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This desire to incorporate and recognise ECA was echoed by respondents in our projected/generic quadrant. Although analytically we have distinguished market and values-orientated courses, there were strong value drivers in the more market/employment-orientated courses as well, but as might be expected this was seamlessly integrated in the global ethics courses. Volunteering has a double position as an extra-curricular activity, but also as a module that
functions as the work experience module for the course:
Staff 18: Amnesty, People and Planet and things like going to Menwith Hill on vigils. But we’ve also actively encouraged this on the course because last year we had a conference in October titled ‘How to Change the World’ and we invited in lots of campaign groups to make it easy for them to make the connections. … But a lot talk about the activities they’re involved in to get brownie points and also they ask me to advise other students. But they also talk about the difficulties of doing paid work. The other thing, I don’t know how you’d put it in the continuum of ECAs, but as part of the course some do a lot of travelling. Several have time out before they come and for example one goes back to the country he visited then. She’s gained an interest and her sister is doing Voluntary Service Overseas or something there. And also our students have to do a volunteering module as part of their course and she’s going back to do that there.
I: Why a volunteering module?
Staff 18: One of the difficulties with the sorts of jobs our students go into is how do you get experience. So we devised the module to give them experience and also credit on the course. They can go locally or nationally or internationally. We hope they’ll develop an ongoing relationship but we are clear that they are students and learning.
(Staff 18, Female, SL, Global Ethics) The Higher Education Academy 86 This latter point echoes the comments we made in the previous section about the instability of categories. ‘Volunteering’ is both part of the curriculum and extra-curricular but arguably the forms of learning and potential for graduate outcomes are the same on these types of courses.
Similarly in the hospitality area there are overlaps between employment in the industry that is extra-curricular and employment as work experience. The different position, however, doesn’t reduce tensions between the priorities of
education and the priorities of employers:
And they brought the timetable out, the staff rota. And he was on 35 hours. And he keeps saying to his employer ‘I can’t do these hours’ and they say ‘well we need you, we need you, we need you. It’s either that or nothing’. So the industry needs to get a grip. They need to understand. And they don’t because I know for a fact, because I’ve worked in industry, there’s a huge gap between what we’re trying to do and what the industry wants of these young people. They want it both ways. They’re very naïve, I don’t know what the word, very naïve about you know the importance of, in some cases very derogatory of what we’re trying to do, what we’re trying to provide and I think they take the mick. But that’s because of the diversity of the industry. The hospitality industry is very diverse. It’s very kind of fragmented. Eighty per cent of the industry is small employers and the job’s got to be done. If there’s people in front of you to be served and this is why you’ve got this paradox I suppose between this young lad who wants to do his studies and it’s 20 years he’s thinking ahead and they’re thinking about today, they’re thinking about the hour where they haven’t got cover in the restaurant so, you know… but you do get… I’ve been on some student visits in the last couple of weeks, students that are on placement in hotels and I almost kind of pray before I go into the hotel that the supervisor for the student that’s on this placement, this young student that’s 19 years old, has got someone that’s got empathy, better still they’ve been a trainee manager before or they’ve done a degree and they’ve done a placement year and they understand that there’s a kind of payback.
The student’s not there as an extra pair of hands. They’re there to learn. They’re also there to earn money and do a good job but they’re there.
(Staff 2, Male, SL, Hospitality) So even clear curricular benefits do not mitigate the very real time pressures
... we have got some very high level performers on the courses that I teach on and sometimes they are taken away on tours, they have big matches, they have squad training and so on and sometimes students get behind but we try to help them compensate for that through the extension system, so you know sometimes there’s a concern but often that’s, the reason for that concern is because they’re doing well in another area so I think you take some of these issues with a pinch of salt. I think we can work around students who
However, it is clear on these more projectional courses that ECA, often involving paid employment, are considered crucial for the achievement of graduate outcomes even if these experiences (whether course or student initiated) present real challenges for course management.
