Room for challenge?

Channel 4 recently put out a two-part series Genderquake which in their own words set out to explore “what it means to be a man or a woman [in 21st Century Britain as it is ever changing]”. I found this programmes to be of great interest as it made me reflect on a session where we looked ‘Reflecting on your own values’. This was particularly poignant in relation to the first two questions:

  1.  How would you describe your own identities; such as gender, ethnicity, religious beliefs and so on?
  2. Would you say that your identities have changed over time? If so, how?

The incident outlined in the embedded video was one that caused me great concern and caused me to think about how as teaching staff/academics we may go about creating safe spaces for students to explore other identities/characteristics they do not hold. This is of great interest to me in devising methods to support this as I feel that my teaching practice moves in the direction of encouraging students to challenge an ask questions – however it is vital to ensure that boundaries and respect are given to all those involved in any form of discourse.

Moving forward I would like to research into theories that support and help me to better understand this area of teaching practice that I seem to be moving towards/drawn to.

A process of play

In this session, we focused on reading Understanding Art: The Play of Work and Spectator.

It was a text that I enjoyed reading as I started to ask a lot of questions in reference to the purpose of education and who education benefits. My first overall ideas and questions centred around the concept of educating the masses versus remaking the public. For me the very idea of the latter felt like an indication that ‘we’ as perhaps educators ‘remake’ the public which then develops into the idea that the greater majority are somehow subpar and need reprogramming and rebuilding. This is in complete opposition to my personal thoughts and ideas as a believer that we are here to enhance and support the development of the toolkits that our students come equipped with.

The idea that the people have been problematised shows a very real problem within society with perhaps a few feeling that they know best and dictating to others how they should be going through their lives – who is the authoritarian? Why do they have this voice?
Thoughts about the ruling class – how do we perhaps overturn this idea of instilling discipline? Education being used as a tool of the state to separate out those who have the resources or capabilities to go against the grain and refuse the imposition of and streaming of groups. Are students being forced to be workers/obedient removing their ability and confidence to become leaders who shape policy and the academic agenda further reinforcing the fact that education is a tool that only a few privileged will be able to take full advantage of?
The idea of the conversation being interfered and altered. A different system and a different way. Tradition as dangerous/problematic.

 

In addition to discussion of the text by we had participated in an activity which I thought was very clever in encouraging participation. the activity involved a ball of string and a pack of playing cards. Each time a participant spoke they would have to wrap some string around their hand. this actually caused people to become more aware of the power dynamics and how much they may have been dominating/leading a conversation which had positive outcomes in people supporting quieter members of the group to participate more. I would like to use an activity like this intermittently in order to gauge dynamics within a cohort of students and support quieter students to have the ability to take more of a stake in discussions.