Jon Nixon and The role of the university to bring people together

I recently came across this video an interview recently with John Nixon that sums up my reading from an the earlier reading task: Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education. It also relates to many of the discussions I have had on this PgCert regarding the role of universities and the philosophies that surround it.

Nixon believes that all the problem we face can only be truly be addressed by global learning and discussion. In this interview goes on to answer the question: How can space be created for global learning and discussion within an institutional space.

Therefore, Nixon states: The University must see itself as an institutional space i.e. a space where people come together and dissociate. When people come to give an associate, they do so with a particular purpose.

Within the University role of people come together to associate is to learn together so it so civil society is going to privilege and price and protect and sustain working together and learning together they have to protect and sustain the universities.

Interview im Anschluss an den Vortrag “Universities as Deliberative Spaces: Learning to Reason Together” am 11.11.2011 am Center for Teaching and Learning / CTL, Universität Wien.

A Manifesto for Performative Research

Elective reading task is an exercise of collaborating with peers on our course to engage with a reading suggested by my peer on the teaching and learning cohort group. Bernd Behr shared a reading from his elective practice as research unit.

A Manifesto for Performative Research
Brad Haseman

Having read through the article a couple of times I found it to be  engaging to enable me to gain insight towards my own art and teaching practice. Reading this paper also presented a concept towards improving learning and teaching for attainment and formulated further ideas towards my self-initiated project.

The performative research model can be seen as more engaging and focused specifically on that area of creative arts subject. Practice led research is implied by Haseman as necessary precondition of engagement in performative research. This I understand as what is necessary within practice led research is time to review reflect and experiment within your own practice. . It’s alignment with qualitative research underpins the embracing of the perspective of researcher and its participants. It can apply a range of sources and approaches that assigns communication and human interaction. The question is that how well it will be supported by some specific subject areas? Continue reading “A Manifesto for Performative Research”

The Marking Matrix

Work in progress

This cohort group  exercise was  to get to grips with assessment and review how the language format within the assessment criteria is structured.

It is important to mention at hi point that this exercise came at the end of  session of looking at dispositions and qualities referencing Ron Barnettes paper of such title and within the context of UALs Creative Attributes Framework. I consider to be an important link towards the current statements in the marking matrix and the assessment and attainment of students

Working in a group of five we looked at the current assessment matrix and discussed how the wording of the band descriptors can be improved. Some we found to be rather dated and not coherent. We were given the task of analysing the band descriptors to state what we thought may be wrong with it in its current form.

What is wrong with these band descriptors? Try to list as many flaws as you can (I’ve started you off):

  1. The difference between the descriptors for D/C, B and A is not always obvious
  2. Some aspects of the standard descriptors won’t apply to all assessed tasks
  3. The descriptors for the F and E grades are… rather unkind
  4. There are areas open for interpretation as well as manipulation of the grade boundaries.
  5. Some of the descriptors a rather vague and require more defined clarification
  6. There is no following order scaffolded descriptors therefore there is a gap between the banding an the matrix itself is inconsistent.   

We discussed the above areas of the descriptors.  Manipulation especially where there is no anonymous (blind) marking. We considered how these descriptors effected students.

Is there anything good about the band descriptors that you would like to retain?

Now, use the blank matrix on the next page to write your own band descriptors to peer and self-assess your participation in a group discussion task. The discussion task corresponds with the first and third unit learning outcomes, and we’ll drop the Subject Knowledge aspect of LO1, as discussions don’t work so well when everyone is trying to show how much they know. That leaves us with three criteria to assess against:

LO1 = Analysis

LO3 = Communication & Presentation, Collaborative and/or Independent Professional Working



Aldous Huxley: The student experience #1


I believe that a student’s experience is important for their holistic sense of well-being attainment and progression. A sense of place, value is important. Ian experience that can challenge strengthen and broaden the mind. These would be set or series of events activities and engagements with others. In less vague and basic terms, I consider a student experience of trying things new, forming and developing good relationships with a wide range of people from peers, tutors and staff that form the community of the university environment to outside agencies and networks. New collaboration and new discoveries are important. A sense of value for a student is important. For a sense of self within their identity and personal investment towards their future.  Experience good or bad is character building. In terms of education the bad should be the mistakes that we make through the learning process of trial and error rather than a negative experience of an injustice or inequality that results in negative impact on a student experience.  ‘The  room of silence’ is an example of lack of inclusive intellect I had commented on in a previous blog. There are many great people who have taken their experience to make a change, share and inspire others.

