At this point, the irritation of post-submission rumination has subsided and given way to opportunity for personal development outside of the confines of academic submission.
(That this happens with exceeding regularity manifests a longing to submit amendments or additions to my work. If only the traditional format were open to change.)
So much of my findings are unsuitable for sharing with the wider academic group, due to the intensely personal nature of my findings.
In reflection, there is much I feel I have missed that I could have shared:
In critique, pausing my interventions to create time and space for students to think, reflect and share.
Provide opportunity for students to rebut/retort/question feedback after some reflection. Too often the finality of comment/critique is a kind of violence. A dig, a jab…so on. But if the premise was different, we are not passing judgement but trying to understand, we are creating opportunity for peer exchanges we want to encourage outside of the classroom!
Autoethnographic analysis of my own critical practice. While I did make an earlier off the cuff critique (1), further analysis would be helpful. My anxiety and love of football leads be to seek a form of training that emerges from the recommendation to record critique. The post-match/crit review. Professional athletes watch their games back, why don’t professional critics?
I deliberately showed only so much, the presentation was about sharing findings with my audience, I did therefore, create a narrative from truth, weaved with reflective conversation over documentation. Ideas arise at the intersections of theories, there is much more to learn, much more to share.
Was this the right choice? Have I harmed myself in sharing this information? Is this the vulnerability talking? Speaking from such a place opens up the voice of trauma, when you ask questions of me, you are asking ‘little zish’ . This is the importance of trauma informed pedagogy, that ultimately, it hides everywhere and we are not trained on it, so we have to do the work ourselves.
At the same time, we have to accept our own limitationsas educators, whether perspective and bias, or our ability to contribute from a shared lived experience. What to do in these situations? I won’t be afraid to acknowledge my limitations, and direct students to those who can provide what I cannot. (therapy or intersectional perspective; ability, sexuality, gender, race, age…etc)
What is a grade in the context of pedagogic trauma?
I am not sure if this will be considered as part of my submission. I will have my afterword, in this project or the next!
This is a comment I feel to have received a number of times over my lifetime.
I cannot help but think of a predatory bird circling ahead, observing and watching from all angles, looking for the decisive moment.
Or in this case, the decisive question.
This has not been forthcoming, so this reflection seeks to hone in, to take a better look at the land of critique.
Critiqistan, if you like, I certainly do.
Because there is something in queering critique, decolonising and intersectionalising critique that is of deep interest.
But step back for a moment, the why of critique? I do this because I feel my own trauma has affected my studies throughout my life, in relation to tutors and peers, from primary to university and beyond.
It is this feeling of constantly being alien in a hostile environment, that I wish to quell. Or at the very least, temper.
It is my belief that for those of us with a cynical view towards the world, and therefore the institution, will often interoperate neutrality as negativity.
Perhaps they, like me, will also engage in self-sabotaging behaviours in relation to self-determination, that hinders their ability to honest with themselves and live a life with integrity consistent with their personal sense of morality and justice.
That is to say, what is not important, is to affect their journey. What is important, is to make sure they do not ‘go off piste’ or ‘off the rails’ as a result of neutral or negative criticism.
Ok, so now that’s clear(ish), how does this relate to the ARP?
The ARP is a series of questions, and so I will present a series of questions as my ARP.
I like the simplicity and self-referential nature of this creative action, fitting of Aikido or wu wei philosophy (approximately, action through inaction, flipping the question or the reverse uno card).
So the core part of ARP is action, reflection and personal practice. Now that I am clear that I wish to ‘leave no student behind’, what can I do?
To make a football analogy, I am thinking about the Belgium National Team, who are famous for their track record in developing young players. There are some useful takeaways that the Belgium Blueprint provides: a focus on education and resilience, and a desire to stop young players from slipping through the net. Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne and Vincent Kompany have operated at the top level, but it is interesting that Simon Migniolet was signed by Sunderland because of his desire to balance studies alongside his playing career. There is too much focus on ‘superstars’ and that every player with the commitment and desire should be given the opportunity to develop. Given that football is one of the most competitive of competitive worlds, mental health for those that ‘don’t make it’ is a serious issue. Often these players feel isolated and cannot talk about their struggles.
Back to the ARP, I want to make sure I can account for every student in my care, and to do so in such a way that does not over-burden or overwhelm me.
The question I am asking now is, how can I develop a practice of critique that centres the student wellbeing?
How can I use trauma informed pedagogy to make sure that no student is left behind to struggle alone?
