To be quite honest; I hadn’t got a clue which Elective Unit I might have been interested in out of these…
Academic Leadership – This was the furthest from what I wanted to learn (or to become) so I ran away from this Unit like a Usain Bolt.
Curriculum Design – I was intrigued by this unit as I saw it as a way to understand how a curriculum could be formed or developed to ensure all students could be engaged. My concern was that I wasn’t in a position to question the status quo or to instigate or amend any of my practices’ curriculums (though this now sounds rather naive of me now).
Introduction to Practice as Research – After 25 years as a Theatre Designer I take a rather narrow minded view on research for the sake of research. Christopher Frayling’s academic paper on the differences on Art as a Practice or Research as Practice (and vice-versa) confirmed my beliefs that I far enjoy doing than thinking about doing. Academia is too far from my comfort zone.
Learning for Sustainability – My own profession has a terrible track record in sustainability and I, as a Designer couldn’t research and develop my knowledge and awareness without hypocrisy.
Supervising Research Degrees – This is way beyond what I cover in my teaching practice.
Technology Enhanced Learning – I reasoned that I would probably get quite lot out of this unit but do not teach in a digital medium or use it to teach (I use Photoshop but that’s about my limit in my own professional practice) so I fear I would be out of my depth as soon as I started.
Inclusive Teaching and Learning – which left this unit. I hoped that it would open my eyes as to how to engage, connect and enable students from all backgrounds and cultures which is what I sorely needed in my teaching practice on Foundation Course.
So I was to ‘critically explore current debates in the literature, policy and practice relating to inclusive curriculum design and assessment, teaching and supporting learning, and the wider institutional perspectives of an increasingly diverse population of students. I would engage with aspects of equality and diversity such as class, disability, internationalisation, and race and ethnicity, and consider theoretical models of diversity and social justice in higher education with a special focus on the integrated theme of pedagogies for social justice in Art, Design and Communication.’
The reading has been interesting and, at time, very dry (arid). Covering Gender, Faith and Race I felt, at times, that ‘Preaching / converted’ was ringing in my ears. Challenging reading material and some inspirational references are what helped me stay with it but there were times when I felt I would walk away. It has challenged some prejudices and has made me more reflective as to how my ‘easy colloquiums’ and presumptive short handed speed could confuse and alienate my students.
I bought a copy of the essential Inclusive Practices, Inclusive pedagogies; Learning from Widening Participation Research in Art and Design Higher Education by Bhagat and O’Neill published by Croydon: CHEAD (2011) and read some of it (I tend to find a lot of the academic references frustratingly stunting the rhythm of my reading), Books by Janette Ryan ‘Cross-Cultural Teaching and Learning for Home and International Students‘, and Welikala and Watkins thin tome ‘Improving Intercultural Learning Experiences in Higher Education’. All worthwhile but I felt distanced and rather ignorant and a bit ‘dense’ for not fully understanding the style in which most of these books are written. Listening to someone explain their view point or giving a lecture or powerpoint presentation has proved a lot less challenging for me (perhaps I’m partially dyslexic?) and this feeling has also helped me reflect on the fact that if I find myself feeling this way then there must be students who feel the same way. The idea is to not exclude the more academic and confident students at the expenses of the rest (which is usually expressed in the reverse).
13th July 2018
by Michael Robert Bailey 0 comments
After my first presentation (a powerpoint presentation of 65 slides with sound) failed the 6 minute brief miserably by being too long and not ‘sticking to the brief by not mentioning who your students are – I decided to not stick to the brief yet again by presenting my Self Initiated Project in ½ the time that I was supposed to. So reading out 2 A4 sheets of notes and research only lasted 5 minutes.
There was no padding (as in a few peer presentations), there was, I had perceived, a well thought-through suggestion/proposal. Answering the set questions and adding in suggestions of where I would be looking for research. I got a lot out of the input from 3 other group members (3 others had joined us too late for me to glean any reaction of my proposal). I’m not very comfortable playing by the rules. I like to know where my parameters are but then prefer to push these as far ‘out’ as I possibly can – obviously without causing any stresses or breakages. A “10 minute presentation followed by 10 minutes of group discussion” becomes, I had hoped, a 5 minute presentation followed by 15 minutes of group discussions… but there is no flexibility to allow this (even though I try to get my students to “think outside the box”, to “push boundaries”, to “look beyond the set brief to ensure you can engage fully”, “think independently”, “if you can’t be really good, be really bad” (the last of these is taken from Rod Judkins’ “The Art of Creative Thinking”, 2015, Sceptre Books); another minus point against my name.
