36 thoughts on “Readings & responses for week 2: January 10-14”

  1. 1. I know a fair amount about UDL but I admit I haven’t always been the best at making sure things follow those principles aside from using editable pdfs for student readings, something I will continue to do, obviously. This term, I have one asynchronous class and the other only meets synchronously once a week, and I need to rely on short videos as part of a variety of delivery mechanisms and assignments–that means making sure I move them into YouTube for closed-captioning and creating transcripts. I forget to do that, so that’s a priority for me now, thanks to these reminders. I love this UDL Guidelines chart from cast.org, by the way: [sorry it’s the whole url: OpenLab comments won’t let me do a descriptive link in a Reply.] https://udlguidelines.cast.org/?utm_source=castsite&utm_medium=web&utm_campaign=none&utm_content=footer

    2. Reading the Chardin & Novack piece, I was also reminded that students have strong opinions about how they learn best. Of course, right now they hate being remote and I’m sure those opinions are even stronger. The two authors at one point argue that we should involve students in designing activities and assignments (“What do you already know about this and what else do you need to learn; what is the most accessible way for you to learn it?”); I realize that the whole idea of “learning styles” has gone out of favor, but in a way, that’s what this is albeit with specific student input and not possibly-biased testing. So I plan to create an activity the first week that allows students to have that kind of input, use it as a check against what I’ve got planned, and tweak things that I think could use tweaking so I can reach more students.

    1. Jacquelyn, thanks for the link to the UDL resource. Looks like they continually update based on feedback. Individual input will enhance our knowledge of what is needed and possibly inspire others to design solutions. Forced online teaching has required me to increase my modes of communication and to research ways to optimize motivation. But I’m always looking for more.

    2. Thank you very much for this response. I am very glad that this short course has given you some ideas that you can use while preparing for this semester. Also, I personally love having transcripts, because my eyesight is better than my hearing. I also turn on captions for videos when watching for myself. Just adding those two features makes videos much more accessible for me and lots of other people. Thank you!

    3. Hi Jackie,

      Students definitely have strong opinions about how they prefer to learn and the modalities of instruction they find effective (or not). I always survey my students quite extensively about their educational background, and have done so because it allows me to craft assignments that are scaffolded in a way that they will be receptive to. But, I’m still getting them to jump through my preferred hoops in most cases. When I solicit student input, which I always do, it’s at the *end* of the semester for use with new students. I’m thinking, like you, that I might build a more inclusive learning environment by asking students’ input on assignments *before* the beginning of the semester.

    4. Thank you for the weblink it will be helpful in the new semester planning. I like your idea to listen to the students about what methods or systems work best for their learning. During COVID I have observed that their is always one student who is an outlier and does not want to learn within the system proposed for the course. I have struggle to keep that select person engaged and wonder if it is my teaching method, the 100% online or if they have this problem in every class regardless of the situation.

    5. Thank you for your comments on the Chardin and Novack piece. I have not read it yet but I will now. The subject of student’s intentions and knowing how they perceive it best for them to learn is of interest to me. I do look forward to exploring how to work with students on assessing what they already know and what they can best learn is powerful.

    6. Thanks for raising the point that students have strong opinions about how they learn best. I think the pandemic has increased student awareness of online learning and some students find it beneficial to skip the commute. Like Chardin and Chovak mentioned, I also think it is a helpful way to involve students in deciding the mode and requirements of their assignments, and it may be even better if we provide a few pre-determined choices based on our prior understanding of our students. I find it helpful to provide student with sample work for one of the earlier assignments, so students are made aware of the expectations in terms of writing quality and formatting.

