As a lecturer, have you ever taught in an institution, where you are made to feel your teaching approach is different? But not just different but made to feel that your approach was inferior to that of what normally occurs in your institution? If you have, then this might be because of pedagogic supremacy.*
Let’s take an example of Cilla, who is a well-respected academic lecturer (good teacher and good researcher) in her home country. She has decided to emigrate to the UK. After wrangling with the Home Office to get a visa, she has made it to the UK and she is now in a university, ready to teach. In her home country, she used to teach didactically. But when she does that in the UK, she is told, that this approach is wrong, she needs to teach more “student-centred”. Cilla now feels different because of her pedagogical approach i.e. pedagogically othered. However, she not only feels pedagogically othered but also that her pedagogic approach is inferior.
There are two additional ways, other than pedagogical approach, that Cilla could have been made to feel pedagogically othered. Firstly, through her expectations of the behaviours and values of the academic staff and students and secondly, through the differences in pedagogical procedures and policies (such as how feedback is given).
Cilla is made to feel pedagogical othered in these three ways because the institutional systems and structures that she now works in provide and atmosphere of themselves being pedagogically superior.
But how does a pedagogical superior system arise? It is because the persons with the pedagogical powers to create change have provided frameworks to make persons working within the institutions, structures and systems that the pedagogical approaches being used is the norm, and anything that diverts from being the norm is not good.**
As academics, therefore, we need to fight back, question and critique the norm to make sure that we recognised the shortfalls of the current pedagogical approaches and willingness to incorporate and see other views. In other words, have more of an open pedagogical practice i.e. a pedagogical democracy.
* This blog post is based on the paper: Pedagogic democracy versus pedagogic supremacy: migrant academics’ perspectives published in Teaching in Higher Education and a presentation at the SRHE conference in December, 2019.
** This is based on Gramsci’s idea of hegemony