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We argue that there is a reciprocal relationship between all scholarly activities, most importantly between teaching, learning, research and professional learning. The article builds on the work of others who call for a social justice approach to inform the SoTL. It focuses on the implications for professional learning, as an aspect of the SoTL which has been neglected. The tripartite account of participatory parity as advanced by Nancy Fraser is shown to be a valuable frame to describe instances of social justice, as well as the kind of institutional arrangements that should be instituted to support participatory parity. Alongside this, the notion of a ‘pedagogy of discomfort’ is shown to be an effective, but challenging means to advance awareness of justice and injustice amongst academics. The article draws on examples from three action based research projects run by the authors.
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Teaching in Higher Education
ISSN: 1356-2517 (Print) 1470-1294 (Online) Journal homepage:
The scholarship of teaching and learning from a
social justice perspective
Brenda Leibowitz & Vivienne Bozalek
To cite this article: Brenda Leibowitz & Vivienne Bozalek (2015): The scholarship of
teaching and learning from a social justice perspective, Teaching in Higher Education, DOI:
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The scholarship of teaching and learning from a social justice
Brenda Leibowitz
and Vivienne Bozalek
Education Faculty, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa;
Teaching and Learning,
University of the Western Cape, Bellville, South Africa
We argue that there is a reciprocal relationship between all scholarly
activities, most importantly between teaching, learning, research
and professional learning. The article builds on the work of others
who call for a social justice approach to inform the SoTL. It
focuses on the implications for professional learning, as an aspect
of the SoTL which has been neglected. The tripartite account of
participatory parity as advanced by Nancy Fraser is shown to be a
valuable frame to describe instances of social justice, as well as
the kind of institutional arrangements that should be instituted to
support participatory parity. Alongside this, the notion of a
pedagogy of discomfort is shown to be an effective, but
challenging means to advance awareness of justice and injustice
amongst academics. The article draws on examples from three
action based research projects run by the authors.
Received 21 June 2015
Accepted 27 October 2015
Scholarship of teaching and
learning; social justice;
participatory parity;
professional development;
pedagogy of discomfort
In this article we wish to contribute to debates on the scholarship of teaching and learning
(SoTL) by placing the concept within a social justice framework, most specically that
informed by the work of Nancy Fraser on participatory parity. We pose what we see as
a relational or reciprocal view: that whatever aspects of teaching and learning one is
dealing with and that one may be researching whether the facilitation methods, the
choice of research design, the graduate attributes enshrined in policy and programme
documents, or the nature of the support for academics to engage in the SoTL these
should all be discussed in relation to the same social justice principles.
We begin this article with comments on the origins and denitions of SoTL before out-
lining the social and educational setting which has given rise to the approach towards the
SOTL that we have taken. We then move to outline key concepts we are working with in
relation to social justice, based on the views on social justice and participatory parity
advanced by Nancy Fraser. We sketch in broad terms the implications of these principles
for practice. After outlining the research design of the three research projects we refer to,
in the penultimate section we illustrate how the principle of reciprocity plays itself out in
professional development work with examples from our experience in this eld, and
nally, we summarise the implications for the professional development of academics.
© 2015 Taylor & Francis
CONTACT Brenda Leibowitz
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The SoTL
The SoTL is an endeavour intersecting with various elds relating to the enhancement of
higher education teaching and learning. It received its initial denition by Ernest Boyer
(1990). Boyers initial impetus was to advocate for integration of the work of an academic,
and not for the autonomous status for the SoTL. He stressed the interrelationship between
theory and practice: The arrow of causality can, and frequently does, point in both direc-
tions. Theory surely leads to practice, but practice also leads to theory. And teaching, at its
best, shapes both research and practice (Boyer 1990, 15/16). He placed emphasis on the
scholarliness inherent in good teaching, thus on the notion of reciprocity between all
matters of scholarship that we have been arguing for in the introduction to this article:
good teaching means that faculty, as scholars, are also learners. Through reading, through
classroom discussion, and surely through comments and discussions and questions posed by
students, professors themselves will be pushed in creative new directions. (Boyer 1990, 24)
The eld of SoTL is distinguished from other forms of higher educational development in
that it involves a degree of reection, research or scholarship which is usually achieved in
the process of academics researching their own teaching and learning contexts. In many
cases, it also includes students as researchers of their own learning and as knowledge pro-
ducers (Grifths 2004). A denition that embodies SoTL is where academics frame ques-
tions that they systematically investigate in relation to their teaching and their students
learning (Brew 2007, 1/2). Although there are a variety of conceptions of the SoTL, the
idea that it is about academics and students engaged in research on their own teaching
and learning is the view adopted for the purposes of this article.
Hutchings (2000) maintains that what distinguishes SoTL from other educational
research is that it is conducted by specialists and non-specialists alike. Thus, despite the
fact that not all teaching-based research refers to itself as SoTL, the SoTL banner
remains a useful focus for theorising the research on teaching and learning (RTL) conducted
by academics and the support for this work, and is for this reason the focus of this article.
The increasing popularity of the SoTL and the manner in which it has been taken up has led
to an emphasis on the value of SoTL to encourage academics professional learning (Hutch-
ings, Huber, and Ciccone 2011). Thus, there is a high stake attributed to the kind of research
that is undertaken in the name of SoTL. Does this research live up to its potential? Kreber
(2013b) argues that it does not, partly because of how narrowly it tends to be understood,
within an evidence-led instrumentalist paradigm, and that it has not adequately taken
up the bigger questions of social justice and equality in and through higher education
(2013a, 5). We acknowledge that the eld of SoTL includes a wide variety of pedagogical
approaches (Hutchings, Huber, and Ciccone 2011). A signicant view on the SoTL is
that it ought to have a critical and transformative or social justice orientation (Gale 2009;
Gilpin and Liston 2009; Kreber 2013a). Our position is that the social justice aspect of
SoTL has received inadequate attention, and this is the lacuna that we wish to contribute to.
