We spend a lot of time in school learning things we rarely use in life. And then, a massive chunk of our lives after formal education, gathering practical knowledge to build a good life. The irony of learning in school is that we don’t apply much of what we learn in our lives.
The practical skills to build a great life is learned through experimentation, imitation and deliberate self-learning.
Success is built on permanent skills, but society values hard skills more. Therefore, people are encouraged to learn hard skills to be “successful” in life. Traditional skills (engineering, programming, accounting, expertise, etc.) are easy to measure and job-specific. The problem is, not all skills are permanent. Some skills are valuable for a while, and then they become obsolete as technology evolves and gets better at doing specific tasks.
Many people have lost their jobs because employers found a faster way to save money. If your skills are indispensable, you are among the lucky few who can rely on their skills for as long as possible. Permanent skills have been around for centuries. They help people navigate life and do their jobs effectively.
Successful people learn both hard skills (through formal education) and permanent skills (via self-learning) to become efficient or effective humans. Their permanent skills complement their hard skills. Sheryl Sandberg once said, “Build your skills, not your resume.” A few permanent skills that can help you thrive in the next decade.
Dealing with uncertainties and change — In the wake of the pandemic, your ability to rise above things you cannot control is now more important than ever. How you react when most things are out of your control changes determines your level of stress and anxiety.
“Knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security,” says mathematician John Allen Paulos. Of course, there are no guarantees in life, but knowing what you can and can’t control can help you plan for inevitable change.
When you are worried about the future, focus on the outcomes you can control and be proactive about them. And always remember, don’t believe everything you think, live in the present but be proactive about the future.
The ability to spend and invest time wisely — Time is all we have to do more great work, change, improve, learn or make money. How are you spending your time? If you are bad at using time, you won’t get anywhere in life. Time management skill is what separates successful people from everyone else.
“Time is what we want most, but what we use worst,” is one of my favourite quotes. William Penn said that. It’s a powerful statement that reminds us of the shortness of life. You can achieve almost anything if you learn how to invest, spend or save time.
The willingness to change your mind — If you can’t change your mind, you can’t improve, can’t adapt, and can’t work with people. You are not right all the time. Your reality is only the only truth. So it’s vital to maintain an open mind. “Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” George Bernard Shaw said.
Your perceptions, assumptions, beliefs, and mental models inform your life choices — improving them can help you make better judgements. When the facts change, I change my mind.” John Maynard Keynes said.
The ability to understand emotional language — Humans are social beings. We communicate through language, emotions and body language. If you want to get far, influence people, change minds or make friends, develop a better understanding of your emotions to respond better to how other’s feel.
“In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels.”Daniel Goleman said. Nurture your emotional brain. You can do a lot better in life if you understand the emotions of others deeply.
The art of persuasion is an emotional job. Emotional skills improve our relationship with ourselves, which helps us build healthy relationships with the people we love and those we work with.
The ability to think through problems and situations — The decisions we make (small and big) in life have long-term consequences on ourselves and the people we care about.
Learning to think could mean the difference between good decisions and bad ones. “He who thinks little errs much.” Leonardo Da Vinci said.
In almost every decision-making process, we have multiple options to consider. Knowing the consequences of every course of action, their short-term effects and long-term implications can help you make better judgements.
Permanent skills don’t get old. They won’t become obsolete. You will continue to rely on them over and over again to build a good life. And the good news is, these permanent skills can be learned. “All skills are learnable.” Brian Tracy said. You can improve yourself every day to become a skilful and better human.
Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy.
Evidently, an increase in child deaths is the significant issue as another child death becomes an additional statistic yet, it doesn’t correlate to what effect it has internally on all parties concerned. With the emerging digital age, it is vital that everything online is scrutinized and it is our responsibility as educators to guarantee a child’s safety.
Reducing the number of deaths is the obvious priority but subsequent factors of the online world such as crime, county lines, sexual abuse and grooming all have increased. A survey produced by Children’s Commissioner for Wales Professor Sally Holland stated that:
“four in 10 of the 17-year-olds taking part in her survey said they felt lonely most of the time while 30% of 17 to 18-year-olds said they felt worried most of the time.”
