Higher Education and the Public Good: Imagining the University By Jon Nixon

Since the  last session workshop with Lindsay, where we had to  read the selected text ‘Public education ‘an excerpt from ‘Higher Education and the Public Good: Imagining the University’ by Jon Nixon. I have become very interested in further research in his idea of the ‘public good’ and the distinction made here to ‘public interest’.

The text was complex and triggered many questions, thinking about the broader moral and ethical considerations and implications for education and its role in society at large. This thinking is where theory meets teaching practice and I am beginning to slowly unravel my understanding of the term pedagogy.

The text begins with the Enlightenment period ,marked as a defining moment for education, where the idea of scientific and empirical knowledge above all as reason, truth and progress, ‘human control over the complex environment within which we live an plan for the future.’  was the ‘constituent element’ of the  ‘Enlightenment project.’  (Nixon pg.19)

The focus of Nixon’s writing is the strained relationship between education as a ‘liberating’ force and education as social control, for the benefit of the ‘social good’  ie. the broader sociological perspective where Nixon leads us back to Durkheim’s  positivism, thus understanding society through scientific distancing ; objectifying its subjects and seeking objective truth .

I will continue to read this book, as I am interested in ethics and education ,especially as a lecturer, but also particularly in relation to ethical codes,practice and mission statements of universities on the whole. How is ethics approached in universities and how does this filter down to how students learn and create .

‘The technological ‘turn’ that science took throughout the various phases of the industrial revolution should be seen, therefore, as intrinsic to the scientific project as originally conceived. The terms ‘science’ and ‘technol­ogy’ are now linked in ways which are often assumed to be uniquely contem­porary. The financial infrastructure that supports S(‘.ientific enquiry is now almost entirely focused on outcome, impact and applicability as the essen­tial foreground of enquiry and precondition of funding. Research goes hand in hand with development. So-called ‘blue skies’ research is under­taken, but always on the tacit understanding that the research may yield significant albeit unspecified pay-offs at some later stage. However, this emphasis does not constitute an epistemological break. On the contrary, the ‘technological revolution’ as we have come to think ofit is all ofa piece with the founding impulse of scientific enquiry: the impulse, that is, to know the natural and social world and, in knowing it, to control it; and, in con­trolling it, to enhance its resources and to expand our resourcefulness.’

( pg.22)Nixon



Microteach put into practice May 2018

Microteach learning put into practice at LCF this Thursday 17.05.18

Microteach feedback 2018

Foley artist : session using objects 

Thanks to Sean for introducing me to the LCF BA Fashion illustration course.I will be teaching there this Thursday and putting into practice some of what I learned during my microteach session in February; focusing on sound making objects and focused listening,to engage students in understanding sound and its creative use and potential in audio visual language.

Looking forward to this and will keep you updated. I have developed the session and I have asked students to bring in their own sound objects.I will also be teaching them some technical skills in recording.

Observation 16.03.18

BA Advertising session with Kuldeep Nazran.


It was a really great opportunity to observe Kuldeep last Friday for an hour in BA advertising .

Kuldeep also observed my last workshop before the Easter break in the afternoon with my BA Sound Arts Workshop with my students.We were experimenting with multi speaker audio works and were presenting groups work at the end of the day.

Lucy Panesar was also present and that certainly made me think on my feet about my teaching practice, as every moment was unfolding. Thank you for the detailed observation,it was very helpful reading and analysing it.

Thanks both for your support.

More to follow on this.


20.03.18 Microteach

PG Cert Microteach 2018

PGCert Teaching and Learning Unit  2018

Micro teach: Listening and Sound effects


PG Cert Microteach 2018  


Here are some reflections on the micro teaching session yesterday,which I really enjoyed and gained some insight into my own approach to planning and teaching, as well as from the other students ,which were all successful in similar and different ways.


Having written a session plan, thinking about teaching with objects in relation to sound ,I decided to choose an object that could be used and perceived as a sound effect, different from its original source  i.e. the sound making object .

I thought it could be an enjoyable shared group learning task, encouraging students to develop listening skills and begin to acquire some of the imaginative thought processes used in making sound effects and film soundtracks and therefore learning how to approach sound, as an artistic process and medium e.g.. Filmmaking, radio, sound art,electroacoustic composition.

The time restraint of 10 minutes was a challenge, but I realised that there didn’t need to be too much activity or technical knowledge to engage with the object and listening was a skill to acquire an awareness of.

The Object

Initially, I chose  two objects; a jar of dried beans( as above) and a newspaper, I divided the class into two groups of five to explore one object each. As the group was smaller than expected,I decided to choose one object and work in one large group.This in retrospect, was a better idea than planned as the limitations of the object allowed for deeper listening,contemplation and imagination and also allowed for the group to sit together and focus on one sound without distraction .

Introducing some context for sound effects and the exercise, I presented a very short powerpoint  presentation, I introduced what a sound effect is and how it is used in film,radio and audio visual works. The idea was to encourage discussion (student centred) rather than just inform the group(deductive learning), but as time was limited some new knowledge as an introduction(presentation)was essential.

I also introduced how a sound object could be ‘performed’ (Foley)  to represent something other than itself in sound design eg.cloth -birds wings, cornflour-snow,celery-broken bones  , etc..


In a large group, I encouraged the students to explore the object and the sound properties it could create.I asked the group to pass the object around and close their eyes to imagine what the sound could represent and think about where this might be e.g.shells on a beach,in the forest…

During the exercise people who were experimenting with the object kept their eyes open and the rest of the group closed their eyes,listened and imagined.This worked well,there was a personal experience of listening, as well as a collective sharing of the exercise.

The group wrote down some ideas of what they imagined and each student demonstrated their sound with the object. 

Student Feedback

I then recorded the sounds created with a portable recorder (see Workflow). Kuldeep imagined the jar of beans as the sound of a frog and Sean imagined the sound of chains . 

We then played back the recordings while the group wrote their observations and suggestions .

The Recordings have been uploaded to Workflow.

Reflections on Learning:

This micro teach was designed and planned to consider ‘object based learning’ and learning objectives and outcomes.The objectives included group work and collaboration encouraging discussion and creative exploration and a ‘wow’ effect of learning(Innovative Pedagogies Series Kirsten Hardie )through discovery and creative thinking.The micro teach was encouraging group work through practice and peer group discussion.This allowed for students to understand and learn new creative processes to making work through a new medium of sound.  ie. making sound effects.

Through this practical workshop and object based learning students understood a key concepts to sound design,listening skills and collaborative group work. This would encourage creativity and inspire students to new ways of creative thinking in developing schemata.

Feedback from Students:

Feedback from students was given as observations and suggestions on post it notes (see photo above)

There were some positive feedback comments that actually matched my learning objectives and aims. eg.’inspiring creative thinking and giving students time to focus on listening alone and in a group’ (listening skills)

There was a helpful suggestion to disguise the sound objects and reveal them at the end to encourage a ‘Wow’effect (Hardie) which would encouraged further curiosity and engagement potentially.

Sound as a medium was new to most of my group and some students felt that they needed more of an introduction and guidance at the beginning ie. exploring the object as a sound object.

This micro teach was really helpful and I would be interested in developing it further for other teaching .I did have the opportunity to teach on BA Fashion Illustration where I developed and introduced the sound object based learning in a day workshop I ran at LCF.(see blog)