Change the world

Prof. Nokhanyo Mdzanga and Dr Muki Moeng

Webinar: 2 February 2021, 13:00pm SAST      Webinar Series Homepage

Nokhanyo Mdzanga is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. With expertise in language education, she serves in the Community of Practice for the teaching and learning of African languages, a national group of University representatives that focus on language and multilingualism in higher education.

Muki Moeng is Executive Dean in the Faculty of Education at Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. She is Chair of the Faculty of Education Dean’s Forum and a member of the Council on Higher Education. Her research interests are in the scholarship of teaching and learning, school-based learning, social justice and humanising pedagogy.

Critical perspectives on language as a social justice issue in post-colonial higher education institutions

Abstract: Section 6 of the South African constitution gives official status to 11 languages –isiXhosa, isiZulu, isiSwati, Ndebele, Tshivenda, Xitsonga, Sepedi, Sesotho, Setswana, Afrikaans and English (Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996). Although this is the case, English and Afrikaans still remain the dominant languages of communication, education and so forth. We argue that proper mechanisms for implementing the use of all these languages are still in a distant future. This is problematic given the social-justice and transformation ideals of the new South Africa. Hence, the debate on language in post-colonial South Africa is essential.
Our main concern is the realisation that in higher education institutions, African languages are still not fully utilised as languages with pedagogical value in the scholarship of learning, teaching, research and engagement. For example, most of the learning materials available in institutions of higher education are presented in English and Afrikaans. Available resources in African languages are mostly translated from English. This is problematic as it assumes that learning resources cannot be usefully conceptualised and written first-hand in African languages. In our view, equity will be achieved when knowledge is accessible, and resources are available in all languages. In this presentation, we first position the discussion on language as a social-justice issue within a theoretical and historical context. We then provide a critical examination of the language politics and policies in higher-education institutions and how they have or have not shifted in the post-colonial education era. This argument links to how language is positioned in the curriculum, with a specific focus on English and isiXhosa, and the factors that hinder the shift from dominant language orthodoxies to recognising the multiplicity of languages in a post-colonial system in higher education institutions. Drawing on Freire’s (1972) views on the non-neutrality of education, we believe that the curriculum is a space of power, political contestation, caring and debate, and therefore should be taken into consideration in thinking about language as a social-justice issue. Furthermore, we highlight the dangers of reproducing inequalities through the curriculum, and the complexities surrounding the issue of language as a tool for social justice and social change. Finally, we propose that humanising pedagogy can be a meaningful and practical framework through which we can reflect on decolonial pedagogical strategies for language teaching in higher education. Moreover, through this framework, the issue of language as social justice can be addressed.

Posted: 25/01/2021 09:30:00 | with 0 comments

Prof. Carol Rodgers

Webinar: 28 January 2021, 16:00pm SAST      Webinar Series Homepage

Carol Rodgers is an associate professor of education at the University at Albany, SUNY.  Her research focuses on reflective practice, presence in teaching, the philosophy of John Dewey, the history of progressive teacher education, and the theory and practice of a humanizing pedagogy.  In 2011 she was a Fulbright Scholar at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She was also a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal in the late 1970s, worked for two years in Southeast Asian refugee camps in the early 1980s, and for nearly 20 years at the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. Her work is influenced by John Dewey, Caleb Gattegno, Maxine Greene, Paolo Freire, and her ongoing work with teachers and children. She is currently consulting and researching the use of descriptive inquiry processes (Himley & Carini, 2001) in a K-5 public charter school in the Bronx. In March of 2020 she published The Art of Reflective Teaching: Practicing Presence, with Teachers College Press.


In this blog I want to describe one particular online course that I believe embodies the tenets of a humanizing pedagogy. In particular, I will focus on how I make experience and story central to the learning of the course and will explore how experience, story and a humanizing pedagogy connect.

Before I begin, however, it seems important to define my terms. Borrowing from Bartolomé and Salazar, I understand a humanizing pedagogy as “teaching practices that intentionally utilize the histories, knowledges, and realities of students as an integral part of educational practice and cast students as critically engaged, active participants in the co-construction of knowledge” (Bartolomé, 1994; Salazar, 2013). I would add to this, teaching practices that cultivate compassion and presence. I will have more to say about these in a minute.

Posted: 18/01/2021 09:30:00 | with 0 comments

Dr Sara Black

Abstract: Much speculation has been made about the increased use of online pedagogic engagement during the Covid19 pandemic. While proponents have offered valorising narratives of the benefits of going online, critical scholars have cautioned against a naïve optimism that elides the social consequences of such modes and their tendency to further amplify existing social inequalities.
However, more careful thought is warranted regarding the affordances and limitations within digitally relayed pedagogic moments, and how these relate to broader challenges in the organising of pedagogic activities. This presentation deploys two theoretical lenses (specifically the work of Marx and Bernstein) to ask what happens when we digitize pedagogy and what we should notice about the similarities and differences with contact modes of practice. While far from a complete theorising, I suggest that the purported ‘benefits’ of online forms necessitate a division of labour and sedimentation of practice across different components of pedagogy in ways that necessarily foreclose the possibility of ‘humanising’ pedagogic practices.

Webinar: 26 January 2021, 11:00am SAST         

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Dr Sara Black is a former high school maths teacher who now trains teachers and works in critical education sociology, with a focus on equity and justice in education policy. She is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for Education Rights and Transformation at the University of Johannesburg, and also a research fellow at the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching at UCT. She lectures various postgraduate seminars including Education Policy, Education Leadership and Change, and Ethics in Education. A former software programmer, she also brings a critical social justice perspective to technology in education. When not working on education issues, she is an avid trail runner, seamstress and musician.
Posted: 18/01/2021 08:30:00 | with 0 comments

Prof. Anderson J. Franklin

Abstract: This presentation will focus upon the enterprise of humanizing pedagogy in teaching and learning.  It will discuss the role that cultural brokers can play in bridging communication between teachers, parents and communities toward the objective of a curriculum that develops the whole potential of the child.  Building a coalition of diverse partners to engage collaborative work with educators is explored as a mechanism to achieve humanizing pedagogy in teaching and learning.

Webinar: 19 January 2021, 17:00 SAST         

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Dr. Anderson J. Franklin is the Honorable David S. Nelson Professor Emeritus at Boston College Lynch School of Education and Human Development.  He is also Professor Emeritus of Clinical and Social Personality Psychology at The City College and Graduate School of The City University of New York.  He is Honorary Professor within the Centre for the Advancement of Non-Racialism and Democracy (CANRAD) at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Posted: 12/01/2021 08:30:00 | with 0 comments