Research and teaching context
We have both worked in higher education in South Africa for the past four decades, thus
during and post-apartheid. We have witnessed the oppression and injustice of the
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apartheid era and its continuing effects. The present dispensation has indeed contained
forms of transformation in society and education, but overall there has been a disappoint-
ing lag in the movement towards change and equity (Cooper 2015; Department of Edu-
cation 2008). Thus, whilst there have been signicant changes and evidence of
transformation in higher education, as we have argued elsewhere (Leibowitz and
Bozalek 2014) there remain major disparities with regard to: the provisioning in higher
education as well as with regard to the social, educational and cultural capital of students
entering and exiting the system. There has been a publically expressed disappointment in
the ability of universities to transform their institutional ethos into a more welcoming one
(Tabensky and Matthews 2015) and one that not only turns its head in deference to and in
imitation of dominant Western culture (Badat 2009). With regard to the teaching cohort
in higher education, the most senior levels are predominantly white, middle class, and
male, especially in the more historically advantaged institutions (HAIs), whereas the his-
torically disadvantaged institutions (HDIs) have a large contingent of black teachers (see
Cooper 2015 for more details on this). Inequality in the country has always tended to
coalesce along lines of race and class, but in the present period class has tended to
become slightly more salient, with more privileged students identifying themselves in
terms of both race and class (Cooper 2015; Soudien 2008). Students and academics
bring into the teaching and learning space vestiges of memories of oppression and oppres-
sive thinking typical of the apartheid era. Jansen (2009) refers to this collective and endur-
ing memory as knowledge in the blood and Costandius (2012) describes how years of
indoctrination would have inuenced her thinking as a white Afrikaans speaking aca-
demic. Writings in the edited volume by Tabensky and Matthews (2015) suggest that
many students or academics still do not feel at home in higher education institutions
in South Africa, and educational social mobility amongst academics remains a problem
(Mabokela 2000). In short, social injustice persists with regard to matters of ethnicity
and identity, thus of recognition, matters of distribution of material and cultural resources,
and matters of power and voice, thus of framing (Bozalek and Boughey 2012). We will
return to this tripartite account of social justice in the next section, with a discussion of
the work of Nancy Fraser and participatory parity sufce it to say that student and
staff participation at university is impeded by social injustice in relation to these three
With the democratic dispensation post-1994 and the opening up of South African
society, increasing numbers of students and academics from the rest of Africa have
entered the country. Despite ofcial policies of welcome, this opening up has been met
with outbreaks of xenophobia, in 2008 and 2015 (see Aljazeera 2015; Human Rights
Watch 2008). These have admittedly affected people living in working class and rural
areas rather than some of the more privileged spaces such as universities. This phenomenon
serves to demonstrate that as change occurs, so other challenges appear, such as xenophobia.
The point is simply that there is always a reason why teaching is challenged to respond to
societal phenomena, and to be based on a sound ethical foundation and vision.
Social justice and teaching and learning
We see SoTL and social justice as interrelated. Moje (2007) makes the distinction in
relation to general education between socially just pedagogy (equitable learning conditions
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for academic success) and a pedagogy for social justice (transformation of learners, knowl-
edges and contexts through critical questioning and engagement).
Kreber (2013a) makes
the same claim for a form of SoTL that she claims is authentic, in and through higher
education. She sees authenticity as involving transformative learning, and as implicating
both students and all academics in a process of becoming. Kreber argues that teachers
achieve this authenticity through reection: about the purpose of education, about
student learning and development; and about knowledges, curricula and pedagogy. We
extend this relational ontology even further, where the spheres affected by the need for
reection and reexivity go so far as to include: the kind of research that is adopted by
academics, and the principles for professional development and learning of the academics
themselves. As an example of how we see academics as part of the same learning cycle as
students, we found in the past that expecting students to undergo learning and unlearning
processes, especially ones that are uncomfortable what drawing from Boler and Zemby-
las (2003) we referred to as a pedagogy of discomfort requires academics and those con-
ducting change initiatives and researching these, to have similar learning experiences
(Leibowitz et al. 2010).
This notion of reciprocity can be further extended, to inform the advocacy that aca-
demics engage in: how we agitate for better conditions for ourselves and students, so
that teaching for social justice and in a socially just manner can be realised. Hutchings,
Huber, and Ciccone (2011, 6) write that academics who work actively to enhance learning
work against the grain and that preparation and collaboration necessary to support edu-
cational innovation often goes against the inherited routines of academic life. This has
implications for academic developers, who should advocate for enhanced conditions for
the SoTL in universities (Brew and Jewell 2012). In a compelling account of how opting
for a teaching-focused position can marginalise an academic, Ragoonaden (2015) demon-
strates how the high value of research outputs versus teaching is part of a larger hegemonic
discourse of performativity. She maintains that university educators should be advocating
for practices that benet society as well as emergent transformative scholarly cultures in
academia to build just, inclusive, democratic communities (2015, 10/11). This points to
a role for those who support the research of others, which Apple (2013, 43) describes
in relation to educationists more generally as tense and embodying dual commitments:
to be role models and credible scholars, as well as to be activists and focusing on change in
and through higher education.
Dimensions of social justice: participatory parity
In this section we advocate that social justice pedagogy be underpinned by the writing of
political philosopher Nancy Fraser. Although Nancy Fraser is not a critical theorist in
pedagogy, her work has been used by critical pedagogy, particularly in relation to her
notion of participatory parity, which she equates with social justice (see for example
Apple, Au, and Gandin 2009). The three dimensions of social justice as advanced by
Nancy Fraser (2008, 2009) are a useful frame for exploring the implications of a socially
just pedagogy. These dimensions are the economic, the cultural and the political, each of
which either mitigates against or contributes to social justice. Fraser (2008, 2009) equates
social justice with the ability to interact on an equal footing with social peers. In order to
achieve participatory parity in a higher education context, social arrangements would have
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to be put in place which would make it possible for individuals to interact on a par with
each other. All three of these dimensions are seen as being both analytically separate and
entangled or intertwined but not reducible to the other. As Fraser (2008, 282) aptly puts it
No redistribution or recognition without representation. Thus, all social arrangements
which are conducive to all three dimensions would have to be in place for social justice
to be possible.
Each of the three dimensions of social justice can be viewed either from an afrmative
or transformative perspective according to Fraser. From an afrmative perspective, social
justice can be redressed by attending to the inequitable outcomes of social arrangements in
ways which make ameliorative changes. Transformative approaches to social justice, on
the other hand, address the root causes of the three dimensions through restructuring
the generative framework which has given rise to impairment of participatory parity.
