Happy Birthday! to my lovely wife, Marre

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Today 17 September is the birthday of my beautiful wife Marre. Join me to wish her a wonderful birthday.

My dear Marre, I just want to wish you a happy birthday and to say thank you. Thank you for who you are – kind, loving, compassionate, thoughtful and a thousand many other adjectives that can describe the amazing person you are.

Best Happy Birthday Wishes and Messages for Wife

As we say in Ghana, “I don’t wan talk chauw” so I searched my archives and found this poem I wrote for you on 1st October, 2010. Almost 10 years on, you remain all this and more. I hope you like it…

My love, my dear
Affectionate and tender loving
Regal and resplendent in beauty
Rare gem that is invaluable and irreplaceable
Effeminate grace adorns your splendid figure

Dazzling is your effect on me
Each time I behold your face and see you smile

Virtuous is your middle name
Eager to love, to care and to make others smile
Tender in heart, resolute in will
Tampering justice with mercy, love and compassion
Ever will your name be praised
Never will I let you go

Happy Birthday my wonderful wife Marre!!! I love you so very much and glad that I can share this journey of life with you.


			

Exhibiting Africa: Decolonizing 21st century museums – a panel discussion

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On Tuesday 22 September from 20.00, I will be on this panel discussion on “Exhibiting Africa: Decolonizoing 21st century museums”. I am looking forward to what should be an educative session at the Lux-Nijmegen Center. Tickets are already sold out but there are plans to Livestream the session. I will update this post once I know the link for those who want to join us from afar.

Livestream – You can also follow this event online by registering for the livestream through this link,

http://tickets.lux-nijmegen.nl/en-GB/Show/Details/Creative-Culture-talk-Livestream-Exhibiting-Africa-Decolonizing-21th-century-museums-22-sep-680260

Further details about the event below and through the even page…..

The question has been haunting the world of museums for decades: is it possible to exhibit other cultures in a respectful way? Without repeating colonial power structures, without making use of stolen objects, without objectifying or orientalising the Other, and without ignoring the Other’s voice, agency and sensibilities? Can exhibitions fulfil a utopian role to educate people and make our world a better place – without harming anyone? Or should we abandon them altogether?

In this edition of the Creative Culture Talk-series, organised by the Arts and Culture Studies programme of the Radboud University, we will discuss questions that have gained even more critical momentum with movements such as Black Lives Matter. They invite people all over the world to pay attention to structural racism, latent or manifest, in our 21st century democratic societies.

The evening will consist of two parts. The first part will consist of a talk by Tine Huyse from the Royal Museum for Central Africa in Tervuren (Brussels). Huyse will talk about the challenges her team met during the major renovation of the RMCA, established in 1898 as the ‘Musée du Congo’. The second part will be a panel discussion between specialists on colonial heritage and Africa-museums nowadays. There will be opportunities for the audience to ask questions afterwards.

SPEAKERS

Emmanuel Adu-Ampong is an Assistant Professor of the Cultural Geography group of the University of Wageningen. One of his principal research interests is slavery heritage tourism.

Stephano Joël Edouard is a Phd-student from the RICH-institute of the Radboud University. His research focuses on slave trade and the Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie (VOC) in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Tine Huyse currently works as senior scientist at the Royal Museum for Central Africa (RMCA) and is visiting professor at the University of Leuven. She took up the role as scientific commissioner of the zone Landscape and Biodiversity in the new permanent exhibition of the RMCA.

Annette Schmidt is Curator Africa of the Research Center for Material Culture in Leiden and co-organizer of the permanent exhibition of the Africa Museum in Berg en Dal.

Willemien van Heusden holds a master in Tourism and Culture from the Radboud University and will be the moderator of the evening, together with Tom Sintobin, Assistant Professor at Radboud University.

Look out, the book proofs are in: Sustainable Tourism Policy and Planning in Africa

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The proofs of our book arrived this week with a tight turnaround deadline to check over and send back. Why do publishers take forever and then given authors a few days to respond to queries and final proofs? Fortunately, there were only three chapters (out of 10) that needed some extra work. This book is a compilation of the Special Issue that I co-edited with my Chairman Albert Kimbu based at the University of Surrey We had 8 papers for that Special Issue on “Sustainability in Tourism Policy and Planning in Sub-Saharan Africa” one of which was published late.

In addtion to the 8 papers of the SI, we have written a new extensive introduction and conclusion chapters. The introductory chapter outlines what we see as the varieties of sustainability conceptualised in tourism policy and planning strategies in different African countries. In the conclusion chapter, we argue for a reconsideration of what sustainability means for tourism policy and planning in sub-Saharan Africa. We then outline a future research agenda that links tourism policy and planning more intimately to the Sustainable Development Goals .