How can I create a connection with students who may be cynical towards institutions?
What information exists out there to help me best facilitate trauma-informed critique?
Thinking hollistically, I cannot check on each student individually on a weekly basis, but beyond best practice in the crit, when a challenge does arise, how can I check in a form of post-critique aftercare?
I am thinking of the student who cried in a crit adjacent to me. I am thinking of the student who does not engage in the workshop.
I am thinking of these various opportunities that are not taken, and harm that may be caused. Some difficulty is part of the creative process, but it is not our jobs to add to the difficulty, it is our job to help students manage this challenge themselves.
— Kodos (as Bill Clinton) (“The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror VII”)
I look back on this particular series with some trepidation. At the time, like many, I watched the series constantly, it was everywhere. Its ubiquity manufactured affinity. Prevalence implied a it as a prerequisite. A ‘given’
Wading through the fog of creativity has now become somewhat of a joy. The excitement of finding solutions, or rather them finding you, stepping on a landmine propelling you to ‘the next level’.
In the case of the ARP, I am still deep within the fog of The Crit and critique more generally. There is certainly movement in this game of minesweeper. Setting flags for interesting points of investigation:
Labour. Data collection and processing is labour intensive, with much work existing already. Analysis. Similarly, there are those more expert than I who have done this work.
I have the opportunity to speak to students about this and feel a pull towards highlighting the process element of critique. As The White Pube mention, art school is an ‘expansion pack’. (Paraphrasing) You go in, weird things happen you have to make sense of, at the end of it, you have a more expanded consciousness and are better for it…usually.
I am also beginning to think that the point is not to try and do something new per se, but to re-direct ourselves to the scholarship that already exists as being beneficial. The form of experimentation in the critique will emerge naturally through reflecting on the challenges of the crit.
I would like to encourage depth of critique through iterative interviews. In an ideal situation, students I work with a few in number and are open to interacting in as many stages as possible. Stage 1: 1:1s Stage 2: Focus Groups Stage 3: Questionaire Stage 4: Aftercare
This feels ambitious, so I want these stages to be the simplest version of themselves.
I want questionnaires to be both ‘automatic’ and ‘arresting’. BANG. BANG. BANG. woah. <- perhaps this is the structure, 3 quick fire questions (non-binary choice but scaled) and 1 open one.
Things to develop: Chunking and formalising actions/processes. (i.e. opening/closing crits) Questions to cover with students Timeline & labour considerations/allocation. Research Question
Final thoughts on the research question. Will this emerge through the process? Is it in aftercare? this is a word I have used a number of times and am sure that is where my interest in critique lies. Perhaps I would like to speak to these students directly and ask: What did you feel? What could have been done What could now be done How do you feel about this in relation to your journey? Have you noticed any adjustments/changes in light of this? Is your process developing? What have you taken away from this intervention? How do you feel about the event after having this intervention?
Reflecting on the nature of deadlines, when given some respite, the nature of the creative mind will present something overlooked. This has often been the case for me, how about you?
Things I missed/didn’t/wish I’d addressed more deeply:
Gender, being a man on a course of mostly women staff and students, means my normal stance of listening should be extra attentive as should diligence towards expressions of sexism and intersectionality (especially, misogynoir). (Something I would cover in a Critical Thought seminar on the Dragonball franchise.
Race, the lack of Black representation in BA Illustration students is stark. I am reminded of friends who have expressed their routes of ‘social mobility’ being sports or music. Media is becoming more diverse, with many inspired by the scene legend, Jamal Edwards (Rest in Power).
Diversity of resources, which was covered in my previous hyperopic artefacts. (Fun fact, hyperopic is the opposite of myopic, I’m leaving this because I like the word, but more importantly I need to consider accessibility of language)
I would love to get rid of grading in favour of another system, one less binary than pass/fail. I am also in favour of making the process transparent to students if there is a form of distinction/grade, and a potential opening up.
“What grade would you give yourself?” “This is where the tutors benchmark you”
Cases are stated, heard and discussed, with notes, wise feedback and feedforward.
Applying all this learning to the context of teaching racialised individuals is to listen for clear self-identification and expressions of self.
I am reminded to pay attention to the intersections of race, which in the context of illustration involve gender, geography, sexuality and interests. These are whole individuals and should be seen/treated/heard as such.
It is also vitally important to utilise trigger warnings and maintain a duty of care to our Black students. Anti-blackness and misogynoir exist within communities of colour.
In my practice, I will source more positive images of people of colour. I have seen plenty of pain.