Aldous Huxley (1932) said that experience is what you do with what happens to you. Do you agree? What does this mean for the student experience? You might want to think about the following, either from your perspective or your students’:

  1. What role does our personal history play in our experience of learning?
    Each person’s personal history is different obviously. Some maybe from a position of privilege, power or poverty. It all depends on the encounters we have with others and personal viewpoints of what we have been shown, influenced by, taught and drawn upon our own conclusions. History of our own upbringing, cultural and political has an impact on our experience and informs how we learn. Previous educational experiences in the primary and secondary school classroom had determined my outlook of where I had wanted go.  Our own educational and work experiences allows provides both armoury and tools for learning. being reflective we can assess look at how we learn and also be aware of and consider that we all learn in different ways.
  2. What do we do with what we learn?
    Hopefully what we learn to good use; to improve our lives an those of others. Naturally I believe peoples dialogic nature to share what they learn with others either in conversation or premeditated teaching. As an artist and educator my role is to share or put what I have learnt into positive action. Sharing skills of what and techniques of my practice and information of things that I have learned and experienced along the way.
  3. What are the risks in encountering new ways of thinking, being and making?
    The risks are is the new way of thinking being the right approach. Who’s new ways of thinking would we be adopting? The question to ask here is that could a new way of thinking do any potential harm or damage? Could it therefore marginalise or exclude others  Then, there is a new way of thinking to prevent such harm. New ways of thinking in education can be adopted for improvements and some would argue for social conditioning. The timeline of learning theories video  of educational practices examples many theories that I have recognise on the political merry go round

    of education reforms and restructure.Philosophical methods of teaching employed into revised new ideals from Socratic seminars (something I do like to use), blooms taxonomy to Social Economical Aspects of learning. The politics surrounding new ideas then can be harmful if not dealt with properly thinking of my reading of Nixon referring to………
    Reading bell hooks, Freire and Vygotsky as well as reference the likes of Ken Robinson informs ideas towards new practices. Encountering new ways of thinking is however necessary in order to keep up with an ever-changing merging world of ideas. Technology lends heavily to how we approach new ways of thinking alongside inclusive practice for learning and teaching.
  4. How does learning change the way we experience ourselves?
    I find I am learning when I start to question more. So how we experience ourselves can depend on how we deal with things that we not only didn’t know but challenged by the things that we thought we knew. Learning through the action of experience is what can bind our knowledge. Students are to be encouraged to question,  research and not to simply believe what is told.

The classroom: a problem or a mystery? #2

I have read through this text a few times and had discussed at length with colleagues and peers on the PgCert course varying subjects this paper raise. I had attended the reading skilfully workshop where in our groups discussed our own teaching practice relating to Munday’s to the subject of whether the classroom is a space for mystery or problem solving.

In my peer-to-peer discussion with Jehni Arboine we agreed that the text has some interesting elements but rather jumped around a bit in different sections. It seemed to become a mystery to actually break down what Ian Munday was suggesting.  Munday starts with the political aspects to discuss Michael Gove and trainee teachers which had initially drawn my attention to how a politicians ideal and vision affects the dilemmas of what happens in the classroom in this section relating to financial cuts in funding and comparing the classroom to hospital wards where both teaching and nursing falls in line with the public sector for the public good.

He then jumps to discuss researchers and then he goes on to the philosophy of existentialists Gabriel Marcel, .In the section header Endgame’ Munday uses the Samuel Beckett play to example the phenomenology of having. Munday then provides in ‘Two ordinary examples’ distinctions between treating things in terms of problems and mysteries by using the example of two guitarists in relation to ‘being’ naturally gifted and talented and ‘having’ to work hard at a talent and his own personal example of being a restaurant dishwasher. In ‘Mysteries of the classroom, Mundays account because more clear based on his ideals of mysteries and problems in the classroom.

Jehni and I in our review of the article appreciated that there was a lot to taken from it. I have been discussing this paper at length with peers on my course. On both occasions it concludes that this paper raises lots of questions and in itself poses itself as a mystery.

I relate to the viewpoint that the classroom can be a place of not just to solve problems that one of exploration. It is a place where students and teachers can come together and share ideas. The classroom can conjure up many aspects that can be a mystery and therefore puzzling. But I found parts of the text quite contradictory because some areas are highlighted at the beginning which can be construed as problems. But then that could be me not taking on board the Munday’s explanation of Marcel ‘there is always a danger that we will pervert mysteries by turning them into problems.’

I go back to my earlier thoughts in February from the reading skilfully workshop to go back to the quote Munday used in the article taken from Practitioner Research and Professional Development in Education:

Let us assume that you have identified some aspect of your professional practice in your classroom that is puzzling you. You may have noticed that one particular technique you use to encourage effective learning does not appear to be working as well as it used to, or that another is working very effectively.