Isolation and loneliness will lead young children to become involved in dangerous predicaments as their intrigue is raised. This is where online safety is paramount as it is an accessible route for criminals to target potential victims to exploit.
“County Lines has contributed to 807% increase in children referred for support by councils in relation to modern slavery.”
With this excessive increase, it demonstrates how important safeguarding is in online education. Gangs will utilise social media as a ploy to flaunt a lavish lifestyle and lure young children into Country lines due to their naivety and inability to comprehend that they are indeed victims.
Not only will children be exploited for financial gain, but online it allows predators to seek out young vulnerable people for their own gratification through grooming. Last year the NSPCC stated the Police recorded:
“over 10,000 online child sex crimes in a year for the first time.”
But not only in the UK is this prevalent, the problem is increasing Internationally. The Times reported that in Thailand during the pandemic:
“Police and child protection organizations say that cases of abuse, including the extracting of pornographic images from children, increased last year by as much as 40 per cent.”
With less school time because of recent lock downs, it has led to less education whilst increasing vulnerability. With schools now reopen it is critical that children are being supervised.
In addition to this, the UK has seen an increase in radicalization. COVID has led to more seclusion resulting in close relatives and friends taking advantage of young children. Sky reported that over the past 2 years there has been:
“more than 1,500 children under the age of 15 [who] were referred to the Prevent counter radicalization programmer.”
Ultimately the diminishment of social interaction due to COVID that young children will have with their peers and teachers leaves them exposed, further highlighting the importance of safeguarding young children online.
Educational barriers need to be broken online
Online education is a valuable asset as it enables learning remotely and breaks down the barriers at home unveiling a glimpse of what may be going on behind close doors.
Unfortunately, not all children can be monitored online due to a number of factors, one including, inadequate resources due to socio-economic backgrounds.
A tragic example of safeguarding importance lies with Chadrack Mbala Mulo, 4. Had there been sufficient communication between his school and home prior to his mother’s death, he may still be alive. He died from starvation as a result of being unable to feed himself due to him being mute and having autism.
His unexplained absences, which were not pursued in thorough depth, ultimately led to his death. Remote online education would have ensured that his scarce logins on education portals would have raised flags and an investigation would have occurred properly.
Sadly, this is just one case of thousands who are at risk in similar situations exemplifying why safeguarding children who are learning online is vital.
Educating children about the dangers online is the key
Our opinion is that educating young children before they can be exposed to the dangers will be the best option to minimize exploitation.
Here at EdClass It is our mission to guarantee that every child home or abroad gets the chance to learn safely with our DBS checked staff ensuring remote learning is completed in a correct and secure manner.
All chats are recorded and sent to their corresponding schools’ server to guarantee safeguarding elements.
Our EdClass Designated Safeguarding Lead Cara Radford said:
“Safeguarding online is massively important especially during COVID when everyone is online. Pre-COVID, a lot of parents were looking into what their children were doing online but now parents are busy balancing working from home and parenting which has meant more opportunity for people that are looking to groom children.
So, educating children into not befriending people they don’t know on forums and not disclosing personal information is really important, more so now than ever.”
Online safety is now part of the wider safeguarding requirement for schools but it is a fast changing and sometimes seemingly inaccessible world for staff. However, all members of the staff team should have at least a basic awareness of online safety so that, should an incident occur, they can respond appropriately and quickly.
This is the first in a free series of videos that will not only help raise awareness in the team but also has a partnering child-friendly version of the principles discussed to extend the training into the classroom. The content is appropriate for everyone from Senior Leadership to new to education staff in any role and can be used to support a combined staff and classroom awareness campaign. In this first episode, we look at some key elements of online safety and some of the safeguarding responsibilities of the team will need to be aware of.
Our team at the Child Protection Company have been creating high quality training solutions since 2008 and every one of our courses draws on the experience of expert safeguarding professionals. Our training courses are developed in house, and are regularly updated to remain in line with the latest government guidance and legislation.