In the context of BA Illustration, I will introduce more Black artists and Intersectional Artists of Colour, with specific attention paid to positive images of Black artists.
I will do more reading, there is so much to catch up on.
I will speak to my students about their creative dreams and fears. I will bravely share mine. We will speculate on strategies of survival. We will survive.
When it comes to religion, the demographics of BA Illustration skew highly towards ‘no religion’ (102 students 70%)
While this is indicative of a more secular society, I can remember two instances of students referencing Buddhism, one of whom identified as not practicing. It is important to note that this is now the norm in the UK and religion has been weaponised in politics as we have seen with islamophobia and anti-semitism.
As an inclusive practitioner, my main concern is to encourage healthy conversation and clear boundaries of respect. As a new practitioner, I must accept my lack of experience and seek advice on how to proceed, and engage in theological debates and critique.
Considering how this will impact my teaching, I will be mindful and remind students of our duty of care to one another in an educational space and their agency to leave if they so wish.
Furthermore, how can I create an environment where students feel they can express their religion, without fear of reproach or judgement? The wise strategy of honest positivity comes into play. Reminded by my conversation with a hospitality colleague, I would direct the individual towards a colleague with lived experience, offering my experience and strategies if appropriate.
When reflecting on alternative ability with specific consideration of my students, I will make sure to have a clear list of my students with “declared disabilities” and engage them regarding their access needs.
I think taking an extra step to be consistent in seeing and hearing them as individuals will go a long way to aiding their inclusivity.
Beyond this, I must work harder to diversify my archive to include more practitioners that explore inter-sensorial translation, such as Christine Kim. While this has added benefits for my personal artistic practice, interesting resources are always useful in the most surprising of situations.
Finally the most important is to listen and consider their whole intersectional selves.
On the surface, I am racialised and gendered as a brown man.
Underneath, my identity is less binary.
Pronouns: he/him (currently)
As a Brit(ish) African Asian twice-migrant born into the Isma’ili Muslim community, I inherit a complex history of religious persecution, misinformation and colonial subjugation.
In Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Asians became an imported middle class to maintain, and benefit from, the colonial image of racial hierarchy. “Asians tended to acquiesce in this system” due to conservatism, capitalist ambition and “low political consciousness” (Ghai, 1965). Trapped in the resulting middle-class immigrant narrative, private education provided further privileges but belie the generational and personal trauma, racism and islamophobia that sowed the seeds of social justice.
Brainwashed by neoliberalism, studying Economics and Mathematics, I was destined for a death in finance before Marx reignited creative desires. Burnout-induced introspection cut short my advertising art direction career; manifesting an embodied knowledge of Manufacturing Consent.
Acknowledging my complicity in generational Racial Capitalism inspired my decolonial practice of critical thought with respect to the Broadcast Image.
My first university teach experience with year 2 BA Illustration at Camberwell comes courtesy of Shades of Noir’s Teaching Within program.
Considering this cohort (144 students), I am mindful to avoid surface level assumptions. To look at and beyond demographics, as data masks nuanced histories that must be recognised for students to feel valued, heard and seen.
Within the overseas group (73), I recognise the self-identified introverted non-binary Black student from the USA, whose positionality requires different considerations to non-anglophones, of whom the largest contingent are from China.
Traditional reliance on language in knowledge exchange generates my artefact and question: How to bridge the communication gap with East Asian Students?
“The percentage of staff of colour at present is very small at 3.6% and does not in any way reflect the student cohort. These staff bring a positive experience to diverse students on course in the form of role models.” (Finnigan & Richards, 2016)
Framing overseas student-teacher representation in terms of native role models simplified the problem to create an entry point for discussion with the course leader: “Have you considered hiring a native speaker?”
Regarding English requirements and student reticence to engage with language support; “I think its [culturally] to do with not wanting to admit you need help.” In retrospect, individual characteristics (positionality/neurodiversity/mental health) bring complexity to communication and require care. In the future, when students flag their ‘poor English’ and create a hurdle to practise, I will pause, patiently encourage and guide them to work through it. And direct them to language support.
The UCA Farnham case we discussed is unique; a fully Chinese cohort and one, clearly overworked, native speaking tutor. Feedback with the IPU lead tutor notes that students and tutors are drawn to one another based on a number of identity markers (gender, complexion, fashion, introversion…etc). In the UAL context, the cohort is more diverse than Farnham, so is it not more important to centre the students’ sense of being valued: seen, heard and respected?
