How do I and you do race in D&T?
This is a question I've been thinking about for a while. Last year I recorded an episode from the heart about decolonising the D&T curriculum; this week I give an update on my progress and thinking since then and share news about some action a group of us are taking.
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This week's episode is a look back on where I started a conversation about decolonizing, the design and technology curriculum. Now that began in Episode 30, where I kind of spoke from the heart really in response to things that were happening in the media at that time around the killing of George Floyd. And the prominence of Black Lives Matter. And I'd seen some posts on Facebook in number of D and T groups about how is race represented in the curriculum in design technology. And so from that, I was inspired to record a podcast, that was podcast 30. And interestingly, it's been one of the most downloaded episodes from the whole 80 that I published. So I think that speaks of a desire for people to understand and engage with this, and learn. And so what I wanted to do today was just share some of my learning that's happened, since I recorded that podcast over at over 15 months ago, I think it is now what came out from that podcast was a few people contacted me and, and I reached out to some people, one of whom was roasting Claire. So I'm going to give a lot of credit here to Rose. Because rose, took a brief space, and sent me a long email with some different thoughts about the issues that I'd raised in the podcast, but also took it beyond looking at the curriculum. So I have to thank rose for that for making me look beyond the narrow view that I was taking about. How do we represent race in the DNC curriculum and in the classroom, what she got me thinking about was representation of people of colour, in the teaching community, the community around design and technology that leads the subject, the researchers, the teacher educators, the way the curriculum did, or did not include children of colour in design and technology, and whether parents of colour, how they felt about the subject, and whether they saw the subject has been something worthwhile enough value for their children. So we have quite a few conversations, some of which was quite uncomfortable for me, one of which was around the learning to teach design, the technology book, which came out last year, and rose highlighted to me that all the authors were white. And I'd from my position as a white middle class woman hadn't hadn't seen that. And so she challenged me. And at that point, I was putting together the proposal for the second edition of the debates in design and technology. So I thought, right, I've done this podcast, I've had these conversations, and he's put my money where my mouth is here. And, and I need to work to not just go along with who I know and what I know, but actually to get some new voices in here and some new perspectives. And so I did that, you know, it took me longer. And that speaks of my lack of knowledge of researchers, writers, thinkers of colour in the designer technology community. Anyway, as a result, the new book, which will be coming out next year, does have representation from people of colour, and also from people in the Global South, as well as in different countries in Europe. So it's not just from a white English perspective, there are people of colour from England, and from the Global South, and also different perspectives from the north from Ireland, Sweden, and the Netherlands. So wasn't pleased that that's happened, I still think there's a way to go. But one of the chapters within there now a new chapter that Rose and I started to work on together was our rough title. The moment is how do we do race and design and technology? And what Rose and I have started to think about is do we need different perspectives in that chapter. So it's not just rows, or it's not just me talking to rows, we've played around with some different ideas, but that there are different perspectives and different voices. So that's, that's where we have got to and I want to share in a moment, where I'm at with that chapter, where we're at and the contributors when they give a call out to their names. And if you get my newsletter already heard their names. I put them in an email in my newsletter for September. But in thinking about the content of the chapter and reflecting on my conversations with rows and reflecting on the narrow perspective I took of colonialization in the episode 30 It's caused me to reflect on some of the things that we're doing at the University where I work at Nottingham Trent, where were they Thinking about a socially just curriculum where we're thinking about representation. And thinking about how when we're used, for example, in that one of the modules I teach about research skills, the papers we usually use, for reference have been written by white authors and tended to have been written about the English educational context. So we've been starting at the university across the whole of the university, not just in education to think about how we have a socially Justin representative curriculum that's not just presenting a Western, and even narrowly an English perspective of our disciplines, but also beyond. So it really is something that's coming to the fore within higher education. I know it's happening within history, education in secondary schools, and then our movements with other subjects. I've had quite a few people contact me saying, Alison, you used to have a webpage with a list of designers have colour projects and products produced and designed by designers of colour that way that page isn't available anymore, was not available for two reasons. One, I changed my website and I decided to take that page down. And part of the reason i i took it down is because it needs to evolve. And on a website, it's quite static. So where I'm at now is thinking but those are kind of easy wins, in some ways, and actually potentially, not long lasting in terms of, oh, well, we've got some faces of colour on our wall of designers and engineers and technologists, but actually does that change us and how we think about representation of colour and design and technology across those whole spectrum. So as I said earlier, that Rosa challenged me with you know, I'm not an expert on this, I am learning and questioning I've moved on in my thinking thanks to people like rose and thanks also to colleagues at Nottingham Trent and friends that I work with Gemma Heath coat and Sherrod Brown. They have been really thinking and challenging their practice and changing their practice within their teaching in the department where I work. And they've also been shared, they're thinking they're also a space where I can go and try things out and talk to them about things to explore my own position. So as I said, what I did initially was I was looking for designers of colour, technologies of colour, and how we can within design and technology use different ways of thinking about design from other cultures within our teaching. But I started to feel that there was more to it, you know, roses conversation Gemma and Sheridan and the reading I've been doing the challenge to think that that is that is only one way of thinking about it. And this quote from Nikita Dhawan summed up where I had been in Episode 30. And where I feel now that I'm moving towards, she says that we must be self critical and reflective. And that's kind of why I'm doing the podcast to share that self critical nurse of myself and my reflections about about moving on, in this idea around decolonizing designer technology. She goes on to say, because there is a danger in acting too quickly. The danger is that it can do more damage than good. And I suppose that's what I feel about thinking about why I've got