J-Adam-Grice A myblog.arts site

ae1 : Shades of Noir.

I’ve found SoN helpful in some ways and frustrating in others. I’ll do the helpful’s first… (BTW My 3 suggested resources are in this post : http://adamgrice.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2013/03/13/inclusive-lt-ae1-task-one-shades-of-noir/)

At the centre of the SoN manifesto there seems to be one fact : there is a gap in attainment between BAME and non-BAME students in HE. This statistic at university (or higher) level is where funding for the project has originated based on requirements to address this?

Some notes on SoN content on understanding this issue :

  1. Causal factors are largely unknown.
  2. Importantly it is not simply explained by socio-economic factors.
  3. Some factors maybe issues specific to A&D (Points 4 – 6) :
  4. Transparency of entitlement to resources (Do some students feel more entitled because of cultural backgrounding). I work on a project at LCF (www.lcftech.com) which is going university wide (under the working title OTR / UAL tech – it aims to provide access to technical resources for students. I’m not sure how or if we will be able to guage if it aids BAME students more / less / the same degree as others. But it is a step in the right direction whatever background a student is from hopefully (except Armish / Neo-Luddite I guess as it is an online digital resource…)
  5. Are some disciplines ‘white’ by nature? (Such preconceptions maybe ingrained from schools also – see Paul Dash research)
  6. All HE entry processes are beset with hurdles – A&D has an even more privileged (I read ‘traditionally less vocational’) aura – are some students less ‘culturally a tuned’ to confronting this.
  7. Curriculum can be Euro centric.
  8. Some people find it hard to accept / discuss there are issues / discrimination is taking place within HE (due to a liberal self image in academia). I’m pleased to be pushed to look at these issues….
  9. Discussing issues of race makes some people concerned that they may cause offence. I probably sometimes fall into this bracket.
  10. We need more data to confront these issues. I’m in conversation with my course leader for Access to Fashion Media and Communication (AFMC) regarding diversity issues (with a view to better informing my engagement and benefit from this module) and will look into what statistical analysis and surveying already takes place and whether I could add usefully to this process. A colleague of mine (Liz Dodsworth) uses surveys to assess student ability and advancement in software skills at the start and end of term – maybe I could also engage some ‘staged’ (ie at two points in time) surveyance.
  11. SoN aims to provide a staging point for conversation on these issues.

Some notes on interventions and best practice suggested on the site :

  1. Solutions / actions need to be embedded in curricula. I’m designing 2 units for AFMC for next year. I’ll be considering issues of inclusivity in the design. 
  2. Incorporating BAME / diverse socio-economic background case studies is important. I don’t use really use case studies at the moment but I was considering inviting some individuals I know who work in ‘industry’ to  share their experience with students… I will definitely consider representing diversely if I do undertake this.
  3. Staff & resources should reflect the student body and the community more widely. (I read ‘global community’?)(LCC – WP and developing curriculum) I can’t change my ethnicity or background but I will be looking to incorporate a wider ‘more diverse’ range of examples into my teaching. The SoN resource will form a  point of reference for this coupled with my own library of reference material.
  4. Encouragement of ‘Autobiographical’ approach to stimulating creativity in students. Definitely something I will be augmenting my teaching practice with… my best experiences at school and college (and in life) were engendered by working autobiographically. I think getting students to engage with these issues from their own perspective in there own terms is good + it is practical in a computer graphics software training environment (where perhaps a touchy feely lets all discuss our backgrounds and experiences approach is not).
  5. Create a positive environment where diversity, equality and social justice is celebrated and explored. I’m down with this… it’s how I like to work and live…
  6. Everyone is diverse, race is one aspect.

Some notes on my frustrations (for the benefit of the SoN team) :

