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Some tentative provocations on #highered and social justice: Caught between the curriculum as Prozac, protest, pontification and performance

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Invited presentation in the Doctor of Distance Education Program (EDDE 804), Athabasca University, 23 February 2017

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Some tentative provocations on #highered and social justice: Caught between the curriculum as Prozac, protest, pontification and performance

  1. 1. Paul Prinsloo University of South Africa (Unisa) @14prinsp Invited presentation in the Doctor of Distance Education Program (EDDE 804), Athabasca University, 23 February 2017 Some tentative provocations on #highered and social justice: Caught between the curriculum as Prozac, protest, pontification and performance Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/lost-places-old-decay-ruin-factory-1549096/
  2. 2. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS • I don’t own the copyright of any of the images used and hereby acknowledge their original copyright and licensing regimes. All the images used in this presentation have been sourced from Google Images or Pixabay and were labeled for non-commercial re-use • This work (excluding the licencing regimes of the images from Google) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
  3. 3. Confessions of a sceptic The notion of ‘sceptic’ does not refer to those who doubt, but to them who investigate or research, as opposed to those who assert and think that they have found Miguel de Unamuno (29 September 1864 – 31 December 1936) I have not found what I’m looking for (with apologies to U2)
  4. 4. Not all the…Tentative points of departures for thinking about the role of #highered and social justice Image credit – John Gray: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Gray_(philosopher) Image credit – Heresies –https://www.amazon.com/Heresies-Against-Progress-Other-Illusions/dp/1862077185 An imaginary conversation with John Gray – Author of ‘Heresies’ (2004)
  5. 5. Not all the… may be “Belief in progress is the Prozac of the thinking classes” (Gray, 2004, p. 3) “History is not an ascending spiral of human advance, or even an inch-by-inch crawl to a better world. It is an unending cycle in which changing knowledge interacts with unchanging human needs. Freedom is recurrently won and lost in an alternation that includes long periods of anarchy and tyranny, and there is no reason to suppose this cycle will ever end” (Gray, 2004, p. 3) Image credit –https://www.amazon.com/Heresies-Against-Progress-Other-Illusions/dp/1862077185
  6. 6. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG “In ethics and politics, however, no gain is irreversible. Human knowledge grows, but the human animal stays much the same. Humans use their growing knowledge to promote their conflicting goals – whatever they may be. Genocide and destruction of nature are as much products of scientific knowledge as antibiotics and increasing longevity ” (Gray, 2004, p. 4) Image credit –https://www.amazon.com/Heresies-Against-Progress-Other-Illusions/dp/1862077185
  7. 7. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG “The lesson of the century that has just ended is that humans use the power of science not to make a new world but to reproduce the old one – sometimes in hideous ways. This is only to confirm a truth known in the past, but forbidden today: knowledge does not make us free” (Gray, 2004, p. 6; emphasis added) Image credit –https://www.amazon.com/Heresies-Against-Progress-Other-Illusions/dp/1862077185
  8. 8. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG “The core of the belief in progress is that human values and goals converge in parallel with our increasing knowledge. The twentieth century shows the contrary. Human beings use the power of scientific knowledge to assert and defend the values and goals they already have. New technologies can be used to alleviate suffering and enhance freedom. They can, and will, also be used to wage war and strengthen tyranny” (Gray, 2004, p. 106) Image credit –https://www.amazon.com/Heresies-Against-Progress-Other-Illusions/dp/1862077185
  9. 9. If we accept, for now, that progress is not inevitable and that increases in knowledge and understanding do not, necessarily, result in a more just and equal society, where does it leave teaching and learning? Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/lost-places-old-decay-ruin-factory-1549096/
  10. 10. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of_the_ British_Empire_in_1886_(levelled).jpg Overview of the presentation • Curricula as the stories we (don’t or/and are not allowed to) tell our children, our students, and each other • The curriculum as contested and contesting space: a brief history • The curriculum as Prozac • The curriculum as protest • The curriculum as performance/agency • The curriculum as multiple and intersecting narratives • The curriculum as fragile • (In)conclusions
