Project blog, guest post: An email I nearly deleted.
This post comes from a wonderful academic, Elizabeth Peterson, whom Tanya & I recently met up with to talk about the project relating to The Developing Child & The Developing Adult modules. Here, she shares her takeaways:
When a colleague sent me an email saying you might be interested in this (with a link to a website), the temptation was to file it without reading it (to get it out of my inbox) into my ‘Read me’ folder which should really be called my ‘Never read, feel guilty about’ folder.
However, as I am currently on Research and Study leave (my precious time to catch up on papers that need writing) and I am supposed to have all this free time to think and explore new ideas for teaching and research…I clicked on the link.
In hindsight I am still not sure if that was a good idea. The link has sent me down a path that is challenging me to re-think the way I teach and research. While I love the possibility of this, if I accept the challenge, the work associated with it is likely to mean that getting all those papers finished is an even more distant dream.
The link in the email was to a student blog commenting on how a developmental course had changed her life. As a developmental lecturer, I could imagine what it would be like to have a student write that about my course, and I wanted some of that magic. I was hooked and had to find out more.
The end result is that I have now just travelled for six hours across the UK to spend two hours with two amazing women talking passionately about their developmental courses. Courses which, despite getting rave reviews, next year will be forced to become one course (don’t you just love those university restructures?) Amazingly, some of the current year’s students are motivated enough to petition to keep both courses, so that other students can reap the benefits they feel they have received. I am left buzzing (not just from the two cups of great coffee with two inspiring women), but with a bunch of fabulous ideas, a pile of papers and books to add to my ‘read me’ pile, and a course of my own research and lectures to re-think and re-write.
So what was so magical about these courses? I am sure a lot of the magic comes from the knowledge and enthusiasm Charlotte and Tanya have for their subject. They also seem to help their students notice things in their everyday lives differently, to question the things they take for granted and challenge them. Rather than going over traditional developmental theories that compartmentalise development into a more or less linear process where you hope to be keeping up with the norm, they show their students that development is far more complex and socially constructed.
They ask seemingly simple questions like what is a child? What is normal development? They view these questions through multiple lenses including culture, ethnicity, race, gender, privilege and power.
In reading about and hearing about this course, I have now introduced myself to terms I am embarrassed to say I had not come across in my largely western, positivistic, linear, empirical training. I too am having to question what I have been taught and what I now teach about psychology.
I have been given an opportunity to add another lens into my world. The challenge is whether I can bring my students with me on my new journey, like these two inspiring women have done for their students and now me…
But first I have some reading to do, oh and some papers to write.
But before you think I am procrastinating, in keeping with their course, I did at least accept their challenge to write my first blog post.
Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology
University of Auckland