Welcome to November-December’s Learning & Teaching Enhancement Theme: Books that inspire our teaching

Photo credit: Ed Robertson, Unsplash CC0

In this post, Joséphine Foucher introduces November-December’s Learning & Teaching Enhancement theme: Books that inspire our teaching. Joséphine Foucher is Teaching Matters’ Deputy Editor and Student Engagement Officer.

For this theme, we wanted to try something different. We asked colleagues and students in education to share reflections on books that have inspired their teaching. However, we did not limit the reviews to books specifically relating to the science of education but rather encouraged contributors to write about any book (novel, non-fiction, (auto)biography) that have left a mark in how they think about knowledge exchange and transmission. The idea for the theme was partly inspired the Decolonising the Curriculum: Sharing Ideas Podcast series co-produced by The Race Equality and Anti-Racist Sub-Committee (REAR) and Teaching Matters, in which the interviewers, Professor Rowena Arshad and Johanna Holtan, asked their guests to provide titles of some of their favourite books or resources that have shaped how they grapple with the process of decolonising the curriculum. The recommendations ranged from Bell Hook’s Teaching to transgress : education as the practice of freedom (1994), to The Autobiography of Maclom X, to Maya Angelou’s And Still I Rise poem.

These suggestions demonstrate that inspiration comes in many shapes and forms. Prose and literature tap into emotions and articulate intuitions where scientific literature might fail to. Such emotional and intuitive responses deeply guide our vision and understanding of the world. I remember how Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me allowed me to feel the productive power of rage, or how Douglas Stuart’s shockingly intimate Shuggie Bain taught me a lot more about childhood development than any psychology book might. Writing about the literature and books that inspire us enable others to see something in a new or different light, to make connections that don’t necessarily seem obvious. We hope this series to be a bit more personal as these ‘book reviews’ won’t follow the academic format we are accustomed to but will tell stories and share insights into what motivate and animates some of our educators at the University.

In this series, we will hear from a group of PhD students who have created a unique project of crafting a book of recipes for the homeless, they will share what ignited this idea and how the project unfolded. Meanwhile, PhD student in Education, Mariel Deluna, will offer an intimate interpretation on how the book (En)Countering Native-speakerism : Global perspectives edited by Anne Swan, Pamela Aboshiha and Adrian Holliday (2015) helped her deconstruct some of the problematic power dynamics behind the notion of ‘native speakers’ and how this informs her teaching today. We will also read a post by Mattia Zingaretti, a former PGCAP programme participant, who will review several academic articles. And many more!

If you would like to write about a book that has inspired your teaching and/or learning, feel free to get in touch with the editors at teachingmatters@ed.ac.uk.

Happy reading!

photograph of the authorJoséphine Foucher

Joséphine is doing a PhD in Sociology at The University of Edinburgh. Her research looks at the intersection between art and politics in contemporary Cuba. She supports Jenny Scoles as the Teaching Matters Co-Editor and Student Engagement Officer through the PhD Intern scheme at the Institute for Academic Development.

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