I wanted to find out if Students wanted to use Digital tools to enhance their skills and if Digital media would gradually take over from practical skills altogether. Part of the reasoning of this is my own professional practice is somewhat dated compared to younger Designers working in Theatre Design where model making and manual technical drawings are seen as old fashioned, time consuming, expensive and, due to new software, redundant. So why would I continue to teach these skills?
The Tutor in the PgCert session suggested that I could take the opposite approach and look at the necessary manual skills that Students would be able to use if they chose, but couldn’t use them if they weren’t taught them (I’m paraphrasing like a madman here)… rather than be concerned that I, as a lecturer, am fearful of not living up to the Students expectations (my own perception; not theirs) by not having the ‘necessary’ digital skills in my head or at my fingertips then I am letting them down, I am a failing lecturer. So; what’s wrong with manual skills? how many students want to learn them? How many students have enough independent thought to work out what they need to learn, how they want to learn it, have the patience to learn it, enthused enough to want to learn it?
This has turned my SIP from front facing to now mirror and question my own self doubts about what I teach and why I teach it.
10th July 2018
by Michael Robert Bailey 0 comments
A Question and Answer session involving Jheoni Airborne, Alex Burgess and myself set around the readings and questions that we had selected 2 weeks previously was only 2 thirds successful / developed due to Jheoni “oversleeping” therefore unable to join in to the conversations and findings of Alex and myself. Laura Davidson joined Alex and my discussion group but due to the last minute matching Laura listened intently asking a few things that rather clarified our questions rather than leading to further discussions.
Alex Burgess’ reading:
“From Blended Learning to hybrid Pedagogy” pushpullfork.com, internet Blog by Kris Shaffer, 18th November 2016.
This blog entry related to the traditional forms of learning that might not relate to current practice or current behaviours. Choosing a technology based on its benefits to members of the dominant class or simply whatever class the developers belong to must exclude other people. “If we don’t constantly re-evaluate our educational purposes and our technological choices, we’ll end up wine-wineskin mismatched – tools and technologies lines up with someone else’s educational goals rather than our own”. It goes on to say that Digital media, unlike pencils and pen usage, requires a new strand of bullshit detection and that new computing skills become part of the curriculum and new methodology of Critical thinking become necessary. Hybrid and blended learning are also mentioned alongside quotes from Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed. It’s a long read and I got a bit lost but it gradually made sense through the questions that Alex had asked:
Q1: As a left-hander using the technology of the fountain pen, Kris Shaffer experimented with the strategy of mirror writing, like Da Vinci. It made his writing neater, prettier, more even. What kinds of resistances have you had in using digital technology and what strategies have you developed to overcome them?
A1: My Resistances:; learning it all, keeping up with the latest software. Not all students can or want to use it. The costs of software and upgrades / updates (for students). Teachers getting left behind in such a fast moving digital world. These points I raised weren’t truly answering the question as I found out when we discussed Alex’s questions. It was about the use of software that wasn’t truly useful to us… Perhaps ‘Moodle’ could be one type where the programme feels like it is aimed at helping and consolidating information but it is not truly user friendly or utilised by most students. Sound clips and video instructions can be uploaded but are rarely done by all Departmental lecturers. I had no examples of any strategies to overcome them apart from suggesting that I could be sent on more software courses to overcome my fear of getting left behind by constantly evolving digital technology…
Q2: Shaffer talks about the difference of Blended learning (referring to the ‘place’ learning takes place – physical/virtual) and a Hybrid pedagogy (re-thinks our conception of place to be a more theoretical space, such as a conversation) and their relationship within a physical space. Do you consider the concept of ‘Space’ to be an important factor to students learning?
A2: Can every student study at home? No (there is not enough space at CSM to have all 3 years of all departments in the building at the same time. Has every student learnt or possess the self discipline of independent learning? No. International students may benefit from study alone but we ask for engagement; how do we ‘keep an eye on’ our students progress if they interact digitally or outside the physical educational environment? Art and Design can, surely, be taught in a blended way but is this leaning towards Peer learning rather than Academic? In a modern, ever changing digital world; isolationism will become the ‘norm’. Does creativity cease its power in isolationism?
Q3: In Shaffer’s example of digital storytelling/DS106 he explains why and how he used the Syllabus Sprint method to create the students briefs with active student engagement. Do you think the ideas of the students writing their own projects/briefs is an effective method of teaching, or is this already happening, and we have subconsciously developed “art/design and communication” subjects to perform in this fashion anyway?
