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Against boundaries: Dismantling the Curriculum in Higher Education

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My keynote presentation for the University of Worcester Learning, Teaching and Student Experience Conference 2017: Beyond Boundaries. See: http://www.worc.ac.uk/edu/1295.htm

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Against boundaries: Dismantling the Curriculum in Higher Education

  1. 1. Against boundaries: Dismantling the Curriculum in Higher Education Professor Richard Hall @hallymk1 // rhall1@dmu.ac.uk // richard-hall.org UoWLTSE17, University of Worcester // 15 June 2017
  2. 2. being against boundaries enables a re- imagining of the idea and purpose of the University, rooted in an engaged and co-operative curriculum
  3. 3. Use-value of your work on students as partners: co-creation; an understanding of sustainability in its widest definition; to enable students to be inclusive in their actions and value diversity. Exchange-value as the new normal: 1. Educational innovation reveals an entrepreneurial reconfiguring of the idea of the University; 2. Educational innovation is a crack through which we might analyse the transnational interests that drive value production and accumulation.
  4. 4. How can and have we worked together? In the face of socio-economic and environmental crises, is it possible to reclaim the organising principles of the curriculum for a more meaningful form of working together?
  5. 5. 1. Technological and organisational forms of production, exchange and consumption. 2. Relations to nature and the environment. 3. Social relations between people. 4. Mental conceptions of the world, embracing knowledges and cultural understandings and beliefs. 5. Labour processes and production of specific goods, geographies, services or affects. 6. Institutional, legal and governmental arrangements. 7. The conduct of daily life that underpins social reproduction.
  6. 6. Working together: the boundaried University ONE. Our labour as students and staff is folded inside a systemic, historical crisis of capitalism. This secular crisis demands a courageous political return. TWO. The University is a node enmeshed in associations of capitals acting transnationally through commodification, financialisation and coercion. We are told that there is no alternative to this material reality. THREE. The University is a central site of struggle over our social reproduction. How, with whom and where do we work together?
  7. 7. This Bill will make it easier for a new generation of institutions to cater to the aspirations of a new generation of learners and deliver the skills necessary to keep our economy globally competitive... It will also ensure that ensure that our universities are delivering for the students and families who invest so much in a university education [and who] deserve value for money… We will not tell universities what or how to teach, but we will demand that their teaching delivers good outcomes, in the form of students who complete their degrees and progress to highly skilled employment. Johnson, J. (2017). We must break open the higher education closed shop. Conservative Home. 10 January 2017.
  8. 8. • A new performance metric: repayment of loans by course and institution • Outcomes/HMRC data • One metric to dominate all others • Human Capital Investment [The measures] will also help to create an incentive and reward structure at universities by distinguishing the universities that are delivering the strongest enterprise ethos and labour market outcomes for their students. The Small Business, Enterprise and Employability Act (2015). Section Six,  ‘Education Evaluation’ See: McGettigan, A. (2015).  The Treasury View of HE: Variable Human Capital Investment . PERC Paper 6.
  9. 9. “a new disease… technological unemployment.” “This means unemployment due to our discovery of means of economising the use of labour outrunning the pace at which we can find new uses for labour.” Keynes, J.M. (1930). Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren.
  10. 10. being against boundaries enables a re- imagining of the idea and purpose of the University, rooted in an engaged and co- operative curriculum
  11. 11. The use-value of the curriculum the curriculum itself develops through the dynamic interaction of action and reflection. That is, the curriculum itself is not simply a set of plans to be implemented, but rather is constituted through an active process in which planning, acting and evaluating are all reciprocally related and integrated into the process. Grundy, S. (1987). Curriculum: Product or Praxis? London: Falmer Press, p. 115. Vygotsky argues that teaching begins from the student’s experience in a particular social context. Pushing that notion to the extreme of its radical logic, he suggests that the social context must be arranged by the teacher so that the student teaches themselves: ‘Education should be structured so that it is not the student that is educated, but that the student educates himself’ or, in other words, ‘...the real secret of education lies in not teaching’ Neary, M. (2010). Student as producer: a pedagogy for the avant-garde? Learning Exchange, 1(1), 5.
  12. 12. the possibility of struggle and emancipation lies in the autonomous organisations that exist within and between both the factory and the community, with a focus on the forms of labour and the exertion of “working class power… at the level of the social factory, politically recomposing the division between factory and community.” Cleaver, H. (1979). Reading Capital Politically, University of Texas Press: Austin, TX, p. 161. Available at: http://libcom.org/files/cleaver- reading_capital_politically.pdf
  13. 13. Re-imagination: open co-operativism • co-operative, educational histories • democratic governance and regulation • a social focus for collective work • a framework for common ownership • connecting a global set of educational commons • public environments for the transnational, socialised dissemination of knowledge • transitional and pedagogic
  14. 14. The curriculum is white because it reflects the underlying logic of colonialism, which believes the colonised do not own anything – not even their own experiences. The role of the colonised in knowledge production mirrored their role in economic production, where their resources were to provide raw materials that could then be consumed in the west… Implicit in the white curriculum is irrefutable evidence of white superiority as a matter of truth and objectivity, while crafting a world-view that judges anything that it could define as “non-white” or “other” as inferior. ‘Why is My Curriculum White?’ collective, 2015
  15. 15. 1. Technological and organisational forms of production, exchange and consumption. 2. Relations to nature and the environment. 3. Social relations between people. 4. Mental conceptions of the world, embracing knowledges and cultural understandings and beliefs. 5. Labour processes and production of specific goods, geographies, services or affects. 6. Institutional, legal and governmental arrangements. 7. The conduct of daily life that underpins social reproduction.
  16. 16. Students as partners: •opportunities for students to be ‘co-creators’ in the learning experience, whilst also securing appropriate academic standards; •an understanding of sustainability in its widest definition; and •to enable students to be inclusive in their actions and value diversity. University of Worcester (2015). Curriculum Design Policy.
  17. 17. the accumulation of knowledge and of skill, of the general productive forces of the social brain, is thus absorbed into capital, as opposed to labour, and hence appears as an attribute of capital, and more specifically of fixed capital [machinery]. Marx, K. (1993). Grundrisse. London: Penguin.
  18. 18. As intellectual workers we refuse the fetishised concept of the knowledge society and engage in teaching, learning and research only in so far as we can re-appropriate the knowledge that has been stolen from the workers that have produced this way of knowing (i.e. Abundance). In the society of abundance the university as an institutional form is dissolved, and becomes a social form or knowledge at the level of society (i.e. The General Intellect). It is only on this basis that we can knowingly address the global emergencies with which we are all confronted [i.e. through collective work/in the social factory]. The University of Utopia (2015). Anti-Curriculum: A course of action. http://bit.ly/1qgEq8C
  19. 19. ‘a little more of a politicised relation to truth in affairs of education, knowledge and academic practice’
  20. 20. Students as partners: •extend democracy into/through the curriculum; •uncover our own alienated labour: private property; the division of labour; and commodity exchange; •eliminate the social division of labour between owners and non-owners of the curriculum; •create less alienating and harmful relations of production; •a curriculum open to the global educational commons and critical pedagogy as points of departure. How do we do this in order to reveal the kinds of societies we wish to enact, and the values on which they are based?
  21. 21. That learning process comes easiest to those of us who also believe that our work is not merely to share information but to share in the intellectual and spiritual growth of our students. To teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin. bell hooks. 1994. Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, p. 13.
  22. 22. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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