Effective educators have long known that one-size-fits all approaches to teaching and learning are insufficient. Through extraordinary effort, they have figured out ways to differentiate and personalize learning for their students. They have done so despite an industrial-era education paradigm that makes it very difficult to do so. Over time, some of their efforts were named, systematized, and scaled.
Today, building on these approaches, some believe (count us among them) that a shift to an entirely new education paradigm is within reach. Harnessing new technologies, aided by advancements in transportation and communication, and required in order to adequately respond to deep and disruptive social, economic, environmental, and political forces, we envision a fundamental shift in how learners experience their education.
In this piece, we identify some of the most-broadly adopted methods developed by educators to differentiate support, improve learning design, and meet the individual needs of learners. They include Response to Intervention (RTI), Positive-Behavior Intervention Systems (PBIS), Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS). Then, we seek to compare learner-centered education to these approaches, exploring the implications for each. Ultimately, we will make the following arguments:
Learner-centered education is about a paradigm shift, not a specific methodology.
Learner-centered education requires learning design that is flexible and adaptive, similar to or expanding upon the principles of UDL.
Learner-centered education may include specific methodologies for differentiating support (e.g. RtI or PBIS), but it is more likely to extend and/or replace them.
Learner-centered education is additive to and inherently strengthens existing systems-level approaches such as MTSS.
Learner-centered education is fundamentally adaptive and outcomes-focused (rather than technical and process-focused).
All of the approaches we name above recognize the same problem. The current industrial model for teaching and learning was designed based on an assembly line metaphor, expecting students to move through school in the same amount of time with more or less the same amount of support regardless of where they enter, unique challenges they may be facing, or strengths they may bring.
Within this rigid system, educators have sought ways to differentiate support. Over time, some of the techniques educators developed to provide each student the support they need have been built upon to create school and systems-level approaches. Tiered systems of support and intervention such as Response to Intervention (RtI) and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) were developed to introduce achievable levels of differentiated support (e.g. 3 tiers) within the constraints of the industrial paradigm.
Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports is also a three-tier approach and framework but focused on student behavior and social-emotional development. The goal of PBIS is to proactively promote positive behavior. Similar to RtI, PBIS typically scales interventions starting with universal and proactive routines and support provided to the full classroom or school (Tier 1), then targeted behavior support (Tier 2), and lastly individualized, intensive support (Tier 3).
Recent innovations with tiered systems of support by organizations such as Turnaround for Children expand these models to include an understanding of trauma and adversity as well as taking into account how to adjust for hybrid and remote learning options.
These systems were developed based on a recognition that all students are capable of reaching similar outcomes, but require different amounts of time and support to get there. They were helpful steps towards providing each student with different amounts of time, support, and attention based on their needs. They have positively impacted tens of thousands of students in achieving desired standards however this often comes at the cost of removing students from their peers and narrowing the curriculum and will continue in such a manner as long as the traditional paradigm exists.
At the same time that these methodologies proliferated for differentiating and targeting support by pulling students out, complementary methodologies were developed for designing learning in a way that was flexible enough to meet the needs of learners with different motivations, interests, (dis)abilities, and needs. One example is Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is an approach and framework for designing instruction and learning environments that are accessible to all students.
UDL emphasizes providing flexibility in how students access content (e.g., visual, audio, hands-on) engage with it, and demonstrate knowledge or mastery. The goal is to remove barriers to learning. UDL is rooted in the premise that while accommodations and flexibility are necessary to ensure learning accessibility for some individuals, they in fact benefit all individuals (sometimes in unforeseen ways) and therefore should always be in play.
More recently, attempts have been made to create overarching systems that build on and integrate these into an overall coherent framework for systems change. One example that has gained widespread interest and adoption is Multi-Tiered System of Support(MTSS). MTSS is a framework for meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of students. It builds upon and may include data-driven, tiered intervention strategies such as RtI and PBIS as part of the approach.
However whereas RtI primarily focuses on academic learning and PBIS focuses on behavior and social/emotional development, MTSS aims to bring a more comprehensive lens and integrated approach to meeting the needs of learners. Moreover, MTSS is often described as a system-level approach with implications for aligned leadership, resource allocation, professional development and more.
