Happy 2021, one and all! SoTL Walk is back!
Originally a pandemic project, SoTL Walk has connected RMIT staff with colleagues all around the world. It provides a time and space for us to unite and immerse ourselves in conversation about teaching and learning. As we journey through the next phase of pandemic, join us each month as we explore new themes. All you need to do is set aside an hour in your schedule, and get yourself outside for a walk!
New to SoTL Walks?
If you are interested in hearing more about the SoTL walk project (led by Natasha Taylor), check out this great podcast episode hosted by Dr Nathalie Sheridan (University of Glasgow).
We dedicate a whole week (1-7 February) to the SoTL walk to include as many people as possible, whatever your commitments or location in the world. It doesn’t matter when you do it, just choose an hour that suits your schedule. Then…
WALK: Get outside and go for a 30 minute walk. Take something with you to record your experience – either a phone/camera or a notepad and pencil (for noting and sketching).
THINK: Whilst you are walking, think about the following provocation:
Forced March or Playful Adventure?
In a recent article in the THE, Gregory Skutches explores the concept of rigour in higher education, asking what harm we are doing to our students by enforcing such rigid course structures, teaching models and assessment outputs/practices on them? Have we gone so far in enforcing the ‘wrong kind of rigour’, that we have killed any sense of curiosity, imagination and autonomy in higher education? He quotes one of his students:
“Well, it’s like we’re running some kind of gauntlet, course after course, semester after semester, one year to the next, working hard, but our real selves are asleep. ‘Get good grades, good internships. Do lots of activities. Build an impressive résumé.’ That’s all we hear. We’re so busy proving ourselves that there’s no time to breathe, let alone think or reflect, and the stuff we have to do for classes mostly feels meaningless – to me, anyway. So we just go to sleep to get through it and hope it’s all worth it when the grind is over.”
And, of course, it is a phenomenon that applies just as much to staff as it does to students. How frustrated do staff feel when they try to achieve a balance compliance and creativity in their courses? How tough is the road to success through the rigid university promotions process? Has the peer review process lost its way?
Skutch invites us to think about how ‘rigour’ might look in the post-Covid world. Think about your own role in teaching and learning – would you describe it as a ‘forced march or playful adventure‘? Have recent events made you more rigid in your approaches, or have you found great opportunities to break free and create new spaces for learning?
Reference: Skutches, G. (2021) Academics are promoting the wrong kind of rigour, Times Higher Education, January 21st.
SHARE: When you return from your walk, share your reflections online with others. Respond to their ideas too! Include an image (a photo, video or sketch) and some words which explain your thoughts. There are two options for sharing:
- Twitter – use the hashtag #sotlwalk
- Padlet – Go To Padlet (or click below to post straight to the February21 wall)