  2. 1. It is my first time learning about Hao’s (2011) Critical Compassionate Pedagogy and I found that this teaching approach is one that critically examine institutionalized policies or practices, while engaging in self-reflexivity with a focus on compassion. It is meant to mobilize and catalyze changes in reimagining changes to higher education, communities, learners and educators. In the face of the pressures brought by the pandemic, many learners and educators have been exposed to physical dangers and mental health challenges. This approach appears to be one that educators can implement, as it focuses on empathy and listening, both of which are much needed in this time when there are widespread societal concerns about health and livelihood matters.
    2. I learned much from Prof. Kat McFarlane’s interview on Tea for Teaching. Much of our support systems we have for individuals with disabilities are established in line with the medical model of disability. Contrasted against the social model of disability, Professor McFarlane linked several challenges faced by the disabled with the the medical of disability and discussed her interactions with law students as well as faculty members on how to best serve learners with disabilities. One point that resonates with me, is that she recommends providing the tools for an employee with disabilities so they are able to succeed. To do so, we need specialists who understand the usage of impactful and medically approved tools, and support the employee in procuring those tools to ensure full accessibility. The two examples of meeting conference accessibility and checklists for ASL interpretation are what a supervisor should be aware of, but many other including hearing and vision disabilities will also require further support.
    3. The article by Hall and Tandon brought up the observed phenomena of how Western knowledge systems such as higher education institutions have engaged in epistemicide and marginalized other diverse knowledge systems. Several cases and historical observations were illustrated to highlight the events that aimed to colonize, racialize, masculinize and engender intellectual systems. Overall, the article has alerted me to appreciate diverse knowledge systems, cultural assets and intellectual spheres and that it may take linguistic proficiency in another language to appreciate the finer details. There is so much educators can do to bridge our current education systems with diverse knowledge systems, through general education, STEM integration and extra-curricular activities.

    1. Dear Hon Teo, thank you for these very thoughtful responses.

      1. This pandemic has been grueling and disruptive for students and educators. The physical dangers and mental toll is real. I’m glad you found the framework of Critical Compassionate Pedagogy to be helpful. Kindness, through empathy and listening, is a powerful approach to take in the classroom. Just remember to also be compassionate to yourself too!

      2. This sentence was my favorite part of your response #2: “One point that resonates with me, is that she recommends providing the tools for an employee with disabilities so they are able to succeed. To do so, we need specialists who understand the usage of impactful and medically approved tools, and support the employee in procuring those tools to ensure full accessibility.” What sort of tools would you like to have for your students with disabilities, if there were no limits on budget?

      3. “Western knowledge systems such as higher education institutions have… marginalized other diverse knowledge systems.” This is such a powerful statement. What has the West lost in its relentless colonization of all, including knowledge? How much does humanity lose when nonWestern knowledge systems are ignored? I am glad these questions are finally being asked…thank you for your response.

    2. Hello, Hon Teo, your writing is thoughtful and spot on. I agree with you that Critical Compassionate Pedagogy illustrated a teaching style to use online and be inclusive of the authors students. They learned by doing and got a greater understanding of the topic by participating in the writing. It gave them ownership.
      I agree about Prof. Kat McFarlane’s interview on Tea for Teaching students with disabilities are cast as a one-dimensional medical condition when they are actually a three-dimensional human. One semester I have six students with profound disabilities in my project management class. When they worked in teams with the average students, they grew frustrated with the ability to work and learn the content. They proposed being their own team for the last project and presented all the skills they were working on throughout the semester and a joy at the success they earned by doing the project with a team who understood them.
      In Hall and Tandoms Decolonization of Knowledge it was disheartening to learn of the vast history of global local knowledge displacement. It makes me wonder of all the impotent knowledge that was lost due to greed. I will be working to see how I can be inclusive of the idea in the classroom when my students do their research.

  3. In academia, the primary way we often talk about disability is through the lens of accommodations. Those with disabilities negotiate when and if to disclose their disability status and whether to request accommodations. These articles bring to mind questions I often have but don’t know how to approach.

    My classes don’t administer tests, but when a student provides an “accommodation” for extra test time, I understand there might be issues of attention or anxiety. I often think that if more students provided accommodations, I would be better prepared to help. Obvious signs, like a wheelchair, provide evidence that accommodation might be necessary. But otherwise, the best that I’ve been able to do is observe and question.

    In the long run, we each have particular needs. Some are better with printed instruction, others with video instruction. Some need challenges to excel. For others, those challenges could debilitate. I often talk to students about varying learning styles. Homework reveals what we understand, how we interpret. In my classes, homework doesn’t ask for right or wrong answers. Yet many students find this open-ended challenge frustrating. Students often think that design should be easier and more quickly assimilated; if they struggle, they are exposing weakness or lack of “talent”. In Wright-Mair’s words, the overarching paradigm of higher education upholds ideologies of meritocracy. Structures that required perfectionism and hyper-productivity don’t allow for individual differences, experimentation, or learning through “mistakes”.