8.3.2 Knowing and being The distinctions between courses that have a strong emphasis on epistemology and those courses that seem to more at home with the ontological dimensions involved in producing a particular kind of person are clearly related to the analysis above. In this section, however, we want to specifically focus on the differential stress on knowing and being. These differences appear to be entailed by how staff think about the curriculum. They also influence the extent to which staff are happy to see PDP and other aspects of the curriculum as being about the whole person, or whether their concerns are more narrowly epistemologically focused. This should not be taken to equate with teacherfocused or student-focused as we did not probe this aspect, rather it is about how the student is understood in relation to the curriculum. The holistic ontological focus crossed the boundary between singulars and generic, and was a shared characteristic of both the Health and Education (singular/projectional) and Design (generic/projectional) courses. The Design courses have a very clear sense of developing the whole person and that
therefore extending the horizons of students as people is fundamental:
We are always encouraging students to discover new cultures, new ways of living, working. A big frustration when we have an homogeneous student group in Design is that they end up designing for other 18-24 year olds, white, middle-class. There is actually a big world out there you’ve got to design for, to become a professional, so kicking them out to Japan for a year or going on exchanges to Milan or doing voluntary work in Indonesia or working in a call centre next to – forgive me – ordinary people. You know normal people! Is a bloody good thing for them to do! You know it opens their eyes up to sort of … to, for people that they are going to be designing for and challenges some of theirs and through them, their tutors’ prejudices as well, towards mindsets, this is the way that the world is. The more experiences they have the more we can challenge that and the more that then means that you can see new and creative and innovative ways of doing stuff I suppose so yes, it is valuable and good fun, it keeps them happy too.
(Staff 1, Female, PL, Design) This means that the courses adopt a promiscuous approach to ECA – perhaps the broadest in the whole dataset – which is that anything that is meaningful to The Higher Education Academy 88 the student can become part of a legitimate concern for their curricular activities
and indeed for their later being as designers:
But also, it does give you a basis of conversation to find out more about what they are doing, to make it feel as though you are dealing with them as a holistic person which I truly do believe we have to do in, particularly in this kind of education. I couldn’t teach with a capital T where I had to stand up in front of 200 students and that was the only kind of contact I had with them. We do do a lot of one-to-one work. We have that luxury and that privilege and long may we hold on to it at some level or another. So if you are going to ask a firstyear student, and again the younger ones in particular, ‘tell me about yourself, who are you? Where do you come from?’ it’s like ‘I’m me, I’m just me’. It’s difficult for them to do it but if you start saying you know, ‘do you work? Tell us about your family, have you got siblings?
Where do you go on holiday?’ and sort of teasing out that stuff allows you in without them feeling like they are going through some kind of therapy session. We just chat about the other things that they do.
(Staff 1, Female, PL, Design) The luxury of small cohesive courses was a key factor for this sort of engagement both in Health and Design. There was also a clear sense of ease among the respondents about handling professional boundaries and drawing on their own life experiences. Some of these forms of talking appeared clearly gendered, but this is confounded by discipline as, with exception of Design, they were areas where women predominate; this is an area for further investigation.
The ability to be comfortable with aspects of a student’s life that might fall outside a traditional definition of ECA are likely to be related to the characteristics and aspirations of students. Staff 7 from Health, for example, was comfortable in describing a student dealing with terminal illness and was happy to draw on the faith experiences of her BME students and involving these aspects of their lives in classroom learning. While recognising the clear perils of going too far, the designer cited above spoke of the ways highly personal
experiences could be creatively reworked in design practice:
And even sort of very personal life experiences so, I am thinking of one particular student. I am very nervous when students try and use their creative studies as therapy but we have had on occasion students dealing with issues around self harm or bereavement or things like that. And in a very cautious way if there’s enough distance, if they’re strong enough, we’d maybe use that as part of their design development work as well.
(Staff 1, Female, PL, Design) This sort of approach is rather different from the need for ‘experience’ in Sport or Hospitality and is about the being of the student. There are also differences in the size and structure of courses. Sport and Hospitality share some of the same characteristics of the courses we encountered in the humanities. Both had a more strongly epistemological focus and appeared to be more orientated to the skills and knowledge necessary to succeed as a hospitality worker or an historian rather than the production of a particular sort of ethical, creative being.
While these conclusions are tentative they do point us back to the fundamental The Higher Education Academy 89 issue we started with about the lack of debate about curriculum (Barnett & Coates, 2005). If curricula are radically different in their boundaries, purposes and orientations, and if staff envisage the sorts of graduates they are producing in very different ways then it is unsurprising that, as we have found, the relationship of ECA to both curricular activities and graduate futures varies and is unstable.
8.3.3 Possible disbenefits Whatever their orientations all staff appeared to acknowledge that there are some tensions over time, particularly, though not exclusively, in relation to paid