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Inclusive Teaching & Learning Unit: Gender – Part 1

February 14, 2017 in Inclusive Teaching & Learning

Looking at the ‘Student Diversity at UAL‘ webpage, I started to ponder on how I would answer those 3 questions provided in our brief. It’s a pretty overwhelming page as it’s filled with a lot of information, though it is all useful. As a female, British Indian, Dyslexic student myself, I did wonder how a student would cope with looking at all of this with regards to Intersectionality.

Whether I am interpreting this brief correctly or thoroughly enough, I am not sure, but here goes:

  • How could you apply the resources to your own teaching practice?

I was intrigued by the small little ‘Supporting transgender students‘ blog page. I thought it contained useful information (albeit simple) that would be good to include on the university’s main website so that everyone visiting the website would know that teachers at UAL have an awareness.

In particular, I think  that the link provided to ‘Gendered Intelligence‘ is an essential form of training for teachers to undertake. From my own experience of working in UAL’s Disability Service I think it is hugely important to continue refreshing your awareness of Disability, so I don’t see any difference in teachers making an effort to refresh their awareness of gender fluidity and continue to revise or update knowledge of appropriate or used language around Gender Diversity.

In fact, just as I believe that Disability Equality training should be compulsory for staff at universities, why isn’t Trans Awareness and Inclusion training also essential? I would always find this information and resources received from these training sessions to be useful tools to help build a students’ confidence, especially in the context of teaching art & design subjects, where students often create work which expresses their own selves or their situation in life.

  •  How could you integrate the research/work your students do on this subject into your teaching/professional practice?

Thinking about this aspect feels a very exciting and creative area for me. I would definitely think about setting this subject within a Graphic Communication Design brief. Without writing a full brief here, it could involve students researching the support networks/social groups for Gender Diversity out in the public realm already, and getting them to look at these organisations’ branding. What does this brand say about that organisation? What audiences are they speaking to? Is it different from the audiences they want? How has their branding design influenced that? I could then ask students to rebrand their researched organisation, to capture a different audience. One of the key learning outcomes from this type of brief could be to build an awareness amongst peers that is positive and supportive. Not only that, I would hope it would build students’ design skills to integrate this awareness in their professional practice.

  • Can you cite examples?

I don’t have any direct examples of integrating this into my teaching practice, as I am just beginning as part of the Teaching Within programme. But as an example of a reference, ‘Centred‘ is a type of organisation I could use as a starting point in the brief I mentioned above. I could ask them questions about branding, about providing illustrations for their organisation to attract a different audience and capture a wider support network. This I hope would act as a catalyst to the students researching their own organisation to re-brand. It may either have their attention by widening their minds to learning about social groups and networks they were not aware of before, or it will challenge them to reinterpret organisations they are already familiar with, from a design perspective.

(Tutor group meeting 1): Inclusive Learning and Teaching in Art & Design

January 27, 2017 in Reading Journal, Tutor Group Discussions

Some initial thoughts for 27/01/2017 discussion after reading excerpts from:

Liberation, Equality and Diversity in the Curriculum

Retention and Attainment in the Disciplines: Art & Design

  1. In what ways are students shaping institutional policies and practices around inclusivity?

I found this example of how students are actively shaping policies, a short video is found in this link on asking the NUS to investigate and complete an Institutional Racism Review.

http://www.nusconnect.org.uk/shape-our-work/irr

I am sure this is one of many examples. In light of the ever-growing focus of fees rising, students have become more aware of the quality of their learning. there is no one archetype of a ‘student’ anymore. Everyone is a student, whether in a HE sector, university building or in less traditional settings.  Some students have vast amounts of experience in certain aspects of life than others.

We all have different learning styles, different expectations from an educational institution. So in light of this need for a better quality of learning some students are finding ways to express their views on institutional policies that may not work for them individually, or even apply to them. One size does not fit all.

Banner with hand written typography 'We Heart Education' With 'He' and 'Art' of the word 'Heart' in contrasting colours black, red and white

Students are evidently:

  • expressing their views vocally and through protest to change policies
  • more reasonable adjustments are being accommodated for students, because they are more confident in asking for aids which will allow them to study better.

