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Inclusive Teaching & Learning Unit: Gender – Part 2

February 14, 2017 in Inclusive Teaching & Learning

Part 2 – A response to reading “Understanding Patriarchy” by Bell Hooks

I learned quite a lot from reading this text, just from visualising the scenarios from Bell Hooks’ childhood highlighted that I have understood and recognised Patriarchy for many years. However I did not necessarily know how to label it with this definition as eloquently has Hooks has.

Acceptable and unacceptable Patriarchy:

I was able to relate the various scenarios Hooks talks the reader through with my own experiences of understanding Patriarchy. For example, it reminded me of speaking to a friend who’s male cousin had committed suicide and how their family members got uncomfortable talking about this young, male adult with depression (a large contribution to his suicide). On the flipside, my friend’s family deemed it absolutely fine to speak about the same (depression) to do with a female within their family, and better yet, openly speak about this female’s mental health at public gatherings to mock them or define them as weak. This was not to do with age / generations / or traditions in culture, my friend was confused and surprised by the vast range of family members that acted out their patriarchy towards both situations. It is very similar to the story Hooks described when her father angrily told her to stop playing with marbles and her mother almost said ‘I told you so’ after telling Bell quietly to stop playing the marbles

Familiarity is a big friend to Patriarchy:

Again, reading through this text made me think about how I’ve challenged my own review of situations and environments, as those I’ve experienced over the years have broadened. For example, I have grown up visiting India regularly and I can remember the first time I saw two adult heterosexual, male members of my family, walking down the street in Kolkata holding hands, thinking to myself ‘that is uncomfortable to look at’. Now I see it so many times I think the familiarity has taken away the ‘weird’ factor for me, but if I saw that same scene in my home town of Leicester, I would (for a split second) have that uncomfortable feeling return to me – and then think, why? Is it out of fear of local people’s reactions to this scene more than my own? Why is it not ‘weird’ if I see the same in London? Is it because I am familiar with seeing people feeling more open about their gender and sexuality in public (in London) compared to Leicester? Bell Hooks paraphrases some content in her text from  ‘How Can I Get Through to You?’ by family therapist Terence Real, in which his sons decided between themselves and their friends, what was appropriate for boys to play. A stern look – body language – communicated that ‘play’ did not include dressing up as a Barbie doll. With this in mind I wonder if I ever received such communication growing up in majority amongst friends in the UK, which embedded patriarchy in me, almost as if it was through a ‘reality facade’.

Having read this text, overall I believe it is always good to reflect on your decisions to design or make a choice that affects others and keep this understanding of patriarchy in mind to who we want it to benefit. I do wonder if, in today’s global society are we largely having struggles internally about gender and patriarchy, as well as acting out our struggles externally? I suspect the internal struggle will always exist to a degree, but I do wonder, can societies ever become fully ex-patriarchic, or fully dispel taboos that any one person might feel towards gender fluid behaviours in themselves and in others around them? I am hopeful that more understanding can be developed at the very least.

Visualising your PhD in 3D

October 1, 2016 in Inspiration

A workshop facilitated by Graham Barton from UAL Academic Support. Using the LEGO Serious Play method, participants were asked to construct and visualise the answer to a series of questions about their practice, research and PhD, and then explain their position to others around the table. A fun and instructive way to share experiences, discuss issues and expectations.


Above: Why take a PhD


Above: the relationship between research and practice


Above: managing the PhD


Above: positioning research and practice

Critical reflection and the voice

October 2, 2015 in PGcert

I read a Chapter 2 from Brookfield, S. (1995) Becoming a Critically Reflective Teacher.

The first half of the chapter focuses on the methods that you can use to be critically reflective: 1) how you’ve learned in the past shapes how you teach now 2) seeing learning from the point of view of the students 3) learning from colleagues and using them as a ‘critical mirror’ and 4) using theoretical literature (to help ‘teachers from mistakenly blaming their personal inadequacies for situations that are politically created’).

The power of developing your authentic voice stood out most for me, both that of yours and that of your students. I work on how we can help students feel comfortable speaking, particularly in relation to developing employability skills, so this is really interesting for me.

Brookfield says: ‘Feeling the power of one’s voice is fundamentally connected with developing one’s sense of agency’. He also quotes Richert (1992): ‘Agency, as it is described in this model, casts voice as the connection between reflection and action’.

The idea that speaking is about human agency, and helps you catalyse thoughts into action feels quite profound.

Brookfield says that getting feedback from your students is central to understanding your teaching from the point of view of the students. Deborah talked about Ramsden (2003). One of his points is that you first need to understand your students’ experiences of learning.

In both my teaching and digital work, user research and testing is a key process.

Brookfield emphasises the importance of getting feedback anonymously. I collect anonymous feedback in my workshops, as it allows for complete honesty. However, in our discussion group James said that teachers should create an atmosphere where it feels OK for students to contribute criticism, and that dialogue allows for further clarification.

As a result, I’d like to think more about how we create an environment where people feel comfortable sharing what could be done better face to face. This also adds to the idea of creating conditions where all voices can be heard.

One point that seemed to come up strongly was that learning is an ongoing process. Brookfield certainly suggests this, as does Dall’Alba (2005) – she talks about teachers playing an active, collaborative role in their own learning. James said that practice and discipline as a product designer is one in the same, and you couldn’t be a product designer if you weren’t continually learning.

Emmeline felt that her teaching practice was integrated and holistic, when looking at the categories put forward by Shreeve (2008). Emmeline made a very interesting point that her practice is distinct from the advertising course that she teaches on, and how that relates to how you can integrate learning and practice (my work doesn’t always relate to what I teach either).

One final point from Brookfield is that it’s important to understand that curricula is constructed and tentative, and should be questioned. I think this relates to the power your own teaching and voice can help shape external factors.

So the summary from my perspective is: in order to develop your own voice, you can help facilitate other people’s voices, understand other people’s voices to help define your own, and use yours to help shape the environment around you.

Critical reflection and voice

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