22 SES 10 B, Inclusion and Diversity in Higher Education Settings
In the context of rapidly changing higher education policy frameworks, hegemonic discourses of widening participation largely construct utilitarian notions of teaching, learning and participation. Furthermore, with the ongoing intensification of the marketisation of higher education, in which students are increasingly constructed and positioned as HE ‘consumers’, pedagogies are often shaped by economic orientations and imperatives. Yet, the dynamics, relations and experiences of teaching and learning are intimately tied to the ways that identities are formed, mis/recognised and embodied. The research underpinning this paper will show that discourses about higher education participation are contested, challenged and produced through pedagogical identities and practices.
The paper draws on critical and feminist theories of pedagogy (Freire, 1970, 2004; Luke and Gore, 1992) to broaden the mainstream focus on teaching and learning methods and styles and to interrogate instrumental and utilitarian approaches to widening participation. The paper places concepts of power and identity formation, or subjectivity, at the centre of analysis to consider the ways that the politics of recognition shape complex pedagogical relations between different HE participants. I am interested in the different and sometimes fluid identities of students and teachers as well as the institutional and disciplinary contexts that shape and frame pedagogical relations. Critical and feminist pedagogies draw on theories of power to illuminate the complex relations between students and teachers in dynamic social spaces in which different teaching and learning identities, practices and experiences are produced, resisted, excluded and performed.
I draw on the concept of embodied identities to explore the working of power and difference and the ways that these are marked and inscribed on the body, as well as resisted or subverted through ‘practices of the self’ (Foucault, 1984). This is powerful for thinking through the ways that different bodies are positioned, mobilized and regulated in relation to complex inequalities across pedagogical spaces and relations. Embodied identity helps to think through the ways different bodies take up and use the pedagogical spaces available, and the ways that pedagogical spaces and practices are constructed and re/shaped in relation to the different bodies that move through and are positioned within them. I also draw on the concept of ‘subjectivity’ to highlight the relational, discursive and embodied processes of identity formations and to consider the ways people ‘are both 'made subject' by/within the social order and how they are agents/subjects within/against it’ (Jones 1993, 158). The discursive constitution of pedagogical identities is located within debates and policies that generate particular understandings of ‘participation’, ‘higher education’ and ‘university student’ and this is increasingly tied in with polarising discourses (Williams, 1997) of the worthy or unworthy ‘WP student’. Hegemonic discourses of WP constrain and make possible competing understandings of what it means to be a university student and contribute to contestations about what (and who) higher education is for.
References Foucault, M. (1984). The Means of Correct Training (from Discipline and Punish). The Foucault Reader. P. Rabinow. London, Penguin Books. Freire, P (1970) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London, Penguin Books. Freire, P (2004) Pedagogy of Hope. New Edition. London, Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd. Jones, A. (1993). ‘‘Becoming a ‘Girl’: post-structuralist suggestions for educational research.’, Gender and Education 5(2): 157-165. Lather, P. (1991). Getting Smart: Feminist Research and Pedagogy With/in the Postmodern. New York and London, Routledge. Luke, C & Gore, J (Eds.), Feminisms and Critical Pedagogy. London and New York, Routledge. Williams, J. (1997). Institutional Rhetorics and Realities. Negotiating Access to Higher Education: The Discourse of Selectivity and Equity. J. Williams. Buckingham, The Society for Research into Higher Education & Open University Press.
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