Considering socially just pedagogy from each of these dimensions: in higher education
people can be prevented from participating as equals. Examples of the economic dimen-
sion include lack of access to material resources such as food, transport, housing, electri-
city, health care, social literacies, and funding, poorly paid or exploitative work such as
continued casualisation that is now prevalent in higher education. Of concern for socially
just pedagogy is how higher education students are charged differential fees which prevent
those who do not have resources from access to higher education. Working class and poor
students usually have to work to support themselves and family members, and they have
less leisure time and less time for study than their middle class counterparts. Access to the
Internet and Wi-Fi and ability to engage with digital literacies is important for participa-
tory parity in higher education, both for students and for higher educators themselves.
Afrmative approaches to dealing with these would be redistributing resources, by for
example, providing national funding for study purposes without addressing inequities
in the system itself. Social justice pedagogy would concentrate on transformative
approaches which would examine how to change who gets to do what, (how responsibil-
ities such as teaching and research are set and how research and teaching are valued
(Bozalek and Carolissen 2012)).
In terms of the second dimension, of recognition and misrecognition, this relates to the
cultural dimension. What is important for socially just pedagogy is how perceived attri-
butes of people or practices are either valued (recognised) or devalued (misrecognised).
This will impact on ways in which students and academics are able to participate in the
pedagogical process. Fraser (2008, 2009) makes it clear that she is interested in institutio-
nalised rather than psychological processes of valuing or devaluing mis/recognition and
status in/equalities. These forms of status inequality include: degrading students prior
knowledges, colonisation of settler groups where the values and attributes of certain
other groups are backgrounded and rendered invisible in the curriculum. Part of the
work of social justice pedagogy would be to alert people to these structural inequalities
in the status order. In order to do this, it would be important to examine what knowledges
are accorded less respect and esteem than others and who is valued or devalued in terms of
cultural categories such as race, gender, sexuality, ability or nationality. Examples of insti-
tutional practices which would affect misrecognition would be institutional policies and
practices which assume a normative social actor, such as white, male, middle class, hetero-
sexual and where the attributes of other groups are implicitly regarded as decient or
inferior. Social justice pedagogies would consider ways of addressing these impediments
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to equal participation. Afrmative approaches would involve revaluing devalued cat-
egories such as indigenous knowledges or devalued social categories such as race, ability
or class this may, however, reify groups of people along a single axis, such as women
or blacks, thus reducing the lived complexity of situations. A more transformative
social justice pedagogy would alert students to the possibility of destabilising institutiona-
lised cultural patterns through deconstructing binary categories.
The third political dimension which has more recently been added by Fraser (2008,
2009) to the other two dimensions to accommodate transnational ows and practices,
focuses on who belongs, and is included and who is excluded from higher education ped-
agogies. Fraser distinguishes between two forms of misrepresentation the ordinary pol-
itical one which has the national territorial state as its frame, where particular groups of
people on the basis of social markers such as gender, race and ability are prevented
from participation in their national political processes. The second form of misrepresen-
tation is more serious, and concerns how political boundaries are set and who can be a
member or not. In this way, people can be excluded from participating at all, and those
who are poor or devalued have no way of challenging their situations this she refers
to as misframing. Misframing is the most serious form of injustice as it can be regarded
as a political death. Misframing in higher education occurs because of a focus on individ-
ual institutions rather than the system as a whole thus depoliticising and misframing the
gross inequalities in the education system as a whole, and placing the responsibility on the
individual institution as such to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps (see Bozalek
and Boughey 2012, for a fuller discussion of this). With afrmative approaches, individual
institutions and nation states would be accepted as the spaces of higher education that
socially just and social justice pedagogies should concentrate on. From a transformative
perspective, structural injustices pertaining to international or global issues such as the
digital divide and differential access to knowledge production and consumption, all
impact groups of people across national territories and individual higher educational or
disciplinary contexts. Frasers all affected principle addresses how these common
issues affect the life chances and ability to participate as equals of those affected by
these across geopolitical contexts. In this case, the most effective way of addressing
these issues would be through international socially just pedagogy, which provide students
and academics with various fora to develop a more collective voice to express their
Supporting the growth of academics as scholars of teaching and learning
We have chosen to illustrate this section of our argument with reference to three change
initiatives that we have been involved in, in order to highlight the relationship between
SoTL imbued with a social justice perspective and professional learning, because this is
the domain of SoTL in relation to social justice that has been the most neglected. Our
work to support the growth in SoTL amongst academics has been premised upon the
notion that maldistribution, misrecognition and misframing affects academics in a like
manner that it affects students. One could argue that this is less the case for academics,
because to become an academic implies a greater level of social mobility, enculturation
and access to dominant knowledges than would be the case for students. However in
the previous section, we have argued that lack of participatory parity persists at this
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level, between institutions and within institutions. Furthermore, attention to the growth of
academics as scholars of teaching and learning is extremely important in terms of sustain-
ability, as academics would teach students in a socially just manner for many years, and
would also be role models to students role models in terms of how they behave,
teach, relate and the way they conduct their research with students.
Three research-based interventions
The observations we make in this section derive from research-based interventions where
we have both collaborated, mostly in teams with others. The rst is a short course for aca-
demics, called Citizenship, Social Inclusion and Difference (CSID) which was designed to
give academics the opportunity to engage with techniques they could use with their stu-
dents, in order to explore matters of difference in the classroom. Our teaching and
research approach was based on a conceptual framework informed by the notion of a
pedagogy of discomfort (Boler and Zembylas 2003). We led this as part of a team of
ve educators. The course followed on from an action research intervention that was con-
ducted three times with students across barriers of discipline, institution, race and class
(see Leibowitz et al. 2012, for a full account of the student-oriented intervention) and
we used many of the same educational techniques and principles in work with students
and academics. The data we draw upon stem from the responses to participant feedback
questionnaires to participant feedback questionnaires, reective essays which were a
requirement for completing the course, one published paper (Clowes 2013) and one con-
ference paper authored by the academics, about their experiences of participating in the
course. A total of 28 academics participated over the three years. All the data were analysed
in order to ascertain how academics responded to this approach in comparison to stu-
dents. For this article we provide quotes from the one published article and one reective
essay, by one white female and one black female, as these represent the depth and com-
plexity of many of the reactions to the course.