    I teach visual judgment, always asking students how they see and interpret a visual situation. Given that, I judge my students. I wonder why a particular student doesn’t make eye contact. Or why one needs constant attention. Or if I need to be concerned when a student overreacts. What is the best way for someone preparing students for a profession to address these issues? How am I to judge without a formal sign or a letter of accommodation. This brings to mind Wright-Mair’s question of how to operationalize compassion in higher education? Awareness of the quality of our judgments can facilitate emotional intelligence. Maybe what professors/leaders need is a better awareness of our implicit biases. Biases often lead to systematic thinking errors. Visvanathan, notes that cognitive justice sensitizes us not only to forms of knowledge but also to the diverse communities of problem-solving. To this point, Kat Macfarlane provides 11 varied studies that discuss the politics of laptop use in the classroom. One study concludes that students most likely to use laptops are most likely to be distracted. This seems to overlook the problem—how to help a diverse group of students with diverse abilities to focus.

    What accommodations am I missing in my assignments/curriculum? How can we better understand what accommodations are needed? When does encouraging a student to expand and excel become pushing a student that had enough? When does relaxing requirements dull challenge? The answers are nuanced.

    1. Hi Patricia,

      This idea that Wright-Mair and her students focus on, of operationalizing compassion, really struck me. I write about something called a “pedagogy of charity,” which is a concept in my field related to being charitable in our assessments of, beliefs regarding, and treatment towards students. But I like the idea of being compassionate so much better, as the human value behind it implies a different power relationship. As I was thinking about this, I realized just how difficult it is for faculty in general, and very much myself in particular, to offer ourselves the same level of professional compassion and I believe this shapes how we interact with students. Even if we don’t replicate the practices of how we were educated and trained, we replicate the dominant ideologies of our education and profession. And for many of us, those weren’t remotely compassionate. They were punishing. Our students may not need charity, but they absolutely need compassion. And so do we.

      1. Great point Patrick. I loved my education, professors, and worked as a TA. For a long time, I thought that the way I was taught was the only way. And what I was taught was the only truth. With hindsight, I am able to place it in “history.” “Professional compassion” sends my thinking in so many directions. As a parent, it took a few years for me to learn parental compassion; to realize that there was no form of perfect parenting and many influences that I couldn’t control. I continued to explore and learn as I learned to relax and loosen control. Not sure if it made me a better parent but it probably made me a more pleasant person to interact with. I see the same arc in my teaching style.

        When forced to teach online, I have admitted to students that we are now “winging it” and I needed feedback from them on what did and didn’t work. That was a turning point in my approach to working with students.

    2. Dear Prof Childers,
      Thank you for this honest and caring response. I find your descriptions of design students’ struggles very interesting and relatable. When I have a hard time learning something (like statistics), I blame myself for “lack of talent” and often quit trying. However, if support is offered, such as alternative approaches to learning the material or showing understanding of the subject, I am more able to persevere.

      “What accommodations am I missing in my assignments/curriculum? How can we better understand what accommodations are needed? When does encouraging a student to expand and excel become pushing a student that had enough? When does relaxing requirements dull challenge? The answers are nuanced.” Yes, there are no easy “one size fits all” answers to these questions. In an ideal setting, what tools and support would you have as an educator to best accommodate students? (No need to answer, I am just wondering on your behalf!)

  4. My two selections were “A Work of Heart: Practicing Critical Compassionate Pedagogy in the Face of Adversity” by Raquel Wright-Mair and the podcast on “Disability and Higher Education.” Both pieces were good reminders of how we need to be more attuned to the challenges students are facing, whether mentally, emotionally, or physically (and not just due to COVID), many of which are not visible to the eye. One of the first things that comes to mind is my own syllabus, usually 7-8 pages long, with just two paragraphs that explicitly address compassionate pedagogy and disabilities: one detailing a commitment to cura personalis in the aftermath of COVID, the other the college’s official accessibility statement. I am thinking about ways of re-designing my syllabi so that it more generally vocalizes my recognition of the hardships and oppressions of my students, rather than being confined to these two specific paragraphs. I would love to hear everyone’s ideas or hopefully see examples if you’ve already done this with your syllabi.

    One of the questions raised by Wright-Mair is “How do we challenge educational systems that view compassion as weakness and/or a threat to rigor?” This question stood out to me because I have heard various comments about how this generation has it super easy in school. For me, school (from middle school on) was truly rigorous. I would have 9 periods of classes, all of which assigned daily homework. Winter/spring break wouldn’t be a time for rest, but rather a time for studying or completing big projects. Meanwhile, my son (a middle schooler) comes home every day with no homework; he can apparently complete it all in school. He doesn’t even have any textbooks; they are shown PPT slides in class. He says he’s been learning the same thing in Science class for the last 2 months. Is this what a compassionate pedagogy translates into work-wise? So, does my worry about my son’s education stem from my “persisting with [the more rigorous, less compassionate] standards of the past”? What happens when students leave the classroom into a professional field that doesn’t practice compassionate pedagogy?