A3: Do students come to talk or to listen – why so binary? Why not both. I do believe that students should help write the brief but we need to throw out exam grades as everything becomes too subjective. What is the value of a dissertation when one can be purchased? Why mark the end result of a perfectly designed and constructed fashion garment when it may have been made by an employee?
Christopher Frayling, Royal College of Art Research Papers Volume 1 Number 1 1993/4 – Research in Art and Design
A fascinating read about the definitions and changing attitudes to research. The OED shows that ‘research’ (small r) “an act of searching, closely or carefully, for or after a specified thing or person’ and ‘Research’ (big R) as “work directed towards the innovation, introduction, and improvements of products and processes” – research being used of Art, Research being used of Design. Using Picasso’s painting Les Demoiselles d’Avignon Christopher Frayling quotes Picasso as saying ‘When I paint, my object is to show what I have found and not what I am looking for’. By using his visual memories of a visit to the red-light district of Barcelona, Iberian sculptures in the Louvre, Cezanne’s Mont-Saint-Victoire he suggested that these references should not be confused with research (only art historians would think otherwise). He saw himself as a maker not a researcher. Referencing Hollywood films Frayling criticises the exaggeration and stereotyping of artists or engineers, George Stubbs researching on animal anatomy, John Constable’s researches into cloud formation suggests research outside their realm, outside their own knowledge; Leonardo’s research can not be seriously referenced as research material as it has been greatly superseded by modern findings, modern technology, modern tools. So artists have worked just as often in the cognitive idiom as the expressive, that some art counts as research – anyone’s definition, that some art doesn’t. He quotes John Constable’s Royal Institution lecture of 1836 “…Painting is a science, and should be pursued as an inquiry into the laws of nature. Why, then, may not landscape be considered as a branch of natural philosophy, of which pictures are but experiments?” (Constable, John. (1836) Lecture Notes, May 26 & June 16, Artists on Art, op.cit, pp.270-273). Frayling goes on to write about the concept of design as research, applied research (resulting knowledge is used for a particular application) and action research (generates and validates new knowledge or understanding) and fundamental research. Research is often seen as existing outside studio design. Times have changed since teaching design using manuals and theoretical usage; it’s now an amalgam of the same manuals (albeit updated) but also pulling in strands from physics, mechanics, biology, anthropology and mathematics. The different strands of research into art and design (historical, aesthetic, theoretical perspectives), Research through art and design (materials, development work, practical experiments), Research for art and design. Higher and Honorary Doctorates are given to people with a distinguished body of work (both published and exhibited) but not for research degrees where the art is said to ‘speak for itself’. “How can I tell that I think till I see what I say?” (E.M. Forster’s Aunt talking to E.M. Forster) can become ‘How can I tell what I think till I see what I make and do?’ then becomes ‘How can I tell what I am till I see what I make and do?’
Jheni’s questions are:
Q1: What do you understand by the meaning(s) of Research in this paper?
A1: ‘Doing’ to broaden our view, ‘doing’ to confirm (or justifying) the view but is specific to a particular application. My summary above shows my understanding of the differences between actual and perceived research, the traditional values and methods of teaching compared to the discovery approaches of todays age.
Q2: What ethical issues could be raised or considered?
A2: Gender and race: how much research is available that is not white, male, christian? But I feel that research can lead to all things and should not, in context, be considered right or wrong. Grayling picks up on gender inequality in the paper by pointing out, in parenthesis; ‘always ‘his’, incidentally’ and ‘still it is usually ‘his” so it is clear that even he regards referencing rather abridged or restrictive – surely this makes research (whether large or small ‘R’) a limited experience in a historian setting, less so (but only marginally) in our modern age.
Q3: How do issues of inclusive pedagogy apply to practice as research?
A3: For practice it may be where to look, lecturers would/could steer student to places of research but only if the lecturer knows enough or has enough references that might cover a subject in all or any places or media. Reminding to advise students about the inclusivity factor in Research would be useful so that they do not ignore this or become very frustrated by the lack of historical references. Though I am not sure if I truly understand the question: Jheoni isn’t present to discuss this.
