I understand teaching as a moral activity. Kathie Jenni, writing on the moral responsibility of intellectuals, concludes that our global context of radical, remediable suffering “entails a substantial obligation of service that increases with enhanced ability to help” (2001, p. 437). In other words, she asserts that capable agents are obligated to do not just a little but a lot to relieve suffering. Jenni does not see hypocrisy in considering the suffering of the world academically. Rather, it is precisely because we are in a privileged position to recognise our moral responsibility that there is the impetus for engagement.
My approach to teaching has also been strongly influenced by the action teaching work of the psychology academic Scott Plous (2000, cited Azar, 2008) who argues that the learning experience should lead to not only a better understanding of the subject area but to a more just, compassionate and peaceful world. Plous suggests that teaching is not just about acting and reflecting – but about doing this in ways that promote humanity. Similarly Ronald Barnett (1997, 2004) says that education should ‘disturb’ human ‘being’ in order to prepare students to cope and thrive in a world of increasing complexity.
My Teaching History
I have been teaching, facilitating groups and engaged in community-based training and education for nearly 30 years. This has been with a range of groups from university students and staff, through to five-year-olds in a rural town. I have conducted workshops with many human service professionals and their managers. Some of the topics I have explored include: community development principles, action research, participatory methods, values, self awareness, self care, reflective practice, ethical support and Duty of Care legislation, conflict and negotiation, developing student-centred learning, organisational development, team building, relationship development, communication, SRV, understanding needs, exploring professional boundaries and ethics, introduction to human services, and exploring research paradigms.
Community Development: Local and International Practices (SOSC7288/2288) This course introduces students to the basic approaches, methodologies and techniques of community development within a broader framework of approaches to international development. Students will be introduced to project planning and community participation processes. Students will develop basic skills in community development practice, and will engage in a critical exploration of case studies focused on contemporary challenges both in the domestic and international context.
Community Cultural Development (SOSC7133/2133) This course is predicated on the principal of diversity and the importance of supporting and promoting local community cultures as a critical aspect of belonging and identity. It begins, as a starting point, with the challenge of working developmentally in cultural spaces that are increasingly globalised and commoditised. Community cultural development thus is positioned as an act of resistance against essentialism and universalism. From this position four components of cultural development are explored: valuing and enlivening local culture, valuing and enlivening indigenous culture, cultural diversity, and participatory culture.
Community Planning, Engagement and Governance (SOSC7123) This course enables participants to understand the nature of community planning, engagement and governance including their values, and philosophies, and; apply a range of community planning, engagement and governance skills, techniques and methods in a challenging social, economic, physical and political environment.
With thanks to the 2014 students of SOSC7133 for their permission to use their images - and for such a fun semester!