The book is ready for pre-order so get your university library to place an order here… https://www.routledge.com/Sustainable-Tourism-Policy-and-Planning-in-Africa/Adu-Ampong-Kimbu/p/book/9780367480509

The book cover alone should convince you to get a copy 🙂

Sustainable Tourism Policy and Planning in Africa  book cover

The marketing blurb reads….

Sustainable Tourism Policy and Planning in Africa offers an accessible and understandable overview of the challenges of integrating sustainability into tourism policy and planning in Sub-Saharan Africa and provides some interesting recommendations on how these could be overcome.

Tourism is currently growing faster in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and in many other developing regions compared to the rest of the world. Using case examples from different segments of the tourism sector in different country contexts, this volume therefore reassesses context specific tourism policies and planning mechanisms in SSA over the years. It considers how the increasing focus on sustainability is reflected in different areas of the tourism sector including food security, the human capacity management, service delivery, local communities and heritage management, climate change and the influence of colonial legacies on tourism policy planning.  For many SSA countries, it has only been in the last two decades that the development of sustainable and achievable context specific policies and planning mechanisms has become the norm. The chapters provide examples of how different dimensions of sustainability are integrated into tourism policy and practice, and examine the extent to which these are shaping the present, and their implications for the future sustainability of the tourism sector.

Sustainable Tourism Policy and Planning in Africa will be of great value to academics, private and third sector employees to better understand tourism in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Back to my roots: geographies of slavery heritage tourism & sustainable tourism development policy

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It is official now and the cat can go out of the bag. It had been signed and sealed way back in April, 2020. Given the current times we find ourselves in, I consider it a rare privilege and God’s blessing to delightfully share this promotion news with you. From today 1 July, 2020 I am officially an Assistant Professor (tenure track) in Cultural Geography at Wageningen University and Research, the Netherlands. The unfolding global events in the past weeks makes it partly serendipitous and partly unsettling in terms of the focus of my research programme.

Now is the time to consolidate and focus on my primary interest as I build expertise and a research niche. It is going to be a challenge to stay in one or two lanes given how easily I can get distracted with new ideas that keeps driving me into new research topic areas. But I believe my foundation is solid and wide enough to commit myself to building an identifiable research programme.foundation

For this tenure track journey  therefore, I am developing a primary research programme on the geographies of slavery heritage tourism and a  secondary one focusing on sustainable tourism development policy and planning.

In my primary research programme, I am developing the concept of the embodied absence of the past in the context of slavery heritage tourism. I do this by innovatively combining insights from cultural geography, tourism studies and heritage studies. The embodied absence of the past in it’s basic form refer to the physical presence but narrative absence of the shared history and role of people of Africa descent in
European societies. In particular, I focus on investigating the transformative
potential of  the practices and performances of (slavery) heritage tourism in opening up new narratives about slavery’s past and present. I am starting this new research programme with a project that focuses on a comparative study of slavery-related heritage tourism spaces in the Ghana, Suriname and the Netherlands triangle. This is really going back to my research roots and sticking to a topic dear to me. This project builds on my first MSc thesis from 2010, two PhD research proposals from 2011 and 2012 that didn’t get funded and my finally funded PhD thesis.

PhD thesisMSc thesis

As I presented to my BAC promotion interview panel back in April, in developing the above research programme, my research vision is founded on 4 principles: 1) transdisciplinary, 2) methodological innovation, 3) societal relevance and, 4) kind science.

research vision

edu vision

Given my love for teaching, being an Assistant Professor will hopefully give me space to further develop my teaching which is based on 4 education vision principles: 1) open, engaged and interactive, 2) current and relevant, 3) recognising diversity and, 4) providing effective feedforward and feedback. All these principles need unpacking and I aim to blog about these in the future one after the other to explain in details what I mean with these.

I am excited about what lies up ahead notwithstanding the known knowns and the many known unknowns in terms of research funding, collaborations, PhD recruitment and getting this research programme up and running. The plan is to gradually expand and scale up the research programme to the study of the practices and performances of/in slavery heritage tourism spaces through a comparative study of selected Africa, American/Caribbean and European countries (France, Spain, Portugal and UK)  with a shared history and heritage of slavery. Ultimately, by exploring the issue of slavery heritage tourism my aim is to show how such practices and performances can be essential for promoting increased cultural understanding and harmonious social living in the increasingly multicultural societies at risk of polarisation – see recent events on #blacklivesmatter #blm.

There is an urgent need to address rising racism, discrimination and intolerance and I want my research to be able to provide insights about sensitive places of remembrance, and the cultural value of (slavery) heritage in stimulating public engagement and in understanding and coming to terms with the past. I will highlight the lived experiences of visitors to slavery-heritage tourism sites, the tensions in these places and the transformative potential of such touristic visitations. I believe the more we tell the stories of the past, the more awareness we generate, the more united we become and the better we can tackle present challenges such as polarisation, racism and discrimination.

