CCC Week 9 – Mass Culture

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Week 9 – Mass Culture Slides

General Reflections

Good classes this week, some lively discussion around class, the north south divide, and the correct name for baps (breadcakes, barms, buns etc) which meant that there was a nice atmosphere in the classroom. With my background in politics it was nice to be able to utilise some of my theoretical knowledge on the subject matter though I was mindful to try and do this in a way that linked to historiography and methods of historical research.

Learning Outcomes

  • To examine the different ways in which ‘class’ and ‘identity’ can be understood and applied
  • To understand how the concept of ‘class’ came about and look at causal factors in raising class consciousness
  • To evaluate and analyse the usefulness of autobiographies in historical inquiry

1.Did you achieve your intended learning outcomes? If not why not?

Yes, I think all outcomes were met

2. Did your structure and session plan work? In not why not and what will you do differently next time?

Yes, session plan and timings worked well and structure was nice and varied.

3. What facilitation techniques were used to engage students in the topic and in discussion? Did they work? If not what else could you do?
  • I began by asking the students to write (on their own) a list of political identities and classes which they personally belonged to. I had indented to play a Youtube clip of the infamous sketch of the Two Ronnies and John Cleese in the background as they made their lists, but the sound on the projector in the room was too low and I couldn’t get the volume to increase. This was a shame but not a disaster as it was just supposed to offer a lighthearted look at how class is generally understood. In future though I will try and check out the AV equipment in the classroom beforehand. I then asked the students to share how many identities they had listed for themselves – NB. I just asked for numbers as obviously certain identities are quite personal.
  • I then shared the below slide with a list of my own identities which I thought long and hard about whether or not to do – and if I should include all of my identities including my religious and political beliefs and sexuality. I think a lot of teachers would not have felt comfortable doing this, and I am glad that I have been working with the students for a few weeks now so was able to assess whether I felt comfortable. I think it can definitely be argued that the info I shared was too much or too personal but I firmly believe that our pedagogy is an extension of ourselves and thus it is better to be as open as we feel safe and comfortable being. My list also included the word ‘socialist’ and again I wondered if sharing this risked shutting down future conversations as my students might feel unable to disagree or to express opposing opinions. I also made a joke about how you can’t say the name ‘Maggie Thatcher’ in our house and wonder if perhaps these two things were not appropriate. However, in sharing as much as I did, I was able to really illustrate just how diverse our political identities can be, how we occupy different identities at different points in our lives and how parts of who we are, are political in a broad sense (for example ‘student’, fat’). I hope that the benefits outweighed the costs, and at the end of the class I asked the second group for a ‘show of hands’ as to who felt they would now right a longer list if asked to repeat the first exercise and they all indicated that they would so I think the illustration served and academic purpose.

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  • We then moved on to group work and feedback around whether class is best understood as an economic category, political construct or personal identity, and the students offered some thoughtful insights alongside sharing personal views on this topic and some funny conversations as mentioned above.
  • In the previous session I had asked all of the students to make sure that they had skim read at least on ‘working class autobiography’ from the reading list and suggested that those with laptops etc bring them today which most of them did. This was because I wanted them to work in groups to create a presentation on one of the autobiographies of their choosing and had issues with copywrite restrictions when I tried to print off copies. I learnt from previous mistakes here, and although I let the students choose which autobiography they wanted to look at I went round and checked that they had all picked a different one. I have recently sent out a feedback survey for my students to complete (will blog about this separately) and some of the feedback that has come back states that I should walk around more when they are doing group work to help keep them focussed and on topic. I tried to do this a bit more today but wasn’t sure what to say as I approached each group so in future will think about noting down some prompts or things for them to consider in advance. This activity worked really well as it gave the students the chance to review a wide range of autobiographies in a relatively short time. After each group had presented I offered some comments which linked back to the discussions we had been having as I think it’s important that they understand why 

  • I finished the session with a floor discussion on the advantages and challenges of using autobiographies for historical research. Again, with the first group we were getting short on time so it was less interactive than I would have liked, but with the second group there was time to ask them, now they had reviewed some case studies what they thought the pros and cons were before going over some key details. I think this worked well as it got them thinking about how they research as well as what they read.
4. What did you learn most from the experience and what will you do differently next time?

I think today was a really good session, main learning has been to check AV equipment in the seminar rooms. I am also going to be reflecting further on how much of myself I put into my teaching and am going to try and research this ahead of my YLTA symposium talk on the politics of pedagogy

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