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My teaching philosophy is towards the understanding of my role as introducing students to the culture of academia and critical enquiry rather than introducing.

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Presentation on theme: "My teaching philosophy is towards the understanding of my role as introducing students to the culture of academia and critical enquiry rather than introducing."— Presentation transcript:

1 My teaching philosophy is towards the understanding of my role as introducing students to the culture of academia and critical enquiry rather than introducing them to the various subjects I teach. I am growing in awareness that what I am hoping for from my students is a more engaged and fearless ability to assess their world and subject matter. My role, then, is to introduce to them the tools and activities and culture of critical enquiry and academic practice. Haggis notes: Far from being self-evident, or something that academics can rightly expect students to be familiar with, such processes are partly hidden even from academics themselves which may be one of the reasons why academic teachers are often reluctant to try to make them explicit. (Haggis, 2006, 530) Heloise - My Teaching Philosophy Haggis, T. (2006) Pedagogies for diversity: retaining critical challenge amidst fears of dumbing down, Studies in Higher Education, Vol. 31, No 5, pp

2 The Gender Theology course is designed as an introductory course. I designed the course around key terms and concepts such as patriarchy, andro-centrism, hegemony, hierarchy, thealogy, reading against the grain, and the hermeneutics of suspicion, which are explored as tools to feminist interpretation of the bible as well as to contemporary texts and to contemporary culture. The motivation to do so was a recognition that these key tools and concepts are needed in gender identity discourse and that this would be an entrance into that discourse. I have now found this articulated clearly by Andrew Northedge in his Rethinking Teaching in the Context of Diversity (Northedge, 2003) where he suggests that learning is entering a knowledge community and learning the discourse of that community. The Course Northedge, A (2003) Rethinking Teaching in the Context of Diversity, Teaching in Higher Education,

3 The course I developed last year has been developed in two ways after my experience of the students attending the class. I came to realise that black students have a double and reinforcing experience of patriarchy: Isabel Apawo Phiri for instance states that … This is because the patriarchal structures of African culture are reinforced by the patriarchy of the Bible. Both African culture and the Bible take a central position in shaping the lives of African women… Therefore I have developed the course towards an understanding of what it means to be doing theology in Africa at this time, following Phiris suggestion that the mutually reinforcing type of patriarchy found in African Christianity becomes the focus of African Womens theology. The Course Phiri, I (2002) Why does God Allow our husbands to hurt us? Overcoming violence against Women, Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, 114, 19-30

4 The Course Mann, S. (2001) Alternative Perspectives on the Student Experience: alienation and engagement, Studies in Higher Education, I took over the slot of teaching this course under the title Feminist Theology I called the course instead Gender Studies and was asked to call it Gender Theology which is the title as it stands. I was resolved not to alienate the men in the class. The student experience of alienation is explored by Mann in her article: Alternative Perspectives on the Student Experience: alienation and engagement. I was sensing unconsciously what she articulates clearly – that student alienation doesnt foster student engagement. The attitude I attempted was one of hospitality and guide around the concepts of gender construction and identity rather teach from what Pratt (Pratt, forthcoming) calls a Social Reform Perspective which has been the reigning perspective of this discipline. Pratt, D. (Forthcoming) Good Teaching: one size fits all? In An Up-date on Teaching Theory, Jovita Ross-Gordon (Ed.), San Francisco: Jossey-Basss, Publishers

5 Therefore the second development has been to be inclusive of the men in the class so for instance I would reword Phiri s quote above and suggest that Both African culture and the Bible take a central position in shaping the lives of African women and men in their gender construction and identity. It seemed irregular to discuss the oppression of women without attempting to understand the experience of men. This year I will be reviewing the understanding of masculinity by such writers as Robert Morrell in his book Changing Men in Southern Africa. The Course Morrell, R. (ed). (2001) Changing Men in Southern Africa, Pietermaritzburg, University of Natal Press

6 The Course Pratt, D. (Forthcoming) Good Teaching: one size fits all? In An Up-date on Teaching Theory, Jovita Ross-Gordon (Ed.), San Francisco: Jossey-Basss, Publishers I began in transmission mode with flip charts which I worked on for hours at home. I spent much of my holiday between 2010 and 2011 reworking these flip charts into power point presentations with brilliant illustrative pictures etc. The problem of talking too much as suggested by Pratt (Pratt, Forthcoming) in his description of the perspective of Transmission Perspective of teaching resulted.

