Evidence is one truth condition. There are at least three others. These give us a way of knowing authentic learning experiences and provide indicators of engagement, participation and outcomes. They are, also unsurprisingly, aligned with conceptions of authority and power.
- Roxå, T., & Mårtensson, K. (2017). Agency and structure in academic development practices: are we liberating academic teachers or are we part of a machinery suppressing them? International Journal for Academic Development, 22(2), 95–105. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2016.1218883
Roxå and Mårtensson (2017) argue that the discourses of academic development as mediated through formal education and training programmes by academic development departments are seen by some academics as:
a suppressing machinery anchored in globalisation and economification with an agenda to control academic teachers for the benefit of economic growth linked to a neoliberal ideology of life… Academic teachers can no longer embody the idea of academia as a place for free and critical inquiry (p 97).
I read our recently issued NSS action table in the context of preparation guidance for staff annual Performance and Development Review (PDR):
- For academic and other student facing staff, are they adhering to the Brookes Charter (Regulation E3) and the 8 NSS Principles.
One of the NSS actions (dressed up as principles) and echoing the UK PFS Values, is that,
All staff who support learning participate annually in collective professional development to ensure that their practice is evidence-based, informed by the scholarship of learning and teaching, and employs up-to-date learning tools and technologies.
I love collective professional development but feel a little queasy about “to ensure“. Always prefer a developmental/enhancement led approach… to enhance their practice through evidence informed by the scholarship of teaching ….
But it can amount to the same thing. Depends on what is measured
Pretty much everything else in the NSS action table is just stuff we shouldn’t have to mention. The fact that we have to speaks bucket-loads. But ultimately it obscures what the message should be, which is that we love our discipline and our students and teach them as well as we can.
It feels to me like an iceberg about to tip.
Ultimately this is an argument for qualitative research into the so-called subjective realms of values, beliefs and feelings. Because, in part, I suggest it is the enclosure of the subject for the reward of a few, which is at the root of the general mess we (me? Britain? Liberalism? Society? the globe?) appear to be in (NHS crisis, austerity, higher education funding and regulation, housing, migration, cyber-security, etc).
The theoretical approach or perspective of a neo-liberal curriculum appears to be:
- Utilitarian (idealist, ratio-driven: promoting the greatest good for the greatest number
- Pragmatic (what works);
- Pareto-optimal (80% of the reward or output comes from 20% of the input or effort and the remaining 20% of the output comes from 80% of the input).
Published on: Jan 18, 2018
I examine two related concepts: hierarchised identity formation and the enclosure of desire as a hidden curriculum.
A hidden curriculum is, I suggest the collection of assumptions, often about power (Brookfield 2017, chapter 2) that is communicated alongside and through the practice of overt curricula. A hidden curriculum is conveyed through implicit biases by teachers and education institutions. It is delivered alongside more overt curricular elements such as subject-specific knowledge and skills, as well as “transferrable skills” and “graduate attributes”. There may be many, indeed there are many hidden curricula which work with and against social norms beyond the institution and largely outwith the control of the institution or its agents. I will suggest that hierarchised identity formation is one of the hidden curricula of higher eduction. I hypothesise that this might be felt more acutely in the UK because of England’s tradition of a landed, aristocratic and military gentry related by ancestry to the head of state. But, it is felt elsewhere than Britain: “Rich man goes to college, poor man goes to work” (Charlie Daniels Band, “Long haired country boy”). In Britain the green and white papers leading to the current Higher Education Act 2017 declared universities to be engines of social mobility. Social mobility for these purposes is conceived primarily as a private (not public) good and is ranked in a categorical hierarchy consisting of education attainment, occupation type and lifetime earnings expectation, ranked in quartiles and centiles. The concept of social mobility is applied competitively as a finitely resourced, zero-sum game with winners and losers and movers.
I read Franklin Foer’s Facebook’s War on Free Will the Guardian’s “Long read” for Tuesday 19 September 2017.
He recapped a familiar argument: you are Facebook’s product. But when he hit “data science” I turned up my sensors. He says, “There’s a whole discipline, data science, to guide the writing and revision of algorithms”. Then he picks up on Cameron Marlow, “the former head of Facebook’s data science team”:
Facebook has a team, poached from academia, to conduct experiments on users. It’s a statistician’s sexiest dream – some of the largest data sets in human history, the ability to run trials on mathematically meaningful cohorts. … Marlow said, “we have a microscope that not only lets us examine social behaviour at a very fine level that we’ve never been able to see before, but allows us to run experiments that millions of users are exposed to.”
The point the experimentalists miss is that the experiment is directed towards outcomes already. The ethics are, at least, sensitive. Continue reading “Tinkering with algorithms”