So far on SlowStreaming, we’ve been trying to publicise the insights of students, current and past, who have worked (intentionally or not) in ways that reflect slow thinking. We’ve had insights from Laura, Sarah, Suzanna and Emma who have been kind enough to share their thoughts on graduate and student life at a different pace.
But we need to up the ante, and we know just how to do it.
Last year, a group of angry academics released a paper called ‘For Slow Scholarship: A Feminist Politics of Resistance through Collective Action in the Neoliberal University’. It’s published in ACME and can be read here. In sum, it’s a paper that details the way academia can best respond to some of the pressures of academic life. For me, as a casual UCL employee and PhD student looking for a career in universities, it makes a lot of sense. I can empathise with many of the things they talk about: the need to publish, the different metrics for analysing our performance, and simple ways of being slow that resist the mandates of university management. Thankfully, teaching is also mentioned. Here is a snippet:
“Additionally, with increasingly larger class sizes and fewer teaching assistant hours, there is incentive to standardise assignments to reduce grading time. This may hinder student creativity and curiosity and diminishes opportunities for meaningful feedback”.
It seems that staff share the same concerns as students when talking about the quality of teaching. As we saddle ourselves with truckloads of debt, teaching hasn’t seemed to improve, and the university experience has become de-personalised. As one of our contributors Laura wrote, she is more a student number than a valued member of an academic community.
Yet despite some passing reference to the consequences of current university policy on teaching, the student voice is absent from the slow scholarship paper. I’m still very much a student, and was an undergraduate student three years ago. If academics can gather around the principles of slow scholarship, then so can we. We have to let academics know how we feel, and one place we are sure to get their attention is in a journal.
So we have been crafting a response to ‘For Slow Scholarship’, to be published in ACME. Yet we’ve been getting stuck. How can we articulate a position that covers the many experiences of students as undergraduates? What would a slow undergraduate education look like? How would teaching be improved? How would assessment work?
To be sure, we have our own ideas, but we don’t think that they are enough. So we want to hear your thoughts in the comments box below, and we would want them to be included in our final paper. We want to know what a slow undergraduate journey would feel like. In addition to the other questions above, we would ask you to consider the following points:
Should academics spend more time spent on teaching? If so, in what ways?
What tactics do you use that help you slow down and think differently about your student experience?
How can students themselves slow down? Would it mean spending more time reading in depth on one topic at the expense of another module?
How could seminars, lectures and assessments become ‘slow’?
How could faculty and students work together to change the degree for mutual benefit?
How can students directly make their slow techniques impact management in Higher Education Institutions?
If you’d like to become a co-author and get more involved with the paper, please feel free to contact us with some of your thoughts.