Take 5: The best way to develop a compassionate pedagogy?
by Vanessa Airth, Tom Burns, Jonathan Dempsey, Ruzanna Gevorgyan, James Hunting and Sandra Sinfield
Why is this an important area to cover?
Not only is it important ethically to develop humane and compassionate teaching spaces, it is vital to the notion of facilitating the dialogic co-construction of knowledge; for active, deep and meaningful learning; and to create communities of practice where the students are engaged as actors and agents in their own learning.
Our institution is perhaps a better fit for a more caring sort of teaching and learning – the diverse working class students that we tend to attract typically come from more collectivist or communitarian spaces. Ironically it is the traditional university, that tends to normalise competition as it fosters individualistic education for personal social mobility or financial gain, that might have problems with developing a more holistic, dialogic teaching, learning and assessment practice.
At the same time, given the rhetoric about ‘standards’ and individual effort that permeates higher education narratives, we have to work to continually prove the worth of a more humane and dialogic academy. At our university, we are committed to the theory and practice of an education for social justice; making our classrooms engaging and our practice holistic. We seek to celebrate our students for who they are as we facilitate a process where they can become academic more on their own terms – and without losing themselves in the process.