    Some final thoughts on the podcast: it was truly illuminating hearing the discussions surrounding the many challenges students with disabilities face. A few of the points that stood out for me were that many disabilities can’t be seen. A majority of society has these preconceptions of what people with disabilities look/act like, which is completely wrong and offensive. Also, it is quite a burdensome process in order to get documentation for a disability and then approval for accommodations. The manner in which we talk about disability often “others” those with disabilities. Finally, there is a fear of being stigmatized if you have a disability and then students who need help end up not asking for accommodations.

    Laptops and even cell phone use isn’t an issue for me. I let students bring and use them in class. My Chinese students, for instance, often use translation apps on their phones to help understand the language in assignments. In terms of note-taking, a useful practice is to task each student to take notes for the day’s lesson, then post them for the class on whatever online platform you use.

    1. Hi. You bring up a lot of good points. My middle-school granddaughter is having the same thing happen as your son with all of the repetition, and she’s getting bored with her basic classes; the more interactive, exploratory classes are the ones she’s enjoying and being challenged by. I think you’re right that we need to think about that when dealing with what one of my students is calling Gen-C for Covid; is what we have always expected about high school preparation for college true any longer? And what does that mean for us as instructors?

      The second thing I agree with you is about how we “recognize” disabilities. One of the most interesting parts of that podcast/interview for me was about how challenges not simply “obvious” but are also linguistic, cultural, and/or hidden. My sister was diagnosed with what was then called juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when she was in what is now middle school; one of her teachers said that because my sister didn’t look “sick” that she obviously was faking, and that woman’s classroom became a living hell for my very-ill sister. As my ADA lawyer daughter said to me the other day, yes, we need to be able to document these things, but ‘documentation’ can take a variety of forms, not all of them from an MD. That podcast was a reminder to me to be mindful of emotional stresses as well as physical ones. How we build that into our courses is obviously the larger question if we’re to have a non-oppressive pedagogy.

      1. I agree and have been thinking about how to “recognize” disabilities since reading the article. We can ask students to advocate for themselves but if they haven’t been “diagnosed” they may not understand. Last semester, one of my students frequently referred to herself as a “knucklehead” because she had problems with a digital program. We spent several sessions outside of class reviewing the program and discussing ways that would help her with this task in the future. But, few people master a program on the first or second try. The other students had previous experiences. And in the end, she accomplished what she needed. What I wondered was how long she had been calling herself a knucklehead and where the label came from. The label in itself is limiting.

        We’re all short on time. Every student could benefit from individual attention, but the current system of meritocracy doesn’t make room for it. Has anyone read Berg and Seebers’ “The Slow Professor?”

        1. You’re right that students often make light of their own issues and give themselves labels, largely, I think, as a means of self-protection My mother always called me “ding bat” when what I was in fact someone with inattentive ADHD which of course wasn’t even a thing back then. I called myself that, too, to my detriment, so I try to be mindful of those students and do what I can to support them the way you did (I’m unfortunately not always successful as you were). I have not read “The Slow Professor” but I’m going to check it out — thanks for the suggestion.

    2. “I am thinking about ways of re-designing my syllabi so that it more generally vocalizes my recognition of the hardships and oppressions of my students, rather than being confined to these two specific paragraphs. I would love to hear everyone’s ideas or hopefully see examples if you’ve already done this with your syllabi.” Perhaps a pre-class survey, separate from your syllabus, might be useful? Here is the one that people are adapting for their own courses: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1yPbbjxSDLVxHtLCv0jkzqZSs4QpwQqMRXSPhmBHeLGY/edit

      1. Thanks, Rachel, this is brilliant. I attended the Trauma-Informed Pedagogy Workshop today. One of the participants in our breakout room sends something similar with the question, what would you like me to know about you. It’s an opportunity for students to privately voice concerns and apprehensions. I plan to adopt/adapt this practice this semester.

    3. Thank you for your thoughtful observations. If you do not mind, I am interested in seeing if I might use some elements you mention in your syllabi.