Is this puzzling effect a mystery or foundations of a problem? The quote reads on to suggest teachers as researchers:

You may have seen something in the news or read something in the educational press that reminded you of your classroom or at least caused you to wonder how it might apply to your own professional situation. At this point you have taken the first step as a researcher in that you have identified an educational issue that might need resolving. We could generalise by saying that much educational research focuses on interesting puzzles that have been identified by practitioners.
(Campbell et al, 2004, p. 1)

I identify this in my own practice where I take aspects of my own interests or discovery to apply it to my own professional situation. Therefore, I see myself as a phenomenologist where I share experiences and ideas with colleagues and students. This then allow for the classroom to be one of embraced mysteries and discovery and not as a space for problem solving.

My educational research in this context would be for developing learning and enhancing teaching practice beneficial to the students that arise from interesting puzzles. This I recognise as action research projects formulated by an enquiry, puzzle or problem. An example of this would be to address areas in the attainment gap to overcome the mystery of why since my study as a BA honours student 20 years ago it is the attainment gap between Black Asian Minority Ethnic students and their white counterparts has yet to be significantly narrowed to the point of nonexistence.

I use the phenomenological approach of having in this context regarding to having learning and teaching engagement with the students and each other. Also the students having knowledge the possession of skills, talent and  ability. I say this because the positivist approach can be the simple scientific of something being either true, false or meaningless leaving little room for expanding on experiences. Phenomenology in this case has the empathy that being a positivist lacks.

Munday attempts to piece and link pieces together at the beginning and at the end throughout the text. An example of this is Munday’s discussion in the first paragraph of the text where he mentions trainee teachers should be thought of as apprentices learning the tricks of the trade whilst on the job. The implication is that trainee teacher would have to negotiate the mysteries of being in the classroom where the configurations of the classroom are changed by the presence of the students. This statement I connect further in the reading with Mundays section on the mysteries of the classroom. He defined these mysteries within six areas where a trainee teacher will be presented as techniques I suggest solutions to alleviate potential problems. These were:

  1. Plan everything in the finest detail
  2. Create seating plans students
  3. Clear learning objectives and outcomes
  4. Differentiate materials to accommodate particular needs
  5. Give the students rewards (if there were any) six
  6. Produce classroom contracts that students could sign in the first lesson

Some of these are recognised as non-negotiables required for quality classroom teaching. Munday’s view of the classroom referring to the phenomenology of having posed by Marcel raised a concern for me. Is Munday concerned about his power and privilege in the classroom setting? Is classroom management one of the problem to contain the students and their behaviours? I sense from reading this section that Munday’s view of the classroom seem to be one of problems. Are these nonnegotiable’s to be considered solutions to address any potential problems of classroom management therefore there is used to exercise power of control over the students? The seating plan for example could be a divisive method to separate students and potentially isolate them. This may seem sinister governed by the layout of the chairs and tables in the seating plan can be set in rows consider to be old-fashioned and quite Draconian. However, I have used seating plans (sometimes in conjunction with data) to enable students to share their skills discussion and learn more from each.

A teacher finding their bearing in a new classroom can be perceived as a mystery or rather more anticipation of what to expect. Munday places these techniques with the philosophy of Gabriel Marcel and his account of phenomenology of having. He goes on to mention it is as though the classroom presents itself as a something that I must struggle to contain. That struggle can only cause a problem rather than be a mystery. He quotes what I have can always be taken away, my control being less obvious case in point. The state of having control or being in control to try and instil a permanency regards to order. I found as part of the text and unsettling. It is the indication from this text that the problems can be caused by unruly students? Being in a challenging environment? I have experience in teaching such environments. I would not address the students as a problem. The problem or ‘struggle’ may be to devise ways of planning and delivering a lesson that engages all students. In a classroom that is diverse in cultures and abilities from various backgrounds and cultural differences. The position of the classroom is to embrace the mysteries whilst the students and teacher together learning and discovery can happen.

General Observation on Lesson Observations

Observations can be a nerve wracking thing particularly when it is assigned or linked to the agenda of Ofsted, a judgement of teacher planning and delivery when attached to performance related pay. Observations conducted fairly can be a good and supportive way of ensuring standards are met. To identify areas of good practice that can be shared and to support in areas that may require further development or intervention. This is good in any means for reflective teaching and to improve ways to become more effective in terms of knowledge use and resources for teaching and learning particularly in Art and Design sector. This is important for good delivery and ongoing development for the teacher that may also be practitioner within the field of the subject taught. Keeping the teacher up to date and abreast with their practice.

