Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 32, the one with the Tarot Cards

Posted on: 28 May 2024 by Dr Tunde Varga-Atkins in General

Host and Guests In Online Meeting
(Host and Guests in Online Meeting)

In Episode 32, we shared lightbulb moments, treasure island pedagogies/props and luxury items, which included threshold concepts, students-becoming-teachers, professional identity development, team teaching, getting out of comfort zones, collective learning and a sense of movement and using Tarot cards for reflection.

Speakers: Claire Stocks, Jennie Blake, Rhod Woodhouse

Date: 15 May 2024

Treasure Island Pedagogies: Episode 32 podcast

(Treasure Island Pedagogies Episode 32 - Podcast Transcript)

Read or listen to find out our guests’ lightbulb moments, teaching props, pedagogies and luxury items that they would take to their Treasure Islands for precious contact time with students. 

Claire Stocks

Chester University, UK

  • Original discipline: My doctorate is in American Literature, and I taught that as a Graduate Teaching Assistant for a while during my doctoral studies. But I’ve been some variation of an academic/educational/researcher developer for about 20 years.
  • Current Role: Currently Head of Academic Practice and Development at University of Chester, where I have been for 2.5 weeks! Before that I worked at BPP, a specialist provider which focuses on professional higher education (in Nursing, Law, Business and Technology). In that role I was leader of the Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching and provided CPD for the academic staff, most of whom came from industry or practice rather than through an HE route.
  • Lightbulb moment: ‘Miss you ruined reading for me!’ said one of my American literature students. What they meant here is that in literature, they moved from reading books in an experiential, common-sense way to a disciplinary way of reading texts. For me, this was a real-life example of a threshold having been crossed (in Land and Meyer’s terms). A similar thing happened to me in my PgCert teaching at my last university who were professionals joining HE for the first time: they brought a common-sense approach to teaching, but during my PgCert they started realising that there was more to teaching than they had previously thought, informed by theory, evidence and specific practices.
  • Teaching Prop or Pedagogy: A bit of a ‘marmite’ choice, but I would advocate for Microsoft OneNote as my pedagogic Swiss army knife. Maybe not the most intuitive of MS products, but it can be used in a range of ways that can support L&T. I have personally used it as a portfolio tool to support an apprenticeship, have used it as my own personal portfolio, and also designed an escape room using it. And I’m sure there’s loads more potential for use as a collaborative tool that might help us to address and solve L&T challenges on the island. Can also be used offline in case the dodgy island wifi fails at any point!
  • Luxury item: A personal trainer. I love exercise: good for the physical but also for mindfulness and switching off, being in the moment. I’m also interested in how hobbies can inform our thinking about learning and teaching – so I’m fascinated to watch the gym class teachers and note how they motivate the class, build rapport or provide differentiation.

Jennie Blake

University of Manchester, England

  • Original discipline: Undergraduate degree in English Lit (and French) from Carleton College and an MA in Education from Berkeley and a wiggly route to education.
  • Current Role: Head of Teaching and Learning Development at the University of Manchester Library, with an additional role as Academic Lead for Student Success for our Institute of Teaching and Learning at Manchester.
  • Lightbulb moment: When I was sitting with other children away from the front of the class, my cheeky Year 7 students decided to “play teacher” and get up to the front of the class and answer the question and I loved them taking agency over their learning.
  • Teaching Prop or Pedagogy: Bringing the ‘whole classroom’! The idea that geniuses never work in isolation but there is a sense of collectivism and connectivity, as a sort of ‘equitable hospitality’ (there is a leader in every chair).
  • Luxury item: My horse for exercise or my Kindle to focus on words/concepts.

Rhod Woodhouse

University of Bath,UK

  • Original discipline: I started off in Maths (BSc) before getting my PhD in Psychology, so I classify myself as a dual-class Mathematician-Psychologist. Which pretty much means I’m considered a psychologist by mathematicians and a mathematician by psychologists...
  • Current Role: I am a lecturer in the University of Bath where I am the Academic Programme and Digital Learning Lead for our distance-learning MSc programmes in Sports Medicine, Sports Physiotherapy, and Football Medicine. I also teach on our Professional Doctorate in Health programme. Before joining Bath, I was in the School of Optometry at Cardiff University where I taught, amongst other things, Professional Awareness with Andy Millington who will also be a stowaway on the island.
  • Lightbulb moment: We showed 2nd year undergraduate optometry students personality test results for two anonymous people: one who was comfortable with socialising and not especially neurotic and another who was the opposite. We discussed what each person would be like in the testing room and how the students could adapt their test/communication for each patient. Then we revealed that both tests came from the same person: me! I could see understanding spread over students’ faces – the idea that the power over their practice was now in their hands, not in the hands of those teaching them; ‘You mean, I can decide who I want to be as a professional?’.
  • Teaching Prop or Pedagogy: Am I allowed to take the concept of constructivism? If not, I’ll take my colleague, Andy [Millington] who taught me the value of team-teaching and who is the yin to my yang.
  • Luxury item: A deck of Tarot cards to help with reflective practice and learn something new.

Any sparks? How might our joined-up Treasure Islands look like?

One theme from today’s discussion was how we might create and nurture different personas to form and craft our professional identities – and this being an essential part of how we take our learners with us on a journey as well as developing ourselves as educators. We discussed our important role in leading our learners to realise what they do not yet know and to test our and their comfort levels. This may even result in converting OneNote sceptics to OneNote converts! Our luxury item discussion revealed not just the importance of physical exercise in our lives but also the intersection of physical practice and metacognitive awareness when you are trying to improve something, whether it’s learning to swim or learning something new.

Links / resources

Claire's Links:

  • For threshold concepts see: Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2005) Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (2): epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning, Higher Education, 49 (3), 373-388 or a summary page by Mika Flanagan, UCL.
  • Joe Wicks, personal trainer’s YouTube channel.

Jennie's Links

Rhod's Links

Facilitated by Dr Tünde Varga-Atkins, Sound: Chris Loxham/Sandra Samaca, Web design: Dennis Wong, Neil Murray @LivUniCIE