  11. 11. If we see curricula as the stories we tell, are allowed to tell, don’t tell, forget to tell…
  12. 12. … where are the stories from … …folks that live outside the norm? Where are the feminist theories of …? Where are the queer theories of …? Where are the not-able-bodied theories of …? Where are the immigrants to Canada theories of …? Why do folks that do not occupy the 'norm' have to subscribe to largely white-patriarchal theories of …, as reported by largely questionnaire-based studies of … theories, on largely white male leaders [scholars][scientists] [politicians][activists]? (Adapted from a student question - David)
  13. 13. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, Pieter Bruegel 1559, Den Bosch. Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnival In considering the nexus between higher education and social justice, we need to consider…
  14. 14. What are the “absences and silences” (Morley, 2012) in our curricula and staff and student profiles? And why? Who/what is ‘visible’ and who/what is ‘invisible’ in our curricula and institutions? “…how do you make people look at you when they can’t even see you? How do you make them take notice in the first place?” (Murphy, 2016, par. 11) Image credit: https://samanthaburgoyne.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/the-invisible-man-book-cover-design/
  15. 15. Not all the… may be If “Belief in [a particular notion of?] progress is the Prozac of the thinking classes” (Gray, 2004, p. 3) – where does it leave the role of #highered in service of social justice? (Adapted from a student question - Rita Prokopetz) Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Kapsula.png
  16. 16. Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past. George Orwell Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/vaulted-cellar-tunnel-arches-keller-247391/
  17. 17. The ‘what’, the silences and absences in curricula and higher education institutions are determined by those who lay claim to own the future … … and they will protect their claims at all cost Image credit: https://www.amazon.com/Who-Owns-Future-Jaron-Lanier/dp/1451654979
  18. 18. Higher education and its curricula are therefore a “contested space” (Prinsloo, 2007) and “an arena of struggle” (Shay, 2015) Image credit: Canadian Gunners in the Mud, Passchendaele by Lieutenant Alfred Bastien, 1917, oil on canvas. Retrieved from, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_art
  19. 19. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of_the_ British_Empire_in_1886_(levelled).jpg The curriculum as contested and contesting space: a brief history
  20. 20. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Throughout the ages, what was considered to be “legitimate” knowledge depended on the context; the societal value added by the knowledge; as well as the validation of the knowledge by persons/organisations who claimed the power to legitimate or declare some knowledge as worthy or illegitimate/unworthy
  21. 21. There is no evidence or examples of instances where knowledge production and its dissemination were not controlled, regulated and legitimised, whether in the early Academy of Plato (385 BCE), the Buddhist Nalanda University in Bihar, India ( 5th century BCE), the University of Constantinople, established in 425 BCE, or the medieval Madrasahs founded in the 9th century CE.
  22. 22. Craft associations and guilds, whether the mask carving association in Benin, or weavers in India – all had the same basis, namely: • the celebration and acknowledgement of expertise (the so- called master craftsmen and craftswomen); • exercising the monopoly on their craft in a particular geographical area; and • regulating and sanctioning access to the specific expertise base (See Davenport and Pruzak, 2000) Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Novgorod_torg.JPG
  23. 23. “Guilds protected their special knowledge; governments prohibited the export of economically important skills. France, for instance, made exporting lace-making expertise a capital crime: Anyone caught teaching the skill to foreigners could be put to death” (Davenport and Pruzak, 2000). (Also see Belfanti, 2004) Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Lace_Panel,_16th_century,_Italy,_Linen,_needlepoint_lace,_punto_in_aria,_Re ticelli_pattern,_buttonhole_stitch.JPG
  24. 24. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG There is a gradual move of power away from the knowledge producers to those who have the power or standing to classify knowledge as legitimate, as profane or sacred (also see Bernstein 1996, Bourdieu & Passeron 1977)
  25. 25. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of_the_ British_Empire_in_1886_(levelled).jpg 1. The curriculum/higher education as Prozac