2. What progress has been made in terms of inclusivity and ‘liberating the curriculum’ since the NUS report was published in 2011?

Here are some ideas/words/thoughts that leapt out to me when reading through the excerpts of the NUS report:

  • Cultural Competence /Currency /Exchange
  • Asking where inclusivity begins/ends/is reviewed
  • Reflection for students and staff individually and together
  • Student-centred learning
  • Safe environments for critique
  • Confidence building
  • Student-staff exchange of knowledge
  • Object-based learning
  • Liberation of curriculum / de-schooling ‘institutionalised thinking’
  • Connecting with NUS Campaigns to hear the student voice
  • Creating inclusive learning as part of staff appraisal/performance assessment.

Are we liberating the curriculum creatively in the Art & Design HE sector? I have seen an example of this at CSM where a ‘DIY Art school’ was set up in collaboration with live, external arts venues such as the Tate Exchange:

http://www.dazeddigital.com/artsandculture/article/34243/1/tate-to-open-a-diy-art-school-with-central-saint-martins

And in another example, creative briefs were provided to a 1st year group in the CSM BA (Hons) Graphic Communication Design course, with an underlying objective: to allow the students to familiarise the assessment process staff will use as the framework to mark these students’ work in future. By swapping roles the brief allowed space for students to scrutinise and rationalise this assessment framework with teaching staff, at an early stage in their course

3. How might a diversity audit enhance inclusivity on the course(s) you are involved with?

As a slight comparative to begin thinking about this question, the following link is to a short article in Time Out about people with hidden impairments on their  experiences of seeing live music:

http://www.timeout.com/london/nightlife/what-are-gigs-like-for-disabled-music-fans

Imagine this article as a ‘mini audit’ of access facilities in music venues. Already I can see that a simple re-design of website structures for these music venues can have a huge impact on the experience of a future customer with  a visual impairment. Changing the environment and the impression of the environment, not highlighting the restrictions.

I wonder if an audit of this kind, if done collaboratively with students, would encourage more understanding of each others’ behaviours, attitudes, of cultural mindsets. What environments has every student come from to be in this same environment (eg the lecture theatre/studio)? Does this differ a small or large amount to environments they are used to working and living in? How confident does that make a person?

I will be working on the Graphic Communication Design course at CSM. With this course and college in mind for this audit, I think a key element to providing inclusivity is to create this safe environment within the group of students on this course. Safe in a sense of every individual being confident to express their ideas in their work without prejudice. This would effectively enhance the group’s confidence in producing work, but also in providing valuable, constructive critique to their peers and even being bold enough to challenge ideas or critiques made on their own work with an intellectual response/reflection.

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by Nehanda

Discussion: Inclusive Learning and Teaching in Art & Design

January 20, 2017 in Tutor Group Seminar

We’ve been asked to consider the following questions for our group tutorial this Friday:

1. In what ways are students shaping institutional policies and practices around inclusivity?

Student-led movements in the UK such as #liberatemydegree #ualsowhite #whyismycurriculumwhite #decolonisingthecurriculum #whyisntmyprofessorblack were created to address the issues of male/euro-centred, hetronormative, colonalistic curricula that is being taught in institutions. These campaigns have garnered a lot of attention in the media and online, students across the UK took umbrage to the disparities of attainment gaps from BME students, lack of representations and diversity in reading materials and teaching staff.

Students are feeling more empowered to voice their experiences, their feeling of isolation and exclusion are being validated. They have been given platforms to create work centred around their experiences. Forums for discussion has forced institutions to respond and stop playing lip service to diversity and inclusion policies.

 – Staff inclusivity training, anonymous marking, alternative methods of assessment, reviews of the way curriculum is designed using the HEA self-evaluation framework.

2. What progress has been made in terms of inclusivity and liberating the curriculum since the NUS report was published in 2011?

3. How might a diversity audit enhance inclusivity on the course you are involved with?

As I have yet to fully engage with courses/programmes, its a difficult question to answer. But I believe conducting a diversity audit would make the classroom/studio a more democratic and inclusive space – an ideal environment to learn.

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