My own Elective sharing task was to ask Alex and Jheoni to watch a YouTube video “Pay It No Mind”
It is a documentary about Marsha P. Johnson, a black, gay, transvestite, born in 1944, who moved to New York after being absued at an early age. She sat for a filmed interview on June 26th 1996 with subsequent additions by some of her friends. A brighter than bright extraordinary character who was a subculture in a subculture around Lower Manhattan in the 1970-80’s, an actor and activist (since 1969), a charismatic but impoverished guy in drag (“I never ever done Drag seriously. I never do it seriously. ’cause I don’t have the money to do serious Drag”) who felt more comfortable living as a woman than a man. She was one of the first to physically resist the Police who stormed Stonewall Inn (Christopher Street, The Village, NY) that fateful night June 28th 1969. A subject of a screen print by Andy Warhol in 1975 she would think more about helping others then herself. Her gay activism made her a more ‘interesting’ and enlightening figure in New York. Hustling on Broadway could make her $125 an hour, arrested for prostitution many times, castigated from Gay Pride marches in 1978 for being a transvestite – like being excluded from your own party ! Her Mother said that her son was lower than a dog for being homosexual. “I walk on the marches each year as we still don’t have all our rights” throughout the Aids Pandemic first noticed in 1982, creating an outreach for the homeless transgender community. Her body was found floating in the Hudson River in 1992, 4 days after the filmed interview. The police were not prepared to investigate another black gay person’s death.
A moving, nostalgic, inspirational documentary; often uplifting with humour and joie de vivre, caring and positive, generous and kind… 55 minutes representing an amazingly strong and selfless individual.
And so my questions seemed quite banal having to relate a life lead to pedagogy…
Q1: Would you open up this presentation in your teaching practice?
A1: Alex replied that he struggled for the first 10 minutes or so watching the footage as he thought it was of little interest to him on so many different levels. However; the charisma of Marsha made him persevere and watched the entire 55 minutes right through.
Q2: How would you open up this subject in your practice?
A2: Alex probably wouldn’t due to his role in LCF. However he suggested that he might consider showing a snippet of the documentary at the start or just before the start of one of his sessions as a ‘taster’. It might be a warm-up video to get the students to quieten down at the start of the session and might lead to a Q&A briefly at the send of the session (depending on timings of the lecture that he is supposed to give during the session). This video could be part of a series giving far more impact to the subjects chosen; to invigorate discussions and debate within the group and to broaden the Student’s references to the outside world… this would certainly work for my own teaching practice in Theatre and Screen Design department.
Q3: Is this subject ‘worthy’ to be discussed in your class or too passé?
A3: Not an easy answer; not enough time to discuss this apart from ‘yes; it is worthy and relevant to the students but the film, as it stands, is too long.
No feedback received from Jheni. Laura couldn’t give any feedback as she hadn’t seen the video but agreed with Alex’s input that the format needed to be short and impactful and would work better if the students weren’t forced to see it but somehow ‘came across it’ playing as they entered the room and ran till the start of the session.
I wholeheartedly agree with these findings. I thought that the subject matter would have been found to be too specific or not relevant to other lecturers’ practice or subject matter so I was pleasantly surprised and it has made me think more about what subjects I might proffer my students as ‘little gestures of information, research, life coaching, history, references, artists that doesn’t refer to the subject that I teach.
It’s taken me 3 hours to work out how to add more categories to my blog. No wonder I don’t have much time to read the stuff I’m supposed to read… If blogging was truly necessary to my teaching practice I might be less frustrated with it; yes, maybe I could do with more patience or perhaps consider that blogging might be necessary for my teaching practice in the near future (?)… but when I’m frustrated by my lack of understanding of some of the literature that I am reading on the PgCert I’m finding the need to learn how to write and format a blog (and workflow) a bit of a drag on my brain cells and my time.
I’ve just spoken with Lindsay and now I feel an absolute fool as I didn’t refer it to the Moodle page! Doh !!
When were you first aware of whiteness and how does whiteness affect you on a daily basis (if at all)?
I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I have only considered whiteness since starting the PgCert. This sounds rather shameful but, I suspect, not shocking. I went to a Secondary school in a predominately black (now Asian) area of East London so I never thought colour of skin was ‘questionable’ or specific. Yes I gave it little thought whilst I worked in Finance when I left school as I had black colleagues, we socialised etc. When I went to CSM to study my BA I noticed the lack of diversity in the College but the term ‘whiteness’ or diversity was never broached. It was middle class, whiteness; 24 of us. The College’s Diversity policy has changed but I suspect that the College’s attitude to money took precedent over diversity when I was a student in the early 90’s. I am frustrated by the ratio of overseas students in relation to BAME students. Does whiteness affect me now? Yes – I give more teaching time (albeit in minutes) to non-white students due to trying to help the attainment figures to improve… I often think this foolish to think how little difference I might make; I think it stems from guilt. I look at the ratio of BAME students and think ‘What can I do to enrol or entice non-white students to start on an Arts Education without any direct contact to schools’? I do help out on the UAL Insights and WP programmes which have helped open possibilities for BAME students and to see some students enrol at BA level energises me to do more.
