The, Academic Enhancement Model (AEM) Workshop

I attended the Theatre Design Academic Enhancement Model (AEM) course team workshop at CCW Wimbledon College of Arts. The AEM meeting was to address any anxieties of the results of the National Student Survey (NSS) of data that had fallen below the benchmarks surrounding theatre design department. It was to look at the student experience and attainment gaps between Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and home white students and the attainment gaps between International and home students. This was a good opportunity for me to participate and support, highlighting inclusive teaching within Theatre Design course. There was a concern that inclusive practice in the department would come under scrutiny.

The workshop was revealing. The data from the survey was both enlightening and disturbing. The attainment overview provided a clear graphic to the population of International and BAME and international students. It was disturbing to see highlighted that between 2014 to 2017 that there are no BAME students to have gained a 2:1 or a 1st class honours and have a wider attainment gap compared with International  and EU students.

The summary of student feedback for 2017 had good positive comments with regards to sense of community. The concern was the attainment gap figures. The report (Appendix A) showed that within BA (Hons) Theatre Design there is a -18% attainment gap between Home BAME students, at 67% and Home White students at 84%, -29% attainment gap between International students at 52% and Home students at 80%.

Reviewing the data on I had not been aware of such a big gap and It was glaringly obvious it would have a direct impact of the student experience that effects student attainment. The student experience and how what they are learning relates to them is important. I therefore refer to this: HE providers must recognise they must ensure that all students are included and experience equitable participation within the HE environment. (Wray. M 2013) On of my reasons for being and remaining in education is that I want to ensure that all students receive a fair education with the equal amount of opportunity.

In pairs we reviewed from set questions the learning journey of 3 year from 1st to 3rd year; how subjects taught connect and interconnect and how they were scaffolded. The question raised in the workshop was what learning experience are the students receiving? How is this a direct link to the current curriculum? To answer those questions, the workshop entailed drawing out a curriculum map from the 1st year to the 3rd, looking at the units and what they are learning and the relevance to their cultural experience.

New to the theatre design department I am interested through both the Learning and Teaching and Inclusive Teaching and Learning units to answer this question proposed by Simon Betts Dean of Performance: ‘What is the course’s philosophical position and belief the minute they (the students) arrive on the journey of the course?

I include by asking What is the philosophical underpinning through the course culturally and educationally?

We dissected areas within it to outline what was working and what need to be developed. The issue became clear that the curriculum map that there was more scope for students to bring their own voice of self-identity for opportunities to learn from and about each other. The questions were raised to where students do they recognise themselves and where their work is celebrated.

The desire to introduce an inclusive pedagogy must appear early on because once a student has been through the set process in the curriculum before they can actualise their own identities. It was acknowledged this should not occur too late a stage in the curriculum map.

From the discussions and perspectives that took place various suggestions were highlighted that can happen early on:

  • New diverse writing and contemporary text to appear throughout the course.
    The celebration of what the students can bring.
  • A student focus with care and attention to inclusivity right from the beginning of the course/academic year.
  • Create opportunities to carve a direction of what we stand for in Theatre Design at Wimbledon and how its supported through the pedagogy.
Dashboard filters is useful for refined data research.

The meeting was a good activity to unpick the units of the course and how it can be scaffolded where a more inclusive pedagogy is applied. Through the Inclusive Teaching and Learning Unit, I will use the curriculum map drawn out in this session to plan and apply my intervention towards inclusive practice. I obviously will reflect on this day in my approach to address key points raised in this workshop. I will also continue with my reading and research within my inclusive practice unit and to refer to the data on dashboard. My intervention will be documented in my written report once applied.



Wray, M. (2013) Developing an inclusive culture in higher education: final report. York: Higher Education Academy.

Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education – Jon Nixon

I attempt to iron out my thoughts creased with the intersections of various histories posed throughout; that I understand from the reading.  The orientation towards a public good would be for curriculum that is open and not just centred on the traditional subjects but widened for global diversity. Public education for the masses I took as ideas for education that was equal and for the public good to have equal rights and opportunities for all.

1. Are all views worthy of our efforts to understand them?
The role of university is to provide a space for developments of ideas and perspectives. The idea is not to problem solve but to find ways to understand different people who points.

Students that come to the University will be from various backgrounds and cultural differences traditions points of view and beliefs. Some of which may challenge our own concepts and judgements. We may not have to agree with their views but they can be respected.

