity is a great opportunity for students to explain and share their personal preferences in an informal setting. It can cover topics such as name, gender, ethical viewpoints and religion. It also allows the teachers to be aware of their students’ needs. This is important because teachers are often the first point-of-contact between students and support services. Tutors also have the option of taking part in the exercise which promotes openness and equality between students and tutors.

This a good exercise for my students who often want to explain their identity to the class and would not have the opportunity otherwise. In regard to religion I would agree with Angela’s observation that there is a nervousness around the subject of faith. From my experience people are afraid of not knowing about certain beliefs. This exercise would provide a real opportunity for discussion within a safe space.

I have first-hand knowledge of how such an activity can promote understanding and acceptance among students. My current student was involved in a similar workshop in his first year which concluded with the presentation of a visual response to the questions asked. The 5-minute discussion which followed allowed my student to openly discuss his Asperger’s Syndrome to the rest of the group. He typically finds it very difficult to talk about his disability, but this exercise allowed him the environment to do so.

Both examples show the importance of conversation between peers and teachers to learn more about people’s identities. Aspects of which people sometimes struggle to discuss.

Creed Notes- Kwame Anthony Appiah.

Kwame’s theory that ‘religion is not just a matter of beliefs’ was the message that most resonated with me. Kwame explains that religion can be broken down into three sections; what you do (practice), who you do it with (community) and the body of beliefs.

I believe he is trying to teach that simply viewing a person’s religion by its beliefs can cause us to make assumptions that may not be true. Within every religion there are differing beliefs and values so we must remember to view people as individuals. Kwame enhances this theory by stating that when we focus on a person’s beliefs we overshadow the other two parts – practice and community. Each plays an equally important role in identity. Practice is passed down through family, and traditions can become part of life beyond a set of beliefs.

Kwame states: ‘When fundamentalists of religion say identity requires a set rule of beliefs or fixed readings of scripture they have fallen for the fundamental faculty’. Instead Kwame argues that religion is not simply a ‘set of rules’. Scripture is written in poetic stories that are interpreted and these interpretations change, or in some cases are completely abandoned over time. He uses the example of slavery to demonstrate this point.

Listening to Kwame’s theories has taught me how diligently we must avoid making presumptions around religion. We have a responsibility to avoid making judgments of a person based only on their religious beliefs – every person interprets faith, or lack of it, in a unique way. Taking a student’s beliefs as a means of understanding them would be misleading and damaging. We must remain conscious that religious identities have changed throughout history, as have community values. We must make sure our knowledge and understanding evolves too.

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