Freedom to Achieve’s Read to Debate sessions offer the opportunity for DMU staff to read, discuss and reflect on selected research and professional commentary around the BAME attainment gap as a group. The fifth session in May 2019 considered the following papers by James Muldoon, Tom Sperlinger, and J. Mclellan, R.G. Pettigrew and T. Sperlinger (PDF download).
Attended by staff from across the university, a wide ranging discussion contemplated the access and presence of hidden voices in the curriculum, the telling of different stories and the means of enabling curriculum access to these many and varied voices.
The necessity to broaden resources to include digital mediums such as blogs, zines and other sources typically considered less academic to include more diverse voices was debated. These resources are not subjected to the “rigour” of academic publishing and the peer review process which traditionally give authority to academic information. This omission speaks to the power base of the academy and its Eurocentric focus, which does not make room for more global voices. How can work be peer assessed if there is a shortage of peers to review? A route must be found for new voices to enter the academy and curriculum, otherwise how will diverse voices be heard, valued and validated?
Other discussions revolved around referencing systems and the potential difficulties and irregular “rules” to acknowledge less orthodox materials. This may create issues in academic assessments if the weight of these perspectives and the method of their acknowledgement is not made clear.
A discussion around the importance of personal names, correct pronunciation and acknowledgement both within the classroom and the workplace ensued. An “ice breaker” exercise for new students to share their names and ensure recognition of their written and spoken form was suggested. The group felt that exposure to a wide range of names from different cultures will enable students to be more confident when seeing and saying names of different cultures in the future. A useful and important social, professional life skill in a truly global society.
A new Read to Debate programme is being developed for 2019/20, and will be announced soon.
See Team Talks for more staff workshops relating to the attainment gap and diversity.
Papers that have been discussed in other Read to Debate sessions are:
Understanding and overcoming the challenges of targeting students from under-represented and disadvantaged ethnic backgrounds – Jacqueline Stevenson, Joan O’Mahony, Omar Khan, Farhana Ghaffar and Bernadette Stiell