    4. Thanks for sharing your analysis and thoughts about the educational system and compassionate pedagogy. My experience speaking with parents of high school students are that some of them have to commute close to 2 hours each day and their principals have limited their homework to 2 hours, to ensure they have sufficient rest and better mental health. I do think it is difficult to balance compassion and rigor, as rigorous schoolwork will often result in student stress and competition. Some students may be ready for more work, but some may have family, housing or economic issues that prevent them from participating in their best condition.

      1. That’s very true and understandable. Rest and mental health are key, especially for students with long commutes and course loads. What I am witnessing, though, is more like the opposite side of the spectrum, where there is literally no homework, no textbooks, very little progression in coursework, etc.

  5. I think all three readings were important to consider together for me. They highlighted many of the ways that I am already doing many of the things advocated for, which was helpful to see that reinforced. But they also really brought to light where I still have room to grow, both as an educator and as a person. One of the things I really focus on my own own teaching vocation is calling attention to how schooling is a traditional exercise in domination in a society that not just values domination, but privileges its practice. Having said that, my typical approach isn’t guided as much by empathy as it is ideological positioning and knowing how to what I jokingly refer to as “maximized labor value.” I guide students based on what I wish I had experienced as a student and employee in my early career (working for famous psychos), and it often works, but it still centered on teaching them to how to primarily navigate a system of domination. I am dominating, but the “benevolent dictator” who brings a humorous and seemingly critical eye to my own behavior.

    Most students eat this performance up and say it helped them navigate the early career workplace in competitive environments. I guess that’s good, right? They leave my classes knowing themselves better, advocating for themselves better, believing in themselves more. But I know it’s not a particularly compassionate pedagogy. In fact, my students find my work to be quite punishing. And that has kind of bothered me, particularly because I don’t know if it needs to be punishing to remain challenging. And maybe if I spent less time teaching them how to navigate unreasonable expectations successfully, we focused the class explicitly on designing the positive rather than being mentored into surviving the negative. Each of these readings gave me a reason to pause and question whether that was the approach I really needed to take.

    1. Dear Patrick, thank you for this reflective response to the readings. You speak about tensions that have come up for others as well: is compassionate pedagogy incompatible with rigor and challenge? Are all challenges in the classroom necessarily unkind? Do compassionate classrooms leave students unprepared for competitive workplaces? You have gotten excellent feedback on your approach from students, yet worry that your approach may be too harsh/dominating. It is very compassionate, in my opinion, to want to prepare your students in the way you wish someone had prepared you. But perhaps there are ways that you can weave more overt compassion, for self and students, into your approach? Maybe setting challenges, but also making it safe to make mistakes and try again?

    2. I was enthralled by your term ‘ maximized labor value’ and the enigma of not knowing if the subject of that term is intended to be the student or the professor. That got me hooked on wanting to learn more. Then read about working for famous psychos and being a benevolent dictator and am now convinced that you should retain movie rights to the plot line!

      Kidding aside, you gave me a fresh perspective on the forces at work in trying to teach a group of distinct personalities. Thank you for that!

  6. I read Decolonization of knowledge, epistemicide, participatory research and higher education by Budd L. Hall. The reading was thought provoking to me as I can see so many parallels inside my industry to keep indigenous peoples out of the work force. Even today the knowledge is owned by a union and hard won by those who are apprentices waiting to see if they will qualify when the tests to stay in the union are biased. The situation makes me thankful that City Tech exists so that all who want to attend can obtain knowledge needed to move forward with their careers. Although we are a western centric teaching system, we are open to all to attend. I am glad indigenous peoples around the world are claiming back their Herritage and teaching systems to keep their cultures alive and prosperous.

    1. Hi Susan,
      I’m glad too, that indigenous people are fighting back and protecting their cultures. Often, when I learn about Native American tribes, their ways of “knowing” and “doing” seem far less destructive to the planet and other people than ours. Their sustainable land practices, for example, are very valuable and important — but American farmers and ranchers have historically ignored these practices in favor of quick profit and fast consumption. At least these issues are being talked about more openly by Westerners, and limitations of Western knowledge acknowledged more often.

  7. Thank you for the weblink the content is well structured. I like your idea to listen to the students about what methods or systems work best for their learning. During COVID I have observed that there is always one student who is an outlier and does not want to learn within the system proposed for the course. I have struggle to keep that select person engaged and wonder if it is my teaching method, the 100% online or if they have this problem in every class regardless of the situation.