What actions do you take to practice anti-racism?
Racism at the Foundation Centre? Does my whiteness blind me to micro aggressions or deafens me to imperceptible mutterings? I treat everyone as I would like to be treated; with respect and understanding, with empathy and kindness. The Prevent Duties have led to presentations in the Class that would not have, previously, appeared to have a relevance; we are now sharing our concerns, sharing our ideals and our students lead the way.
How do you manage the trauma of seeing evidence of hate practices and crimes (environmental/personal lives/educational setting/media)?
I get very upset. I ask myself how can humans be so cruel to each other. But I feel powerless and too insignificant to help change. I have never witnessed any race crimes in person but have witnessed gender hate crimes. My empathy steps in to help victims but rarely have I gone to the source for fear of violence. I have fought with words rather than fist. The trauma fades due to ‘life’ taking over… yes; I’m aware that this is self-protection which doesn’t help the victim or the repeat of the crimes.
Have you recognised or identified ingrained beliefs that stem from whiteness in yourself (environment and/or personal lives or educational setting) and what does this mean to you?
I had many black friends at my Secondary School. We were streamed like a secondary school. My friends were CSE, I was in O’Level class. I was aware of how many more black students there were in the 2 CSE classes compared to the 2 predominantly white cohort O’Level classes. I was naive and didn’t question this but assumed that the students parents showed little interest in them. They were mostly interest in Sports education rather than academic subjects. I ignorantly put this down to genetics not thinking for one moment that I was being taught by white, middle class teachers who had not thought of the difference in our backgrounds, how role models were mostly, if not all, white in History, Sciences, Arts, Language, Religious and Maths classes. Now working in Theatre industry I have seen a gradual change in perception of colour (and gender and sexuality). It does not represent the national ratio but at least, at present, it is moving in the right direction. Several productions I have designed have been written for Black Actors but so few are ‘available’ and therefore black actors are in high demand that white actors have been cast instead – so the work is there but there are simply not enough BAME actors.
Where in the Creative curriculum have you or would you consider topics surrounding whiteness or construction of race?
I could ask the students if they have had any discussions in their previous education as to race and whiteness or if studying in Higher Education is the only place that it has been mentioned. How do we deal with whiteness without patronising white students into guilty conscientious or is that simply the point? To re-dress the balance; to challenge the unchallenged? To make visible the visible?
Had you either experienced or witnessed the effect of micro aggressions and how did you manage it?
I was advised of 2 Lecturers working in Design Department at Foundation Centre who wanted to mix up the class so that the students could talk to each other, or talk to those that had not spoken together before. The students who were mixed up were, predominantly, Chinese who rarely spoke English in the class. The 8 Chinese students who all sat together were asked to sit with “someone else in the class” knowing that they were being asked to sit with someone who did not speak Mandarin. The brief was set but within 30 minutes the 8 students had returned to their original table and they worked together on the project. An act of impassive micro aggression on behalf of the Lecturers or is this more to do with communication skills and timidity than racism? I would like to engage with International students far more than I feel I am able at present. I need to find a way of ensuring that the students are comfortable and in a safe environment to allow this and to are able to feel included in the class.
Where does whiteness sit within a post-racial world?
It is NOT a post-racial world. We look to America and realise whiteness has stepped back onto the podium. We look to our own Parliament and realise that the UK puts Sexism before Racism. Whiteness in European Countries will take several more generations to shift…
Having Shade of Noir as a reference point helps tutors, students, academics, businesses and bystanders to share approaches, start conversations, air unspoken truths and make the visible visible. By having a digital interface to refer students to (especially the live Tweet feed) will help acknowledge the changes that still need to be made. Allowing the students to share their heritage, their experiences and backgrounds and to use these to inform their own work regardless of the briefs that have been set could open up everyone’s understanding and development. By sharing we become stronger. By opening up my references and modifying my teaching practice I would hope to have an influence in levelling the playing field for everyone. There are many avenues to reference and research in this goal; Responsibility of whiteness, Experience of whiteness, White fragility, Transcending racial oppression, Pedagogies of social justice, White privilege, Creative cultural currency, Institutional racism, Colonisation, White ally-ship, Micro aggressions, Creative liberalism. I can no longer hide behind naivety or ignorance.