7 The Course Biggs, J. (1999) What the Student Does: teaching for enhanced learning, Higher Education Research & Development, 18, 1, The Gender Theology course is in its second year. It is my second year of teaching. I have had practically no induction into teaching from an outcomes perspective. The aims of the course have developed from year one to year two. The clarity that Biggs suggests in aligning a system that is … a fully criterion-referenced system, where the objectives define what we should be teaching: how we should be teaching it; and how we could know how well students have learned it. Seems to me to be an ideal for a fully developed course. My course is still under construction and I am in a process of discovery – discovering my students, discovering my teaching philosophy and practice and deepening my understanding of the subjects I teach.

8 The Bottleneck The most striking problem I have in all of the courses I teach is what Ballard and Clancy (quoted in Lynn Quinns power point) call Academic Literacy. While there is cultural diversity in the student group in the Gender Studies, the prior learning levels – while showing some variation – are homogenous in the sense of academic literacy (they have very little academic literacy). An example of a typical statement I would receive from students in the Gender Theology class when asked to respond to the following statement: Religion that enslaves us is false True religion gives us freedom!: Would be: The truth is that the religion itself has been oppressing lot of women because some of the churches take the bible literally or at the face value and that cause a problem within the Christian religion. The religion should not enslave anyone, everybody has a right to speech or to follow any religion that s/he wants Perhaps from Ballard, Brigid and John Clanchy, 1997 Teaching international students. Deakin, ACT. IDP Education Australia.

9 So among other things one can note from this example that: The sentences do not refer to any writers or make reference to any sources. The sentences consist of arguments by statement and can easily be read as personal opinion. The sentence shows uncritical reflection in that the rights mentioned are rights offered by the South African constitution without recognition that political realities and the realities espoused by faith communities can be in disagreement and tension.

10 I would suggest that students are not achieving the level of academic literacy required to meet the first two learning outcomes required for the course. ٱ Make use of and define the terms and concepts offered in the course in written and oral communication. ٱ Critique the use of language and symbol in contemporary texts, in contemporary culture and in the liturgy and practice of the Church. In particular the students awareness of what is expected of them when they are asked to write an academic essay, is not clear enough to meet these requirements. The Bottleneck

11 A Description of the Planned Strategy I will now turn to a description of a planned strategy focussing on a particular assignment. See Handout A This is an assignment I have set them. In an attempt to communicate what is expected and to be more explicit after asking them to critically discuss I have added a description of what is meant by Critically Discuss. This task has already been handed in to the students. In addition I have: Spent a lecture on the task by doing a close reading of each of the terms in the essay statement - using pair and then group discussions..

12 In Musimbis statement she suggests that Culture has pre-occupied the theology of African women. The essay question asks you to critically discuss and reflect on the role of African theologians. Why has the essay question not been specifically addressed to women theologians? For example The social theories of Mead and Bandura underpin this strategy. For instance Meads theories of socialization leads him to suggest that learning can only be social, because mind and self are themselves constructed through the social process of habit and response. (Jarvis, Holford & Griffin 2004: 49). I suggest that initially working in pairs is less threatening than working in groups and will enable students to begin to help one another to think critically. Critiquing the use of language and symbol in contemporary texts, in contemporary culture and in the liturgy and practice of the Church is a required outcome of the course and having an understanding of what it means to critically discuss is central to doing well in the course. The Planned Strategy Jarvis, P. Holford, J & Griffin, J. (2004). The Theory & Practice of Learning 2nd Edition. London: RoutledgeFalmer.