  8. The first reading I am commenting about is ‘A Work of Heart: Practicing Critical Compassionate Pedagogy in the Face of Adversity; by Raquel Wright-Mair, Jul 17, 2020.

    Allow me to first mention that whenever compassion is discussed, I think of a persona hero of mine the Dalai Lama. One of the Dalai Lama’s quotes on the subject is:

    “Through awareness, you get a certain attitude. That’s the way, you see, to achieve more peaceful, more compassion, more friendship through that way.”

    In the context of that guidance, I considered the four points made by Wright-Mair. The following is a brief synopsis.

    1. Redefine expectations of productivity (this one was a bit ambiguous as it implies too many assumptions)
    2. Be proactive and attentive (which I translate as striving to grow in self-awareness)
    3. Lead with love (really, this should be first — it even says ‘lead’ but lists itself third)
    4. Use your privilege (in other words, be humble)

    As an aside, I imagined a student reading the article and wish that it was written in a more direct and heartfelt style. I would like to see the fundamental message of the article recast in a way that exemplifies the principles espoused by the Dalai Lama: awareness, and more compassion, more friendship.

    Though mistakes may be made, awareness, compassion, and friendship will always help to make progress in designing assignments/curricula.

  9. My second comment is on reading ‘Tea for Teaching #221 – Disabilities and Teaching’ a podcast with Kat Macfarlane

    Okay, I did not realize that it is somewhat prevalent for some professors to impose laptop bans in class. This really surprised me. Education should be preparing students to do well in life. There are no laptop bans in life. Perhaps the fundamental problem is one of a mismatch of academic policies, techniques, and leadership to the real challenge at hand: how to prepare students to succeed in real life. If the academic activity cannot compete for students’ attention with online distractions, it may not be the distractions which are the problem.

    Some of the discussion involved suggestions on how to challenge people who are being difficult and essentially shame them into correct behavior. This is counter to the other articles on compassion. It seems that may be part of an engrained fundamental of U.S. culture that confrontation and aggression are the default solutions to problems. That is certainly a larger social phenomenon than anything academia can solve on its own.

    Kat Macfarlane’s observations about behavior during the Covid-19 pandemic highlights how little importance many US residents place on caring about others.

    My key takeway from this article is the importance of awareness and empathy in designeing assignments/curricula.

  10. I did read a third piece and have some lengthy comments on “Decolonization of knowledge, epistemicide, participatory research and higher education” a research article by Budd L. Hall, and Rajesh Tandon on 01-January-2017.

    Let me point out that I feel the subject matter is extremely important and should be the subject of thoughtful and thorough research. Unfortunately Hall and Tandon do not make meaningful progress on the matter. Beginning with the article’s abstract:

    To report that educational institutions are working with a small part of the knowledge systems in the world is a glaring statement of the obvious. My heart sank when I read that in the abstract. I hoped that the article would be more thoughtful and more insightful than the abstract. Unfortunately, the article fails to rise to the level of respectable academic research.

    The article claims that the predominant university structure in the world is derived from a creation of white, European scientists 500 to 550 years ago. It is a relatively simple matter to recognize the flaws in that statement. There has been teaching at Oxford alone for over 1,000 years and that teaching was not created on a science-based model but rather on a liberal arts model. Even in their current form, University (1249), Balliol (1263), Merton (1264) and Hertford (1282) Colleges all pre-date the authors’ claim by hundreds of years. Oxford and its peers looked to the earlier model of the Greek gymnasium which included philosophy, logic, mathematics, and athletics as well as science. The Greek gymnasia and Talmudic academies of Babylonia date back a half-millennia earlier than Oxford and its peers (Cambridge, Edinburgh, and Trinity). And there were numerous other ancient university/academic models around the world (see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancient_higher-learning_institutions). The paper’s credibility suffers from this sort of inaccuracy.

    The statement “The contemporary university is often characterized as working with colonized knowledge, hence the increasing calls for the decolonization of our universities” has no attribution or supporting data.

    The authors reference a visit to an Oxford college but do not name the specific college, which does not help with their credibility. They then present their interpretation of why Oxford colleges were walled in and, without any substantiation, the authors claim that the primary intent was to keep knowledge sequestered from those outside the walls of the (unnamed) college. This ignores the reality of the historic context which was that the students at Oxford colleges were, in their day, considered the ‘others’ or foreigners by local townspeople who would prey upon the students, often violently, thus necessitating a means of protecting the young students. I mention this based on my relationship with former Oxford students at Lincoln College and other colleges of the university and a discussion with a local, Oxford historian. It is disappointing to know that the authors of the article are presenting their own subjective views as the predominant historical interpretation of events which are easily fact-checked, especially by someone visiting Oxford.