The second intervention is an inter-institutional course designed and facilitated by col-
leagues from four universities in the Western Cape region and supported by the Cape
Higher Education Consortium (CHEC), a body which aims to foster inter-institutional
academic programme collaboration between these four institutions. The short course
was entitled Research on Teaching and Learning: Preparing for your proposal (RTL) and
was intended to build on academics abilities to conduct educational research in their
own contexts. To facilitate this, we familiarised academics with various educational
research techniques, culminating in the participants writing of an educational research
proposal. Key sources of data for this project were the drawings by each of the 28 partici-
pants in which they documented their experiences and aspirations with regard to the
SOTL; transcriptions of audio-taped focus group discussions of all participants in which
they discussed their drawings with each other; and feedback from all participants about
the short course. Project team members conducted an analysis of all the data according
to the topics of researcher identity, emotions and the use of drawings. Presentations by
two project team members and ve course participants were made at a panel at a local
teaching and learning conference (CHEC 2013). This was an attempt to draw the stu-
dents into the research production process as part of their experience of being on the
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The third intervention is a collaborative research project undertaken by 18 South
African academic developers at eight institutions on the subject of professional develop-
ment. The six-year-long project is entitled Structure, Culture and Agency (S, C + A).
The primary focus of this research project was academics uptake of professional develop-
ment opportunities at 8 South African universities, but a secondary focus was the colla-
borative research process for the 18 participants. The data we use in this case were
collected for two papers, Leibowitz, Ndebele, and Winberg (2014) and another in
process, co-drafted by 14 of the researchers. The research design in this case was a
form of group reection. At the end of the rst year of the collaboration all researchers
submitted an unstructured reective text. This was analysed by three of the team
members for the above publication, with a focus on researcher identity. At the end of
the third year, a second round of reective texts was submitted in response to four ques-
tions. This has been analysed by 14 of the team members, using the constructs of reex-
ivity how individuals and groups mediate the systemic conditions (Archer 2007) and
relational reexivity how individuals consciously generate group agency (Donati
2010). Evidently, each intervention had its own research design and conceptual frame-
work. For this article, we focus on the ndings which pertain directly to the SOTL and
its linkages to participatory parity.
Outcomes and challenges
In order to reect on the implications for a socially just approach to support the SoTL, we
provide examples of positive outcomes as well as challenges experienced by academics
who participate in opportunities to grow as scholars of teaching and learning. Some of
the challenges and outcomes are inuenced by issues of maldistribution, malrecognition
and misframing in the strong sense of inequality pertaining to class, race or gender.
Some pertain to more subtle elements, for example, to the unequal status of teaching
versus research, and some due to even less overtly political phenomena, for example,
due to the challenges of crossing theoretical or disciplinary paradigms.
Examples from the data of the dimension of recognition and misrecognition in the
experience of academics learning to research teaching and learning abound, even
though these are not always explicitly tied to issues of social status. On the RTL short
course lecturers described themselves as inadequate because of their lack of experience
with research in general, with one describing her proposal apologetically as lumpy
(female black academic from an HDI
). On the S, C + A project, even very seasoned
researchers who had to work within a new theoretical domain felt inadequate. One of
the participants in this collaborative research project even used the term at home,a
term that has gained so much currency in the South African literature on transformation
and inclusion in order to express feeling included:
I really enjoyed engaging with the group and drawing on their exper ience and knowledge. I
felt very at home with the Project members. (Female white researcher from an HAI on S, C +
A research project)
Vice (2015, 52) notes the interrelationship between feeling at home and feeling pro-
ductive and engaged, where she describes as feeling at home as: we are in the appropri-
ate sphere of operation of our agency. Vice admits that the notion of feeling at home is
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complex, as there are elements of feeling at home that may be counterproductive. It is
often maintained that there is a positive relationship between learning and discomfort.
Nonetheless a certain degree of feeling at home is required, for an academic to ourish.
In some instances feeling out of ones comfort zone and unable to participate is attribu-
table to a sense of being a novice within a group:
my own lack of knowledge about research and its processes caused me to feel unsure and
sometimes even feeling totally stupid or ignorant which then kept me from participating or
saying something. (Female white PhD student at HAI on S, C +A research project)
It is worth pointing out that both these statements were uttered by staff working in the
eld of academic professional development, who are not considered in their institutions
to have academic status. This may have a constraining effect on their ability to work suc-
cessfully with academics (Healey and Jenkins 2003). Maldistribution, misrecognition and
misframing constitute social justice-related challenges for staff working in other support
services too; for example, the library, as one of the participants in the RTL short course
depicted in her drawing.
This is me climbing over a chain nail fence you can see through it from libraryland you
can see it through, but there is a distinct barrier from the faculty neighbourhood. (Female
white participant from HDI on RTL short course)
Redistribution as a dimension of social justice can be considered in relation to cultural and
educational capital, as well as material goods. The sharing of research know-how and
resources was appreciated by more than one educational developer in the S, C + A colla-
borative research project:
I think this, for me, has been one of the most astonishi ng characteristics of this group of col-
leagues their generosity of spirit and willingness to share resources, intellectual property,
and give generously of their time. (female white researcher from HDI on S, C + A project)
Through a collaborati ve process with two seasoned researchers resulting in a publication in a
highly rated higher education journal my condence in publishing was boosted. (Male black
researcher from HDI on S, C + A project)
Amongst the resources to which academics have access is the valued knowledges or cul-
tural resources. In the S, C + A collaborative project, the theory which was chosen to
inform the conceptual framework of the project operated as a form of cultural capital,
with some research participants having access to this, and others not:
I gathered from the earlier paper that some of the project members found the social realism/
critical realism theoretical framework which was used for the project difcult and challen-
ging. I suppose I was lucky to have come into the project with some of that theory.
(Female white researcher from HAI on S, C + A project)
This participants observation regarding her theoretical knowledge is not a trivial point in
relation to social justice, as cultural resources such as theories are circulated and shared in
settings such as institutions or departments, and academics privileged to work in those
settings not unlike students privileged to study in particular institutional settings
benet from such circulations. Access to theory was not expressed overtly as a social
justice issue for those academics who teach in elds other than education, who nd the
transition to educational research a signicant barrier. One academic in the RTL short
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course described his research journey as a hurdle, as crossing mount paradigm (male
white academic from HAI). However, if social arrangements and opportunities to
access educational theory is denied to such an academic, this could indeed be described
as a matter of social (in)justice. And certainly within research collaborations, one
should attend to this as a crucial aspect of participatory parity, and hence social justice.
