What’s going on at the Crofters?

It’s not unusual for Mark to find alternatives to the classroom!

Crofting involves producing sustenance from sometimes stony ground, using what you have, developing multiple skills, being adaptable and recognising that things might take time and that commitment is needed. Not a bad metaphor for teaching then. I’d like to tell you that this inspired the title of The Crofters Club, but the eponymous pub at Sighthill where we meet on the last Monday of every month, at 5pm, also played its part. Our first gathering was an animated and ambitious affair, with discussion ranging from the meaning of dialogue to the effects of culture on communication. Although we used a paper – on feedback as dialogue – as the springboard for discussion we had soon splashed happily into different waters. What brought us together was a shared interest in teaching and learning and a desire to find and foster spaces where we can explore ideas and scholarship outside of the classrooms and away from the immediate practical concerns of work. We are doing our best to uphold the pub as home of intelligent discourse.

The problem of knowledge as a social construct, and how that fits with notions of hard empirical truth in the sciences, was proving a particularly thorny issue for me up until the last mouthful of the first pint. By half-way through the second I was making progress, as colleagues explained that this really came down to power imbalances in teaching and the need to be aware of how one is perceived. If only I had made it to the third enlightenment could have been mine…but it was time to go. The next meeting requires better planning.

On Monday 29th we aim to discuss using oral feedback and podcasts, led by Charlotte Chalmers; but that will be just the start. So why not come and join us – you can drop in for a quick lemonade or engage in more sustained refreshment. The only expectation is of a willingness to share your thoughts on and experience in teaching and learning. Hope to see you Crofting soon.

Mark Huxham