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There are four learning units in this course, each learning unit examines mainstream and 'indigenous' perpectives related to a specific issue: EDUCATION, DEVELOPMENT, EQUALITY and POVERTY.
learning unit consists of six components. These components were
designed to develop
the capacity of learners to articulate complexity, to be exposed to
different perspectives, to position themselves in relation to different
views, to make connections to different contexts and to develop
The ‘getting started’ component was designed to prompt a brainstorm of individual perspectives and to invite learners to relate these perspectives to dissenting perspectives in their social groups. This component is associated with ‘learning to unlearn’ and operates at the ego-/ethno-centric domains of engagement. In the unit about education, the getting started component invites learners to think about whether education reflects or is reflected by society, to write their own definition of education in their learning journals and to consider different understandings of education in their own social groups.
The ‘mainstream perspectives’ component is an analysis and deconstruction of mainstream notions of the target concepts. It exposes learners to the heterogeneity within the ‘ethno-centric’ narrative and offers an outline of different strands in the debate about the topic. This component is also associated with ‘learning to unlearn’. In the TOE unit on education, learners are invited to examine the assumptions and implications of different ‘mainstream’ perspectives on education and to reflect on key questions in the educational debate related to otherness, such as: who should be involved in the decision making process about the type of education and/or schooling for a specific community; who should education or schooling be primarily accountable to; and the reason and implications of trying to impose a standardised curriculum and qualifications worldwide.
The component ‘different logics’ employs metaphors to enable comparisons between two different possible and logical ways of thinking about the target issue. It aims to illustrate how different ontological choices affect the understanding of the target concept. The ‘alternative’ perspective in this component is the authors’ interpretation of common threads in the interviews with members of the indigenous groups who participated in the baseline research for the project (but it is not represented as a specific indigenous perspective). This component is associated to ‘learning to listen’ and addresses the ethno-/human-/world-centric domains of engagement. In the TOE unit on education, participants are invited to analyse the possibilities and problems created by an understanding of education based on the metaphor of ‘bonsai for sale’ (where individuals are pruned according to pre-dertemined parameters) and education as allowing a forest to grow (where education is about nurturing and supporting the individual to develop its unique contribution to society).
The component ‘through other eyes’ offers excerpts from the interviews with members of indigenous groups related to the target topic that illustrate the depth and complexity of their thinking. Participants are invited to reflect and comment on different aspects of these perspectives. This component is associated to ‘learning to learn’ and addresses the ethno-/human-/world-centric domains of engagement. An example of an excerpt from the unit on education is as follows:
The ‘case study’ component was designed to prompt an examination of the perspectives ‘in practice’ focusing on the complexity of issues related to coloniser-colonised relationships. This component is associated to ‘learning to reach out’ and operates at the world-/human-/ethno-centric domains of engagement. In the unit on education, participants are invited to analyse a case study with statements from 1888 to 2007 related to the education of indigenous children in New Zealand. The journal task prompts learners to transfer the analysis to their own contexts by creating a case study which has parallels with the case study presented.
The ‘reading the world again’ component invites learners to examine the definition of education they wrote in their journal entry in the ‘getting started’ component and to comment on what (if anything) they have learned from the exercises about themselves, indigenous knowledges or learning and teaching. This component is also associated to ‘learning to reach out’ and it brings the learner back to thinking about the ego-centric domain of engagement, hopefully incorporating the lessons from the other domains.