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Partnership, co-operation and dismantling the curriculum in HE

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Slides for my keynote at the Newcastle College HE Staff CPD day, 7 February 2018.

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Partnership, co-operation and dismantling the curriculum in HE

  1. 1. Partnership, co-operation and dismantling the curriculum in HE Richard Hall ¦ @hallymk1 ¦ rhall1@dmu.ac.uk ¦ richard-hall.org HE Staff professional development day ¦ Newcastle College ¦ 7 February 2018
  2. 2. bell hooks Audre Lorde Angela Davis Sara Motta Sarah Amsler Joyce Canaan Sara Ahmed Heidi Mirza Frantz Fanon George Ciccariello-Maher Nick Dyer-Witheford Karl Marx Mike Neary Lola Olufemi Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor Zhaleh Boyd
  3. 3. 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, p. 13.
  4. 4. living a feminist life: •does not mean adopting a set of ideals or norms of conduct; •although it might mean asking ethical questions about how to live better in an unjust and unequal world (in a not-feminist and antifeminist world); •how to create relationships with others that are more equal; •how to find ways to support those who are not supported or are less supported by social systems; •how to keep coming up against histories that have become concrete, histories that have become as solid as walls. Ahmed, S. (2017). Living a Feminist Life. Durham: Duke University Press, p. 1.
  5. 5. If we take Ahmed’s work as a heuristic… 1. What does it mean for peer-assessed or peer-assisted learning? 2. What does it mean for the differentiated development of skills, capabilities and knowledge at the individual and collective levels? 3. How does it underpin affective learning and social learning? 4. Does it change our perceptions of student-as-producer?
  6. 6. living a feminist life: •does not mean adopting a set of ideals or norms of conduct; •although it might mean asking ethical questions about how to live better in an unjust and unequal world (in a not-feminist and antifeminist world); •how to create relationships with others that are more equal; •how to find ways to support those who are not supported or are less supported by social systems; •how to keep coming up against histories that have become concrete, histories that have become as solid as walls. Ahmed, S. (2017). Living a Feminist Life. Durham: Duke University Press, p. 1.
  7. 7. An HE policy narrative with three pedagogic functions: 1.the fetishisation of human capital – a particular subjectivity or mode of attention/orientation; 2.the proletarianisation of academic labour through competition; and 3.frames the internalisation of performative responses – against wilfulness. A narrative that catayses academic and student ill-health or quitting, and in particular of a rise in anxiety.
  8. 8. Inside a policy framework: •HM Treasury Productivity Plan (2015); •Small Business, Enterprise and Employability Act (DBIS 2015); •HE and Research Act (DfE 2017); •Consultation on OfS (DfE, 2017).
  9. 9. Moments of re-engineering •no exaggeration to say that our country’s future depends more than ever on the success of our HEIs •we will not forget the underlying values of HE… joy and value of knowledge pursued for its own sake; pursuit of the good, the true and the beautiful •uncompromising in our protection of students’ interests… insist on value for money for the student [and] also for the taxpayer •we will embrace both collaboration and competition. Barber, M. (2017). Foreward, in Securing student success. Government consultation on behalf of the Office for Students, pp. 8-9.
  10. 10. Effective competition compels providers to focus on students’ needs and aspirations, drives up outcomes that students care about, puts downward pressure on costs, leads to more efficient allocation of resources between providers, and catalyses innovation. The higher education sector in England is well suited to market mechanisms driving continuous improvement many of the primary benefits to the student… are spread out over their life time. This exposes the market to distortions… Students need to be protected as they make potentially life changing decisions about higher education, but this cannot and will not be at the expense of deep, trust-based higher education experiences. Securing student success. Government consultation on behalf of the Office for Students, pp. 43-5.
  11. 11. The on-going reproduction of barriers Competition is the completest expression of the battle of all against all which rules in modern civil society… Each is in the way of the other, and each seeks to crowd out all who are in his way, and to put himself in their place. Engels, F. (1845). Condition of the Working Class in England. London: Penguin, p. 111 Excellence, competition and spectacles of exclusion (Will Davies at NSE event on mental health and neoliberalism)
  12. 12. The curriculum as a process stripped back to reveal alienation forms of oppression ¦ illness ¦ precarity ¦ objectification market intelligence ¦ performance data ¦ governing academic life money ¦ wealth value/surplus-value money ¦ labour-power ¦ private property
  13. 13. The curriculum stripped back to reveal flows of alienation: those who are reflected in it; gender, race, (dis)ability, class reproduced through it; crises that it disables us from addressing; and disciplinary separations demanded by its measurement. The curriculum as a form of social wealth and a process of struggle over our social reproduction.
  14. 14. 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 c.f. Ahmed, S. (2012).  On Being Included: Racism and Diversity In Institutional Life. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, p. 175, and the idea of walls.
  15. 15. 1. de-valuing diverse contributions 2. mainstreaming a narrower perspective on the world 3. characterizing academic thought as not ‘for’ thinkers from other traditions 4. limiting classroom discussions 5. fostering the myth of white epistemological superiority 6. cultivating false connections between representation and superiority/inferiority 7. silencing/alienating students that value concepts and ideas not espoused by a white curriculum Boyd, Z. 2014. Reflections on a #WhiteCurriculum. http://bit.ly/1MZkmAI c.f. Olufemi , L. (2017). Decolonising the English Faculty: An Open Letter
  16. 16. the real intellectual wealth of the individual depends entirely on the wealth of his real connections. Only this will liberate the separate individuals… Bring them into practical connection with the production (including intellectual production) of the whole world and make it possible for them to acquire the capacity to enjoy this all-sided production of the whole earth Marx, K. (1998). The German Ideology. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, p. 59
  17. 17. Research-engaged teaching and learning •Learning about the research of others; •Learning about research processes; •Learning as researchers; •Critiquing others’ research; and •Enquiring and reflecting on teaching and learning. McLinden, M. et al. (2015). Strengthening the Links Between Research and Teaching. Education in Practice, 2(1), pp. 24-29.
  18. 18. In research-engaged teaching: •students learning through the process of research; •students as active partners in the development of subject (content) and department (governance); •this challenges the idea that students are consumers/purchasers; •research and research-like activities at the core of the curriculum; •greater responsibility for own teaching and learning, and the experience of being a student. and… •collective, democratic governance; •radical or democratic research agendas; •work done in/for/with the public or the common.
  19. 19. ‘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.
  20. 20. [To be engaged] invites us always to be in the present, to remember that the classroom is never the same. Traditional ways of thinking about the classroom stress the opposite paradigm—that the classroom is always the same even when students are different. To me, the engaged classroom is always changing. Yet this notion of engagement threatens the institutionalized practices of domination. When the classroom is truly engaged, it’s dynamic. It’s fluid. It’s always changing. bell hooks. 1994. Teaching to Transgress, p. 158.
  21. 21. living a feminist life: •does not mean adopting a set of ideals or norms of conduct; •although it might mean asking ethical questions about how to live better in an unjust and unequal world (in a not-feminist and antifeminist world); •how to create relationships with others that are more equal; •how to find ways to support those who are not supported or are less supported by social systems; •how to keep coming up against histories that have become concrete, histories that have become as solid as walls. Ahmed, S. (2017). Living a Feminist Life. Durham: Duke University Press, p. 1.
  22. 22. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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