Parents may teach their children principles of understanding. My role as a teacher  is that student are encouraged to try listening to each other. They come in the form of many styles of programs one that springs to mind is  restorative justice.

Bauman’s quote sits comfortably with this question and agenda for inclusive pedagagy to allow universities to also function as a place for understanding communication and respect for shared ideas.

‘…talk to people rather than fight them; to understand them rather than dismiss or annihilate them as mutants; to enhance one’s own tradition by drawing freely on experience from other pools, rather than shutting it off from the traffic of ideas.’ (p143)

The university to function as a platform for people to debate concepts and views and avoid possible conflicts. This makes me think about Immanuel Kant’s philosophy from my reading of Stephen Palmquist: Kant’s Ideal of the University as a model for World Peace. Palmquist describing Kant’s philosophy states: Kant’s philosophy is that its purpose is to create peace, not destroying opposition, recognising and preserving in its integrity, and working with the opposition to create a new ability.

It is worth our efforts to try and understand even if it doesn’t fit with our own beliefs and values. You might find some reasoning as to elements of human behaviour through philosophical or theological ideas. Even if that part of human behaviour because of one’s own personal fear.

2. To what extent should traditions be protected (from other/new ideas)?

This question is difficult to answer because it depends on the tradition and the purpose it serves. If it’s a case of holding on to the traditions for one’s own privilege and power to remain exclusive of others, then the protection of those traditions will often become resistant to other and new forms of ideas.

3. Is a technical or ‘useful’ education a second-rate education?

I wouldn’t consider the technical education a second-rate. Why is that because of the development of technology and its growth in the economy. Understand the sense that human shouldn’t completely rely on technology to take over our own thinking. In this particular sense I’m a traditionalist when teaching graphics to students I still insist that students draw and layout their designs rather than designing straight onto a computer. Does that make me a traditionalist? This makes me consider the prior question of traditions protected from other or new ideas. For example use of a graphics tablet can employ a new style or approach to drawing and planning design. Therefore, does that make it second-rate? In terms of second-rate why is a useful considered secondary education? The term useful is implicit of a form of bias represented by educational and economic status.

4. How can the technological and the cultural be merged? I.e. is it possible to teach for liberation and transformation, AND to prepare students for socially useful occupations?

I really like this question. The problem I have with it is it would take me too long to answer in one blog post. It also means I’m encouraged to do further reading seek a more defined answer.

Making reference to Nixon’s article such a transformation will require a new kind of public educator – for whom the public comprises citizens, not subjects; for whom education is concerned with empowerment, not control; and for whom public education transforms rather than reproduces.

For this to happen the traditions of privilege and power will have to be performed to allow for new kind of public educator, you’ve dispositions to meet the above agenda.

My inclusive practice unit in teaching and learning philosophies and engagement with Shades of Noir promotes ideas for teaching within the constructs of liberation and transformation. Therefore through creative practice and communication of liberation can be managed through technical endeavours.

The technological and the cultural are being merged through the use of digital media. Our use and interaction with technology is soon moving to pole position. The use of more interactive software and social media is becoming an evidential part of the effects of our culture on technology and the effect it has on us.

5. How do these ideas connect with the theory you have been encountering on your elective unit (if you are doing one)?

This ideas within a reading connects in many ways and different levels with our teaching and learning unit. Which  has led me to this book.

Postcolonial Resistance: Culture, Liberation and Transformation
David Jefferess

Here is an insight to the book reviewed by Sarah Travis is a graduate student at Knox College,

Postcolonial Resistance opens up a space within postcolonial thought to challenge dominant. constructions of resistance associated with both colonial discourse theory and materialist critics.  In articulating a politics of change, Jefferess convincingly argues that resistance must be more than a freedom from oppression and must seek to free both colonizer and colonized.

The last sentence has using the term freedom from oppression has sentiments of Paulo Freire’s  Pedagogy of the oppressed.


