22 SES 08 A, Inequality and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
Using the experiences of one distinct group of ‘non-traditional’ students this paper draws upon the idea that higher education can be transformative; and links transformation to notions of widening participation. In it we suggest that the value system embraced by the mature Jamaican women students, in our study, places high value upon honesty and upon being forthright. We argue that the dominant culture in English higher education is reflective rather than passionate and that this culture is steeped in middle class values These dominant values are illustrated in the language we employ and in the styles we use to present material and to chair seminar discussions. It is polite, distant and calm. There is, of course, a dilemma. In order to succeed in the education system, it is necessary to recognise that there are rules that need, perhaps with some variation, to be followed. There is what can be referred to as a ‘dominant model of success’ that governs the language, conventions and style used in the education system. Put another way, these ‘rules of the game’ prescribe how students can present themselves in an acceptable manner, knowledge of which can increase their success in the education system and enhance their employability. It is possible, however, that these rules are not explicit to many sections of the community. In this paper we pose the following question, do we have a responsibility as educators to make these rules overt so as to help our ‘non-traditional’ students succeed?
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