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Valuing the Undervalued How under-represented groups can enrich the higher education curriculum.

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Presentation on theme: "Valuing the Undervalued How under-represented groups can enrich the higher education curriculum."— Presentation transcript:

1 Valuing the Undervalued How under-represented groups can enrich the higher education curriculum

2 We are looking at: What is “acceptable” knowledge within higher education How experiential knowledge and life experience was used to recruit non- traditional entry students and enrich the curriculum (2 case studies) Conclusions

3 Knowledge is power! “social distinctions [are justified] by constituting them as academic distinctions” (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1990) “masculinist values predominantly determine what counts as valid knowledge and acceptable discourse in higher education” (West, 1996)

4 Academic knowledge… Objective valued over experiential and subjective Authority of texts over authority of lived experience Lecturer assumed to be more powerful/knowledgeable than student Certain topics or approaches “inappropriate”

5 Case studies – CulturePoint And in the beginning... Partnership Working Why?

6 CulturePoint 3 Workshops - Participant led - Topic of ‘Ceremony’ - Experiential “It was good to feel part of a group, now I know that I can do things in English”

7 CulturePoint 10 workshops drama, dance, puppetry and creative writing. Core of 5 students plus 7 others attending specific classes Final performance to family and friends

8 CulturePoint “Making new friends, learning new skills and finding out about different cultures” “It is such a fun way to learn English”

9 CulturePoint “Doing this has made me feel real – as a minority in this country it was good to share my culture and feel part of something.”

10 CulturePoint Into the Mainstream?

11 Case studies – Thinking High and Wide A project run by Future Prospects (York’s independent IAG centre) with York St John College and the University of York. Aims to engage hard to reach learners – focussing on people with mental health issues but also people with disabilities, carers, young mothers and people with a history of substance misuse.

12 25 participants attended a 2 day event at the University of York looking at creative writing and local and family history. 11 participants have progressed to further study in local history. Certificate in Citizenship developed to reflect needs of non-traditional learners and relate personal experiences to theoretical models. Thinking High and Wide

13 Themes emerging for discussion….. HEI’s recruiting of non-traditional students Importance of subject, enthusiasm of tutor and institution Influence of key individuals over the institution Thinking High and Wide

14 The importance of valuing and acknowledging the prior experience of non-traditional learners in order to engage them Delivery designed to capture imaginations from the outset Tailoring information to the target audience Thinking High and Wide

15 West (1996) “…personal experience and knowledge count for a lot, but I suppose academic is more powerful…[there are] a lot of bright people in the world that because they just can’t articulate their theories, they are overlooked and feel inferior.” (Student) “Higher education means…leaving the experiential behind…a kind of personal amputation” (West)

16 Bowl (2003) “students’ own life experiences, including those of poverty and racism, were not thought suitable for discussion in the classroom.” “the concerns of students’ own lives, experienced through discrimination, poverty and the responsibilities of parenthood, were excluded from discussion, even when they were highly relevant…” “Once more, the student is silenced, opposition is suppressed…”

17 Conclusions Valuing the knowledge of those whose voices are often silenced can be a profoundly affirming experience, whereas devaluing their knowledge can underline existing inequalities The knowledge and experience of “under- represented” groups can add genuine value to the higher education curriculum There is evidence that a combination of experiential and theoretical learning is the most powerful form of learning

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