Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Diversifying syllabus

One of the presenters at the Symposium on Diversifying curriculum in the multi-cultural context of the UK, spoke of their department's attempt to understand that there are nuances in this endeavour.  She pointed out that to

  • democritize - to go beyond the elite
  • diversity - go beyond the white
  • decentralize - go beyond the Western
  • decolonize - involve local experience and have a multi-dimensional approach, or in the least be critical of prevailing popular sources

It was interesting to note that, in the context of teaching history, she stated that doing one does not automatically mean doing all the other too!

As I listened to the various points spoken about, I felt how greatly philosophy, a subject dealing with critical outlook, can help in this endeavour.  That philosophy content itself needs to be filtered through these biases, is a task not less important!

There were also proposals of how we can ask and get the students to suggest authors or ideas they wish to discuss form a small portion (perhaps the concluding part) of the lecture series.  Thus their preferences or likes of their own background or interest could resonate in the curriculum.  Another aspect was a thorough review of the sources, especially primary sources, cited as part of the reading for a particular course undertaken.

Besides the points I gathered from the symposium, I thought the aspect of a conscious and continuous process of self-awareness regarding the biases and perspectives from which I, the educator, carries out the task of teaching (and learning), forms a very fundamental aspect of this diversification.  It could be as simple as being conscious of the vocabulary that I use, the examples I quote, the authors or ideas I refer to... This personal awareness does go a long way in creating a sensitive and inclusive classroom ambiance, especially with regard to the syllabus.  

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