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“Community psychology is for poor, black people”: pedagogy and community psychology teaching in South Africa Ronelle Carolissen, Poul Rohleder, Leslie.

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Presentation on theme: "“Community psychology is for poor, black people”: pedagogy and community psychology teaching in South Africa Ronelle Carolissen, Poul Rohleder, Leslie."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Community psychology is for poor, black people”: pedagogy and community psychology teaching in South Africa Ronelle Carolissen, Poul Rohleder, Leslie Swartz Department of Psychology, Stellenbosch University Brenda Leibowitz, Centre for Teaching and Learning, Stellenbosch University Vivienne Bozalek Department of Social Work, University of the Western Cape

2 Focus of the paper: 1. To examine problems inherent in community psychology teaching and how the human capabilities approach can provide conceptual/theoretical direction for facilitating transformative pedagogy in community psychology teaching 2. To illustrate a teaching and research project that incorporates the human capabilities approach

3 Brief mapping of presentation  Community psychology teaching  Pedagogy  Human capabilities approach  Community, self and identity Project (CSI)  Implications of CSI project for community psychology  Conclusion

4 Graphic representation of focus of paper Community Psychology teaching Pedagogy (Human capabilities approach) Community, self and identity project implications

5 Community psychology in South Africa  1980’s as a response to produce contextually relevant psychology on a academic, political and theoretical levels  Major critique of psychology: catered largely to the needs of white middle class individuals; focusing on intra psychic causes of problems and not placing an equal focus on structural problems  The unleashing of a “turn to community” among progressive psychologists, focusing on marginalised, poor black individuals  Gave rise to the birth of multiple stereotypes about community psychology which were unwittingly enacted through teaching practices e.g

6  Black people are involved in community psychology: black academic staff teach community psychology, service providers are black psychologists, clients are black and poor  Community psychology is not real psychology but in fact is like social work, which occupies a lower rung on the hierarchy of human service delivery  Impact on our teaching of community psychology: have to challenge these stereotypes to make any inroads into student and practitioners’ thinking about community psychology.

7 Problems in community psychology teaching  Term “community” carries connotations of social disadvantage; teaching practices tend to reinforce marginalisation  Teaching “process” has been lauded as important, seldom implemented –focus remains on content  Paucity of research on community psychology teaching  Curriculum, teaching practice and pedagogy are silences central to community psychology

8  No coherent pedagogical approach: use of terms such as group based, experiential learning (fall broadly under service learning as an approach)  Service learning and its implications for working with difference—are we merely reinforcing stereotypes?  Pedagogy is confused with didactics (methods employed to teach)  Cannot realise the goals of process teaching: ie. Developing values of social justice among students and commitment to civic responsibility if there is no coherent pedagogy

9 What do we understand by term “pedagogy”  Not only about method of teaching and learning only. It needs to include understandings of broader individual and social processes.  Pedagogy also relates to the purpose of learning and teaching and can be conceptualised as

10  Method of teaching in its widest sense, that is, it extends beyond only the role of the lecturer or teacher. It involves not only who teaches, but also who is taught (and of course is interwoven with what is taught – the curriculum), and the contextual conditions under which such teaching and learning takes place. Moreover, pedagogic action involves a relationship of power in the transfer of knowledge (Walker, 2006, p.11-12)

11 Human capabilities approach  Sen (1995, 2001) and Nussbaum (2006) Considers students’ position in society-does not assume that all students enter the educational experience with same resources Core concern: how do we foster capabilities so that all students can flourish- so that education can be a more fair process? allows teachers to incorporate social inequalities inherent in the learning process into the curriculum and in so doing aims to create a more equal (socially just) educational experience for all students.

12 Nussbaum’s 10 capabilities  life, bodily integrity, sense, imagination and thought, emotions, practical reason, affiliation, other species, play and control over one’s environment.  Practical reason refers to the ability to critically reflect in planning one’s life  Affiliation refers to the ability to engage in interpersonal interactions by showing both individual and social concern  > empathy, focus on social justice

13  Values of social justice central to community psychology and human capabilities approach  Therefore human capabilities approach might be valuable as a transformative pedagogy for community psychology  Walker (2003) has discussed the implication of human capabilities approach for pedagogy  Creates transformative spaces in higher education through critical dialogue : idea of knowledge communities

14  Recognition from others: important in gaining self-respect and confidence  In our current educational context, we seldom engage with difference, yet we live alongside it. Allows students and practitioners to marginalise areas such as community psychology

