Change the world

What is learning and teaching at Nelson Mandela University all about?

There are six critical aspects on which we focus:

  1. We recognise that LEARNING, as an intrinsically human endeavour, is why we are all here in this institution of higher education:  it is at the heart of academic project. It is our purpose and ‘reason for being’ (‘raison d’etre’). Thus, the focus on how we learn and teach is considered to be of critical, and primary, importance to us. At the same time, we need to emphasise that this is an ongoing project, and there is much we are learning as we go.
  2. We believe that the learning we all pursue serves society, is informed by a desire and need to understand the world and how it works, and how we wish to use it within the contexts in which we find ourselves in that society and the world.
  3. We have embraced the philosophy and praxis of a humanising pedagogy, as we believe it addresses, underpins and advances the purpose and manner in which we cultivate our humanness, the ways in which we are best able to learn, and critical ways in which we seek to put our learning to use. We are thus actively engaged in trying to identify, experiment with and practice what a humanising pedagogy is – what is looks and feels like, and how we can implement it in our daily pedagogical encounters.
  4. In our understanding of a humanising pedagogy and its underpinning principles, we recognise that the society and world we live in is filled with inequalities and socially unjust practices, ways of being, distribution of resources, BIG questions and challenges that have yet to be addressed. We also recognise the power and potential learning has to change the world. Our work in teaching and learning seeks to find ways to bring these principles and praxes to bear in our curricula.
  5. We are thus driven to enlarge our thinking about the curriculum, so that it takes a broad view of what a curriculum is. This is a centrally important and ongoing project.  We believe that CURRICULUM is more than simply the content (or syllabus) of what we teach, but includes the pedagogies, the environment that is created in which learning can thrive, purposeful ways of to assess knowledge how knowledge becomes ‘owned’ and applied. Most importantly, the central purpose and contextual relevance of that knowledge has to inform the curriculum, especially in relation to how it is to be used by those who pursue it.
  6. We are actively exploring and seeking to work from a paradigm that acknowledges the complexity of the world we live in, that everything is ‘entangled’ and interrelated.  Our aim is to engage as far as is possible in teaching and learning (and also research and engagement) that is transdisciplinary, and acknowledges the interrelatedness of the challenges that face us.


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MandelaU Teaching and Learning Committee

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Humanising Pedagogy Praxis & Research Niche (HPPRN) Team

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