13 What does Musimbi mean by Culture? Will it be necessary to define this term? How would you go about doing so? I would put people into groups at this point as there is more than one culture in the class and perhaps through discussion this will become apparent. In addition the men and women in the class can possibly offer one another new and unexpected insights into what it means for them to be women and men in their contexts. Northedge suggests that Socio-cultural theories of learning view teaching as enabling participation in knowing Knowledge, Northedge suggests, is seen as constructed in the flow of meaning produced between knowledgeable people when they communicate together. (Northedge: 19) The Planned Strategy Northedge, A (2003) Rethinking Teaching in the Context of Diversity, Teaching in Higher Education,

14 By asking these types of questions I will be asking the students to begin to think about what is being asked of them by the essay question and suggest the level of enquiry that is being asked of them. This is in an attempt to be more explicit about what is required. I believe that this strategy should help the student move from two areas of strength 1.being knowledgeable about what it means for themselves to be men and women 2.and being proficient in oral communication in groups to areas that they are less comfortable: individual written communication and challenging the way that gender is constructed in their contexts. The Planned Strategy

15 But this is not enough: Northedge notes the role of the expert in his paper Enabling Participation in Academic Discouse and as the students in the class has not yet gained what Northedge calls central or generative meaning. Therefore this will be a beginning of the strategy but not the end because the student will require more support than that which can be given by their peers – while there is cultural diversity in the class the level of prior learning is homogenous ( whilst there is variation none are central and generative and can rather be characterised as vicarious and peripheral to the discourse community using Northedges concepts). Distinguishing between language and literacy, suggests that academic literacy and not language proficiency is often what challenges students as they enter academia. Ballard and Clancy state (quoted from Lynn Quinns powerpoint reference unknown): Becoming literate involves becoming acculturated: learning to read and write the culture. For academics wishing to hasten the process, the key to success lies in developing practical ways of making their own understanding of the university culture explicit and accessible to their students The Planned Strategy Northedge, A (2003) Enabling Participation in Academic Discourse, Teaching in Higher Education, 8,2, Perhaps from Ballard, Brigid and John Clanchy, 1997 Teaching international students. Deakin, ACT. IDP Education Australia.

16 Both articles written by Northedge and by Ballard and Clancy suggest that students require expert help – be this of their knowledgeable peers or teacher as subject expert. I suggest that the students in the Gender Theology class will not find enough guidance from their peers. I will therefore use blended learning asking the students to a draft of their essay following a process suggested in the Chertl brief guide Responding to Student Writing. Asking for drafts of the essay, using the review with bubbles and insert comments and them back. The Planned Strategy

17 Chertl, center for Higher Education Research, Teaching and Learning. (2010). Responding to Student Writing. Grahamstown: Rhodes University. The Chertl brief guide Responding to Student Writing (Chertl, ) suggests that there are five main ways in which student writers may benefit from the process: They could be helped to understand how to construct knowledge and what counts as knowledge in specific disciplines (domain content), By having the discourse conventions of essay writing in general and of specific disciplines made more explicit to them, they may be able to express their knowledge in ways more appropriate to the university and disciplinary culture (rhetorical processes). They will be encouraged to view writing as a process; as a tool for clarifying and extending thought rather than just a product. Through the comments, students will be made more aware of and understand better the criteria which are used to assess their writing.

18 ing using review functions The Chertl guide offers a number of useful general suggestions for this in the guide and offers examples in Appendix 1 of questions that can be used in the body of the text.

19 In an effort to gather evaluation data I will ask students on sending their draft comments whether they find this a useful process and what in particular is useful and if not useful why? In addition I will attempt to track whether the evidence of the changes suggested are evidenced in the final paper.


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