This now brings us to the term that is at the center of our inquiry: learner-centered education. Like MTSS, learner-centered education has been growing in popularity. Learner-centered attempts to define an alternative to the industrial-era education model itself. The graphic below, borrowed from Education Reimagined, makes this clear.
Learner-centered education is about a paradigm shift, not a specific intervention methodology. It pushes education leaders to critically consider the purpose of school and to re-envision how the complete education ecosystem prepares students for the future. Learner-centered education demands that we move away from the traditional industrial model towards a transformative one that designs learning in response to the diverse needs of students.
This future-oriented paradigm requires a new set of student outcomes and aligned success metrics as part of its vision, whereas most of the above can function within the traditional set of outcome metrics. Lastly, learner-centered education goes beyond schools as the unit of change. Instead, it looks at the needs and goals of the individual learner and macroscopically at opportunities for learning within an education ecosystem.
[…] successfully turning around chronically underperforming schools through a variety of evidence-based school improvement supports, training aspiring and current leaders to be strategic and get the right things don […]
EFFECTIVE, ENJOYABLE AND INSPIRING SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT Thinking Classroom is a place of educational excellence, where your skills as a teacher, learner or […] Working with Mike has allowed me to manage my workload and maintain a strategic outlook on school improvement […]
[…] billion for Education for the Disadvantaged: $10 billion for title I formula grants; $3 billion for School Improvement grants. $720 million for School Improvement Programs: $650 million for Enhancing Education through Technology program; $70 million fo […]
[…] work behind the scenes during the transition process, including the immediate impact of BEST’s School Improvement team, and looks ahead to a bright future for the school, which includes exciting expansion an […]
[…] book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, the initiative is an “evidence-based, comprehensive-school improvement model—developed in partnership with educators—that empowers students with the leadership and lif […]
[…] composed of three Leadership Cycles that provide candidates experience in analyzing data to inform school improvement and promote equity, facilitating communities of practice, and supporting teacher growth […]
[…] Breakout Session G: Network for School Improvement: The Meta Network 12-12:45 p.m. | Breakout Session G Network for School Improvement: The Meta Network Katie Bottorff | Coordinator Senior, Access ASU Xavier Acosta | Postsecondar […]
[…] leadership, staff and governors to question their current provision for wellbeing in all areas of school improvement planning, specifically the areas of: Leadership, Learning Environment, Behaviour and Relationships, […]
[…] in an amount not to exceed $8,000,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of a district-wide school improvement project consisting of: capital maintenance, building systems and infrastructure improvements […]
[…] 95 Strategic Planning and Continuous School Improvement: Needs Assessments and SWOT/Resource Analyses This guide discusses tools and processes that hel […] These phases are discussed in our monograph, Strategic planning and continuous school improvement: Needs assessments and SWOT/Resource Analyses […] Writing the School Improvement Plan Phase 3 […]
[…] from psychology, economics, and sociology, Donaldson situates evaluation in the larger context of school improvement and then examines its record for appraising and developing teachers’ practice […]
[…] as well as two years with the San Diego Unified School District in California as Chief Elementary School Improvement Officer and Interim Deputy Superintendent […] Diego Unified School District, California Interim Deputy Superintendent, 2009-2010 Chief Elementary School Improvement Officer, 2008-2009 EDUCATION Southern Illinois University, Carbondale Doctor of Philosophy i […]
In this session, Kim will highlight how school leaders can drive school improvement through effective analysis of assessment and pupil data, ultimately for the benefit of improving outcomes for pupils. Showcasing the helloData analytics software she helped develop, Kim will demonstrate how the right edtech solutions working with your MIS can provide key insights into…
As an educator with 30 years of experience in North Dakota’s public schools, I’ve witnessed students enter my classroom with varying degrees of readiness. In an effort to create more equitable instructional opportunities, I have started to integrate scaffolding into my regular classroom activities.
According to Pauline Gibbons (2015), a scaffold is a temporary support a teacher provides to a student that enables the student to perform a task he or she would not be able to perform alone.
