As part of my professional development I am undertaking a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education. We were tasked to contribute to a Blog within our VLE reflecting on respect. Strangely enough I feel safer to try out my homework on my own turf (so to speak) before posting it into the VLE’s blog. Maybe this is because you usually read the posts because something in them interests you. There, the posts are read for scrutiny.
The topic: Respect individual learners and diverse learning communities.
First Step: Trying to Understand Respect
Now for me this topic is loaded with so many conceptual, ethical and cultural dimensions that I do not even know where to begin reflecting. So I go back to basics and bring out the mind map.
- The butterfly branch symbolises the most basic form of respect. No matter how one may think about someone’s opinion or life choices they are exactly this: someone else’s decision of how to approach and define life.
- Another form of respect is to recognise and enact different roles and role boundaries. That form of respect can become difficult when roles—the role as a teacher and the role as a student—are defined differently in different cultures.
- In a teaching role patience is necessary to provide space where the students can express themselves, make mistakes and take ownership of the learning process. Although here patience comes with holding the power position of the discourse. Relenting this power position is probably a higher form of respect than patience. Maybe?
- Awareness, as the last branch of my reflection on respect, should probably be on the same level as the basic respect for life. Then only if we are aware of our selves and others are we truly able to demonstrate respect. This I just realised is not really a definition of respect but more a ‘how to do’ respect.
Respect is the core of professional integrity. It is the respect for the ‘other’ and the ‘me’ that necessitates:
A: to create the best student learning experience, which means to consult colleagues, to learn more, to experiment, and explore. Furthermore, it means to encourage the students to take control and ownership of their learning. To provide learning spaces that create relevance and are safe for the students to gain experiences, but also to respect the students agency, and
B: me spending time and energy to continuously develop, learn and make decisions that are the best for the students.
And now I feel like I ought to type of sunsets and students dancing across blooming meadows.*
*So eventually my ideal of learning space needs to get a realistic slant. But for now I finish my short homework of reflecting on respect in relation to learners. I did not touch the aspect of learning communities because this concept implies classification of learners. Any type of classification necessitates a much more comprehensive discussion.