10 days in Toronto...

I am sitting at the Toronto International Airport gathering my thoughts on the last 10 days in Toronto. I attended two conferences: the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies  conference (AAACS) organised by the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) and AERA. 
What are my thoughts so far:
AERA was amazing this. Big as usual, but somehow I was better at choosing sessions. Rather than by  streams or SIGs I mainly went by names of people I wanted to hear speak. I didn't do any key notes, but lots of sessions by the people I follow. This seemed to have worked well. I focused on critical media literacy, decolonisation, whiteness, emotions/empathy, post-qualitative inquiry and narrative research.
I really got back into feminist affect theorists - vowed to read Sara Ahmed and Lauren Berlant again. Discovered Sara Ahmed's Phenomenology on Whiteness, which I need to read and re-read. Went to a fantastic session on Dis-Orienting Whiteness, by Victori…

First full learning design workshop done and dusted

Last week we offered our first full learning design workshop to staff members across all Faculties. We had 20 participants - way more than we expected for 2,5 days at our beautiful campus in Granger Bay. The workshop was a result of work we have been doing in collaboration between the Centre for Innovative Educational Technology and the Fundani Curriculum Development Unit. We have been drawing from our experiences of our blended learning design short course, in which we tried to promote a Design Thinking mindset. We characterise a design thinking mindset as a mindset that promotes problem orientation, focus on practice, exploration and play, learner empathy, reflection and resilience, becoming change agents and collaboration and generosity (see more here).

Our workshop (see outline and notes here) last week was a combination of a number of exercises / activities we designed over the last few years.

The persona activity, an adaptation of Joyce Seitzinger's personas, which has become …

Re/turning as slow methodology in affective writing encounters

I have met with colleagues from UWC and UCT for some years now to talk, think and write together (and drink lots of coffee in between). For a long time this has been a space of respite and comfort - away from the tensions and conflicts at work. Started during student protest time, it has moved us into coffeeshop spaces, re-appropriating coffeeshops across the Southern Suburbs as spaces for reflection and engagement. I appreciated the honesty and vulnerability we committed ourselves to, in our sharing and writing. Writing for pleasure. Writing without a deadline, without a purpose. Writing together. But as academics do, eventually deadlines, products, purposes crept in, conference were attended, papers written. This video, created by my amazing colleague Niki Romano, is one product of our writing, which we will share at HECU this morning. Its bittersweet to watch it. Its a beautiful piece of art, affecting and affected, it takes me back to good times, but it also did something to us. C…

Reflections from the Decolonial Transformation Workshop at the University of Sussex

It's one week since the Decolonial Transformation Workshop finished at the University of Sussex. It was a beautiful, inspiring, intense, thought provoking, emotional space. First and foremost it was an unapologetically black space. A space for people of colour to share their experiences. As white participants we were welcome but it was clear that in that space we were visitors / observers. And it was absolutely fine. I was grateful to be allowed in, to be given the opportunity to listen and learn.

There were two main questions that came up for me from the workshop. The first one is : How do you unlearn something you don't know you have? And the second one is about complicity and culpability. Why is it that the closer racism comes to home the more difficult it is to address? To make it more clear, I need to tell some stories. On one of the workshop days I was introduced to a woman of colour. She had beautiful grey dreadlocks, I thought she looked just like Toni Morrison. But w…

Reflections after listening to the second webinar of the #unboundeq course

I just finished listening to the second webinar of the #unboundeq course. What an amazing line up of women! The topic was equity and I guess in general social activism and what it takes to be part of a social global movement fighting inequalities on a larger scale.

My mind is racing and its not easy to put down my thoughts in a structured way. So in no particular order, these are the things that stuck with me:

1. Who has to do the anti-racism / social justice labour in a classroom? Maha was talking about the emotional labour her minority students have to do when she is teaching around equity in her class in Egypt and how increasingly uncomfortable she felt forcing the few minority students to 'do all the work'. She spoke about strategies she employed such as pre-readings, to relieve her students of some of the labour of explaining minority experience to dominant groups. I had a similar conversation recently about this with my colleagues. We ran a privilege walk activity (sligh…

Reflections on First Studio Session #UnboundEq

I just listened to the first live studio session of the Equity Unbound online course organised by Maha Bali, Catherine Cronin and Mia Zamora. It's so nice to hear peoples' voices - there is so much more you can gather from people's voices than from engaging with them in writing; their backgrounds, their personalities, their sense of passion, engagement and humour.

What stayed with me most, beyond the richness of what was shared, is their question around allyship, the roles of allies in the fight for social justice. This is a topic I have recently been forced to engage with. South African higher education has gone through hectic times over the last few years - the #RhodesMustFall and #FeesMustFall movements have opened up spaces for important but difficult conversations around transformation, equality, and the role of academia and academics in today's world. What I am most struggling with is the role of white academics in this space. What does it mean to be an “ally” in…

Reflection on the danger of a single story by Chimamanda Adichie