Reading Response and Discussion Group

My initial response to the three texts, therefore this is a work in progress as I take some time to digest, reflect, compare and contrast and write the three before I consider any sort of conclusion if there are any.

  • Universities and their Function – Whitehead, A.N. 1929.
  • A Learning Model for the Future – Aoun, J. 2017.
  • Kant’s Ideal of the University as a Model for World Peace – Palmquist, S. 2004.

Universities and their function.
The first thing that strikes me is that the text was very male centred. Yes, I am aware that this text had been written back in 1929 when times were supposed to be different.  However, this was almost a decade after women in the US were given the right to vote. A hundred years today in the UK where some, not all women received that right.

Captured by the words of ‘It enables men to construct an intellectual vision of a new world’ my imagination spanned to being around during a time where like ships universities were described by Whitehead as ‘She’. Where would I (a woman, a black woman a British citizen with a link to an imperial past) be placed in the vessel of learning for ‘the imaginative acquisition of knowledge’?

I agree with Whiteheads notion for universities and their function is that they should be a place for imagination. Imagination is needed for creativity.
Thus this nurture and cultivation of imagination breed a zest for life through ambitious conquests.
‘The task of a university is to weld together imagination and experience.’

We learn by doing. Our experiences can be fuelled by our thoughts; ideas and imagination that projects our outcomes. In my teaching, I like to plan projects, lessons and workshops that provide positive learning experiences that both challenge and encourage students to use their imagination. Students should feel comfortable and safe in the freedom to do so. Isn’t that the nature of an Art and Design brief anyway? Should be, but not always the case when I think back to prescriptive art and design lessons and outcomes I have observed during my in some educational establishments I have once taught.  I suppose the mission in today’s society would be to facilitate some of Whitehead’s ideas of imagination and learning, where not only are there minds diverse in opinion along with a selection of diverse equipment at hand but also to be inclusive to educate and meet the needs of a diverse range of students.

‘Imagination is not to be divorced of facts: it is a way of illuminating facts.’

To facilitate some of Whitehead’s ideals of imagination and learning, in today’s society, would need to also consider there are minds diverse in opinion along with a diverse range of prior experiences and needs. 

Opportunities are then to be made for experiences to be shared confidently. 

This leads me to Aoun’s,
A Learning Model for the Future. In Higher education in the age of artificial intelligence.

By immersing students in diversity and celebrating its lessons, we enrich their minds, broaden their thinking and build their valuable human literacy.

In a world where computer technology can bring people further away closer together and people closer together further apart human literacy is the where we all need to start. Human literacy is not new at Aoun suggests but a transition. As technology advances, we learn to adapt and evolve with it. It’s something humans have always done to address the changes in climate. In terms of education, the space of a classroom no longer exists within four walls. Yes, I agree the importance of diversity and inclusive teaching practice is essential for all to reach their full potential.

I think of how schools and universities operate now with the use of online learning platforms such as  Moodle and Fronter,  Show My Homework for schools. Tools to support learning. There is the digital maker space at Camberwell and Chelsea that is a hub of activity embedding data and human literacy. However reading in earlier part of the chapter and making note of the comment and paraphrase that access to platforms and equipment, this can be sometimes restricted to privileged groups. For example, not everybody comes from a place of privilege where they have access to devices, internet and consoles available to them at home and educational establishments. In terms of computers as this can also be extended to household equipment, homeware and accessories etc. Thinking back to Whitehead’s Books are cheap can also come from a point of privilege. Books and computers are not cheap in today’s currency.

Something to bear in mind. Not all of my students at the school had access to Fronter, Show My Home Work so homework club was set up at school. Year 9 (13-14 year old) students in a girl’s school I taught had no Information Technology on the curriculum despite having to choose the GCSE options that year. Where some schools particularly in those that have Academy status and adequate funding that can be linked to ‘Outstanding’ Ofsted grading; IT takes precedence in their curriculum. This migrates down to primary and even infant schools where children are being taught coding such as Scratch and Python. None the less, impressive as this may sound there still is a case for how creatively and imaginatively these are applied to engage all learning styles, abilities and educational needs.

My experience within Art Education in secondary school is that the cultivation of creativity liking to the Amazon rainforest is being cut away. The introduction of English Baccalaureate and STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths).  In the case of STEM some schools still struggle with the creative aspect of technology and few apply STEAM (Science Technology Engineering, Art and Maths). Divergent thinking comes to mind when I think of STEM. Students need to be encouraged to think more laterally. For sustainability of art education in schools, STEAM needs to be employed for more dynamic and divergent thinking.

I mention schools as it is an important trajectory towards Higher Education. Universities cater for all ages, genders, backgrounds etc. Being inclusive has to consider prior learning, experience and exposure to the understanding of technologies. The experience provided by schools particularly in the UK can aid the progression and transition to Higher Education and beyond. Outside agencies such as Genetic Moo also helps to facilitate learning for the young.

The earlier part of the chapter suggests the importance to be prepared or rather prepare the young digital natives of our society to be more literate in technology and data.

Indeed it’s both beneficial an important to have an understanding of the mechanics of the machines we use. But what for the digital immigrants who were either not born into the world instant of technology or not have been able to keep up with it? I know a fair amount of educators not familiar with the language of new technical literacies proposed. They will need to keep up to speed to lower their guard on the fear of technologies and instead builds on their confidence.

This chapter jumps around a bit with discussions of coding and technology that was broken down into different components of The New Literacies. Therefore so have my responses.  The chapter raised many thoughts on educational practices regarding code and technology. I think how this is applied in art and design practice. Where technology is not simply using a computer. Some of these raised questions in my mind to what technological stance was Aoun was taking.

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