September 23, 2023


It's Your Education

COVID-19 exhibits value of arts, humanities, social sciences


For the earlier decade or so, we have been continuously bombarded with a loud, aggressive and alarming concept that university graduates from sure arts, social sciences and humanities majors are irrelevant to the understanding overall economy, sick-geared up for today’s earth, unready for work opportunities and uncompetitive when compared to all those majoring in science, engineering, engineering and mathematics or STEM in individual.

This concept has been conveyed in quite a few articles, reports and briefings from multiple international and national organisations, top to the closure and shrinking of college programmes in sociology, anthropology and philosophy around the entire world.

This discourse is so strong and regular that several university directors, professors, college students, businesses and parents have internalised and reproduced it so a great deal that the irrelevance information has turn into the norm and an unquestionable truth of the matter.

This discourse has also lessened various decades of college schooling to basically a person factor: employability. The problem of transformation is absent. Similarly, the lots of techniques that college students of these types of majors can effect their societies and the environment in common via their instruction, know-how and skills are ignored.

Like some other students, these as Paul Ashwin in his University Planet Information article “Higher education and learning is about transformation”, my college students and I discover the irrelevance discourse hugely problematic as it ignores the holistic needs of instruction and, for instance, its role in developing compassion and treatment for humanity and in neighborhood support, volunteering and instruction-pushed engagement.

These are the incredibly values and instructional orientations that have proved to be necessary for the properly-remaining of societies, peoples and the ecosystem, as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has shown us this previous yr.

For this reason, College Environment Information is launching a series, Sociology Students Create Again and Forward, which aims to engage visitors in fruitful, successful and non-binary discussions about higher education and learning. It will element a range of commentaries which college students on my 2020-21 module “Society and schooling in a globalised world” and I have co-composed.

It foregrounds the voices of sociology and anthropology learners and their sights about their education’s relevance and importance to themselves and those people all-around them. They will draw on specific local community engagement jobs that they have conducted for the duration of and past the class.

The learners also make express the nature of the transformation they have absent via and mirrored upon. Likewise, the college students highlight how the communities all-around them have acquired and responded to the initiatives to make social and academic advancements for all.

In progress of the collection beginning, I am sharing excerpts from a few letters I have prepared to my pupils considering that the pandemic strike as they display the way we have executed the module at this difficult time for college students, instructors and communities and exhibit obviously its benefit.

1st Letter – April 2020

“As constantly, I hope you and your loved kinds are all perfectly and in superior spirits. In looking at the reflection notes that you have been sharing with me in excess of the past few months on the readings, discussions and assignments launched in this module, I am much more certain of the relevance of the job of reflection in educating, discovering and expertise generation and in education additional broadly.

…The pandemic has brought about unprecedented experiences that will leave an remarkable impression on our life. In no way in advance of have our fundamental working day-to-working day activities been so profoundly interrupted. Billions of individuals have been impacted. Jointly with losses, several already disadvantaged teams have been pushed to starvation and homelessness with zero professional medical consideration.

We have seen rising inequalities, poverty, helplessness, unequal entry to assets, marginalisation, struggles and struggling in just about every modern society. Instruction has found numerous issues and is running in full chaos. At the same time, there have also been aspirations among the establishments and folks to produce far better and far more significant studying spaces for all.

…You can draw, doodle, publish a story, a novel, poems, maintain diaries, sketch, style and design something, do patchwork, knit, embroider, improve a plant, arrive up with a challenge, volunteer, develop an thought into an motion prepare, jot down some random feelings, etcetera, and many others … that might ideal seize and reflect your contemplating and thoughts at this stage in time. And when we are out of this pandemic, I might adore to have an exhibition to showcase all what we (will) occur up with.

Pricey learners, since Brunei applied journey limits in February, adopted by the current travel ban by both of those Brunei and Vietnam, I have been very nervous and apprehensive about my mom and dad in Vietnam. I am longing to see them and I’m not certain when matters will be back to usual so I can go household at the very least for a short visit.

Although this might look own, I’d nonetheless like to share with you a poem I’ve created for/about my mom. It is termed “The Tale of Champaca Flowers”. I imagine we all have affectionate and loving views about our moms that we don’t commonly categorical …”

Second letter – June 2020 (not sent)

“For several educators in the discipline of education and learning like myself, reflective apply is not new, as it has always been a strong dimension and core worth of education, of trainer education and of classroom follow and I am very happy to see that a lot of of you in sociology and anthropology have now discovered this new way of learning transformational, refreshing and stimulating.

“Mom, why are you crying?”, my daughters puzzled as they observed me in tears following the last online session I had with my college students in April 2020.

“Because I’m pleased that I can be with my pupils all through this difficult time. This semester has been tough. Listening to them, chatting to them, exchanging concerns, anxieties and hopes with them, singing with them, looking at poems with them, each and every single little thing we’ve been through this semester, on campus and nearly, have humbled me and strengthened me.

“I’m blessed to be surrounded by the natural beauty of kindness, discomfort, humility, treatment and sharing. I’m crying mainly because I’m pleased,” I responded.

“I listened to a person participating in the guitar and singing. Is that suitable, Mom?”

“Yes, two pupils have been actively playing the guitar and singing and the rest were listening. This course I have equally 2nd-year and fourth-12 months college students enrolled. We did not want the session these days to be a goodbye session but it was simply because 17 last-calendar year students will graduate. This is the very last class for them and I might not see them once again on campus. This will make me unhappy, type of satisfied unfortunate, unfortunate satisfied, I don’t know.”