The goal of scaffolding is to provide opportunities for accommodating students’ individual abilities and needs as they learn and grow. It is important to note that scaffolding is fundamental to all effective and equitable teaching, and that the edtech resources many educators currently have access to support the integration of scaffolding into instruction.
Here are four scaffolding techniques I use, and some of the resources that support them
If you want students to internalize new information, you need to expose them to it several times. Robert Marzano found that it was critical for teachers to expose students to the same word multiple times to enhance students’ vocabulary. When exposure is coupled with an explicit comment about the word and its meaning, vocabulary acquisition doubled.
1. One technique I’ve used to design supportive instruction in the areas of vocabulary and reading is practice, repetition, paraphrasing, and modeling. If you want students to internalize new information, you need to expose them to it several times. Robert Marzano found that it was critical for teachers to expose students to the same word multiple times to enhance students’ vocabulary. When exposure is coupled with an explicit comment about the word and its meaning, vocabulary acquisition doubled.1. One technique I’ve used to design supportive instruction in the areas of vocabulary and reading is practice, repetition, paraphrasing, and modeling.
2. Teacher modeling is another great scaffolding technique. Model thought processes (think-alouds) and skills every time you teach new vocabulary or critical thinking. This includes reading aloud to your student picture books and novels (including texts above grade level), so you can model correct pronunciation of new words and reading with prosody.
I like to use Flipgrid when using paraphrasing with teacher modeling. With Flipgrid I can record myself instructing students and giving directions, as well as provide written instructions. Another nice feature of Flipgrid is that I can attach files, upload video from digital platforms, link from Google Classroom, Wakelet and more! Finally, I can group students as needed by topic or readiness and invite co-teachers to my grids and topics.
3. Integrating digital content into lessons is another learning scaffold that I use regularly. I use Discovery Education Experience regularly, and one of the best things about its high-quality digital content is that you know students are accessing safe digital assets that are multi-modal (audio, pod-cast, text, video and more). This provides students multiple ways to experience the content.
Even more exciting than the vast number of assets, is the convenient way they are organized in Channels curated by topic, asset type and more. Frequently-used channels in my planning for students include: English Language Arts, Audiobooks, and SOS Instructional Strategies. To model paraphrasing with students, I love to use the SOS Instructional Strategies Six Word Story and Tweet Tweet. Once we use these together several times, students can be gradually released to use them for repetition and paraphrasing of new learning, vocabulary, and to summarize text.
4. Also, I like to use augmented images and video to further scaffold instruction. One tool you may find helpful to support this is ThingLink. This tool makes it possible for teachers to share content by augmenting images and videos with information and links. ThingLink makes it easy to create audio-visual learning materials that are accessible in an integrated reading tool. All text descriptions in an image or video hotspots can be read in over 60 languages. Finally, it is an easy-to-use platform for students to show their learning and understanding as a creative productivity tool.
With all the diverse learners in our classrooms, there is a strong need for new scaffolding strategies and with the latest edtech resources, it really is easier than ever to do. But most importantly, at the end of a scaffolded lesson, the educator has created a product that promotes educational equity, delivers a higher quality lesson, and built a learning experience much more rewarding for all involved.
Jessie Erickson is the District Assessment Coordinator for Grand Forks Public Schools, and holds a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Specialist Diploma in Educational Leadership. She is the NE Director and President Elect for the North Dakota Association of Technology Leaders, is a Discovery Education DEN Ambassador, a member of the DEN Leadership Council. She is certified educator, trainer, or ambassador for several edtech platforms including Flipgrid and a Breakout EDU.