Personally, TW and the IPU have provided my first experience of intersectional leadership and tutorship. This experience of connection and difference has been integral for considering gender and misogynoir. More readily transgressing institutional distrust and forming bonds of solidarity. This intersectional perspective has been essential for my academic and personal growth, supporting my belief in the benefit of extending representative inclusion to the East Asian contingent.
Opening the premise to external critique was helpful. Noting passive role, introducing specificity and agency yields:
How can I communicate with East Asian students on their terms?
As an auditory and visual learner, I appreciate resources that lie outside the written word. With 51% overseas students, it would be fair to offer alternative entry points and de-centre the English language. Seeing an opportunity in an anime I am reminded of Lecturer feedback: “Do students still watch Dragonball Z?”
Though my assumption was confirmed, why not start with students and co-curate content?
Thinking back to Term 2, students’ references include the Korean Alphabet, Confucius, cultural myths and untranslatable words. Co-curation will democratise resource positionality across the range of cohort cultures and interests in line with social identity theory. This real-time feedback will also benefit my teaching practice.
The IPU session Who’s Who is an interesting example of gestalt design. Simplicity allows the session to be translated across geographic and political contexts to affect the same feeling of (un)conscious bias. It is important to reflect that the notion of inclusive design is subject to discourse. Notions of Foucauldian power and normativity necessitate a turning towards the student body, after all, it is their needs I am trying to meet.
Lacking the Vocabulary
Critique is vital to development. With personal experiences across the spectrum, lacking vocabulary had resulted in both intellectual bullying and transformative feedback. As a tutor, I will explicitly acknowledge my positionality and privilege to mitigate historical mistrust. At the same time I will employ (n)etiquette and body scan meditations to set behavioural standards, focus the group and promote empathy, discourse and knowledge exchange. Intervening when necessary.
Moving from ‘safe’ to ‘brave spaces’ requires ‘wise’ strategies, including: honest positivity, an explicit articulation of high standards when expressing critical feedback and the assurance that feedback is given with the belief that the student can meet the aforementioned high standards. (Yeager, 2013)
Bravery has to start with the teacher. Reflecting on the task of critiquing a Shades of Noir webpace, I faltered. Discomfort ensued. It felt challenging to question an authority to which you hold proximity and affinity bias. As a teacher, this is ultimately a disservice, as holding back critique removes the opportunity for learning. To help, a question from cognitive behavioural therapy: “is this feedback helpful?”
Like many students, I move between multiple contexts, currently working in hospitality to financially support this report. In these spaces, (un)conscious bias presents a number of challenges that are likely to disproportionately affect marginalised genders, People of Colour and/or those from low socio-economic backgrounds.
In these situations I will offer my experiences and survival strategies, detailing successes and failures, citing our differing positionalities and student agency. I will avoid giving direct advice, in favour of directing students to external resources for reflection. And where appropriate, offering to guide the student in unpacking and working through the problem to develop internal resources. (Francois, 2019)
Reflecting on ability and access, I am flooded with memories of debilitating glandular fever during my second year of university. Feelings of pain, isolation and helplessness without an end in sight. The IPU has reminded me to reflect on healthcare as an intersectional issue. Historic failings, abuses and mis(sed) diagnosis. For intersectional students, some may find it difficult to report illness, under/over exaggerating symptoms in good faith. As a tutor, I will assume goodwill and apply time, attentiveness and care to build trust.
Time being a scarce resource I hope to redress via digital pedagogic tools.
As a self-described ‘slow learner’ (potentially undiagnosed neurodivergent), digital sessions alleviate schedule and geographic challenges. While recordings provide the ability to pause/replay/rewatch, which is helpful for ‘slow learners’ and those with declared disabilities and/or learning difficulties.
Going forward I will record sessions where appropriate and pre-share resources with students to focus on dialectic exchange. Considering access, I will utilise basic translation, dictation and notation tools in resource sharing. Whilst giving students options to self-direct critique format, where slower exchanges over digital platforms (myblog/miro/email) will have added access benefits for inclusivity beyond language and into access needs.
“It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors”(Freire, 1970)
To conclude, I will reflect on feedback from two previous artefacts: Artefact 1: “a complex matrix of words codes and format…potentially all barriers to students” Artefact 2: “You’re overdoing it, you’re overcomplicating”
Having already acknowledged the complicated nature of artefact 2 with the course leader, I continued.
Why did I do this?
Perhaps, still disappointed with my TPP grade, I am still mentally stuck, trying to correct those failures.