some people of colour on my wall of designers, it also becomes if we're not careful tokenistic and actually doesn't address how I am and how I the assumptions I make. As I said, it's a white middle class feminist woman in in England. She finishes by saying there is a risk when we act. And the risk is that good intentions don't always translate to just action, and the justice in inverted commas because it's all about the ethical and moral actions. It was made me think about. And what I'm doing is there is more to this about perspective, assumptions, and what we do in design and technology than just doing something within our curriculum. So all this has caused me to do as I said, is critically interrogate my positionality who I am, and how this influences my assumptions and behaviours. And it's it's a challenge to try and spot my normative narratives that I have within myself that stereotypes that are implicit in the way I talk the way I think about different people of colour within my field, some of my past behaviours and some of the things that I've done in my classrooms and the way I talk about it. So this is where I am being very open. Because I see that what I'm trying to do here as well is create a safe space within the podcast for all sorts of things around design and technology that I'm not talking here about things that make us feel comfortable and that we're not about this is also about risk, about difficult conversations and about contradictions, which is why I'm sharing this podcast today in these these thoughts that I'm having and where we've got to now myself and rose with the book chapter but also starting to share some of the thoughts around challenging myself and maybe some of you might find that useful to challenge yourself within your DMT lives about how you represent and how you assume and behave around people of colour children in your classrooms of colour representation, and so on. So what Rose and I did is we reached out to a number of people, mainly contacts of Rose people of colour within designer technology to say, Would you like to come and contribute to this chapter, we want your voice involved. And so actually, there's only two aspects of the contributions, we've got six, and we're working on those at the moment to bring those together into a cohesive chapter that are about curriculum, you know, we've got six, our Ark are going to be in the new chapter. And it's really exciting. And it's been challenging for me, I've been editing some of the words that people have written. And, and it's been really making me think about how this chapter is coming together. I'm really excited about it. It is a safe space, as I said, it is it is going to be challenging for some people, some people won't agree, but these six people are speaking from their position and sharing very openly and very in a very concerted way, their perspectives as a person of colour on these different aspects that are to do with race and design and technology. So firstly, we've got Leila Marr who is talking about th importance of race, and i sharing how she has seen hersel within the design and technolog community as an advanced skill teacher, and she shared som very open things that are dee thoughts about going for promotion, and as a woman o colour, and how she's felt abou doing that. So thanks to Leila for sharing that. Daniel Asre is contributing about black pupils perspective of design and technology. We talk about listening to children's voices, and pupil voice and student voice. But I think it's really important from Daniel to hear what pupils perspective is of the subject do they feel included or excluded? Richard Harris is talking about the representation of people of colour within design and technology. He talks about a question that his six year old daughter asked about whether all artists were white. And that got him thinking and questioning and seeing things from his own child's perspective. Sam Makinde has been teaching for 30 years. And he talks in his contribution about the different roles he's had, and what people who've looked to him for in terms of black in the British curriculum for design and technology. And he shares some responses that he's had to social media questions about representation of colour in the D&T curriculum. And he raises some really thoughtful points about why I as a white person might respond in a particular way to being asked, for example, how we reflect the curriculum that is representative of the nation that we're in, and how I might see well, it's not about that it's all about everybody's the same, we treat them the same. And he he very gently raises some questions about that and put some different perspectives. There's a contribution from Bhav Prajapat, who is down in B ighton who was involved in teac er education, some of you may now Bhav from being on her cou se. And trains become a des gner, technology teacher, and Bhav is going to talk about st dent teachers and the re resentation of teachers of co our within the teacher tr ining community for design an technology. Marlene Wiley, so e of you may know from the Na ional Society for education an art, and design, she works wi h the subject Association, sh 's got a background in design an technology. And she is going to round off the chapter with so e thoughts about how a ground mo ement of thinking about cu riculum and representation of co our within a school subject, ho subject associations and ot er organisations can come to ether and work with people, pe ple like the voices we've got in this chapter, to respond to di ersifying the curriculum. So yo know, some of this is really un omfortable reading in terms of it's new, it's given me pe ple have been really open and th ughtful. And I'm hoping that th s chapter is a start to this co versation has been co versations going along. I'm re lly excited about it. I feel re lly privileged to be involved in working with this lovely gr up of people we've met once on ine, we've had some debate ab ut whether I should even be ed ting the chapter. And why it is that me about me solving it an fixing it. And so for me, th s is really exciting about wo king in a different way, wo king with with new co leagues, colleagues that are ne to me, taking on their pe spectives, and being ch llenged to think differently ab ut how we do race and design an technology. So that's just an update. It's been a much longer recording than I expected, but I wanted to share that about what started as something not off the cuff but in the moment and from the heart and it's had quite a huge response has led to this point of realising there's not an awful lot out there that we can draw that we can use to lead conversations. And so this community of six authors along with Rose have creating this space. And I'm really excited about that. And I look forward to that being able to share some more about this in up and coming Podcast. I'm hoping to kind of get some of them on the podcast to kind of talk about their different perspectives, as ever, thanks ever so much for listening. And I hope you've been enjoying the podcast this term, had quite a few of interviews, this one is just just me, I've not done many of those recently. I've got some more episodes in the pipeline. In fact, I'm recording another one later today. If you want to hear about new episodes coming out and have an opportunity to shape those, then I am going to signpost you quite blatantly towards my patrons site where you can contribute and support to the podcast. I was quite upfront last week about the running costs of the podcast. I'm going to keep going whether anybody supports me or not. But it'd be great if people feel that they could support the podcast and help maintain the programme and create space for us all to have these conversations that are safe spaces where we challenge our thinking about design and technology.