Early Childhood Development Technical Advisor INECDhttp://www.aplitrak.com – Today[…] Qualifications A Master’s degree or higher in Early Childhood Development, Social Sciences, Education or in a closely related field is required; At least seven years of experience designing […] in over 100 countries to help children affected by crises, or those that need better healthcare, education and child protection […] dies from preventable causes before their 5th birthday All children learn from a quality basic education and that, Violence against children is no longer tolerated We know that great people make a great […]0
LIFE SCHOOL KASHMIR | LIFE SCHOOL CAREER OPPORTUNITY – Jehlum – The Info Avenue jehlum.in – TodayCategory:Private Industry: Education Location: Srinagar CAREER OPPORTUNITY LIFE SCHOOL KASHMIR | If you have the required skills […] the required skills, passion &creative approach for teaching then join us on our odyasey of quality education, we invite application in the following discipline […]0
THEMATIC CHAMPIONShttp://www.un.org – Today[…] including gender equality, job creation, youth empowerment, agriculture and food systems, health, education, water, and sustainable production and consumption, through coordinated multi-sectora […]N/A
Lead Infrastructure Architect, Atlanta, Georgia, United States – jobs.telcoprofessionals.com – Today[…] Qualifications: Required Knowledge, Experience and Education: * Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science degree or related field or equivalent combination o […] degree or related field or equivalent combination of industry related professional experience and education * 7+ years of working experience in full development life cycle and significant experience i […]N/A
#WomenEd: Females in February Webinar Series Tickets, Multiple Dateshttp://www.eventbrite.co.uk – Today[…] – Corporate Communications specialist and charity worker Biographies: With 20 yrs+ experience in education, Melissa Bautista-Turner is an advocate for international-mindedness […] Choral Academy & helped bring Kodály Teachers’ Training to Malaysia to improve standards of music education. She is Vice-President for the International Kodály Society & Malaysian Assoc for Music Education After an international career with Shell & other global organisations, Adaobi K […]11
Instructional Coaching Programme nationaleducation.college – Today[…] discussion Coaching and mentoring observation The course outline The National College of Education has teamed up with Basic Coaching and Teaching Walkthrus to bring you the very best o […] the learner “Fascinating and really interesting, mainly because it has not been specifically about education, but generally about leadership” Susie Bates Nottingham Girls Academy Start your journey We are now […]N/A
Coronavirus: Why reopening schools has to be sustainablehttp://www.tes.com – TodayWhen it comes to making education policy at the moment, the government must wrestle with two important but contradictory realities […] Secondly, restricted access to school is having a negative effect on pupils’ wellbeing and education, because home learning is no substitute for face-to-face teaching […] is that the government has not shown the ability to block out the political noise when it comes to education, responding to loud voices instead of making sensible policy […] And therefore disruption to education continues, whether the school gates are open to all or not […]0
Masonry Sales Representative – Greenville, NC jobs.crh.com – Today[…] basis as needed Requirements Bachelor’s Degree or equivalent work experience, training and education Three + years of experience managing a multi-million-dollar territory in outside sales capacit […]
At Newcastle this year, we’ve been beyond fortunate to have an incredible Student Union exec, a team of formidable and inspiring Sabs who have not only worked their hardest to support their fellow students through what they couldn’t have known would be one of the hardest academic years ever due to the pandemic, but who have also somewhere found the reserves of energy to engage with another critical and timely issue, decolonizing the curriculum. Their Decolonise NCL campaign has to date included a series of online events attracting a seriously impressive array of speakers, as well as pulling together resources and pushing the University to pledge a commitment to decolonisation and anti-racist work at all levels. It’s simply awe-inspiring.
Their work has got me thinking about the place of decolonisation in what’s commonly called ‘study skills’, and how it impacts on the role of Learning Developers. I wrote a while ago about coming to understand the related and tricky value of emancipatory practice, a related concept, which I feel is the defining Learning Development value, but even at the time felt I was only just beginning to get a handle on it. Since then, my Leeds colleague Sunny Dhillon has written eloquently both about his ambivalent feelings about emancipation in LD as well as questioning whether universities can feasibly decolonise themselves. Working on projects around student induction this year, at the time of the Black Lives Matter protests, I’ve also examined ways in which an uncritical approach to inducting students to our academic community could be oppressive. The Student Union campaign has prompted me to further this thinking and tie these disparate threads together in the context of my own profession.