  1. I found the site a bit unfocused. There is a lot going on – identifying the issues, responding to the research and observations, advertising the project and future debates, blogging about relevant surrounding cultural and media goings on and providing a resource of content, some examples of work in different disciplines from BAME backgrounds (addressing Euro centric curricula) and some more directly tackling diversity issues – and I really had to work to start to make sense of it. As a web designer I consider the effectiveness of a website is directly related to how easily the end user can understand it’s purpose and get to the content. Better navigation / site focus – don’t try to do too much all at the same time in one place…
  2. The quality of the featured videos varied enormously – particularly the sound which I could barely hear most of the time (until a 10 second snippet was suddenly 20db louder than everything else…) Better post production needed.
  3. Its a shame the debates haven’t been recorded and uploaded. The RHS space at LCF has facility to do this? I couldn’t attend due to prior commitment on the 7th of March and would have liked to watch it back. This sort of ‘lecture capturing’ is the sort of resource I think would really improve accessibility to the SoN content and therefore meet the aims of giving broader access to resources for all students whatever their ethnicity. I work for Learning Technology Support (LTS) and we support AV and recordings for lectures and presentations at LCF. We also feed into university wide work groups. I will offer my support and expertise to the SoN project with a view to the site delivering better content.
  4. The resource area (that I touched on in point 1) I felt was particularly unfocused. The ‘suggest a resource’ form seemed unclear and non specific and then as I mentioned there seemed to be 2 sorts of resources side by side. (BAME examples by discipline and work tackling issues of racial diversity by discipline) I would have found it easier to access if there was clearer filtering. Maybe?
  5. There is also no Illustration section in the resource categories…? Could one be added?

So there is my critical review of what I’ve gotten from the SoN site so far… Have a look at this blog post : http://adamgrice.myblog.arts.ac.uk/2013/03/13/inclusive-lt-ae1-task-one-shades-of-noir/  to see the resources I’ve suggested. They range from an example of an artist from a BAME background to a ME background artist dealing with cultural identity issues to a non-BAME (probably) artist approaching racial diversity from an illustration background… I’d appreciate comment on their usefulness / validity.

PS thanks to my other group members – your responses really helped me reach an betterunderstanding of what this task was about 🙂

8 Responses to ae1 : Shades of Noir.

  1. Please forgive the poor character formatting – myblog seems to give me very little control over font size etc and just changes the size as it sees fit.

    Bolded entries are my ‘responses’ to the points in terms of my teaching practice.

  2. Wow Adam, this is a really in depth analysis of the SON site. I just happened to come accross your comments which i have found very interesting. I found our task of adding 3 resources quite difficult, I wonder if the eclectic mix of lots of unfocussed resources is partly down to people not being sure what to put up. And yes I totally agree – it is impossible to search for something specific, meaning you would have to trawl through the hundreds of entries to try and find anything in particular.
    I hope everything is going well at work and on your/ our course….keep in touch, Zoe

  3. James Cant says:

    Hi Adam

    As Zoe said: ‘Wow’

    You’ve covered the major points of the site really thoroughly and applied it to your own practice.

    Your comment about the hurdles set up in entering HE and the cultural barriers that may occur were articulated in a documentary about the artist Norman Ackroyd. He describes arriving at the completely alien environment of the RCA and his family’s views that he would never make a living from being an artist. He’s not from a BME background but there may well be parallels.


    Your resources are interesting. I remember Olivia from LCC as I graduated in 2009. It’s really good to read your analysis of the resources and I think you describe some very interesting points that can be taken from Olivia’s work that we could reflect on to understand our own situation.

    I agree with your point 4 of the blog, the provision of technical access to resources and how good practice for all will sometimes be a step in the right direction to dealing with issues around BME under attainment.

  4. Your post really does break down what the ‘Shades of Noir’ website offers in great detail. The way you cover all aspects of the website and relate it to your own practice was insightful and interesting to read.

    I agreed with the point you made about videoing the debate, it would have been useful to have had another opportunity to look at the comments and points made, as like you I too was unable to attend and feel I missed out.
    If videoing the event is too costly perhaps key notes could have been provided or maybe even an audio recording.
    I have gained insight of this event through blogs but really wish I’d had 1st hand experience, as I would like to have applied it to my own learning within this module.

    I also loved your ‘Everyone is diverse, race is one aspect’ comment. I completely agree with this statement.
    What I want to look at, as a teacher, is what I can do to ensure I nurture this diversity. The Equality Act 2010 identifies areas that we should aim to achieve, within education, but it doesn’t offer step by step instructions of what we need to do to ensure we achieve this.
    This leaves me feeling slightly unsatisfied/lacking direction as how do I know what I’m doing is enough. Is it then down to student and staff feedback to provide this direction?

    • I guess the nurturing diversity question is the reason for undertaking the unit. Thinking and discussing the subject seems to make for me understanding the issues better ,which is part way to finding strategies and solutions to problems I guess 🙂

  5. Pingback: Teachers/academic blogging about Shades of Noir | Shades of Noir – Blog

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