I could experience so substantially bonding with you, while I only knew you briefly for fewer than a semester. The bonding we had with a person yet another was not only shaped by means of the instruction of material know-how and our discussion of subjects integrated in the syllabus and assigned readings and created jobs, but it also came from the continuous reflection that I had shared with you and invited you to share with me and the class all through the semester.

And all through the on the net educating and social distancing period of time commencing in March, I proactively shared with you my very own ideas on on the internet teaching and studying and the problems I was heading by. I am human, immediately after all.

And do you know that sharing and reflecting had been amongst the most stunning functions that we have demonstrated in the course of the module? Immediately after I despatched you the website link to the poem I wrote about my mom, I felt we related even much more strongly, as you begun to reply extra overtly to me.

Even the quietest students in course responded. Email just after email landed in my mailbox. Some of you confessed that you experienced been so focused on your individual annoyance and problems about COVID-19 that you forgot about the numerous global teachers and college students on campus who ought to have been so homesick and apprehensive about their kin elsewhere.

You confident me that you would be there for me and that you were being pondering of me and that my household and I were being in your prayers.

…One university student read my poem to her mom and her mom cried mainly because she missed her own mom. A pupil whose mom experienced handed absent also attained out to me to share with me her reminiscences of her late mother. A single university student claimed she would like to draw her mother. Another scholar explained to me that it had been a whilst considering that she last walked with her mother and she now felt like heading for a stroll with her mother.

And my poem by some means impressed a single of you to compose poems. She also despatched me a take note expressing she hopes to look again at her poems in the foreseeable future when the pandemic has finished and to in no way consider issues for granted once again.

I am perfectly mindful that some of you have also been concerned in volunteer perform and have been energetic in education and learning and local community initiatives led by NGOs. For occasion, Ahmad Syauqie bin Haji Satia, who is also president of SCOT (Culture for Community Outreach and Teaching), will be donating laptops and details cards to 120 underprivileged pupils all about Brunei to enable with their on-line studying throughout this time of crisis (this has led to a for a longer time-expression digital literacy programme focused at marginalised communities in Brunei).

For 2020, we were only able to fulfill every single other on campus for about half of the semester and the relaxation of it was wholly on-line thanks to the pandemic… Still you persevered and found methods to nevertheless end all your documentaries and online video jobs on distinctive facets of instruction and society… This spirit was admirable and instructional.

Dear pupils, the semester I experienced with you in 2020 will forever remain in my coronary heart. I am humbled by your gratitude, love and humility.”

3rd letter – April, 2021 (not despatched nonetheless)

“…This semester we have been capable to fulfill confront to facial area. I try to remember asking you proper at the starting of the semester if you would also want a hybrid method of shipping and delivery with equally on the net and in-person classes. And you all claimed ‘NO’. This confirmed me how much we would want to be jointly in 1 spot. We skipped the campus and the encounter-to-face interactions.

The pandemic forced us all to rethink so many present theories, tactics, initiatives and conceptualisations about schooling, globalisation, mobility, internationalisation, (in)equality and accessibility that I have introduced to you in this module. And I’ve also preferred to make the module pertinent and responsive to you and the new circumstance we are all heading by way of.

…I was thrilled to see you come up with nuanced observations and analyses of emerging norms, meanings and discourses involved with instructional mobility, belonging, household, identity, the country point out, sustainability and educational systems as the pandemic unfolded.

You were also discussing the implications of those people nuances to your possess scenarios and the diversified social and instructional contexts of Brunei.

I was touched by your rely on in me and your willingness to share your views, emotions, anxieties as nicely as your ongoing reflections and the new possibilities that could occur your way.

…You’ve all performed your projects in the local community: they selection from taboo education, sexual harassment and gender problems to the sociology of specific instruction from education and capitalism as experiential to the worth and relevance of better education from peer strain in schooling to mental health concerns amongst youthful people from educational reform to education streaming and its accompanying societal biases from instructional attainment among the these residing on and off campus to the position of common culture on instruction and poverty reduction from university preference to the impacts of course streaming to youth employability and from the educational purpose of folklore to the rising great importance of the imaginative industries in Brunei.

I am also thrilled to know that some of you are by now functioning with an organisation to acquire the initially textbook for signal language in Brunei.

The pretty spirit of group engagement and of education and learning as serving, constructing and inspiring has penetrated your perform this semester. I am yet again humbled by all this. Currently being with you in this module has consistently enriched me and held me pondering about humanity and the vital position of your education to yourselves, those people about you and the earth a lot more broadly.”

Sociology college students create back and ahead

Sharing these letters is a way to thank my 2020 and 2021 learners and to introduce our collection of posts which is a person way to engage with, increase and enrich the meanings and relevance of our academic journeys against and together with the dominant and biased worldwide narrative of graduate employability and employment possibilities.

The character of the module I have provided to my students in excess of the past two semesters, the means we have interacted, the matters we have examined, the inspiration my students have provided me and the tasks my college students have carried out all appear jointly so powerfully to remind us all of the meanings and relevance of our awareness and our discipline to the societies and communities all around us.

They carry humanity back to the centre of training by caring, a feeling of purpose, a perception of location, compassion, mental and group engagement and motion-centered initiatives.

Phan Le Ha is head of the International and Comparative Instruction Investigation Team and senior professor in the Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah Institute of Schooling, Universiti Brunei Darussalam. Her students are holding a Showcase Working day, “The Academia Prom”, on 12 May perhaps.&#13