Inclusive Teaching and Learning: Faith #3

Reflection on Kwame Anthony Appiah,  Reith lecture on Creed

Kwame Anthony Appiah cross all the boundaries and his own life identity and background answers directly to the concepts of Multiculturalism. He is British of mixed parentage, educated in Britain where he and in a same sex marriage. His address was engaging with identifiable humour that highlights the people’s perceptions and stereotypes, by his appearance, accent education and lifestyle.  His grounding within his family history and his in-depth knowledge that he shares I find interesting. The exploration of identity through narratives is thought-provoking. People engage in stories to learn about each other and themselves. Certain scriptures can be viewed as stories open to interpretation and referred to for a set of behaviours and religious traditions. Appiah describes the survival of the scriptures of not just being just a set of rules and instructions of how to live and open to interpretation. Interpretation can create avenues for manipulation in that can lead to discrimination and control. Importantly religion and the practice of faith within religious communities makes progressive changes to adapt and meet the demands of gender and equality. Therefore religion and its faith is a communal practice and way of life.

Inclusive Teaching and Learning: Faith #1

 Religion, Belief and Faith identities UAL website and answer the questions. 

How could you apply the resources to your own teaching practice?

First of all the look and feel of the UAL website comes across as sterile and basic. This suggests to me that UAL are simply answering to the standardised ‘Government’ requirements in order to climb up in the ranking of universities. Disappointingly there are only four entries in the students and alumni section. There is a missed opportunity for more student involvement to this area of the site.

The case studies are useful tools for lecturers to share their practice and ideas that can be considered and adopted by others. It also reassures my own teaching practice where I identify with similar approaches and am inspired by their ideas.

I would introduce a short taster project brief as a form of an induction and introduction to social awareness that incorporates understanding and respect for one another’s religion or non-religion. They would include articles from the resource section of the site. For example Shades of Noir Race, Religion & Free Speech.

The Quiet Capsule Design Project I found to be an interesting way to provide a shared and public space beneficial to all.
This could be referenced to students for either when starting a project that or incorporate into an existing one.

The links from the resources page has some useful links and materials that can be used within lesson and incorporated into a scheme of work within the curriculum. Taking students to relevant exhibitions and events.

How could you integrate the research/work your students do on this subject into your teaching/professional practice?

There are vast places and iconography within the architecture and public spaces in and around London that students can explore and record. A purpose visit for visual recording and religious history. Recently some Mosques have been made listed buildings.

Invite artists and designers of a practicing faith to either give talks or run a workshop the students.  Set a project brief that involves students to work directly with the community. To therefore set a community project focused within one or more or the many areas in London that exudes a rich and diverse mixtures of religious cultures. Direct community involvement would be good to share narratives and language to be able to articulate and broaden understanding of equality and justice.

To find commonalities and a shared identity provided through a brief that deploys ‘a sense of purpose rather than self-interest’ (Cahourn 2014).

Students would be encouraged to explore within diverse communities the public space and the influences and contribution religion has within these spaces. A practical example would be engage students in open dialogue to talk about the artefacts that I bring and the purpose of the lesson and allowing the students to identify with the topic or subject matter.

Can you cIte examples? 
You will share your thoughts within your groups and comment and share further resources you use in your own context.

Encouraged to point out the diverse mix of religious and cultural iconography in around London.

Black influential speaker on faith and education:
Dr Constantino Dumangane Jr. Dumangane,

(2017). The significance of faith for Black men’s educational aspirations. British Educational Research Journal (accepted and forthcoming in 2017).

Inclusive Teaching and Learning: Faith #2

There is a familiar and age old saying that one should “Never Discuss Politics or Religion in polite company”. It simply identifies that discussion of these topics, and bringing into question peoples belief systems can be volatile. Your opinions may offend or you may reveal too much of your true self, and be open to criticism. Both politics and religion have an influence on one another that can become so blurred that it is difficult to separate the two. In some societies, religion is the politics of the country. In others religion is built into the fabric of it’s laws although not always explicitly evident. The UK for example, has a division between church and state that it prides itself upon. However, there is also a monarchy that has it’s own Christian religion, The Church of England. The UK is a Christian based society

Three headings stood out for me when I first read the stimulus paper; Multiculturalism, Minority identities and Government and the public Good. They all, to some extent equate religion and politics together with taking different stances on how much or how little a role religion should play within society or the public sphere which, of course, includes higher education.

Modood’s text reminded me just how new multiculturalism is in western Europe and how easy it is to regress to ‘old’ ways of thinking. It made me question how easy it would be to return to a position whereby I as a black woman, a mother and a teacher am not considered to belong. Simply because of who I am. It saddens me that in some small way this is already happening.