    Given the primary reason for fortification of medieval university colleges such as those at Oxford, it is incomprehensible how one would conclude that “enclosing of the academy dispossessed the vast majority of knowledge keepers, forever relegating their knowledge to witchcraft, tradition, superstition, folkways or, at best, some form of common sense’ as the authors do. This is simply hearsay.

    The authors claim that “epistemicide, linguicide and cultural genocide have been a product of Western modern higher education” without clearly demonstrating a cause and effect. The process may be true regardless, but it is not clear why its scope is limited to ‘Western, modern, higher education’ when: 1. comparative analysis to other established educational models is missing, and 2. there is no mention of the fact that cultures for which we have missing or scant historical records are not considered. As an example, little is known about Mayan education or early Chinese, Sumerian, etc. education and there is no reason to assume that they would have been kinder with respect to what the authors describe as ‘espistemicide’ or linguicide or cultural genocide for that matter.

    The knowledge stories of PRIA, Honey Bee Knowledge Network, Mpambo Afrikan Multiversity, Mpumalanga Traditional Knowledge Commons, and University of Abahlali base Mjondolo are all encouraging. Hopefully there are significantly more examples of such diverse educational models which could be studied more thoughtfully than has been tried in this article. It may be the case that each such existing or experimental model has strengths which could be distilled into a shareable resource that could be used to improve any other educational model. Ideally, even the educational model which the authors set out to malign would be considered as a framework to study which may yield methods to be used in improving other models. I recommend that effort is better expended on constructive research in the spirit of cooperation and learning than on loose interpretations and incomplete analysis forced into a Procrustean Bed to foster unfounded subjective biases.

    With respect to the ‘Languages of the Land’ story of the St’át’imcets language, it is admirable that Dr. Lorna Williams has dedicated effort to preservation of that language. The story itself is tangential to the purpose of the paper as it does not clearly present any relationship to higher education. It is also comes up short it ignoring Moore’s Law and the utility of a network, in the case a language, being based on its scale, which seems a more impactful consideration of the diminished use of the St’át’imcets language than any effect created by higher education. It would help the authors’ credibility to focus on the subject of their paper.

    The authors describe “how have we arrived at the situation where any of us could be parachuted
    into any university in the world, settled into a social science lecture and be at home
    with the authors and ideas being discussed” though it seems to me a farfetched idea that they could be deposited into Al-Azhar University in Cairo or any number of universities in China and seriously make that claim. In the book Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory published by Springer in February, 2019, Jun Li mentions Al-Azhar University in Cairo which opened in 975 and the Chinese model of higher education which is typified as the Chinese University 3.0 or Chiniversity, as unique from the Western model. It would be informative to read a thoughtful analysis of these distinct models and others.

    In referencing Grosfoguel’s ‘four genocides/epistemicides’ the authors stumble into a short-lived recognition of the progressive waves of human organization and endeavor but fail to transcend their overly simplistic determination to force their subjective view. This is a shame because there is an important lesson to be learned about human behavior and the interdependencies of education, culture, and social order. Exploring those more seriously to learn how to best advance education would be very valuable.

    By the middle of the paper the authors are claiming a Western monopoly on knowledge which not only flies in the face of reason but contradicts their opening statement in the paper’s abstract.

    The discussion of the thinking of Boaventura de Sousa Santos and Shiv Visvanathan attempts to frame justice in terms of scientific method despite the fundamental fact that justice is based on judgment and social mores, not scientific method. The paper then shifts into a set of subjective claims about the North (hemisphere) not being able to learn in non-colonial terms, another Procrustean Bed. Are we expected to believe that is true of the Peoples’ Republic of China and of North Korea, both firmly situated in the North? There are a number of biases and unfounded subjective claims which detract from the credibility of the article.

    Discussion of David Korten’s The Great Turning is refreshing. I believe the future and the aspirations of today’s youth bring hope for improvements in education, knowledge accumulation, and the quality of life. Ironically, the authors state “it is time for those of us working in higher education to move beyond our already strong ability to reflect and critique.” I agree, wholeheartedly.

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