In the S, C + A research project material aspects of distribution or maldistribution that
might impact on academics participation were found to be: geographical proximity to the
lead institution or to other researchers, or funding available to researchers in their own
institutions, the latter which is often tied directly to institutional privilege (Bozalek and
Boughey 2012).
Hindrances to participatory parity may be created by institutional afliation or pro-
fessional identity. Data from the S, C + A research project include the comment from
an academic developer from a HDI who implied, by way of contrast, how his own lack
of participation in the research project within which he participated was reversed:
Coming from an academic institution where research and publishing by the academic devel-
opers has in the past not been emphasised, the need to reect on, and share our practices
through research and publications on our practices is made critical by my involvement in
a study of national magnitude. (Male black researcher from HDI on S, C + A research
Thus far the experiences of academics who have been supported in one way or another to
grapple with RTL have been discussed in relation to the tripartite account of participatory
parity. However, the account of social justice pedagogy provided in the early section of this
paper referred to the need to include elements of destabilisation and the creation of dis-
comfort (Boler and Zembylas 2003). These more discomforting aspects of pedagogy
were reported as extremely productive, though not always, of course, easy. One participant
in the CSID short course found the destabilising process signicant for her personal
If it had not been for my involvement in this project, my life would probably have continued
on a path of constant uncertainty and feelings of inadequacy not so much because of others
imposing these ideas on me, but because of me imposing it on myself (internalised oppres-
sion). I am grateful for having had the opportunity to be challenged in such a personal way,
discomforting as it had been. (Female black academic from HAI on CSID short course)
This statement demonstrates clearly how the personal and professional lives and identities
of academics are often highly interwoven (Bosetti 2015; Vice 2015). There were partici-
pants on the CSID short course who could see the linkages between the course, their
own practice and their teaching, as this participant recorded in the nal course evaluation:
[I learnt about] my part in perpetuating inequality and that I can change this through
changing my teaching and learning.
Opportunities for destabilisation, as productive as these may be, also contain inherent
difculties, as Clowes (2013), a female white academic at an HDI argues in her reection as
a participating academic on the CSID course. Clowes found the very process difcult, as
the language used to discuss difference itself employs the same prioritisation of kinds of
difference that are pervasive in post-apartheid society. In the article which she wrote
about her experiences of participating in the course she contends that the participants
in her cohort emphasised race over other aspects of difference such as gender, and that
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the facilitators endorsed this. Her struggle to convey her misgivings within the group were
aggravated by her sense of risk that her dissension would be seen as lack of sensitivity to
previously and presently oppressed black people. She concludes: South African educators
need to nd ways of talking about a shared future without reinscribing the same habits of
practice that constitute the very hegemonic discourses of inequality that require critique
(Clowes 2013, 717). Clowes engagement with, but critique of, the methodology in the
course suggests that there is much room for research into teaching and learning about
social justice and in particular, but not solely, where educators are the target group.
In this article, we have attempted to esh out implications of a social justice informed
approach towards the SoTL for the support of academics to engage in the SoTL. These
are for institutional arrangements which attend to the distribution of material as well as
cultural resources amongst academics, and which attend to participatory process and a
sense of inclusion and respect within research processes. Collaboration across insti-
tutional, disciplinary, national boundaries are necessary, provided that attention is paid
to the opportunities for participatory parity, and where relevant, to opportunities for
destabilisation and discomfort. Our examples are drawn from work in South Africa, but
we contend that the SoTL and social justice for learners, educators and educational devel-
opers is an international issue.
We have found the tripartite approach to participatory parity as described by Fraser
(2008, 2009) to be useful, in order to frame the discussion. Questions of participatory
parity pervade all aspects of university life. We have attempted to illustrate how the
social arrangements which are implicit in institutional, professional or disciplinary aflia-
tion might serve to enable or constrain ones participation in research activities. We have
not gone the next step, of demonstrating the benet of engaging in social justice matters
with academics, on the learning conditions for students we recommend this as an impor-
tant arena of study on the SoTL.
Regarding issues of social justice, we have tried to suggest the need for clear linkages
between teaching and learning and research and suggest that processes and attributes
based on one set of social justice principles should inform all of these relationships. If stu-
dents are expected to collaborate and share, can their teachers do that? And do the teachers
lead by example? If the students are expected to engage in troubling dialogues, do their
teachers do that? Have the lecturers examined their long-held assumptions and deeply
ingrained prejudices? If it is required that the curriculum makes place for scaffolding
and enabling students to access the secrets of the disciplinary discourses of the
academy, is provision made for academics to access learning theory and knowledge
about research methods? To emphasise the interwovenness of all aspects of teaching
and learning and the SoTL, we return to the words of Boyer, cited in the introduction
to this article: good teaching means that faculty, as scholars, are also learners (1990, 24).
This article is an attempt to respond to the dearth of articles written from a social justice
perspective in the burgeoning eld of SoTL, through its specic focus on the work of
Nancy Fraser and participatory parity. It shows an attempt to go beyond the connes
of educational theorising and to draw from the wisdom of other branches of knowledge
such as philosophy and political science, to conceptualise what socially just pedagogies
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might involve. We would encourage further consideration of other approaches to social
justice and socially just pedagogies in SoTL.
1. For the rest of this article, we use the term socially just pedagogy as a shorthand, to refer to
pedagogy for social justice as well.
2. HDIs and HAIs are South African terms used to denote universities that were mainly for black
students and under-resourced, or mainly for white students and well resourced, during the
apartheid era.
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
This research was funded by the National Research Foundation, Grant No: 90384.
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... Over the past two decades in particular it has gained traction amongst education scholars globally and locally. Increasingly it is seen as a comprehensive, pragmatic and valuable normative lens through which to explore and evaluate pedagogical injustices (e.g., Blackmore, 2016;Burke, 2002;Burke et al., 2016;Hodgkinson-Williams & Trotter, 2018;Jackson & Burke, 2007;Leibowitz & Bozalek, 2015;Lingard & Keddie, 2013;Mills et al., 2016). ...