My experience of lesson observations in the past have often been formal and in many cases either attached to an inspection such as an Ofsted or related to performance and targets. Schools and Further education colleges require that you teach a lesson as part of the interview process. HE doesn’t have that regulation. One could argue that results from NSS reports are the closest in terms to student experience in the classroom. Therefore, observations in HE is not so stringent, however the principles of ensuring good practice remains the same. Continue reading “General Observation on Lesson Observations”

Reflecting on my observation

Design and plan
I had planned a lesson using to deliver to 1st year BA Theatre design students. I had a peer observation. I had referred to the course handbook and a unit brief that the students were working on. This was the first day of a part of a two-day intervention for inclusive learning and teaching workshop. It fell in line with the curriculum to prepare the students been able to confidently plan and use their voice in preparation for their presentations of the theatre model sets.

This was helpful for me to consider the intended learning outcome what I wanted to students to gain and understand. I had designed a lesson to could consider critical thinking and awareness of marginalised groups. As emerging practitioners within theatre design, I want students to be aware of the world around them and to identify who are the marginalised the groups. Therefore, bring their interpretations of marginalisation within the context of theatre. I also design my lesson to include an artefact cast of ceramic lips as a starting point and referencing tool towards the theme and aims and objectives for the session. To do this I wanted the students to start by looking at themselves and their peers by producing and observational drawing of their lips. This was a warm up with regarding to using their voice which the lips represented symbolically however this enable students to in pairs discuss aspects of their identity with each other where each student had learnt something significant about the other that they later shared with the rest of the group.

I have discussed this in more detail please refer to this link:

From the Margins – Day 1

Support learning
I believe it’s important to develop a good rapport with the students I teach. During the past few sessions I have worked with the students and have learnt their names. I have found it beneficial to work with small tutorial groups where I can have more closer conversation finding out their interests and the likes and dislikes places like to go how they feel about being in London and general conversations about their well-being. We have discussed nutrition and exercise keeping yourself healthy while studying.

Prior to the lesson students had received an outline plan for the day. I had prepared a PowerPoint presentation that contains supportive keywords and explanations to the theme of marginalisation. This was to bear in mind students that may have a special educational need as well as international students where English is not the first language. Within the lesson the aims were discussed and that there is a clear set of objectives that students can see on the board. I indicated each stage of the task instructions so that students could refer to during the task where are like to have instructions for each task clearly identifiable to ensure that students so also understand the tasks ahead. Likewise, the plenary of what they have done in the lesson was linked to a series of questions. I had been aware that one of my students is autistic therefore I am considerate to maintain pace in my delivery of tasks and not to overcrowd my PowerPoint presentations with too much information on one slide. Students also had resource sheets and handouts detailing instructions and objectives for the activity. I had brought a bottle of water and cups so that students could keep themselves hydrated in the studio. Continue reading “Reflecting on my observation”

Self Initiated Project – idea

I’m interested in the attainment gap. My interest lies with my own experience of being in education as a student, an educator and being a parent. You could say the attainment gap is the main reason why first stepped into education. My experience of being aware of in many cases how a black British child can go through their whole educational life experience starting well in infant school but then by the time they get to junior school to secondary school things change and the attainment gap widens.

I had noticed this more with Black and Asian children and predominantly black boys. There have been parent’s evenings where I have been told “Your child is reaching his benchmark.” However further investigation shows that the benchmark was set at a low expectation where the trajectory for his attainment would be no higher than they C or a D GCSE grade. Fortunately for myself being a secondary educator at the time I was able to confront teachers with these figures and how they didn’t correspond with his learning outcomes. Through my own teaching practice within secondary school I was able to address this gap by first educating parents to help them understand the assessment grades through a series of workshops. Parents were therefore aware of the assessment grades that were given at secondary school and what to look out for when there been told at parents evening the child is reaching a benchmark, but which translates to a very low projection that the child had been given at the beginning of the school year.

During my role as an educator within secondary school I had managed to introduce projects where students saw more representation of themselves within the curriculum at the time I believed I was manipulating the art and design curriculum to employ inclusive practice and pedagogy. Many of the project across curriculum and would intersect cultural of religion, race, gender and sexuality and disability.

So why am I using secondary school examples for higher education? Continue reading “Self Initiated Project – idea”

Gadamer and the movement of play.