  26. 26. A show/pill a day… • Homo economicus – Consuming/amusing ourselves to death… • The constant need to ‘fit’ in to the demands of the market • The neoliberal prescription of lifelong learning – always falling short, always lacking, always defective, always in need of more training, more development, more skills, always facing obsolescence and joining those classified as the “collateral casualties of progress” (Bauman, 2004, p. 15) Image credit: https://mytwocents.wordpress.com/2009/03/25/what-im-reading-amusing-ourselves-to-death-2/
  27. 27. Image credit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choice What is the potential of higher education as the ‘red pill’? Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/stevetroughton/17072638696
  28. 28. Not all the… may be Page credit: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts- dont-change-our-minds Houston, we have a problem…
  29. 29. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of_the_ British_Empire_in_1886_(levelled).jpg 2. The curriculum/higher education as protest/counter- narrative
  30. 30. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG What is the potential for higher education to formulate counter-narratives, alternative visions of a more just future? Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/hand-arm-fist-outreach-protest-1482801/
  31. 31. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Page credit: http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/02/protesters-hang- refugees-welcome-banner-from-lady-liberty.html?mid=twitter- share-di
  32. 32. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of_the_ British_Empire_in_1886_(levelled).jpg 3. The curriculum/higher education performance/agency
  33. 33. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/isolated-transparent-white-1513515/ From pontification to agency: tentative pointers
  34. 34. Research by Stamm, Clark and Eblecas (2000) COVERAGE UNDERSTANDING ACTION
  35. 35. The problem-path model (Stamm et al., 2000) Stage 0 Unaware of situation Stage 1 Heard about situation, but can’t say if it is a problem or not Stage 2a Situation is NOT a problem Stage 2b Situation IS a problem Stage 3 Thinking about solutions Stage 4 Identification of solutions
  36. 36. Critique of the problem-path model Stage 0 Unaware of situation Stage 1 Heard about situation, but can’t say if it is a problem or not Stage 2a Situation is NOT a problem Stage 2b Situation IS a problem Stage 3 Thinking about solutions Stage 4 Identification of solutions Disengagement
  37. 37. A future-oriented impact model Stage 0 Unaware of situation Stage 1 Heard about situation, but can’t say if it is a problem of not Stage 2a Situation is NOT a problem Stage 2b Situation IS a problem Disengagement Stage 3 Thinking about solutions Stage 4 Identifi- cation of solutions Stage 5 ACTION Armchair pontificators Change agents
  38. 38. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English. PNG Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of 3. The curriculum/higher education as multiple and intersecting narratives
  39. 39. Imagecredit:https://pixabay.com/en/binary-code-man-display-dummy-face-1327512/ A social cartography of higher education Neoliberal CriticalLiberal de Oliveira Andreotti, V., Stein, S., Pashby, K., & Nicolson, M. (2016). Social cartographies as performative devices in research on higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 1-16. Spaces for deviance, disruption, anger and hope
  40. 40. Imagecredit:https://pixabay.com/en/binary-code-man-display-dummy-face-1327512/ Liberal • Serving the public good – defined by those in power • Increasing equality and access to individual freedoms • A strong state role in welfare and re-distribution • Higher education as key in achieving national development goals • Increasing access and the massification of higher education • Economic growth as driver • Everyone can be a success – from poverty to riches and the individual as an autonomous, rational agent • Let-us-forget-the-past-and-go-on- with-our-lives-the-future-is-bright- just-take-off-your-glasses-and-pull- up-your-socks
  41. 41. Imagecredit:https://pixabay.com/en/binary-code-man-display-dummy-face-1327512/ Neoliberal • Austerity measures and defunding of higher education • Commodification of the curriulum and the rationalisation of the PQM • Students and industry as customers • Increasing administrative, well-paid staff and the outsourcing of teaching to contract and adjunct faculty • Institutional prestige and global university rankings • “In this orientation, the role of the nation-state is to enable and to protect, with military force if necessary, the rights of capital and the smooth functioning and expansion of markets” (p. 91). • Faculty have become “individualist strivers competing for grants, publications, promotions, salary increases, better jobs elsewhere according to a set of rules as market driven as anything dreamed up by administrators” (Jemielniak & Greenwood, 2015, p. 73).