... Participatory parity has been described as Fraser's greatest contribution and a highly sophisticated, important and powerful framework for describing and analysing injustice in social interactions (Armstrong & Thompson, 2007;Fraser, 2020;Keddie, 2012;Leibowitz, 2016). Although Fraser has not theorised participatory parity in relation to teaching and learning, as she herself has acknowledged (Fraser, 2020), her three-dimensional understanding of in/justice has gained momentum over the past few years for analysing educational policy, institutions, pedagogies and curricula (Black et al., 2020;Blackmore, 2016;Bozalek, 2017;Bozalek & Boughey, 2020;Burke, 2013;Clowes et al., 2017;Garraway, 2017;Keddie, 2012;Leibowitz & Bozalek, 2015;Lingard & Keddie, 2013;Morreira, 2019;Ngoasheng & Gachago, 2017;Shay & Peseta, 2016). Maldistribution, misrecognition and the early development of participatory parity Core to Fraser's early theorising of participatory parity was her response to what she saw as the displacement in the latter part of the 20th century of class-related socioeconomic struggles by identity-based struggles for cultural recognition "just as neoliberalism declared a war on social equality" (Fraser, 2013, p. 1). ...
... (Fraser, 2008, p. 17) Much has been written over the past few years by students and academics highlighting a range of cultural injustices in South African HE. In this context, forms of status inequality include degrading, devaluing or ignoring students' prior and everyday knowledges, and according more status to the attributes and values of dominant groups whilst backgrounding and invisibilising those already marginalised in terms of gender, race, language, sexuality, dis/ability, class and so on (Carolissen et al., 2015;Clowes et al., 2017;Leibowitz, 2016;Leibowitz & Bozalek, 2015;Mathebula 2017). A prominent focus has been questions around epistemologies and knowledges: whose are valued and foregrounded, and whose are devalued, ignored or invisibilised in educational spaces. ...
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Located in Nancy Fraser’s theory of participatory parity, this feminist qualitative study investigated how higher education pedagogies could be alert to students’ diverse and challenging contexts, draw on situated knowledges and lived experiences, and ignite a desire to tackle injustices and contribute to social change. The research site was two gender studies courses at UWC. Analysis of data showed the value of centering students’ lives and opening these up for dialogue and debate. Through theory, lectures and conversations, the pedagogies challenged students to see how they were both products of and implicated in reproducing injustices, fostering social activism for some. The study shows that teaching can raise awareness of and interrogate injustices to contribute to social transformation.
... With this background in mind, many researchers in South Africa have explored the notion of SoTL from different perspectives. A few scholars like Leibowitz and Bozalek (2016) have advanced SoTL from a social justice perspective. In this view, these authors argue that teaching, learning, and research should be discussed in relation to social justice principles. ...
... As students called for the dismantling of colonial curriculum, they also raised issues with the exploitation of workers by neoliberal forces. Using Nancy Frasers's (2008Frasers's ( , 2009) framework on the economic, the cultural, and the political dimensions core to social justice, Leibowitz and Bozalek (2016), in a study on a collaborative SoTL project between five universities in South Africa, showed that there can be no participatory parity, an important aspect of social justice, among the academics from the institutions unless the economic and the cultural dimensions have been addressed equitably in all the institutions. ...
... We contend that SoTL needs to be skeptical of epistemological, theoretical, and methodological confines if it is going to make a meaningful contribution to Southern theories for the advancement of teaching, learning, and research in Southern settings, especially in Africa. Drawing on scholars such as Leibowitz and Bozalek (2016) and Postma (2016), who contend that cognitive justice and social justice are entangled, an argument that is consistent with a decolonial thought (Ndlovu-Gatsheni, 2013Macdonaldo-Torres, 2018), we assert that SoTL needs to treat the interaction between knowledge and social justice issues as Education, 2022, 17(2), pp. 6-24. ...
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This paper discusses aspects of the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) in South African higher education (HE) and locates it within what it calls Southern theories. Three examples of such theories that the paper advances are Southern decolonial theory, decoloniality, and transversality, which it frames from the Global South standpoint. Concerning the first theory, the paper argues that SoTL, both as a notion and as a practice, needs to be problematized, critiqued, and contextualized according to the Global South HE settings in which it is applied. One of its key points in this regard is that SoTL has to question and critique the dominant epistemic practices and scholarly practices underpinning the curricula of Global South higher education institutions (HEIs), and through which students are framed in these HEIs. With reference to both decoloniality and transversality, the paper foregrounds components of SoTL that are aligned to these two approaches in a way that dismantles their hierarchical relations. Most importantly, it contends that transversality is capable of decentering Western truth claims in favor of polycentric epistemologies, frameworks, and methodologies that resonate with and that have applicability to the Global South.
... collaborative, entailing working alongside, enthusing and inspiring colleagues and students; interdisciplinary, through the sharing of ideas between disciplines to generate new solutions; and transdisciplinary, in the focusing on pedagogic ideas and principles common to all staff and which transcend disciplinary boundaries. Integral to the approach is the notion of social justice by which transformation is achieved through critical engagement, authentic learning experiences, and reciprocity (Leibowitz and Bozalek, 2015). Examples include the provision of departmental consultations and workshops on assessment and feedback, employing interactive group work practices; the development of a technology enhanced learning toolkit; collaborative working with the Students' Union to tackle seemingly intractable 'wicked' problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973) in relation to assessment and feedback; pedagogic co-creation projects, including employing students as technology trainers to support academics in becoming more adept with new Learning (PAL) mentoring scheme ensures that all students begin work placement with an improved understanding of professional workplace behaviours, thereby ensuring the university retains its reputation with placement and graduate employers. ...
Responding to the changing landscape of higher education (HE) requires the development and implementation of flexible and imaginative approaches to continually inspire, engage and support academics and professional services staff in delivering high quality student-centred learning experiences. At Bournemouth University (BU), the cross-university Centre for Excellence in Learning (CEL) was created to promote, support and co-ordinate pedagogic initiatives and embed the explicit valuing of teaching and learning into all aspects of university life. It represents a collaborative, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary model with multiple stakeholder voices. Operationalised through the secondment of academics two days a week, and taking a thematic approach, Theme Leaders 'bid' for the secondment, and drive forward an agreed agenda. The BU 'Fusion' corporate strategy promotes clear links between Pedagogy, Professional Practice and Research, complemented by the current CEL themes of: Employability; Innovation in Technology Enhanced Learning and Innovative Pedagogies; Assessment and Feedback.We believe that the sustainability and creativity required to deliver this agenda are promoted through the building of strong networks, the sharing of challenges and the collaborative development of solutions, however, as academics moving into the realms of learning development, our roles and identities are constantly being challenged, contested, and reframed by the responses of peers, students and our wider disciplinary roots. This paper offers a model for mapping and managing change and optimising these and other 'disruptive' practices within HE institutional settings, and considers the flexible and blended academic identities that facilitate this approach.