I like Hans-Georg Gadamer’s  philosophy. He suggests there is a movement of play that is essential to all living things. In terms of art is how we look at things. To fully understand getting this philosophy I need to know the definition of three new words hermeneutic experience. Generally hermeneutic means interpretation. “Gadamer’s  introductory discussion of play has deserve special attention because it has laid the groundwork for grasping the process of hermeneutic experience in general” .

The to and fro the nature between the person and the object or other player, I see this part of Gadamer’s philosophy common in many aspects of life. Within art and design the idea of looking a piece of art with the same to-and-fro nature between the object the piece and the spectator person. It’s that interpretation of the piece of the spectator in the act of play looking at details of the object which could be it’s composition colour subject texture and this freedom of interpretation. The object can have the power of play also to be suggestive and directive through these elements spectator uses as tools for interpretation. Therefore as the spectator ,may have the freedom of play or is the spectator being played?

I suggest this because there can be subtle manipulative influences can be misleading as the spectator doesn’t realise that they are part of  game. If that object, art piece or game is derived to influence thought? Quite possibly? But  then the object could be of a source of nature to such as a flower or cloud that one can imagine cloud formations as objects. but then  that’s imagination not hermeneutics. Also that is also to suggest nature is designed to influence our thoughts. Leading to religious aspects of God and hermeneutics. Excuse me as I get could up in this play of thinking out loud as I try to articulate my thoughts and understanding of Gadamer’s philosophy.  I feel like Neo in that scene in the Matrix when the boy says:

“Do not try and bend the spoon, that’s impossible. Instead, only try to realize the truth…there is no spoon. Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

But that connects with the philosophy of René Descartes and back to the existence, the state of being and God. I could go on but that would take a while.

The nature of play is provocative of action and reaction.  Art is the great form of communication open to interpretation as well as manipulation. However, looking at the theory of play where there are two or more I can relate this to art practice where team can brainstorm ideas , the to and fro of creative thoughts. The freedom to explore the themes through the use of play is important the social development and change. There is a human nature to play, whether we do it consciously or subconsciously, Gadamer states that: play is not something that happens in the mind or the impulses of the subject. “It is not a subjective applicable attitude, but is, rather, an activity that always goes on in between the players and reaches beyond the behaviour or consciousness of any individual player.” This activity is important when it comes to teaching and learning.

I watched with great interest the following video to gain some further understanding:

This is a lecture that is documented as a form of improvised theatrical  play, where the  students were active participants within the lecture. I watched how engaged and how they had become immersed in the activities founded upon understanding Gadamer’s philosophy. The students in the video had become the objects of  playfulness within the lecture itself. By doing so students received more deeper learning through experiential method of being in the moment. Teaching in the theatre design department at Wimbledon I thought this feature to be quite fitting. Scenarios for learning can be explored introducing social activities surrounding play in the classroom. I refer to the thinking through making lesson that I had taught with first-year BA Theatre design students. Whilst making models sets using clay, students became immersed in creating and acting out scenes of their selected theatre play for their characters to reside.


Decolonising the Curriculum

Decolonising the curriculum what does that mean? Decolonising a curriculum is not just about a more expansive reading list to feature text of black Asian minority ethnic subjects and writers.  Although a most substantial start as I have come across researcher Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o who’s book Decolonising the mind lead me to his quote:

Values are the basis the People’s identity, their sense of particularity as members of the human race. Language as culture is the collective memory bank of the people’s experience in history. Thiong’o, Ngũgĩ wa (1986)

Decolonising the curriculum in my opinion is to address these values people’s cultural and racial identities and experience. It is the acceptance to acknowledge respect and apply non-white non-European histories, cultures, arts and humanities has also shaped our globe. This acceptance however takes form in action to physically address and make significant changes. To decolonise in Art and Design also reaches further than the teaching of European white male artists. There is a need to employ the richness of ensuring cultural diversity to bring down the barriers of inequalities. I believe that there is a shift happening. Voices no longer remain in the margins as collectively they have become too loud to be ignored. Now becoming visible.

Decolonising the Arts Curriculum zine is an important and most necessary publication for all students and staff. A collaboration between Hansika Jethnani (students’ union), Lucy Panesar and Rahul Patel (Teaching and Learning exchange, UAL) to invite students staff to make contributions and sharing and rich wealth of experiences explores decolonising arts education. I am happily proud and grateful to be a contributor to this zine sharing hopes for a decolonised arts education.

I was pleased to be invited by Rahul to make a small speach amongst other contributors at the  launch event on Thursday 14th June  at UAL Central Saint Martins. It was an inspiring evening hearing the narratives of the contributors and an honour to share a platform with. The well attendance of this launch signified that positive shift as the dialogue of the evening evidenced the action for change.

The zine can be accessed here: