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Academic Integrity and the Disintegration of Pedagogy

Activity: Talk or presentationInvited talk

Amanda Fulford - Invited speaker

This paper takes as its starting point the issue of academic integrity, particularly as it tends to be understood in higher education. While acknowledging the emphasis in much published literature - where academic integrity tends to be concerned in the main with issues of (student) academic misconduct - I turn to consider academic integrity in terms of pedagogical judgement. I first explore how ‘integrity’ - commonly defined as rectitude, decency, or probity - is also related, etymologically, to ideas of wholeness and completeness. We speak of integers (whole numbers) in mathematics, and of, for example, the structural integrity of a (whole) building. I use this idea of ‘wholeness’ to argue that, in a culture in many universities where approaches to teaching and learning are increasingly prescribed – and proscribed – in line with student preferences, and with what passes for teaching excellence, teachers’ options in terms of pedagogical judgement are curtailed. This results in what I call a fragmentation or ‘dis-integration’ of pedagogy, and in a diminution of academic integrity.
In exploring these ideas further, I undertake a reading of Polish director, Andrzej Jakimowski’s, 2012 film, ‘Imagine’. I consider the character of Ian (played by Edward Hogg), a new teacher at a Lisbon clinic for the visually impaired. The film portrays Ian, who is himself blind, working with the students, and introducing an experimental technique of echolocation. In resisting the pressure from the school’s director to revert to teaching the students the more conventional skills of using the traditional white cane, the film raises questions about the role of risk in education, of pedagogical judgement in matters of teaching and learning, and so of teacher authority.
However, I show how the film’s denouement also suggests an understanding of academic integrity that goes beyond those currently dominant in much educational literature. It resists interpretations that make a case for academic integrity conceived only in terms of holistic approaches to teaching and learning, or indeed in terms of teachers’ authority in pedagogical judgements. Rather, I argue that the film shows that the integrity of the teacher (here, Ian), is ineluctably bound to the extent to which he opens up the subject, and the world, to his students. This develops both Pádraig Hogan’s (2003) idea of teaching and learning as a way of life with an integrity of its own, and Christiane Thompson’s (2015) reading of the film as imagining ways of engaging with the world. It concludes with the idea that the fragmentation of pedagogy is a denial of the teacher's integrity to open up the world. In this sense, the limits of pedagogy are a limiting of the world.
24 Jul 201726 Jul 2017

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