My Philosophy

My philosophy of teaching and curriculum development

As a teacher, I aim to encourage those I interact with to embark on a transformative learning experience towards becoming (or better enabled as) critical social agents within the educational contexts they are situated, and modelling reflexivity for the participants of the courses they facilitate and design. I see this a a reciprocal process, where I learn, shift and am challenged.

I aim to cultivate an enabling environment by provoking discussion; providing disruptive ideas; and facilitating the formulation of divergent and critical thinking, research and innovations in practice. I often structure interactions using ‘gentle Socratic inquiry’, where participants bring to consciousness their existing knowledge base so as to reason through and cross-examine the problematics at hand. When structures allow, I create the conditions for ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ to be mutually re-negotiated. Reflection interwoven with scholarship creates spaces for participants to re-view their thinking and practice as unfamiliar terrain, towards actively re-constituting themselves in their contexts (as I outline in Belluigi 2012).

Formative assessment is designed to scaffold and develop understanding to a deeper level, and to create opportunities for self-assessment at pertinent points in students’ cycles of reflective learning. Included is participatory assessment, such as negotiated criteria or indicators for assessment; having participants guide the feedback of their drafts and participate in informal peer fora (on-line, phone-based or face-to-face) and formalized peer assessment. Many of the formative assessment tasks (see below) encourage a genealogical approach, where participants work from a problematic in their present practice, through the lenses of theory, literature, reflection-in and outside-action, and the insights of their own student participants and other ‘data’ (including peer, alumni, assignment analysis), towards a critical understanding and re-scripting of their position and practice. For instance, I teach ‘evaluation’ as a formative, developmental process of insider research to inform one’s teaching and curriculum development. Whilst I establish and facilitate the challenging and stimulating tasks, model and scaffold academic literacy, in such enquiry-based engagements participants author the research-into-their-teaching/learning process by pursuing their own lines of enquiry, drawing on existing knowledge, identifying consequent needs, and taking responsibility for analysis and presentation.

As assessment shapes the hidden curriculum by what it de/values, it offers a focal point to enable participants to research their practice and its significance, towards curriculum coherence between the espoused and the practiced, the intended and the experienced, towards enhancing learning engagement. The intention is not simply to identify and critique, but rather to explore the political, social, cognitive and affective significance of educational agents, cultures and structures, towards creating more enabling conditions for agency and enhancing the quality of learning engagement. I too am continually learning about this, and so have shifted from a teaching-and-learning focus of the micro-curriculum and its relation to the meso-curriculum, and the possibilities of co-curating the curriculum; to larger issues about how higher education schools all its participants (academic staff too) and the relation of that, to national and global macro-curricula agendas.

A growing concern is the digital in higher education – both the potential and the risks it offers. I attempt to model ways in which to create spaces of fruitful interaction with discursive spaces including literature in higher education studies, with and between course participants and myself – whilst simultaneously indicating the problematics and possibilities of such ICTs.  I tease out some of these attempts, and my own limitations, in a brief portfolio of my Learning Technology approaches.

A teaching portfolio from my previous position in South Africa can be accessed here. Once I have completed one for the UK context, I’ll upload it here too.

Vessel Cirlce 1