... Although there is some literature regarding research methods for social justice (e.g., Strunk & Locke, 2019;Winter, 2017), teaching qualitative methods (e.g., Eisenhart & Jurow, 2011;Hazzan & Nutov, 2014;Hurworth, 2008;Koro-Ljundberg, 2012;Lapum & Hume, 2015;Mulvihill, Swaminatha, & Bailey, 2015;Preissle & deMarrais, 2011;Rania, Migliorini, & Rebora, 2017;Roulston, 2019;Ulmer, Kuby, & Christ, 2019;Waite, 2014;Wolgemuth, 2016), studying teaching and learning in higher education as a social justice project (see Leibowitz & Bozalek, 2016 for an example), literature regarding teaching qualitative methods for social justice remains scant (see, for example, Denzin, 2010). Based on conversations with colleagues, we know this work to be undertaken in pockets at institutions across the U.S., and there is pedagogical literature regarding how qualitative methods instructors integrate critical perspectives grounded in feminisms, queer theory, critical race theory, postcolonialism and indigeneity, and disability studies (see, for example, the special issue of Qualitative Inquiry entitled Teaching Qualitative Research as Transgressive Practices, edited by Hsuing, 2016). ...
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In this manuscript, we work to define and unpack what teaching for social justice means for us as instructors of an introductory qualitative methods course at an ultraconservative institution. We focus on our intentionality in curating readings, designing specific fieldwork assignments, and prompting reflective work for adult graduate students in the course. This intentionality provides various inroads to develop and support student learning around qualitative methods, to reveal meta narratives and dominant ideologies, to critically think and “trouble” those narratives, and opportunities to name lived experiences and observations in systems of oppression and privilege.
... Research has shown, for example, how the common focus on distributive approaches to social justice in schools tends only to actually further stigmatise "the poor" rather than change economic structures to make society fairer (e.g. North, 2006;Leibowitz & Bozalek, 2016). Achieving equity and justice in schools (and indeed in society more broadly) requires attention to the complex interplay between economic, cultural and political factors (Fraser, 2008). ...
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Over the past decade, an explosion in the availability of education-related datasets has enabled new computational research in education. Much of this work has investigated digital traces of online learners in order to better understand and optimize their cognitive learning processes. Yet cognitive learning on digital platforms does not equal education. Instead, education is an inherently social, cultural, economic, and political process manifesting in physical spaces, and educational outcomes are influenced by many factors that precede and shape the cognitive learning process. Many of these are social factors like children's connections to schools (including teachers, counselors, and role models), parents and families, and the broader neighborhoods in which they live. In this article, we briefly discuss recent studies of learning through large-scale digital platforms, but largely focus on those exploring sociological aspects of education. We believe computational social scientists can creatively advance this emerging research frontier-and in doing so, help facilitate more equitable educational and life outcomes.
... Quality education provides social justice and economic benefits (Gebremedhin & Joshin, 2016;Leibowitz & Bozalek, 2016;Novelli & Sayed, 2016). The social justice benefits to education involve advancing democracy, promoting injustice, and upholding the advocacy for human rights (Allen, 2006;Gebremedhin & Joshin, 2016;John, 2016;Robinson, 2016 Social justice in this context is referring to the right of all citizens to have access to quality education and to provide equality within the Liberian institutions through a fair distribution of resources (Modiba, 2017;Roche, 2014;Turnbull, 2014). ...
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Enhancing early childhood experiences can put children on the path to success. Therefore, informal literacy plays a vital role in children’s academic success. In Liberia, the high illiterate rates combined with the multidimensionality of poverty hinders the ability of parents to provide informal literacy supportive environments that create the foundation for formal education for children. The Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY), an early childhood literacy curriculum, was introduced to Liberia in 2015 to serve parents and children literacy needs. There is a lack of research studies which investigates if and how the curriculum served the literacy needs for parents and children in Liberia. The purpose of this case study was to explore how the HIPPY curriculum serves the literacy needs of parents and children in Liberia and what are the barriers and the support required for successful implementation of the curriculum. Guided by the critical social theory and through the lenses of social justice, this qualitative case study explores the curriculum initiative in one community in Liberia by applying variety of data collection methods; analysis of archival data, observations, and semi-structured interviews a variety of participants. The findings from the data analysis expresses a common agreement by all participants around the contribution of the curriculum to child and parent literacy improvement. HIPPY curriculum goes beyond a literacy curriculum and involves trainings on life skills and parenting skills for parents and children. All participants shared the need for continuation of the initiative beyond three years. The main barriers are; the need for economic empowerment and adult literacy. The one theme contrasting finding highlighted the need for a more culturally contextualized curriculum, materials and activities. Keywords: Informal Literacy, Early Childhood Literacy Curriculum, Early Childhood Development, Parents and Children, Liberia.
... A much larger proportion of studies compared to the other countries are concerned with curriculum and pedagogical practice within universities in South Africa, which are argued to be fundamental to the public good role of universities (Behari-Leak and McKenna 2017). Particular initiatives to affect necessary change in teaching practice, recognising its critical importance to social justice concerns within South African higher education, have been published (Leibowitz and Bozalek 2016;Leibowitz and Naidoo 2017;Bozalek and Zembylas 2017). Over the last few years, this focus in the South African literature has increasingly sought to address the complexities of decolonising university curricula as a central social justice concern within the country's higher education system (Higgs 2016;Luckett 2016;Heleta 2016;Horsthemke 2017). ...
This article presents the main outcomes of a rigorous review of literature undertaken for the project ‘Higher Education, Inequality and the Public Good: A Study in Four African Countries’, which is discussed in this special edition. We set out to review some of the literature on higher education in the four countries that were the focus of the project – Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa – and to map its conceptual and contextual focal points. The article presents and discusses the trends that emerged from this mapping exercise and, in conclusion, reflects on what some of these trends may mean for the relationship between higher education and the public good in Africa.