To this end, I offered to contribute a session to their programme of Decol NCL events, NOT because I have any expertise in this area, but because I wanted to pick up the challenge they had thrown down and explore how this ‘well-meaning middle class white woman’ might begin doing her own anti-racist work within her professional context. I’ve since taken this discussion to a meeting of my own profession of Learning Developers in Scotland (ScotHELD). This post draws together some of the questions and avenues I explored in those sessions. Our NUSU sabs talk about brave spaces as well as safe spaces, about the need to let people take risks to step outside their comfort zone, and I’d like to take that idea up and step out.
“…universities remain white middle-class spaces. They require students to adopt particular ways of being and doing – those which conform to middle-class practices that define success in higher education – ways of writing, speaking and the use of academic language. Universities measure a particular type of success that is possessed by those from white middle-class backgrounds.”
As I’ve written before, my role is often understood as teaching students to write ‘properly’. Implicitly, that means as white, middle class and male. I’d extend this understanding of ‘academic literacy’ also beyond just academic writing to other practices covered by a Learning Developer, from seminar participation to independent study, reading to critical thinking, time management to revision, which are equally situated in socio-cultural expectations of what it means to be a “good” student – the default norm being a white, middle class, male student with all the resources, privilege, cultural capital and opportunities they possess.
“Academic practices are usually presented as neutral, decontextualised sets of technical skills and literacy that students from socially disadvantaged backgrounds are seen to lack”
These practices are not neutral, and those of us who teach them must interrogate what it is that we are doing, and whether it is reinforcing a colonial, oppressive education system rooted in white, middle class, western norms of how we should think, act and communicate at university, thereby positioning Black, Asian, working class etc students in terms of deficits to be remediated. While it may be true as Bourdieu says that ‘academic English is […] no one’s mother tongue’, it’s a language closely related to my own RP middle class English, and one I can learn with greater ease and inhabit more comfortably without challenge to my identity and sense of belonging.
“Through taken- for-granted academic practices, constructions of difference are formed, often in problematic ways. The tendency is to project a pathologist gaze on racialist bodies that have historically been constructed as a problem, and as suffering from a range of deficit disorders (e.g. lack of aspiration, lack of motivation, lack of confidence and so on’)”
What I’ve learned from the speakers at NUSU’s events so far: Decolonisation is not synonymous with other concepts such as diversity, inclusion, equality or widening participation, laudable as those initiatives may be. They imply an extension of the status quo, an affirmation of it, additive rather than transformational. Decolonisation, while related to these concepts, demands a fundamental change, a dismantling, decentring, disruption, a relinquishing, restitution, restoration. It has a revolutionary quality. “Decolonisation”, we are told, “is not a metaphor” (Tuck and Yang, 2012). Moreover, decolonisation cannot be achieved simply through inclusion or widening participation measures, as the structures and processes of an oppressive system are ill suited to fundamentally dismantling its underlying issues: “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” (Lorde, 18984). To decolonise the HE curriculum means
an underlying transformation from a culture of denial and exclusion to a consideration of different traditions of knowledge. To diversify our curriculum is to challenge power relations and call for deeper thinking about the content of our courses and how we teach them.
How does this relate to Learning Development? Well, by extension, to decolonise the curriculum means not only what we teach and how, but also how we expect students to learn. Lea and Street’s tripartite framework of approaches to the teaching of academic writing offers us a lens to examine our practice. The second level, the academic socialisation model, maps onto ideas of inclusion and widening participation: “ [it] is concerned with students’ acculturation into disciplinary and subject-based discourses and genres. Students acquire the ways of talking, writing, thinking, and using literacy that typified members of a disciplinary or subject area community” (Lea and Street, 2006). These ways also typify the ideal or assumed white, middle class, male member of that community, for whom that system was created and in whose interests it operates. This is Academic Literacy as The Thing That We LDers Teach to students.
A Learning Developer whose primary guiding model is an academic socialisation approach is upholding this status quo. No matter how welcoming the gatekeeper, no matter how wide we throw open those doors and how helpful we are in orientating those we admit within the walls, we are still insisting that students enter on the terms of a white, middle class academy. We are also closing our ears to our students’ experiences; what is just a surface feature and linguistic or practice quirk to us is a troubling challenge to their identity or weighty burden to enact, for some students.
