Reading Journal

January 16, 2017 in uncategorised

Text 1 Liberation, Equality, and Diversity in the Curriculum 

Text 2 Retentions and Attainment in the disciplines :Art and Design

Questions to consider in relation to these two texts:

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

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

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

Q.1 Looking at text 1, there is a clear and coherent strategy coming into place which is aimed at addressing the attainment differential in HE. I say ‘coming into place’ because this is a work in process and probably always will be;  a static solution to attainment differentials of one kind or another is looking for a Utopia. Curriculum Design strategy now works towards privileging diverse student perspectives; encouraging curriculum designers to take into account different cultural perspectives, to reflect eh interests and experiences of all students. (p.12)

The diversity audit is a critical tool in assessing the effectiveness of these strategies and outlooks. Moreover, the work contra the ‘deficit perspective’ privileges positive student experiences. (p.14)

Q.2 UAL has supported a number of useful initiatives which encouraged staff development and forward facing diverse curriculum enhancements, such as one of my own projects ‘Other Voices’ in 2016.

Looking at text 2, we can see some of the progress that has been made in in terms of inclusivity since 2011. These initiatives, such as the Tell Us About It scheme are still in their infancy. Indeed they are not wide ranging enough in scope to make a significant difference to the lives of all students who do not feel included. There is a sense perhaps of Bordieu’s ‘cultural capital’ and the inherent capital/deficit dichotomy which risks an ‘othering’ perspective. Recognising students as in need of special measures does not equate to filling a deficit, it should be seen rather as essential scaffolding which aims at an ‘equality of condition’ approach which is rooted in contemporary egalitarian theories of social justice.

The ‘Inclusive Learning and Teaching in Higher Education’ module in UAL attempts to make a space for positive teaching development. The reflection on teachers’ practice which this module encourages is a useful step towards teaching inclusivity, although again, this should be viewed a career-long journey rahter than something that can be ‘learned’ in one term.

Q.3 The diversity audit may work in theory, however in practice, it aspires to ‘know’ all cultural positions and to judge them from the viewpoint of all diverse groups. This is of course impossible. It is also a ‘Danaids Cask’; a vessel which can never be filled. As our material is bound in the social and the temporal, we can never draw a line under what is relevant and what is diverse; these are always fluid. A course I work with experienced a diversity audit, but although in theory it aspired to highlight areas for improvement, it created some other issues and problems; in short it was not a ideal solution.


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