FACILITATING TRANSFORMATIVE LEARNING THROUGH DIFFICULT DIALOGUE: AT STAKE AT UNIVERSITY OF FREE STATE, SOUTH AFRICA
University of Free State (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Conference name: 6th International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 18-20 November, 2013
Location: Seville, Spain
Abstract:The University of the Free State, at the heart of South Africa (SA), is taking a leading role in incorporating transformative teaching and learning in the anthropology curricula. The process include the critical review of the curriculum, embark on a search for ways to prepare the students of today to be responsible South African citizens (cf. civic humanism principles), as well as to prepare them to engage and work with individuals from various social, political, ethnic and racial backgrounds. This task is especially crucial given the backdrop of residual and reproductive patterns of discrimination on account of apartheid (cf. Ministerial report on transformation in HE), exactly because teaching staff (faculty) seem to perpetuate such patterns, albeit often 'in-consciously' (creating an alternative to 'unconscious' for the sake of respecting neuro-science's terminology) and unintentionally. Hence, our goal would be to cultivate not only responsible SA citizens (with the ultimate view of becoming responsible global citizens - see Nussbaum) but also SA-citizens-in-the-making that are culturally responsive, meaning being able to critical engage and reflect as far as possible, their own pre-conceived ideas of what count as norms and taken-for-granted-"truths". But that can only be done, if teaching staff (faculty) are aware or want to become aware (cf. reflexivity) of how they are complicit in perpetuating students' ways of thinking. At this stage it is important to note the power inherent in faculty-student teaching-learning relationships, in particular the problematization of student genre (so-called raw knowledge) and legitimization of lecturer professional knowledge.
In this regard, I argue, while students are at the core of the curricular output, the lecturer , is often neglected in reflection but plays a critical role if transformative initiatives are to succeed. Whether conscious of it or not, both lecturers and students bring most, if not all, of who they are to the learning environment, including their fears, biases, stereotypes, memories of past traumas and current life experiences (Obear 2007).
Based on reflective inquiry, auto-ethnography, and supported by literature, this paper reports on my facilitation (teaching) experience of lecture hall difficult dialogues after 12 months of the pilot phase of the University-wide workshop 'Engaging Difficult Dialogues in University Education'. I argue that espousing mutual vulnerability is an effective educational approach to facilitating transformative learning through difficult dialogues.
Keywords: Transformative learning, difficult dialogue, facilitator role, mutual vulnerability