Unpacking further, I see learnt behaviour from banking education and capitalist ‘creative direction’. Acquiescing to white male ‘creative directors’ who have ignored, stolen and dictated my creative work. Shell shocked from burnout. Dutifully awaiting orders. Unable to hear myself.
So I will listen.
I don’t want this for my students.
So I will continue use research, critique and reflection to unlearn and question the thoughts/patterns/behaviors of ingrained imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy and to centre inclusivity in my practice.
Inside the academy, I will develop my inclusive praxis through student/colleague/mentor feedback for clarification, challenge and advice.
Outside the academy, I engage in talking therapies for guided reflection and challenge. This combination of internal and external community of care and solidarity helps people of colour “survive and thrive in the ivory tower” (Gabriel & Tate, 2017).
“If you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else” – Toni Morrison
Word Count: 1498
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YEAR 2 BA ILLUSTRATION CAMBERWELL STATISTICS
COURSE LEADER TRANSCRIPT HIGHLIGHTS
Me: “One of the reflections was the difficulty of the language barrier… …Have you considered hiring a native speaker?”
Course Leader: “…I know some other Universities that have done that, at UCA Farnham…” “…We do have language support …international students don’t like going…”
“…I think it’s [culturally] to do with not wanting to admit you need help…”
Course Leader “…they’re meant to be at a certain level of language before we start.” “In the meeting I was in, people were talking about the reason they got rid of the dissertation was along those lines [language barrier]” “getting translators…was also problematic” “does [translating dissertations into English] make English the hierarchy?”
Me: “Is it also problematic to say, we have lots of Chinese students, we need a Chinese tutor”
Course Leader “There is a push to hire staff from different backgrounds but it would be problematic to say, We’re only hiring from someone from this country and this language” “[at Farnham where] she’s a Chinese Lecture, the student body is 100% Chinese, a couple of the staff are English and the students are all going to her all the time so she’s massively overworking…because their interaction with her is much easier.”
A word whose multiple meanings are rather revealing…
Positionality & Notes
Key themes: Twice Migrant, British Raj, Indic region, India, Tanganyika, Tanzania, East Africa, Non-Black African, African Asian, Brit-ish, Male presenting, Brown, ‘Racially Ambiguous’.
Key theme: Spoken truth
Key themes: Intersectional Space, Archive, Broadcast, Healing, Reflection, Historical and Contemporary resistance. Academic Terms of Reference, Communal dissemination of knowledge.
Un-(concious bias & the ‘Room of Silence’)
Key themes: 2 in 1, linguistics, prefix, implicit v explicit, un(considered/explored/believed/respected/critical/comfortable/safe spaces), lived experience, pain, disillusionment, stagnation, harm,
Pedagogy of Social Justice – H. Tapper
Provocations: What steps are you taking to present a wide array of resources/content to cover ALL involved perspectives? How are you encouraging reflection in your process? – can this be formalised, (like the IPU post-tasks)
Key Themes: Intersectionality, Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, SIT (Social Identity Theory), Chosen Identity, Core Pillars, explicit aims & intentions, embodied knowledge of intersectionality, group dynamics as indicators of global group dynamics, students as ‘living texts’, facilitation (process focus) v teaching (content focus), Non primordial approach to identity, Complicate understandings, questions > answers, no socialisation or brainwashing, critical thinking & reflection to form own opinions, post-program challenges, alumni experiences, reexamine/reconstruct relationships and commitment to individual and group narratives. Balance: activist burnout & compassion fatigue.
Retention and attainment
Key Themes: Belonging, Class & Opportunity, Slay in your lane, Role Models, Spinning data, PoC Staff Retention and attainment, Creative Attraction Gap, Immigrant Narrative, Publication Critique Published, Qualitative reasoning behind attainment gaps, individual circumstances & structural problems, Creative Comfort/Safety & Ambiguity/Risk, Trust, Facilitation, Public Critique, Practicing Tutors with Diverse Backgrounds, Decolonising the curriculum & Diversifying resources, P2P, Students not customers, bell hooks, student-centred, Tell Us About It, Lessons from Film Crew, ‘The Oppressed must free themselves’ – Freire, GEMS: Visibility, Community, Influence, Gaps, Collective solutions (power), Recommendations.
Key Themes: Whiteness, Naming the problem – Sara Ahmed & SoN TORs, Terry Finnigan’s growing comfort in discomfort, Linda Stupart breaks the 4th wall, ‘I don’t know myself or my whiteness well enough to tell’, ‘most of the policemen [in SA] are black’,