Remembering My Hat

18th March 2010

Verbing my teaching

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 19:29
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55:366 - February 28: Teach by emtboy9.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/justageek/2300396608/

I’m feeling excited about this set of verbs for thinking about what students could be doing when they are on the receiving end of teaching:

  • assimilating (that one’s not exciting, that’s what we usually end up asking them to do – read this chapter and take in the ideas it contains)
  • information handling
  • communicating
  • producing
  • experiencing
  • adapting

These can be further elaborated, thus (apologies for terrible layout which I am insufficiently geeky to fix):

Assimilating:

  • reading
  • viewing
  • listening  (all old news here at the OU)

Information handling:

  • Gathering
  • Ordering
  • Classifying
  • Selecting
  • Analysing
  • Manipulating 

Communicating:

  • Speaking
  • Discussing
  • Presenting
  • Debating
  • Critiquing
  • Posting to forums

Producing:

  • Creating
  • Producing
  • Writing
  • Drawing
  • Composing
  • Synthesizing
  • Re-mixing

Experiencing:

  • Practising
  • Applying
  • Mimicking
  • Experiencing
  • Investigating
  • Performing

Adapting:

  • Modelling
  • Simulating

And doubtless  more verbs, but those are a start.

(I’ve haven’t got to the bottom of exactly where this list of verbs originates, so I’m going to attribute it to some combination of Diana Laurillard and Grainne Conole with particular thanks to Mick Jones who put them in documents and presentations which meant I saw them. And apologies to anyone else I should be crediting and haven’t – will amend if informed)

What I found so exciting was that refering back to this list of verbs makes it so much easier to think of ways of varying my teaching. In particular, it helps me to think about ways of designing Activities for students which are more than ‘read this and make some notes’. To be fair to myself, and to my Faculty, I think we’ve always done quite a lot of experiential activities too, (although I don’t think we’ve explored the learning potential of performing much!) But just looking at this list of verbs makes me feel all creative and full of ideas. Which is particularly timely as we begin the writing process for K319.

It also made me think about the role this blog plays in my own learning about teaching. I’ve been holding off from writing this post for weeks, partly because I couldn’t get to the bottom of the attribution issue, which I’ve fudged above, but also because I feel still quite novice about pedagogy and I got anxious about imagined readers going ‘Gah, that’s dead obvious, everyone knows that’. But this blog is mainly for my benefit and in writing this post I have done a bit of information handling and adapting, as well as assimilating and communicating, so I should allow myself to embrace the position of learner and just post the damn thing.

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15th March 2010

Apropos of my last

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 21:42
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Alison Bechdel said it first, and better, of course, in Dykes to Watch Out For no. 437 (2004)

Sydney, proposing newly legalised lesbian marriage to her partner, Mo:

“Will you do me the honor of pardoxically reinscribing and destabilizing hegemonic discourse with me?”

10th March 2010

More about the picture

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 16:49
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A reader commented that they didn’t like the picture I’d used in the last entry:

Women in a tuxedo

Their point (I hope I’m not misrepresenting) was that it’s a stereotype of what a lesbian looks like, and that it marginalises lesbians who do not identify with that sort of image. 

I can entirely see where they are coming from. The person in the picture has short hair and seems to be wearing what is conventionally seen as men’s clothing. This is entirely consonant with the idea that lesbians are masculine, an idea with a genealogy in sexology back to Inverts and doubtless beyond.

There are reasons I like the picture which aren’t so much to do with gender/sexuality politics (I like her grin, I like the colour contrasts of the black-and-white and the bright pink, although pink to denote (presumably) female gender is a bit obvious, I like it as a positive representation of an older person). But the commenter made me think about why I do also like it for political reasons.

I read the person in the picture as playing with/queering/performing gender (Judith Butler would be proud of me). With that sort of lens, a (presumed) woman wearing men’s clothes is transgressive, rather than stereotypical.

But of course that’s a classic problem with that sort of take – to what extent is it possible to play with gender without ending up perpetuating exactly the stereotypes you are wanting to challenge?