Well, Hahn Tapper is not for the faint-hearted. The academic approach to forming sentences which, generally, quote theory after theory have left me quite confused. But I’ve struggled through and have tried to get the gist of Intersectionality and Social Identity Theory.
#1 Create experiences for the Students WITH them, not FOR them.
This is a concept that I understand but have seen little evidence of it. I note that the method I was taught throughout my entire history of Education was by the Rote Learning method. Teachers would tell me what I needed to learn (Banking System of depositing information into a Student’s Brain account). My homework was a disaster (where I was supposed to think independently but found it difficult to apply the lessons into other forms) but I passed all my exams. The teachers may not have known that they were in a position of power, merely teaching us. But it is suggested that Teachers and students’ could or should engage in habitual, critical reflection, a model that takes into account their identities – equal terms ?
I understand and acknowledge that the students have a history of experiences and we, as teachers, should listen to these and take the diversity of these experiences on board within the classroom. I’m unsure if “Teachers and Students identities would ever be tied to one another in an interlocked relationship” (Rozas 2007) but terms such as “Intergroup Work”, “Conflict transformation”, “Affirmative Contact” (“Contact Hypothesis”) and “Social Identity Theory” leave me cold, wiser, but cold.
We need to know out students if we are to teach ‘with’ them not ‘to’ them. How we, as teachers, can implement briefs in such a way that they are inclusive to all 65 students in one class is a huge challenge. Yes; sort them into groups (but keep them all inclusive), sit and study their backgrounds, sit and chat with them for a few hours individually for only then we can teach with, not to, them.
I am not against the theory or, indeed, the practice: but I am completely bamboozled by the pragmatics.
#2 Education is used to presume the Status Quo.
The Social Identity Theory (SIT) suggests we should “not [aim] to get power, but to reinvent power” (Hahn Tapper, A. J. cited in Evans, Evans, and Kennedy 1987, 226). We should be transforming the stars quo rather than perpetuating it. Education should be utilised to enhance freedom and choices rather than exert a restriction or boundary or hierarchy. I bring with me a set of beliefs, understandings and reasoning but they are on my own terms not shared by anyone else so why am I continuing to teach students ‘in my own image’, with my own baggage, my own limited experiences? Hahn Tapper (2013) suggests that by imposing my own set of “ideological based set of information on the students” I should be creating opportunities for students and guiding them to “teach one another about social identities and intergroup dynamics using critical thought”; to steer and re-address the status quo by a democratic process rather than a dictatorship.
Steering discussions within a group of students will be a new experience for me. I can throw in curved balls, Rubik’s cubes etc. but I would need to ensure that references are all inclusive. Since starting to teach I have assumed that the students have instincts, imagination, their own histories but lack the tools to express these. I find it interesting to consider changing the ‘status quo’, the existing order of things, present customs, practices, and power relations so that I am almost a student myself… perhaps this is way too simplistic an idea.
Social status is not equal, we do not live in a Utopian society but perhaps we help strive to create one by making our educational process one of equality in diversity and in status. We all have a lot to learn, no matter how young, how old, how experienced, how naive.
These thoughts and understandings from Hahn Tapper’s article have part inspired me, part confused, part unnerved me. My ignorance of my own ignorances leaves me with much to think about but I will always question what I read and what I am told – if it makes sense (to me) then I can adapt but if it is verging on hyperbole or Academic theory then I struggle a little to integrate the data into what little teaching experience I have. I can not use this as an excuse but truly need time, patience and a thesaurus to move forward in my teaching practice.
An interesting short film that gave a brief but worrying view of minority students’ reactions to class experience of racism and ignorance and their own crits. regarded as less critically constructive or simply denied a hearing / listening during their Studies at Rhode Island School of Design.
Most Fine Art subjects are subjective and the onus is on the lecturer to question the student’s work in such a way that the student can reflect and develop their work – if a Student feels that the Crit has no depth, no reflection, no gravitas, no coherent argument then surely this needs to be said during the class rather than discuss it away from all the students ? This allows the entire class to reflect, to ask questions, to agree or disagree with viewpoints whichever side of a debate they are – without the openness of the debate will the issue highlighted in the short film ever be conquered.