  42. 42. Imagecredit:https://pixabay.com/en/binary-code-man-display-dummy-face-1327512/ Critical • It explores and exposes the inherent epistemological power and patterns of violence in curricula • It highlights capitalist exploitation, processes of racialization and colonialism and other forms of oppression at work in seemingly benevolent and normalised patterns of thinking and behavior (p. 91) • The inclusion of more diverse voices but contrary to the production of a singular and homogenous narrative of a nation-state, it “aims to transform, pluralise, or replace these narratives through historical and systemic analyses of patterns of oppression and unequal distributions of power, labour and resources” (p. 91) • This orientation contests and confronts the notion of the university as “an elitist space, and ivory tower” (p. 91)
  43. 43. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Imperial_Federation,_Map_of_the_World_Showing_the_Extent_of_the_ British_Empire_in_1886_(levelled).jpg 4. The curriculum/higher education as fragile, potentially deviant space for alternative futures
  44. 44. Not all the… may be Image adapted from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:All_persons_fictitious_disclaimer_English.PNG Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/fragile-text-wood-brown-antique-354606/ Handle with care
  45. 45. Soft-reform space Radical-reform space Beyond-reform space Modernity’s life support Modernity’s palliative care Recognitionofepistemologicalhegemony Never have been happier, healthier, wealthier Problems addressed through personal transformation Problems addressed through institutional change The game is awesome! Everyone can win once we know the rules The game is rigged, so if we want to win we need to change the rules The game is harmful and makes us immature, but we’re stuck playing Playing the game does not make sense Recognitionofontologicalhegemony Recognitionofmetaphysicalentrapment Racism Capitalism Colonialism Heteropatriarchy Nationalism Race, capital, heteropatriarchy as modernity (unfixable) Alternatives with guarantees Hacking Hospicing Other modes of existence based on different cosmologies ? ? (Adapted from de Oliveira Andreotti, Stein, Ahenakew, & Hunt, 2015,p. 25) FOUR SPACES OF ENUNCIATION
  46. 46. (In)conclusions Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/stairs-architecture-secret-curve-1636573/ Deviance, disruption and hope are conscious but always incomplete, till-further-notice, compromised and compromising decisions
  47. 47. 47 The curriculum as fragile, deviant hope ‘Maybe’ comes with no guarantees, only a chance. But ‘maybe’ has always been the best odds the world has offered to those who set out to alter its course – to find a new land across the sea, to end slavery, to enable women to vote, to walk on the moon, to bring down the Berlin Wall. ‘Maybe’ is not a cautious word. It is a defiant claim of possibility in the face of a status quo we are unwilling to accept… (Young in the Foreword to Westley, Zimmerman & Patton, 2006) Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/key-stump-nature-forest-1683108/
  48. 48. THANK YOU Paul Prinsloo Research Professor in Open Distance Learning (ODL) College of Economic and Management Sciences, Office number 3-15, Club 1, Hazelwood, P O Box 392 Unisa, 0003, Republic of South Africa T: +27 (0) 12 433 4719 (office) prinsp@unisa.ac.za Skype: paul.prinsloo59 Personal blog: http://opendistanceteachingandlearning.wordpress.com Twitter profile: @14prinsp
  49. 49. REFERENCES Bauman, Z. (2004). Wasted lives. Modernity and its outcasts. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Belfanti, C.M. (2004). Guilds, patents, and the circulation of technical knowledge. Northern Italy during the early modern age. Technology and Culture, 45(3), 569–589. Bernstein, B. (1996). Pedagogy, symbolic control and identity: theory, research, critique. London: Taylor & Francis. Bourdieu, P., & Passeron, J.C. (1977). Reproduction in education, society, and culture. Beverly Hills, Calif: Sage. Carrington, V. & Luke, A. (1997). Literacy and Bourdieu’s sociological theory: a reframing. Language and Education, 11(2), 96-112. Davenport, T.H., & Prusak, L. (2000). Working knowledge: how organisations manage what they know. Ubiquity, (August 1 - August 31). Retrieved from http://ubiquity.acm.org/article.cfm?id=348775 de Oliveira Andreotti, V., Stein, S., Ahenakew, C., & Hunt, D. (2015). Mapping interpretations of decolonization in the context of higher education. Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society, 4(1), 21-40. de Oliveira Andreotti, V., Stein, S., Pashby, K., & Nicolson, M. (2016). Social cartographies as performative devices in research on higher education. Higher Education Research & Development, 1-16 Gray, J. (2004). Heresies. London, UK: Granta Books.
  50. 50. REFERENCES (cont.) Jemielniak, D., & Greenwood, D. J. (2015). Wake up or perish: Neo-liberalism, the social sciences, and salvaging the public university. Cultural Studies? Critical Methodologies, 15(1), 72-82. Murphy, M. (2016, January 9). The costs of being invisible. Social Theory Applied. Retrieved from http://socialtheoryapplied.com/2016/01/09/the-invisible-man/ Prinsloo, P. (2007). The curriculum as contested space: An inquiry. In Contesting spaces: The curriculum in transition (pp. 44–59). A monograph containing selected papers from the African Conference on Higher Education held in September 2006, Pretoria, Republic of South Africa. University of South Africa. Shay, S. (2015). Curriculum reform in higher education: a contested space. Teaching in Higher Education, 20(4), 431-441. Stamm, K.R., Clark, F., & Eblacas, P.R. (2000). Mass communication and public understanding of environmental problems: the case of global warming. Public Understanding of Science, 9, 219–237. Westley, F., Zimmerman, B. & Patton, M.Q. (2006). Getting to maybe: how the world is changed. Canada: Random House.

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