How do we radically reform a system while working within it?
— Cornel West
I’m an academic at an Australian university. Mostly I’m a cinema audience researcher, and I teach online by choice, working with students using whatever digital and social tools seem to fit the purpose. At the moment, I’m really trying to figure out how to reconceptualise pedagogy in terms of theories of hospitality, following along from Jesse Stommel’s proposals for a reflective hybrid pedagogy driven by what we value, not just by business opportunities and risks:
The intellectual bravery we need right now is to believe that we can imaginatively rebuild something valuable in digital space, something that has what we value most about education: the protections, the safety, the excitement, the moments of ecstatic learning, the epiphanies, the collaborations, the debates, the discoveries, and the moments of quiet reflection.
In 2012-3 I’m working with a specialist learning design team to support our institution’s transition to a new LMS, so I have a practical interest in the tricky mechanics of change management in higher education. Or, as someone once put it in the search that led them here: “shared governance consensus bullshit.”
I’m not writing any of this in any official capacity, obviously.
But I believe that universities encourage critical thinking, and we are all invested in our higher education systems being worth the effort of showing up. So this blog began as a way of minding about higher education, and the thoughts here owe a lot to students, colleagues and fellow trouble-makers, who all mind too.
The banner image is an adaptation of a famous photograph originally taken by J R Eyerman in 1953; this version is on a pencil case, photographed for this blog by my friend R J Thompson in 2011. This lovely woman, who put on her good hat to go out and meet the technological marvel of her age, keeps me thinking about what it means to show up, and watch from inside the spectacle.
You’re welcome to contact me via musicfordeckchairs at gmail dot com, and in a slightly surprising development, I’m on Twitter, @KateMfD.
Nov 2013: and in an even more surprising turn, I also have cancer, so this blog is also about what that means in relation to work, self, and how higher education fuels itself on all of our gifted time.
Thanks for stopping by,
— Kate Bowles