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November 27, 2017

Trans–cultural education

Should I simply call trans-cultural education, international teaching and learning? The unique character of the Warwick-Monash Alliance produces an experience of education which is more than simply international, as I have encountered multiple cultures and disciplines during my time as WIHEA/MEA Visiting Educator. These experiences of difference will enable me to re-invigorate my teaching and, through interdisciplinary and international collaborations, the learning of others. These experiences transcend national borders and celebrate the sharing of practice between, beyond and across cultural and disciplinary environments.

The UK context for higher education is certainly 'challenged' at this time, with political uncertainity combined with a fierce debate about the role of public universities and the future of educational practice. The global context is in even more flux, so I would like to use this last post to reflect upon universities as places where commmunities produce/contest knowledge and construct/disseminate learning. This is underpinned by my recent experiences of workshops and meetings at Monash, in particular, the 'Trans-disciplinary pedagogies' workshop on Friday 24 November 2017, where I worked with colleagues drawn from across the university on non-disciplinary and 'undisciplined' approaches to university education.

We become undisciplined when we return to our pre-disciplinary openness (i.e. before we were disciplined) and our radical potential for learning anything. By transgressing our disciplines, we become aware of their limits as well as their affordances; we become more aware of our disciplines as cultures: the fields that we care for, the environments that we cultivate. We should also consider traditional indigenous knowledge here and modes of learning that fall outside of the academy.

Culture:

mid-15c., "the tilling of land," from Middle French culture and directly from Latin cultura "a cultivating, agriculture," figuratively "care, culture, an honoring," from past participle stem of colere "to tend, guard; to till, cultivate". The figurative sense of "cultivation through education" is first attested c. 1500. Meaning "the intellectual side of civilization" is from 1805; that of "collective customs and achievements of a people" is from 1867.

Discipline:

early 13c., "penitential chastisement; punishment," from Old French descepline (11c.) "discipline, physical punishment; teaching; suffering; martyrdom," and directly from Latin disciplina "instruction given, teaching, learning, knowledge," also "object of instruction, knowledge, science, military discipline," from discipulus ...Meaning "branch of instruction or education" is first recorded late 14c. Meaning "military training" is from late 15c.; that of "orderly conduct as a result of training" is from c. 1500.

In crossing the boundaries of disciplines and time-zones, in order to visit Monash this term/semester, I have become even more aware of the importance of exposing students to difference and educators to difficulty. Out of that risk and failure, emerges a 'practice of hope' (Gallagher, 2015), or better still, 'a pedagogy of survival' (cf. Heron and Johnson, 2017).

[Citations from Research in Drama Education: The Journal of Applied Theatre and Performance, 22: 2, 2017;

Definitions from Online Etymology Dictionary, consulted 28 November 2017]


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