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Decolonising Learning Spaces Implications for Ethical Practice

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Presentation at ICED 2016, 24th of November 2016

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Decolonising Learning Spaces Implications for Ethical Practice

  1. 1. Decolonising Learning Spaces Implications for Ethical Practice Pam Sykes, University of the Western Cape Daniela Gachago, Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  2. 2. Act 1 Exploding the myth of safety
  3. 3. Snapshot 1: A group of academics is sitting around a conference table in a seminar room. They talk about “desire” and “affect”; “the body” comes up again and again. But the bodies of the people in the room are never acknowledged. Which bodies are comfortable in this space (which contains this table, these chairs, that air conditioner) and which are not? Whose body is awash with anxiety, who is flushed or sweating, who is full of energy, whose back is hurting, who is tired, who is desperate for a toilet break, who is sick, who feels awkward and out of place? These questions are not askable in this space.
  4. 4. Call for a decolonised pedogagy? “Critical pedagogies of liberation… necessarily embrace experience, confessions and testimony as relevant ways of knowing, as important, vital dimensions of any learning process” – bell hooks 1994: 89
  5. 5. Institutional grooves and habits are worn deep |
  6. 6. Assumptionsa“The fact that no one was safe made us all involved in the course appreciate the importance of what we came to call ‘safe houses’..in with high degrees of trust, shared understanding, temporary protection from the legacies of oppression (Minnie Bruce Pratt 1991: 40)) Part of color-blindness is to demand that race dialogue takes place in a ‘safe’ environment.’ (Leonardo & Porter 2010: 139)
  7. 7. Our gendered, raced, classed subjectivities may will work against our aims as educators
  8. 8. Two challenges: There is no ideal space that is equally, absolutely safe for all. Safety is not something educators can bestow.
  9. 9. Act 2 Embracing uncertainty
  10. 10. “Is there a way for all of us to survive together while none of our contradictory claims, interests and passions can be eliminated?”–––—Bruno Latour 2005: 30
  11. 11. Safe-enough spaces Perhaps an element of the work of facilitating South African conversations resides inside the creative contradiction of making spaces that are safe-enough and uncomfortable-enough. Such conversations have the potential to be full of healing, full of life and full of possibility.” –– Rebecca Freeth
  12. 12. Comfort | Discomfort Safety | Danger
  13. 13. Defining the risks of harm Vulnerability to harassment Abusive interactions Post traumatic flashbacks Isolation, marginalisation, exclusion Stunted intellectual growth And ______________?
  14. 14. On surrendering control | “I have learned that I cannot offer my less privileged students… safety, nor should I try. In fact, it is a function of my own privilege that I ever thought I could. It is only from privileged perspectives that neutral or safe environments are viable and from empowered positions that protecting others is possible.” — Ludlow 2004:45
  15. 15. Co-creating safe- enough spaces Terms of engagement Focus on practical actions Handling disagreement PROCESS matters as much as content |
  16. 16. “One must think with the body and the soul or not think at all” -- Hannah Arendt
  17. 17. References hooks, b., 1994. Teaching to transgress - Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York and London: Routledge. Freeth, R., 2012. On creating uncomfortable, safe spaces for South African conversations. Workshop handout, (August), pp.1–3. Latour, Bruno, 2005. ‘From Realpolitik to Dingpolitik or How to Make Things Public’, in Making Things Public-Atmospheres of Democracy (Cambridge, Massachussetts: The MIT Press), pp. 4–31 Leonardo, Z. & Porter, R.K., 2010. Pedagogy of Fear: toward a Fanonian theory of “safety” in Race dialogue. Race Ethnicity and Education, 13(2), pp.139–157. Pratt, M.L., 1991. Arts of the Contact Zone. Profession, (1991), pp.33–40. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.gate2.library.lse.ac.uk/stable/25595469.

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