Modood starts his discussion on the emergence of multiculturalism with the 1960’s  emergence of organising minority –majority relations. He talked ‘new social movements’ and the ‘politics of politics of gender, race and sexuality’. He sites that it was the recognition of ethno-religious minorities through immigration and the acknowledgement of, and respect for difference in order to provide equality and equal rights, that fuelled this new way of thinking and the need for accommodation and not tolerance of differences. Government policies were put in place to ensure equality and to challenge discrimination. This in effect is what we now call multiculturalism, the ideology that all men are created equal.

I believe our respect for difference is important for how we live in the public sphere.  Madood is an advocate for multiculturalism and I identify with many of the opinions he express in his text. For example, I can see the negative influence that incidents like the Iraq war, 9/11 and subsequent terror attacks, have on the way the public sphere views Islam and Muslims. The consequence is that Islam has been called into question and Muslims are now a target for blame by the ‘Ethnic Majority’ who now have reason to feel less safe. The word Muslim has now adopted as a religious identity places both the people and the religion under scrutiny. When grouped together with tough economic policies in the UK and the immigration ‘problem’. Multiculturalism is now becoming unpopular with the ‘majority public’ with Islam one focal point of the cause for its unpopularity.

The majority of this post-immigration ethno-religious population is Muslim but the shift towards Muslimness was partly facilitated by an evolving and expansive set of identity politics and equality discourses in general and multiculturalism in particular, as for example these minority identities transmuted or expanded from colour identities (eg, Black) to ethnic identities (such as Pakistani) to religious identities (such as Muslim).

Immigration policies are promoted by multiculturalism’s unpopularity, by the toleration of difference. Toleration suggests to me the acceptance of something one does really appreciate, not liking someone, something or a situation (through lack of understanding) and merely having to put up with it. This toleration brews resentment where I notice there is now a push back with some of the ‘ethnic minority’  having decided not to put up with multiculturalism in fear of losing their identity in the British landscape of what they deem their Christian country. The argument being that the ‘multi’ mix of different cultures occupying segregated spaces within Britain and not integrating with the British way. This feeling is born of ignorance and that the ‘British way’ is now diverse, multicultural and multi faith. The consequence; border controls, political debates on immigration, social issues surrounding Brexit. Then government position in the addition of ‘Britishness’ to the school curriculum and PREVENT policies in schools, colleges and universities.

Modood in his writing highlights the point:

“Equality therefore requires the abandonment of the pretense of ‘difference-blindness’ and allowing others, the marginalised minorities, to also be visible and explicitly accommodated in the public sphere”

The respect for difference is important, one may not share the same views or religious beliefs but it is important to have open and shared dialogue for understanding amongst each other. To be inclusive of all regardless of religion or non-religion allowing for students to express themselves freely without feeling confined to the opinions of other people and to carry that thinking through all teaching and all characteristics is one way to allow multiculturalism to thrive.

Difference blindness pretending that we are all the same is to ignore the difference rather than being challenged to address our differences. I relate this to my school education in sameness of treatment where the Christian religion featured strongly in British schools and society. UK public holidays and events reinforced this. Christianity dominated throughout my school life, I was taught only on a basic level about other religions however very basic fed from a curriculum that promoted Eurocentric Christian ideals and imagery or as Calhoun mentions in Religion as a Public Good, ‘The one sided presence of Christian public symbolism is telling’.

Therefore in my practice I consider the following to accommodate all students for inclusive teaching:

  • Awareness and inclusion of religious and cultural difference of the cohort of students in the lesson.
  • Allowing the students to express themselves and their identities through the aims and objectives of the task. Considering outcomes from different religious and cultural perspectives.
  • The use of materials, references and subject matter that students can identify and relate.

Calhoun in his lecture on Religion, Government and the Public Good expresses that:

 “We live in an era that is shaped by three difficulties which we might think of as difficulties as being articulate. Saying things that we want to say but difficulties that we can’t quite get out. That we know at some level but have trouble being explicit about. The articulacy depends on language and narrative the way we represent the world to ourselves”.

By not talking about it limits us to be articulate our thoughts and feelings therefore unable to promote a harmonious way of living in the public sphere. Because we have not taught about religion it create a problem to be open and articulate our ideas to each other about faith. I see universities are a setting in which I can learn from the cohort of students as they can learn from each other. Therefore I can reflect to learn, develop and share knowledge through open discussion in my teaching practice. Therefore I find Calhouns quote in ‘Religion as a Public Good’ reassuring:

“Public engagement with religion – including in universities – offers opportunities for both learning and achieving the public good.”

