The official description of the Unlearning and Questioning Course is as follows:
This course will orient incoming students to the intellectual framing and approach to be employed in the Inclusive Design program. Students will: engage in critical analysis of prior learning and established assumptions regarding foundational knowledge and skills in design, development, policy, education, assessment, research and evaluation; critically examine explicit and implicit values and assumptions; practice educational engagement that encourages divergent thinking, constructive critique and attention to the full range of human diversity through a variety of learning experiences; engage in collaborative projects that develop inclusive practices and provide opportunities to reflect on common conventions that support or undermine inclusion and inclusive design; and meet mentors within a number of stakeholder groups.
During the Unlearning and Questioning course, students will critically examine conventions and assumptions that are counter to diversity and inclusion; the Foundations course will explore inclusive design alternatives. The primary goal of Unlearning and Questioning is to establish a cohesive learning community that can support the diverse cohort of peers through the two years of the program. Part of the peer support is to master giving and receiving constructive and supportive critique.
Students are encouraged to diversify rather than standardize their learning. One of the primary assignments will be to develop a Personal Learning Plan. This will be a “living document” to chart and navigate personal learning goals throughout the program.
For grading I’m using a lot of peer and self assessment and also using the credit system I have used for a few years where the students can assign 10 10 point credits across a number of assignments. We use a co-op model, you pass by contributing to the work of the learning community, where the goals are both your growth or learning and the growth and learning of the other members.
Below is the message sent to students at the conclusion of the course:
“Dear Inclusive Designers to be,
It has been a great pleasure to get to know you and to help launch you on this journey.
I’m hoping that you are well on your way to forming a supportive learning community that understands the importance of collective success, rather than competition with your peers; that you trust each other enough to be able to give and receive constructive feedback and advice. These are difficult goals and most of your prior experiences have likely socialized you against these goals, so be patient with yourself.
I also hope that you know that you are responsible and in charge of your own learning journey; that it is up to you to determine where you want to go, how you will get there, what help you need to get there, and to monitor your own progress.
One notion I’m confident that you have picked up is the understanding that the best way to learn something is to teach it. The quality, depth, and breadth of your instruction in this class has been phenomenal. You have stretched the boundaries of the field in your exploration. You have demonstrated and experienced how you can be catalysts that spark collective creativity. I’m hoping this has fueled your curiosity regarding where you can take this scholarship.
Some of you are concerned about your grades. One of my goals was also to start to wean you from reliance on grades as motivators and guides. Inclusive design requires life-long learning. Often it requires going against existing measures of success and existing rewards. At the core it is about changing culture. Once you graduate you cannot rely on grades. Grade equivalents during your career will often push you away from inclusive design goals.
I know that academic opportunities are still referencing grades. Rest assured that if you participated, the grades you receive will not risk your grade-based opportunities. However, I will not compare you or rank you against your peers in choosing the mark. Do not look at grades to see yourself as less than or better than your peers. What I’m looking at is how much you individually have learned and grown, including what you have learned from failure and mistakes. I will be generous in this assessment, because I’m not the best person to determine this, you are.
Most of all, I want to thank you for this opportunity to learn with you. It has been an honour. I can’t wait to see what you accomplish.
All my best,