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2018 Visit from Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris

Programme of events

Teaching as Activism (an open discussion)

Thursday, 21 June 2018 | 11:30-14:30 | free lunch | IATL Open Space, 1st floor, Senate House

The work of teaching is activism, because every action we take as teachers has consequences, sometimes very personal consequences, sometimes very public consequences. Even the smallest actions—like where we choose to sit when we come into the room, or what words we choose to begin our syllabi with, or our policies around late work—have consequences. And to look carefully at those choices, and to not divest ourselves of the complicated humanity of students, is an increasingly political act.

For a teacher to be an activist doesn't always require marching and signs and hashtags. It requires attention, reflection, honesty. The same qualities we hope for or demand from students in their work. Paulo Freire said, “I could never think of the educational untouched by issues of values...and dreams of utopia.” An educational practice that rises from social justice, and one that dreams of utopia, must have imagination and care at its core.

Join Sean Michael Morris and Jesse Stommel for food, and a discussion, debate, exploration of what teaching is, where it happens, and what it’s for. Please feel free to join for as long or short as you can manage between 11:30 and 14:30.

Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris will open the conversation around a series of questions: Is education inherently political? To what extent are (or must) teachers be activists? Who is higher education for? How do we expand its mission so that more are welcomed to conversations like this one? What is the role for students in determining the direction of their own educations?

Public Talk: Imagination as a Precision Instrument for Change

Thursday, 21 June 2018 | 16:00-17:00 | OC0.01, The Oculus

The imagination is not an impractical facility at all, not a dreamer’s tool only, but a precision instrument that delivers a certainty that things can be otherwise; and in the face of circumstances that are unfair, the imagination gives us insight into what is just, that enables us to believe that things can be changed. Imagination is important to the project of critical pedagogy precisely because of the responsive nature of its practice. We must be able to think on our toes if education (of all kinds) is meant to be liberative.

Liberation depends upon a thought—a thought that things as they are can be different than they are. That there is a reality beyond that which Paulo Freire calls “objective reality, one purely realized and around which nothing could be discussed.”

Sean Michael Morris is the Director of Digital Pedagogy Lab, a professional development community committed to the exploration and practice of critical pedagogy for digital learning. He is interested in the practice of critical digital pedagogy as a social justice movement and has been working in and around digital learning environments for 18 years. In 2017, he visited University of Warwick as a WIHEA International Fellow, and is happy to be returning for continued discussions and collaborations.

Critical pedagogy is a philosophy of education and social movement that has developed and applied concepts from critical theory and related traditions to the field of education and the study of culture. Advocates of critical pedagogy view teaching as an inherently political act, reject the neutrality of knowledge, and insist that issues of social justice and democracy itself are not distinct from acts of teaching and learning.


Thursday 21 June 2018


IATL Open Space and OC0.01, The Oculus, University of Warwick