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).