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In the aftermath of the #FeesMustFall student movement and in the face of the increasing calls for the decolonization of higher education (HE) in South Africa, the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL) has come under sharp focus and constant monitoring. As a scholarly concept, SoTL has attracted kudos and criticisms alike. In the former case, some tout it as an initiative destined to bring about the much sought-after reciprocal parity between teaching, learning, and research, with none privileged over another, thereby resulting in the proverbial education for social justice (see, for example, Leibowitz & Bozalek, 2016, 2018). In a similar vein, others argue that SoTL makes teaching and learning matter once more. They assert that it helps create cross-disciplinary communities of practice, or what Miller-Young and Yeo (2015) call a “SoTL Community of Practice” (p. 38) by reflecting “the ‘trading zone’ that is SoTL” (p. 38). SoTL also arguably fosters pedagogical innovation that makes teaching and learning exciting (see Draeger, 2013). Still, others maintain that SoTL needs to be inclusive and reflective of knowledge systems, schemas, frameworks, and theories of the Global South, while critiquing epistemologies, schemas, frameworks, and theories of the Global North (see Leibowitz, 2017).
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Since 1994, numerous policies promoted social justice and the transformation of the South African society. The re-curriculated Bachelor of Education (BEd) programme at the Sol Plaatje University aims to equip students with knowledge and skills to realise the aim of social justice. The aim of this study was to explore Sol Plaatje University students' experiences and perceptions of a curriculum that aims to promote social justice. We selected 3 education modules, with the assumption that they reflected social justice content. Four students, representative of different ethnic and language groupings at the university were chosen as participants. Data were generated through 3 reflective exercises about each of the modules, spread over a period of 3 years. The module aims, linked with the narratives of the participants' perceptions and experiences of each module, provided an overview of their experiences of the enacted curriculum. A qualitative research design with an interpretivist approach informed by Dover' s (2013) social justice pedagogy was used. The students' narratives shed light on the strengths and weaknesses of how the BEd curriculum worked towards social justice and revealed the students' perceptions of otherness. From the narratives it became apparent that the 3 modules did promote a social justice orientation in prospective teachers educated at the university.
In the United States, post-secondary institutions have enacted a variety of approaches to foster inclusion of diverse students. Some efforts (e.g., training, workshops) are aimed at teachers, who spend significant time with students, and thus, have a direct influenceon whether, and how, students feel included. This study provides rich detail about a series of professional development workshops at one U.S. institution. The goals of the workshops were to increase instructor knowledge of inclusion and to offer tangible strategies for fostering it in their spheres of influence. The manuscript details the history, design, implementation, and selected outcomes of the Inclusion Workshops for Faculty.
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This article reports on an investigation into the role of academic identity within collaborative research in higher education in South Africa. The study was informed by the literature on academic identities, collaborative research and communities of practice. It was located within a multi-site study, with involvement of researcher collaborators from eight South African higher education institutions. Eighteen academic development practitioners recorded their perceptions of their participation in one higher education research project. An analysis of the research team members' experiences of participating in the first phase of the research project lent credence to the factors influencing participants' academic identities. The study found that collaborative research provided potential for knowledge generation and personal and professional growth, but noted that in order to enable participation, attention needs to be paid to the interrelationship between researchers' academic individual and collective identities and their sense of expertise in the field of educational research.
The purpose of this article is to make a contribution to the discussion on the sociological features of higher education and the significant ways in which it comes to produce a particular version of the racial experience.2 While work has appeared which has begun to comment on fragmentation of identity in South African higher education there is insufficient attention paid to the ways in which identity-making takes place. What this article will do is to focus on the racial as a resource which is brought into contact with the institution and to suggest what the outlines of this coming together are in the South African setting. It does not, indeed cannot, develop a deep discussion, as in the classic identity-formation literature, about subject formation – who, for example, is attributing what to whom and under what power conditions. What it seeks to do, in a limited way, is point to interesting new trends in how race is being experienced by South African students and particularly by black students. What does the racial experience look like for them? When students invoke race what is it that they are talking about? South African Journal of Higher Education Vol. 22 (3) 2008: pp. 662-678
Despite the vast differences between the Right and the Left over the role of education in the production of inequality one common element both sides share is a sense that education can and should do something about society, to either restore what is being lost or radically alter what is there now. The question was perhaps put most succinctly by the radical educator George Counts in 1932 when he asked "Dare the School Build a New Social Order?", challenging entire generations of educators to participate in, actually to lead, the reconstruction of society. Over 70 years later, celebrated educator, author and activist Michael Apple revisits Counts’ now iconic works, compares them to the equally powerful voices of minoritized people, and again asks the seemingly simply question of whether education truly has the power to change society.
How do we reflect upon ourselves and our concerns in relation to society, and vice versa? Human reflexivity works through ‘internal conversations’ using language, but also emotions, sensations and images. Most people acknowledge this ‘inner-dialogue’ and can report upon it. However, little research has been conducted on ‘internal conversations’ and how they mediate between our ultimate concerns and the social contexts we confront. Margaret Archer argues that reflexivity is progressively replacing routine action in late modernity, shaping how ordinary people make their way through the world. Using interviewees' life and work histories, she shows how ‘internal conversations’ guide the occupations people seek, keep or quit; their stances towards structural constraints and enablements; and their resulting patterns of social mobility. © Margaret S. Archer 2007 and Cambridge University Press, 2010.
The paper looks closely at student enrolment trends through a case study of South African ‘race’ enrolment data, including some hypotheses about how student social class has influenced these trends. First, data on 1988-1998 enrolments showing a ‘skewed revolution’ in student africanisation are summarised. Then, using 2000-2012 data for the 23 new post-2000 universities and universities of technology, it is argued that the ‘official’ categorisation of these institutions masks new socio-economic inequalities; and a better understanding of the ‘skewed’ and ‘stalled’ africanisation revolution is possible using classification into three proposed new categories based on postgraduate enrolments and staff publications as indices of research-intensivity at each institution: (1) five ‘upper band’ universities; (2) seven ‘middle band’ universities; and (3) eleven ‘lower band’ universities. The paper concludes by distinguishing between ‘reformist’ and ‘radical’ national transformation policies in order to identify their impact on these new race- and class-based student inequalities.