I do not dispute the views and experiences of the interviewees but I raise the question how did most of the other students find their Crits at Rhode Island School of Design? – the ‘elephant on the room’ is the bullet through the halo; how many other images done by the rest of the class were as provocative? How many other students were brushed off with superficial comments like “I like the colour” regardless of race. Part of this short film deals with recognising and flagging up the racist viewpoint (“she was more racist today”) of a lecturer but it also flags up to me that racial elements require blatant questions, blatant observations, blatant reviews, fired up discussions in classrooms when the subject is proffered but in a healthy and safe environment. I feel that these students were not in a safe environment, in the main, due to the Lecturer’s White ‘privilege’? Can a Lecturer truly answer to their lack of understanding, their ignorance of the subject that they see in front of them? Are they embarrassed to discuss racial issues? Surely a Professional working in an Arts Educational environment needs to be challenged directly either by their Peers or their Students; we do not know everything but we can open debates rather than censor them. If a Lecturer is frightened of expressing their ignorance of a subject or they lack interest in various cultures, colours, creeds, faiths then perhaps they need to ask themselves if they should remain in the Profession. The act of Constructive Criticism needs to be looked at – superficial criticism is pointless, ineffective, has no outcome and no-one learns form it. My Foundation Students are desperate for Constructive Criticism… I tell them I do not know everything but I use my years of experience, my maturity, my willingness to learn and listen to help form an opinion and advice and help and support.
My fear for the Students interviewed in the film was that they would become unwilling to show their reactions, to share their work openly and safely, to be unwilling to work on subjects that would not be accepted or discussed by their Tutors. This would not help the students to explore all subjects (none should be off limits for Artists) with the depth and emotional weight and sensitivity that is needed.
I am also very aware of how racism has hit politics (again) with Brexit and also, widely reviewed as Intersectionality, Anti-Semitism within the Labour Party (again). How can this constant subject be wiped out? Not by one Lecturer, not by 2, not by one University – yes it all helps, it all adds up, but how Society acts and reacts is a very strong conduit. How Primary school children are treated and educates is vital, how secondary schools educate and enlighten their Students is more vital, by the time Students reach into the realms of further education their viewpoints have, in the great part, formed along with their ignorances, their insecurities, their loves and interests – we, as Lecturers in HE, can (and should) draw their attention as to how Society isn’t fair, isn’t black and white, isn’t (in any stretch of the imagination) perfect… it’s how we can advise and help the students question their perceived viewpoints that might be contra to their neighbours.
9th March 2018
by Michael Robert Bailey 2 Comments
How beautiful to hear such an erudite and easy to listen to presentation on Identity in terms of Creed. I was dragged up as a Roman Catholic (an inheritance rather than a choice) and decided, after turning 14 years old, to never go to Church again and to subsequently call myself an Atheist. This Reith lecture made perfect sense to this non-believer but, more importantly, it intrigued me to understand why people hold a religious view over and above other views, where the point of fact plays no role in their belief that “the history of Faith is the History of Doubt”. Rather than learning by rote one is allowed to question, to grapple, to challenge Faith in order to understand ones own position within that chosen faith.
There is great inequality of gender and sexuality in all religions due, in part, to our cultural interpretations that had probably never been known or thought about at the time of writing Scriptures or Religious Writings. This may be a reason why most Western Cultures consider Religion is not seen as important factors to the make up of the individual. Professor Appiah suggests that many non-western cultures would dispute that Religion is not a defining aspect of who they are.
Fundamentalism – truth fallacy to doubt. Injured by the rhetoric of faith; can this be challenged? Only by conversation in difference amongst consensual adults; without this it would be a one sided lecture rather than a debate or coming together of understanding in opposition.
To underplay the concept of Religion and to change this to Community and sharing within this community or similar minded people…
A stimulating Lecture with some very interesting questions that challenged Professor Appiah’s viewpoints. I had never thought that Theology could be so interesting.
16th February 2018
by Michael Robert Bailey 1 Comment
Never having heard of Bell Hooks I read this with huge interest and mild frustration. Huge interest in that it first appeared to be a piece that seemed to hark back to the 1950’s and suggesting that nothing had changed till it’s writing in 2013. Huge interest in discovering my own ignorance of enforced Patriarchy within the family – no violence committed against me or my older brother but perhaps we formed traditional roles within our family; my older brother being sports minded and therefore one to take over the baton from my Dad – I was more happy to wash up and bake cakes… (maybe this has something to do with not recognising the gay signs during my youth). For both male and female Parents to unknowingly reinforce the role of men in society being above that of women seems quite alien to me but as a male perhaps this is ‘normal’.