15 Community, self and identity project: Our students UWC fourth year social work students – mainly female, all black, many from poor backgrounds, all with experience in community work poor backgrounds, all with experience in community work Stellenbosch fourth year psychology students, mainly female, mostly white (no African students), most with mainly female, mostly white (no African students), most with little practical community experience

16 Our students ItemU. StellenboschU. WCape No. of students4550 AgeRange21-52 yrs21-48 yrs Mean24.1yrs27.4 yrs Median22 yrs25 yrs GenderF3844 M76 RaceAfricanNone19 Coloured1231 White33None LanguageAfricanNone17 Afrikaans2422 English1711 Dutch4None

17 What we did Two face-to face day workshops anchored the course (one at the beginning; one at end) In between: facilitated online workgroups – specifically allocated discussion topics (equal numbers of students from UWC and US in each group) explored issues of identity, difference, professionalism

18 First workshop Participatory action learning approach facilitated by Linda Biersteker (ELRU) at UWC. Exercises: Draw own community River of life Myself as future professional

19 Final workshop at Stellenbosch Student presentations and feedback Guest speaker: Ariella Friedman Remix Dance Company (disability and identity)

20 Student quotes  Affiliation Through all of this, my identity finally touched base. Honestly speaking, I was going through a bit of an identity crisis. Because I am ‘coloured’ I always felt that we did not have a set culture, I found myself sometimes adapting to things I did not want to do, just so that I could fit in. From this collaboration I gained new perspective on things just because my opinion in the group was valued equally. This collaboration provided the opportunity to combat the negative internalisations that existed in me due to what was installed in me. My position in the community and my identity within in any community has thus become areas of which I am proud and has contributed to my ‘self’ as a whole (US student, coloured female)

21  Practical reason (ability to engage reflexively with others, recognition of others acknowledgement of difference) This interaction gave me totally different perspectives of students of other tertiary institutions as I had my own pre- conceived ideas about them. I especially thought that Stellenbosch's people would be snobistic (sic), but was however pleasantly surprised that this was not the case (UWC, coloured female) For me I thought that psychology is better that social work as many people sees (sic) it as that and social work is not taken seriously. The preparations of the group project helped me to understand that and now I am more proud about my professional thanks to the group presentation (UWC student, black african female)

22 Yet another student is able to reflect on an unintentional mistake as reinforcing power differences among professions. One of the group’s printed slides only had ‘Psychology’ printed at the top, thus seemingly excluding social work from their project. A lot of the social workers were very upset about this and felt that it was derogatory and disrespectful to them. I thought that this event was quite interesting. The social work students and psychology students have been working together for about two months. A great deal of the work covered made us realize communalities and how our profession actually try to achieve the same goals to the point that in our groups our visions of community overshadowed social class, race or profession. I was thus quite saddened by this albeit insensitive mistake’s impact and how it succeeded in immediately separating ‘us’ into ‘us’ and ‘them’. I think that above all this highlights how deeply social categorization and assumed views are embedded in individuals. It is idealistic to try to entirely change a community’s or an individual’s deepest beliefs (US student, white female)

23 Implications of the CSI project and pedagogy for communtiy psychology  Didactics vs pedagogy Positioning pedagogy in community psychology as method or didactics only, is what has been limiting. It is important to distinguish between didactics and the broader notion of pedagogy which questions not only how we teach but why and what we teach in community psychology.  Incorporating subjugated knowledges into formal teaching and learning The partial incorporation of knowledge into formal higher education, often based on the knowledge of the socially powerful in society, can lead to a partial view being created and entrenched and consequently resulting in stereotyping of knowledge. This appears to have happened in community psychology when community psychology is stereotyped as a black and working class psychology.  Inter-disciplinary collaboration and community psychology Volume 38 (1/2) of the American Journal of Community Psychology of 2006 has been devoted entirely to examining inter-disciplinary, collaborative research and action. The importance of inter-disciplinary work for community psychology is clearly illustrated in our project.

24  Synergising teaching, research and community

25 Conclusion critical pedagogies such as the human capabilities approach are capable of positioning the teaching process as a transformative activity. Given the racialisation and devaluing of community psychology in South Africa, we particularly need to incorporate critical pedagogies in our vision for community Given the racialisation and devaluing of community psychology in South Africa, we particularly need to incorporate critical pedagogies in our vision for community psychology teaching to challenge the very stereotyping that we are in danger of perpetuating via our teaching practice.psychology teaching to challenge the very stereotyping that we are in danger of perpetuating via our teaching practice.


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