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Religion Belief & Faith Part 2: ‘Religion in Britain: Challenges for Higher Education.’

March 5, 2017 in Inclusive Teaching & Learning

I read through the following three headings of this paper in detail to respond to:

Multiculturalism (Mahmood)

Minority identities (Mahmood)

Religion and knowledge of religion in UK universities (Calhoun)

The two aspects of this paper under the above headings that were new to my understanding of the challenges of religion in higher education are:

  1. There was a lack of explanation about intersections with religion or faith.

After reading up on Gender so intensely and becoming more aware of the implications in a learning environment as a result, I struggled with this paper barely mentioning the repercussions of not supporting a student who is not sure about their religion, faith or beliefs. Maybe they began their studies as a religious person and decided to become Agnostic. What if a student wishes to change these as a result of discovering who they feel more comfortable to identify as from perspectives of gender or sexual orientation. Some useful links I came across whilst pondering this:

http://www.bgiok.org.uk/being_gay/religion.html

http://www.religioustolerance.org/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2009/jul/02/gay-rights-india

What is a student becomes lost or aligns themselves as Agnostic, not Atheist? How does a teacher support that student, allow them to creatively explore that if they want to?

2. I hadn’t realised that the term ‘multiculturalism‘ had become an unpopular concept amongst politics and the public recently.

Personally, I don’t feel it is outdated, but perhaps an older form of our vocabulary that has since developed into more sophisticated terms such as ‘multiculturalist sensibility’. I experience that we have developed further vocabulary, just as we have created around terms to describe Gender as vastly to adapt and reflect the more subtle and wider range of religions the UK (and certainly London) has to represent its people.

Multiculturalism is perhaps too much of a generic term these days, but it’s definitely one I consider an important part of my vocabulary. When discussing these subjects you often reflect on your own identity within them. I’ve grown up knowing that I am from a ‘minority identity‘. I have a subtly different Bengali accent to someone who’s family is from Bangladesh, because my parents came from West Bengal. My mum and dad had a strong upbringing around Hinduism, so whilst I learnt about that, it was not through practice of Hinduism myself, it was through observing others, attending celebratory festivals surrounding the religion, and slowly learning about them alongside my observations of the English society in the Midlands I grew up in. A few generations have developed in which there has been a mix of people like me – where really, I am not fully ‘at home’ in either the Midlands or in West Bengal. But this transient feeling has interesting creative perspectives. I enjoy the artist Hate Copy for this reason. She plays on the American humour in which she lives to describe traditional traits of a culture she (the artists) has grown up amongst:

Illustration with Caption on saucer

by artist Hatecopy

Laddoo illustration on saucer

by artist Hatecopy

fairnlovely illustration

By artist Hate Copy

Trust no aunty illustration

by Hatecopy

 

From reading the ‘Religion and knowledge of religion in UK universities’ section of this paper, I began to wonder how we could progress from this tentative avoidance of discussing the subject within an art and design curriculum. So my question about this paper is about providing practical examples of good or bad teaching practices in a religious context. Where can we find such examples that can assist teachers to learn about the subtle and drastic implications? Where can teachers investigate, practice and learn how a design of a teaching session can impact upon someone’s learning because of their strong adherence to faith, a religion or their own beliefs, personal to just them? Should teachers be consulting the universities’ Chaplains to seek guidance on a regular basis, to share and build a religious literacy? At UAL can this be feasible, considering there are only two Chaplains providing support across 6 university sites?

http://artschaplaincy.net/chaplains/

Ultimately, is there a way to avoid ‘religious illiteracy’ unitedly, build confidence in teaching without individual research and interpretation (and fear of misinterpretation)?

 

 

Engaging Imagination: Helping students become creative thinkers

February 26, 2017 in Reading Journal

This book explains how creativity is heavily linked to student interest/ attention (of potentially, any subject-whether art & design related or not).

The book also talks about the advantages and pitfalls of the digital classroom environment. And this relates to my recent discovery of MOOCs, which I naively knew nothing about before meeting a freelance client last week, who discussed the possibility of me producing illustrations for a MOOC he is developing with the Cadbury Research Library about their exquisite Mingana Manuscripts collection at Birmingham University.

I also, shortly after this discovery, learn about the inception of MOOCs within the historical context of higher education (at our PG Cert seminar held on 24/02/2017).

Visual diagram breaking down the definition of a MOOC

Image by Mathieu Plourde

 

This book was useful to me as the language was one I felt could penetrate into my brain a little more easily, like one of the concepts they discuss on modes of learning: to “get the learning to stick”.

I’m still a little hazy on the difference between ‘engagement’ and ‘learning’, but these pedagogical ‘tips’ definitely helped me.

Axiomatic principles that work with students (summarised):

  • make it personal/relate to the learners
  • provide different modes of learning resources
  • ‘jerk them out’ of their comfort zones of learning methods, if complacency is observed.

Breaking down the idea and act of ‘Reflection’ and what it means for teachers and students to reflect. One thing that I’m left pondering about is to explore how I, as a teacher, might understand if a student knows all of the ‘multimodal approaches’ that allow a person to process information. Also, how and when do I gauge if a student, by the point of higher education, necessarily understands what is the most effective approach for their individual learning experiences?

I’m about halfway through this read, but I think I’ll continue to finish all of this and add into this post. It seems as if I will uncover further discoveries I will feel a need to document for my own teaching practices, moving forward.

Idea Generation Processes – How do you convert ideas into finished work?

November 9, 2016 in courses, Student Stories

What exactly is the creative process and how do we convert ideas into a finished piece of work? We chat to artist Madeleine Staubli about her experience on the Idea Generation Processes short course and how it taught her new ways of unlocking her creative ideas, plus experiment with new ones.

What is your name and where do you come?  

Madeleine Staubli and I’m Swiss.  I currently live in the countryside near Lucerne

What is your occupation?

Artist

What 3 words describe your short course experience at Central Saint Martins?  

Fun, intensive, great experience 

What did you enjoy most about your course Idea Generation Processes?  

It was a great opportunity to experiment with different materials and a great opportunity to get closer to my own artistic language. I learned how to use my brain in new ways and it still works even a whole year after the course. It was worth every pound. Ideal for beginners as for professionals.  I actually took Ilga’s Total Drawing course also and loved the efficient way of going through different chapters. The teaching speed created a “workflow” which made my hands become drawing hands.

What was your first impression of Central Saint Martins?

It gave me the real London feeling which I hoped to find.

What did you think of your tutor Ilga Leimanis?

I appreciated Ilga’s teaching method.  Even with 16 in a group, she was efficient and clear and she was able to teach a mixed level class effectively, it didn’t matter if they were beginners or advanced learners or professionals.

How has this course benefitted your career or personal development?

I already had ideas about creating 3D objects but it seemed so difficult to realise them.  After the course it all became so easy and it felt as if all the doors in my brain were pushed open.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about taking this course?

If you really feel like experimenting and trying some other ways of thinking creatively then go for it.

What is the best thing about studying in London?

I love London and if I am there for a week I can keep my mind free of everything else. Being there enables me to occupy myself only with the things I want to.

The next Idea Generation Processes Short Course is in January with further dates throughout 2017. Check the Central Saint Martins Short Course website for further details.
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