Image: (2018) of Jon Nixon ‘The Place of Pedagogy’ quoting Zygmunt Bauman. [Screenshot]
For the April seminar, you can choose which piece you want to read and prepare for discussion; either Jon Nixon’s ‘The Place of Pedagogy’ or Ron Barnett’s ‘Dispositions & Qualities’.
“Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education focuses on providing a humanistic perspective on pedagogy by relating it to the interpretive practices of particular public educators: thinkers and writers whose work has had an immeasurable impact on how we understand and interpret the world and how our understandings and interpretations act on that world.”
“The philosophical option: Jon Nixon’s Interpretive Pedagogies
Read Chapter 2 of Jon Nixon’s 2012 book ‘Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education’. It’s about higher education as a public good, and what that means in the era of tuition fees (I’ll give you the short answer; for Nixon it means developing a capacity for shared understanding.
One of the quotes in this chapter is by the sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, from his 1987 book Legislators and Interpreters, which argues that the aim of education is to develop our capacity to…
‘…talk to people rather than fight them; to understand them rather than dismiss or annihilate them as mutants; to enhance one’s own tradition by drawing freely on experience from other pools, rather than shutting it off from the traffic of ideas.’ (p143)
What I’m interested in hearing your views on, and what I’d like us to discuss in the session, is the following:
- Are all views worthy of our efforts to understand them?
- To what extent should traditions be protected (from other/new ideas)?
- Is a technical or ‘useful’ education a second-rate education?
- How can the technological and the cultural be merged? I.e. is it possible to teach for liberation and transformation, AND to prepare students for socially useful occupations?
- How do these ideas connect with the theory you have been encountering on your elective unit (if you are doing one)?
Please do focus on your own discipline & teaching context in considering the above questions; this will ensure diverse perspectives are included in the discussion.”
_______________________________________________________I chose to concentrate on Jon Nixon’s ‘The Place of Pedagogy’ text – a fascinating and well worth reading analysis of the work of philosopher and sociologist Zygmut Bauman.
In a discussion group with Stella, Kuldeep and Lucy and I talked about the text – and then we looked at the old (existing) UAL marking matrix. Using the new matrix of three criterion, we first assessed it then we had to mark ourselves using it, on our discussion – a surprisingly difficult exercise which drew up complex and interesting issues. We were slightly hampered because we didn’t finish our analysis before we had to use the matrix but you could see enough of the function to engage with the issues.
It’s quite a different exercise assessing each other as peers verbally in real time, as opposed to asynchronously marking a student exercise as a tutor having time to consider a written response …
And as the HEA Feedback toolkit (2013) indicates, (see below), ‘verbal feedback provided in a group meeting’ is the least popular way that students want to receive feedback. Of course there’s a variety of ways that feedback can be given, but I found it interesting to note that in the face to face environment I didn’t want to give too critical a response to my peers. I know I learn better in an encouraging and open atmosphere and I want to be sensitive to each person. It is a given in formal education that we need some critique to improve, but as learning styles are not the same in any group, to name but one factor in the assessment debate – how can we encourage real thinking and development in our students, and not just meet standards manufactured to meet the needs of a University business model? How can one student be “better” than another? Surely each improves / or doesn’t against themselves – or even less oppositionally – in a continuum, instead of in competition to others?
The dynamic of our four was interesting as we three students had our tutor with us who understandably took a step back to allow us free discussion – but would then contribute in a timely way; I found it was really useful. The personalities of our group made it for a rich and lively organic discussion, typically as a pattern of one person contributing the other responding or contesting and I felt I had to interrupt that conversation to be able to contribute my opinion and relate our discussion to the text. Assessing one’s self as part of the exercise is very much a worthwhile task encouraging honest reflection upon one’s own effort – which perhaps should be part of an education where students are encouraged to become their own educators, responsible for their own creative thinking and analysis as part of their own ongoing process. I’d very much like to introduce student input into the assessment process and one of our colleagues described how she does that – I made contact to follow up on that.
I got a lot from the two minute presentation task. I decided to prepare for it as I know the important parts of what I want to transmit may not get said – I tend to go off track.
So when the question was posed to us before delivering our presentations, ‘what makes a good speaker’, I was glad I had prepared. Unless you are very practised and confident speaker that’s one of the things that makes a good speech – it is prepared.
I talked about walking and why it’s important for humans physically but also mentally – in particular for creative thinking and problem solving. In preparation I started it at over 5minutes and then pared it down to under two minutes; that paring down was the important part of the exercise for me – the focus on what was important, what was the real message I needed to say? It seemed to work – my audience of two applauded and gave me positive feedback and unexpected suggestions – they found certain ideas that I thought were not that crucial, the most interesting for a (putative) future follow up.
2 minute talk to the tutorial group.
WALKING as an aid to creative thinking
Walking is simple yet powerful
- AS A SPECIES we have been walking for a very long time: (British paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey identified marks of bipedalism dating back 3.7 million years in Tanzania) it conferred evolutionary advantages on early hominids in that they could see further and range further
- The more “civilized” we became the more sedentary and physical activities in western societies were more and more divorced from the body
- Contemporary science has identified walking is good for you “moderate exercise — typically walking for 30 minutes three times a week — produced a 26% reduction in the risk of death from heart disease and a 20% reduction in the overall death rate”.
- Two Stanford psychologists’ 2014 report concluded that “Walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity.”
- Walking can be many things – an act of pilgrimage, art, or politics
For instance, on 27 August 1981, the 36 women and children who walked from Cardiff to Greenham Common (around 97miles) and after they stopped walking, established an anti-nuclear armaments peace camp for 19 years – an important event in the history of the peace movement around the world.
So although walking is a simple act open to all who can walk, it is a powerful act that encourages creative thinking, problem solving and health.