Colonialism assimilates or destroys; this is Learning Development as colonial assimilation. Become like us, or fail. We don’t want the bits of you that don’t conform. But not only does a predominantly academic socialisation approach assume that “once students have learned and understood the ground rules of a particular academic discourse, they are able to reproduce it unproblematically”, it also assumes that those ground rules are unproblematic.
‘Inclusion tends to be more about fitting into the dominant culture than about interrogating that culture for the ways that it is complicit in the social and cultural reproduction of exclusion, misrecognition and inequality.’
The third model identified by Lea and Street maps more closely onto the decolonisation agenda. It not only notes that academic writing is not homogeneous but a multiplicity of practices or meanings, but also acknowledges that these meanings are bound up with epistemology and identity, that they consist of socio-cultural practices situated within hierarchies of power and authority and are therefore contested on unequal terms. I’d like to raise an observation I’ve frequently made when listening to or reading accounts of Academic Literacies as a model, both in Learning Development and EAP. Very often, these accounts focus on one implication of Academic Literacies, that academic writing is not generic or monolithic and therefore our work needs to differentiate multiple discipline-specific discourses and tailor provision, at the expense of the other: that these discourses are situated in hierarchies of power and authority. That critical, radical observation is right there in the model, and yet is frequently downplayed or overlooked.
Similarly, it positions study skills not as surface tools to be adopted at will, but fundamentally entwined with identity, and therefore belonging. Education is supposed to change you, but not to the extent that you can only learn if you become someone else entirely, or fragment your identity, your self. And if Learning Development’s defining value is its emancipatory practice, then it is these more critical implications that we need to foreground, or what we have is a tailored academic socialisation model (Ivanic’s 2004 four tier model acknowledges this better perhaps than Lea and Street’s, separating out writing as a contextualised event from writing as a sociocultural and political practice).
The principal function of student writing is increasingly that of gatekeeping.
Due to the nature of our work, Learning Developers have a special relevance to the project of decolonisation in Higher Education. Decolonisation is often spoken of in terms of adding a more diverse range of authors to a reading list, or including broader topics in a module, mostly applying to Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Put a few Black authors on the English Literature curriculum, hire a couple of BAME lecturers and be done with it. But decolonisation applies to the whole system of how we teach, the way we expect students to learn, and how we recognise and assess that learning, a system which, if it’s not designed for you, makes everything harder, if it doesn’t exclude you outright. It forces you to learn on someone else’s terms, and ‘Study Skills’, the core remit of Learning Development, cross-cuts and underpins all aspects of the curriculum at every level, in every discipline.
It’s our role to not only to help students better understand their curriculum, institution and discipline better, but also to negotiate it successfully. Negotiate – it’s a wonderful word in this context, meaning both to find your way through obstacles, but also to bring about a desired outcome through discussion between parties. Negotiation demands dialogue and change on both sides to progress. I’m not sure decolonisation is something Learning Developers can really choose to disengage from or remain neutral on.
Schedule – Long Term Care 2021 communities.americanhealthlaw.org – Today[…] Katz The COVID-19 pandemic has presented an ever-changing set of guidance Unpack the timeline of the pandemic, including varying access to resources, differences between state and federal regulations, an […] The Reckoning: Long Term Care Facility Compliance and Enforcement Post-Pandemic (SNF) Randall R. Fearnow Brian A. Smith The pandemic was devastating for many long-term care facilities Systems designed to protect fragile population […]N/A
Post-Covid Workforce Transformationhttp://www.pwc.com – Today[…] First, reinvent the workplace to address the new realities created (or exacerbated) by the global pandemic […] This was already happening on a smaller scale before the pandemic as non-hub cities sought to lure digital nomads […] must start anticipating changes to come as the world continues the shift, already begun before the pandemic, toward a more empathetic version of stakeholder capitalism […]N/A
Blatter spent a week in induced coma businessmirror.com.ph – Today[…] to open July 23, the Tokyo Games were postponed 10 months ago at the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic, and now the event appears threatened again […] said the youth in his hometown of Sariaya should not give up on their dreams despite the Covid-19 pandemic as he is confident the presence of San Miguel Corp […]0