Mild frustration comes from my own professional experiences that show little comparison to Bell Hooks’ view – mostly working with women as my Director (me as Designer), Female bosses at the University where I teach where the standards of Patriarchy do not ‘seem’ to appear. Where Females are comfortable in their roles of authority, with no patronising, no gender biasing, no radical feminism… people may read this and suggest that this viewpoint is patronising in the extreme but it is one where I have no feelings of superiority but only of collaboration or joy to be advised what I’m doing well, what can be improved…
I can say that I faced no forcing of Patriarchy on me, I went to a mixed gender Primary School where we were all taught equally, all treated as equals, could play with toys of both gender bias… (though I’m sure that this might have changed for some children when they went home). The girls were not taught to be weak or free from the burden of thinking (as Bell Hook states she was taught by her Parents to be).
Perhaps it is not the violence to reinforce our indoctrination and acceptance of patriarchy but the refusal to acknowledge it’s existence.
Considering that out of 67 students in my class there is only 1 male student (possibly gay). Out of 4 staff there are 2 female (both Straight), 2 male (1 Straight, 1 gay); perhaps I can ask all the students how their Parents see them i.e: studying to make a difference, studying a subject as it seems a nice past-time, maybe see if there is a difference between Home and International students attitudes to Male domination in Society (Theresa May, Angela Merkel, Jacinda Ardern compared to most other countries).
Patriarchy seems to have few mentions in todays society. It seems that a more vocal and interesting point of view is about increasing female roles in authority. Our own Parliament has some way to go to reducing the bullying, overtly masculine atmosphere; this is about power, though, as the House of Lords has 587 Men and only 206 women but the atmosphere seems more equal maybe due to the maturity / age of the members and the lessened draw of Power hungry Members.
Nicky Morgan is pressurising more City firms to sign up to the Gender Equality Charter. It is a shame that City firms need this pressure; though most of these City Firms are run by Men and have a predominance of Males on their Board. I seem to be living in a bit of a feminist bubble now that there are a huge amount of women Designers and Directors and all Female Companies treading these boards.
16th February 2018
by Michael Robert Bailey 0 comments
Most Universities in the UK like to state in their manifestos that they are all for equal rights, that they are a University of shared and equal beliefs; ‘We want you, you belong here, we’re ready for you’…
They have supporting departments, as does UAL, that publicise policies to better support trans students that includes non-discrimination of gender identity and gender expression, 207 have gender-inclusive housing, and 156 allow students to use a chosen first name on campus records and documents. The question is, what’s driving these positive changes?
But how many Halls of residence at UAL have gender neutral toilet facilities? How many colleges have gender neutral toilets (Foundation Centre at Wilson Road has only 1 gender neutral toilet that was previously a toilet for the disabled)?
It is quite difficult to quantify the success of these policies as we enrol students who may not have had much trans-gender support from their previous place of Education, they may not feel like they wish to disclose, perhaps Colleges don’t give the students the ability to self-identify. There haven’t been many trailblazers for the next generation to say ‘That College supported ‘X’ so amazingly that I feel it would be a great place for me to consider studying at’; perhaps the nature of our University of The Arts enables a more diverse range of students to apply but is this truly enough? Who, indeed, wants to be considered a minority within a minority within a minority ?
What can we do to alter this? Perhaps mentioning this in all UAL interviews, all enrolment brochures and pamphlets… discuss these issues with the students early in their enrolment.
The Foundation Centre at Wilson Road had an incident with a student last year. Graffiti was found in the girls toilet that stated that student ‘A’ was thinking of committing suicide as her Lecturer kept using the wrong pronoun when talking to her. The graffiti was followed by a mixture of supportive AND abusive feedback written on the wall which made the situation far worse as the student could see the only negative comments and was blinded by the supportive ones. The toilets are used by Students and staff alike so the graffiti was actioned on as quickly as possible, the student identified and asked if she would like some support from Bethan Williams, Equality and Diversity Officer. All staff were made aware of the situation and it shocked me as to how things can spiral so quickly through ignorance or lack of memory… perhaps registers could be adapted to help this? My memory is poor, I teach fly students only 4 hours per week, I have 65 students in my class… it’s not always easy to use pronouns or too remember ISA’s.
But we do have Bethan’s contact details always to hand in the weekly bulletin that our Head of Foundation sends to each Sunday that gets printed and placed in each class’s register. The premise would be more open if it were a subject that we can include in a brief that all students could learn from.
The simple act of sharing the Gender Diversity at UAL website information with the students might start the communication off.