How do you deal with the possible gap between the reader/viewer’s perceptions and the player/do-ers intentions and meanings?

And what difference does the person’s claimed and perceived identities make?  I don’t know the person in the picture’s sexual and gender identity, but my guess, from what was being taken-for-granted at the seminar, is that she identifies as lesbian and female. If I imagine her to be bi and/or some type of trans, that style of dressing reads differently and more clearly as transgressive, to my mind.

But other people might not read it like that, and then what do you do?

(I have no answers, I’m just interested in the dilemmas.)

8th March 2010

Half-open doors

Filed under: Uncategorized — rememberingmyhat @ 18:14
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Last week I went to a seminar organised by Age Concern’s Opening Doors programme about their programme of work with older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people. At least, that was what it said on the tin.

Women in a tuxedo

I’ve loved this picture (from Age Concern’s Opening Doors programme) for ages and I got to meet this person!

It was, I should be clear, a well organised seminar with a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, celebrating the important and innovative work done by the Opening Doors programme in central London. I was moved, encouraged, touched, and revitalised by attending it. I came away with some new ideas (always a good outcome), including that there’s a tension between the current policy desire for user-driven projects, and the finding from this project, that many older LGBT people have a lifetime of activism behind them and so quite like the idea of sitting back and have things laid on for them.

But. (You knew there was a ‘but’ coming, didn’t you). The usual disappearing ‘B’ and ‘T’ in ‘LGBT’ was very much in evidence. Or rather, the B and T were very much not in evidence. All the talk was exclusively about older lesbians and gay men. A PowerPoint presentation had slides saying ‘the LGBT community’ which were read by the presenter as ‘the lesbian and gay community’. This is a very familiar phenomenon and in no way unique to this seminar. Bi and  Trans activists have various explanations for it, ranging from the relatively political immaturity of the Bi and Trans movements, to Bi and Transphobia (more on this here, if you’re interested).

But, once, I was a scholar  discourse analyst, so I was thinking about some of the linguistic features that tend to perpetuate this.

One is the fact that ‘LGBT’ is a terrible (non)word to say. It’s bad enough to write, but it’s much worse to say, especially repeatedly as you need to do if you’re giving a talk. So you need an alternative word. In many LGBT contexts, people say ‘queer’ in this sort of sense.  Queer in this sense is a reclaiming of a previously insulting term and an umbrella term that can include bi, trans, intersex, genderqueer, asexual, and many other types of, people.

But there seems to be a consensus among people working with older LGBT people that the term ‘queer’ is not generally acceptable. The argument is that people of this generation suffered too much from the use of ‘queer’ as an insult in their younger days to be able to reclaim it now as an umbrella term for sexual and gender dissidents. I’ve no idea whether that’s true (I suspect it’s not for all older LGBT people) but the result is that the term ‘queer’ is not used in this reclaimed sense much in these sort of contexts.

At the seminar, I thought that people were using ‘gay’ where I would, in other contexts, have said ‘queer’. So someone said ‘this is the first generation of out gay people to age into old age’. Obviously this is more inclusive of gay men than of anyone else, but I think you can argue (and the audience and speakers certainly seemed to accept) that this is also inclusive of lesbians. But I think it’s much harder to imagine yourself as a bi person included under the label ‘gay’ and very much harder indeed to imagine that ‘gay’ includes trans (etc.) people. I don’t have a better linguistic solution – I wish I did.

The second form of linguistic slippage that I thought led to the exclusion of bi and trans people was the tendency to talk about the consituency of LGBT older people as being made up of ‘men’ and ‘women’.  Obviously this is exclusive of people who don’t identify straightforwardly as a man or a woman, but more subtly, it tended to equate being a man with being a gay man and being a woman with being a lesbian. This one is easier to fix.

I’m not arguing here that the seminar participants (or indeed other people who only talk about L and G when claiming to be talking about LGBT) intended to exclude B and T people. I’m quite sure that they didn’t mean to. Rather, I’m interested in the way in which language necessarily and unavoidably shapes our realities.

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