The easiest way to pretend that you are paying attention to students and their needs as learners is to apply some foreclosed category of engagement. Throughout my entire schooling life, I have watched this happen. Isn’t this what subjects are? Foreclosed categories of engagement–with numbers, words, history, politics etc.?
Why should we say, when we are sitting in one room, that we are looking at history, and when we are sitting in another, literature? The American system with its liberal arts model goes some way to disbanding these categories, however, UK students arrive on their bachelor programmes committed to the idea that history and literature (my two examples, though obviously this extends across education) demand completely different modes of engagement, the one the realm of fact, the other the realm of interpretation.
Continue reading “the politics of bringing learning styles and multiple intelligences into a classroom”
I don’t like the word ‘intelligence’. This word is sour. Solipsistic. It smells like grammar schools and 11+ exams. It sounds like the anti-thesis of ‘stupid’, the stuff of bullying.
People might call me intelligent because I am pursuing, always pursuing, always pursuing. Academia. Writing. Reading. I guess I look ‘intelligent’. But this sour word is so beyond what I possess or ‘am’. (I actually live in fear that I might some day think I am intelligent… what will I do with my days?) Continue reading “Do I consider myself to be intelligent?”
Last week Jane Elliott and Myka Tucker-Abramson organised a Trump teach-in at King’s College London. It was heartening to see students and staff fill a lecture theatre in solidarity and collective grief. It was terrifying to see the slides that Elliott had pulled together (attached below). And it was totally distressing to find out that King’s had barred certain words from the marketing for the event; words like anti-fascist and anti-racist…
My favourite moment was when a student from the Anti-Racist Society interrupted me to say that changing the face of the university to anti-Trump, anti-racist, anti-fascist (as I was trying to incite as a tangible action), won’t stage any form of meaningful affront on the deeply embedded structural forms of hatred he embodies. I really admire this student. She was so cool to step up and temper my words. It was sassy, and I respect that sass. Continue reading “Bring the sass: how I know if someone is ‘intelligent’”
This week I’m reflecting on two articles. The first was a blogpost on the IoE website, by Jessica Ringrose and Victoria Showunmi entitled ‘Tackling teaching about Trump: lessons from Black feminism’. The second was a list of charities, written by Anu Jindal, published on Eclectic Literature, entitled ‘Let’s Get to Work: Practical Ways for Writers and Teachers to Get Involved Right Now’.
My thinking about teaching and learning is necessarily impacted by the elections in the US and the majority vote for a president who seethes with hatred for society’s most vulnerable communities. As Anu Jindal notes, disenfranchised or already vulnerable people who live in fear, such as women, POC, LGBTQ+, immigrants, and the undocumented, are facing increased risks, with a US president who cannot in faith be said to vouch for equality, freedom or even common, human decency and respect. What does this mean for the future of education? It is this question that has brought me to thoroughly review my teaching philosophy on this blog. Continue reading “anti-Trump Pedagogy, or giving students the authority to call out a teacher”
When I was studying towards my undergraduate degree one of our tutors was a PhD student working in Shakespearean studies. She took my seminars in Early Modern literature, and my group of friends mocked her for nervously sitting at the front of the class, repeatedly stating ‘Shakespeare’s my guy!’ without ever really teaching us anything about Shakespeare… The assertion was never substantiated by any didactic content. Instead, it felt like this tutor had taken ‘student-led’ learning to heart, and our lessons were wandering drags of empty time. She let us command the conversations into complete tangents, and it was in this class that I met my first university girlfriend, made several long-term friends and for which I knew I need not prepare. Continue reading “an unsuccessful learning experience in my memory”
When I was younger and started secondary school (in Yorkshire, where I grew up) it was revealed by my mother at the first parent-teacher evening that she still read out loud to me before bedtime. Continue reading “a successful learning experience in my memory”