I found this paper interesting as the common threads between the two writers for a  shared public space. I learnt along the way about interculturalism that is more in favour within current policies, where Modood argues that it leaves out space to accommodate for multicultural policies. I see interculturalism with interesting concepts for interactions and shared understanding of other cultures. However like Modood I wonder if this will see the abandonment of multiculturalism and religious equality.

The university environment is not like school, there is not a scope for generic learning around Multiculturalism, Minority identities or religion, however most will attempt to promote equality as is their legal duty.

There are forums and societies for many protected identities including religions and cultures, however as with society the university environment is a group of people working with one another in the hope that we are all morally aware and seek the best for each other. As an educator and influencer my teaching practice must be inclusive and offer a breadth of understanding that accommodates all.

Discussion points and questions from the reading:

  • Religion as a public good:
    With the increased level of differing people of different ethnicity and culture how will universities address the burden of integration that falls disproportionately on minorities?
  • Minority identities:
    Do we face a future where people’s identities through their practice of faith becomes eradicated? This relates to  a conversation I had with a friend regarding to a company in France where colleagues, staff with Muslim names had to adopt European name for the sales of the company.

Meeting with BA Theatre Design

First year BA Theatre design students spent the morning at the Lyric theatre as a reconnaissance trip to explore stages set and backstage. This was for the students to be able to obtain information of the set they will be designing. This was my first meeting with the students. BA course leader has good working relationship with the Lyric Theatre and was able to arrange for designers he or she may have has been commissioned to design worked within the theatre to talk to the students. Students were introduced through the process of what happens backstage and theatre set as well as costume design concepts and how they are created inspired by. This is a good opportunity for students to engage and to be in a position of a designer on a research visit. Therefore they became aware of the process were guided around theatre stage set and behind-the-scenes.

I found this beneficial to the students so that they can see how the stage set functions and its scale are. Students have the technical drawings for the Lyric Theatre in which they will create their theatre design model sets. This teaching and learning session I found to be beneficial to the students as the learning outcome is for them to gain understanding of the space and scale of the theatre that they are designing the set for the drawing specifications to theatre. To obtain information theatre is organised backstage and when a production is in place. In future when students watch a performance will do so with a new knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes to affect what is played out in front of them an example of which they will know how the mechanisms of slide all the lighting Students received Interesting tips and guides when working to a large scale. It is also fortunate for them to see a brief rehearsal take place on stage. It was also good to see the physicality of the theatre stage to explore the space and to see the theatre stage set from the audience perspective.

Structure of the tour of the Lyric was broken down into three areas industry discussion and guidance looking at costume’s design as well as across changes in theatre backstage. Spending time doing the stage you and within the seating area to gain perspective a scale. I would have encouraged the students to photographs and perhaps take an image of the front of the set they can then use within Photoshop to digitally design their future theatre set. The students learned about mechanisms such as lifts, and interesting things goes on behind the scenes that can be used and considered when designing for theatre set. Provide a bit of insight to industry and starts the students to think as designers.

Making Stories –

Storytelling is fundamental of part theatre design.
Students will be introduced to the session by showing a short video clip on collaboration.

Theatre design first-year students are working on ideas towards the theatre model sets.  Moving on from their mood boards students are now looking more in depth at the characters within both plays  The Cunning Little Vixen and Animal Farm. I wanted to students to consider the attributes of the characters within the plays.  Students were directed to consider the political aspects within the play Animal Farm and feminist aspects in the Cunning Little Vixen. The objective of this lesson was to enable the students to work collaboratively and discuss the underlying theories of in both the plays.

The students are yet to decide which play they will focus on to make their stage model set design. This lesson was a way for them to engage with the process of thinking through making. Using clay is an interesting material a to work with. It’s malleability  can remove any inhibitions of being wrong or making mistakes.  This allows the students the sense of freedom to explore whilst making. This freedom and exploration through play I had linked to Philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer. where he introduces the concept of play where the spectator plays a crucial interpretive role in the meaning of the art piece being presented.  Students began by considering  and documenting the the attributes of the character in the play. They were encouraged to play with the idea of considering themselves as one of the characters in the play and to think about what personal attributes they would inject in the character in the play that they will focus on.  The first part of the session was an individual take where the student engaged with the character through the action of making whilst discussing the character attributes with their peer.


Students later considered