Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Invitation to #FlipIntercultural: Flipping the Script on Intercultural Learning #Unicollaboration 

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I was invited to give a keynote at the upcoming Uni-Collaboration conference in Krakow, Poland. Although Sarah Guth (who invited me) was extremely thoughtful in inviting me waaaaay ahead of time (like 18 months’ notice!) I am unfortunately unable to go, and will be giving it virtually, April 26 inshallah – stay tuned. On the plus side, it’s a conference about teleconferencing for learning, so the folks there will totally get this format! Among them, wonderful people like Teresa Mackinnon and Francesca Helm whom I’d met in-person here in Cairo via consulting work we were doing for Soliya.net.

I’ve had a LOT of time to think about what I might talk about for this conference… Trying to choose between focusing on my own experience with Soliya, my students’ experiences with Soliya last semester, or my very own intercultural learning experiences via Virtually Connecting and such.

In the end, something suddenly clicked for me today. I’d pick a theme. One that’s been circling through my head for a LONG time, and get examples from ALL of these. Better yet, I would invite others to offer examples, which I would quote them for. And during the conference I would ask people to share examples using the mic onsite, or virtually via Twitter or similar.

So the theme is: flipping the script on intercultural learning.

I’ll probably open with one of the most shocking things that happened to me that flipped the script this year. One that doesn’t, at first glance, refer to intercultural learning, but which really does. I’ll go back to it later after I finish everything else. I’ll recount particular conceptions I had originally about intercultural dialogue, and how they were changed in the past couple of years. I’ll ask the audience what they think of each thing before I talk about it.

While drafting this blogpost, my notes, which had about 10 examples in them on a Google doc, somehow got lost in the ether. So I had to stop and rewrite them before inspiration evaporated. Hope I’ll get more examples overnight as I sleep on it. And maybe I’ll think of a good children’s book to insert into the keynote as well! Seems to be one of my favorite things to do lately…

But in the meantime, why don’t YOU help me out? What kind of assumptions did you have before, about intercultural learning, have recently been challenged or changed? I’ll take as many as you are willing to give me and try to incorporate them all into my keynote… Quoting or citing you by name or Twitter handle, whichever you prefer.

So please leave a comment or Tweet back to me with hashtag #FlipIntercultural

Note that my intention is to livestream and record the session inshallah and do vconnecting afterwards. Will post details on my blog just before

8 Comments

  1. I’d love to help! Can you give me an example to help me get my head around it/realize what assumption s I might have?

    • The story here is an example of flipping the script that isn’t directly related to intercultural learning

      https://blog.mahabali.me/uncategorized/the-charitable-gaze/

    • Agreed. I’d love to help out. I need to wrap my head around it a bit. 🙂

      • I’ve been meaning to unpack this for some time. Much of this started, I believe a year ago when I was thinking/writing about “open” and a post on your blog and some others in the discussion suggested that “open” might not work for all. That had me thinking about my privilege and perspective in my work and outreach.

        This thinking changed a bit over the past year as I’ve been seeing and studying a lot of discourses that I most definitely don’t agree with. It wasn’t until I had a counter weight could I see the problem (or begin to see it) and my place in it.

        I think I’ve been making the most sense of it in my weekly newsletter. But, I need to think more about how I’ve been flipping the script on intercultural learning. For me, part of this is listening more, but also not being afraid to talk. It also means making my work more approachable, more accessible…and more authentic.

        But…these thoughts are very naive and not fleshed out as of yet…or perhaps they shouldn’t be at this point. 😉

        • I am interested in the direction of what ur saying but I don’t understand the specifics enough to know. Is this written somewhere or do you want to think about it and come back?

  2. I used to believe that I had discovered all of the right ways to do teaching – grades were bad, tests were unfair, connectivism and student-centered learning were the way to go, heutagogy was the best way to teach, you name it. But when I start teaching as an adjunct at a University on the Texas/Mexico border, I started interacting with many learners from different cultural backgrounds. Since these were instructional design courses, we discusses all of these issues. I had many, many learners that challenges my beliefs on many issue in education. They had well-reasoned positions on the different sides of these issues. Some had reasons why they liked grades. Some had reasons why they felt instructivism was better for them. Some pointed out inequalities that get propagated by student-centered learning. Some challenged college professors stealing the word “pedagogy” from elementary professors. They made me realize that even if I do things like have them grade themselves, or practice student-centered learning, or made connectivist course structures – I am still centering the course on me and my person choices in those areas. Some of them may not want those choices forced on them by the teacher. Many of those choices I made based on my cultural biases, not taking their cultural considerations into account.

    • Love that, Matt! And actually this semester I tried something new to make students focus less on grades and it worked for quite a number of students, but seemed to frustrate a few, still. And I’m still struggling with that… Were you teaching teachers in that case?

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