Hidden Narratives, Resilience & Vulnerability.

As, to a degree, previewed in a recent post, this week saw the How Hidden Narratives Challenge Authority event, here at Gloucestershire. I had the privilege of giving the opening session, on Social Media, and was then able to relax and listen to my colleagues. I’ll post another time about the Social Media talk, as I think I’ll be developing a more detailed version, for the University’s Public Lecture Series, that I have been a contributor to in recent years.


My relaxed listening was only temporary though, as at 3pm, Dr Nicola Rivers and I gave a 20 minute talk, about ‘Vulnerability As A Revolutionary Act: Resisting Resilience.’ This used some of the ideas we’ve been writing (and talking to anyone who’ll listen) about recently. What has begun to develop though, is our sense of what alternative discourses and practices might look like. We’ve also been talking about vulnerability with others (as in this blog post, which Ros O’Leary and I wrote, questioning superficial ideas of ‘challenge’ in education), and the importance of a number of factors in opposition to a brittle sense of resilience, toughness, grit and a disproportionate notion of individual student responsibility that descends into a form of student shaming.

This alternative is still something that we are trying to work out, but clearly involves substantially more :  systemic support, but also more staff openness about struggles (and the absence of a some mythical meritocracy related to success), and not just ad hoc cooperation, collaboration and co-production – but a pedagogical and institutional model that builds these features into the curriculum, both in content, delivery and assessment. This is easy to say, but of course, much harder to do. Nonetheless, by the time Dr Rivers and I present a developed version of our work in the Autumn (at Empire, Capital, and Transnational Resistance: Philosophical and Interdisciplinary Approaches), we hope our relentless, grinding optimism, and conversations with local and on-line colleagues, will help us clarify and being to implement the manifestation of better practice in our courses, and of those we work with.


Picture, me talking and Nikki preparing to do the interesting bit of the talk, at Hidden Narratives event.

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