I know it aint gonna be easy but I know that God’s grace and love will abound even more. For now, I am trying to clear up outstanding research projects in order to start the next academic year with a ‘clean’ plate to fully focus on getting this research programme up and running. I am open to collaboration in this area and look forward to your support and encouragement.

The 3 Chickenteers: Cheetah, Zonnetje & Dino-Tok tok

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Chickens! Chickens!! Chickens!!! They are such wonderful creatures and you can spend days just observing them. As a friend noted the other day, it’s good that we had these ladies here ahead of time to keep us occupied when the lockdown came in. They have kept us engaged through their antics and kept us protein-feed through their eggs. Let me have the honour of introducing you to our three beautiful ladies who have been with us since February, 2020.

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Dino-Tok tok, Cheetah & Zonnetje (from left to right)

Our 3 chickenteers have settled in very well with us and I look forward to bringing you further updates of their antics. I grew up having chickens at home in Ghana but I don’t think I paid them as much attention as these ladies. Now, I feel like I am becoming a Chicken Sociologist after many hours of (non) participant observations…perhaps it is time to move to the interview and focus group discussion phase. For now, here is a quick short description of them.

Cheetah

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The name Cheetah was chosen by my son (Joshua) because of the strips. The most important reason was because at that time of the chickens’ arrival, Joshua was into big wild cats and his favorite was the Cheetah. As it turned out in the end, this was a most apt name for this chicken because…oh boy can she run!. She outrans the other chickens at the sound and sight of food. She is bold, fearless and have no qualms about walking straight into our house even without invitation.

Zonnetje

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In my view this is the most cheeky of the bunch. Her name Zonnetje – little sun(shine) – was given by my daughter (Zoë). Zonnetje is a fluffy ball of cuteness and mesmerising cheekiness. She has a real character and was the first to lay eggs. Fortunately or unfortunately, she is also the only one to become broody this spring and has stopped laying eggs. Now all she wants to do is to sit in the coop brooding over non-existing eggs and waiting for her chicks to hatch . It is part sad to see and part funny that she just sits on the floor or on the roof of the coop whenever she feels broody. Hopefully, she will get out of this broodiness soon.

Dino-Tok tok

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We did a bit of crowd-sourcing for part of her name and then my son (Daniel) was happy to christen this chicken as Dino-Tok tok. Dino is in reference to the theory that chickens are descended from dinosaurs and Tok tok is just for the sound of chicks. She is the most consistent egg layer and a big explorer in the garden. Sometimes, she stands at the garden gate looking longingly at the playground and wondering what is on the other side (at least I think that is what she is thinking). She has actually made the slip to the neighbours’ garden and to the playground when we left the gate open.

 

Here are some videos of them having a good time…

 

 

 

 

A slide show of pictures…

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A Gran Sranan Presenteri – The Great Suriname Exhibition – De Grote Suriname Tentoonstelling – a polyphonic autobiography of Suriname

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On a rather wet morning last Monday 24th February, I made my way from Wageningen to Amsterdam. My goal? To see ‘A Gran Sranan Presenteri – The Great Suriname Exhibition – De Grote Suriname Tentoonstelling’ (Sranan Tongo, English and Dutch respectively) at De Nieuwe Kerk in the centre of Amsterdam. De Nieuwe Kerk with its long chequered history from 1408 and its current transformation into a tourism space offered an apt location to stage this touristic experience. More than just a curious tourist, I went there as a researcher interested in the transformation of historical sites(events) into heritage tourism spaces (experiences). I am currently resurrecting and making anew an old research interest of mine. This old-new interest is centred on the narratives of slavery and colonialism within historical-sites-turned-heritage-tourism-spaces. I am particularly interested in how narratives within such spaces stimulate public memories and raises questions/engagements of the affect/effect of the past (of slavery, colonialism) on contemporary social issues of identity, belonging and racism. In all this, I seek to emphasise the transformative potential of tourism in addressing these questions/engagements. But now I digress too much so back to the exhibition….

I enjoyed seeing the exhibition and learned a lot about Suriname in the process. I spent over 3 hours going multiple times around the exhibits, reading almost all the descriptions and listening to the visual/audio tour guides. The exhibition has proved to be a huge success in the Netherlands for all sections of Dutch society – especially among residents with Suriname descent/background. It is reported to have received 183,000 visitors making it the most visited exhibition of De Nieuwe Kerk in this century.

As was to be expected, I was also left with many questions and musings that need to be followed up. I currently have a research grant application under review which (when successful) would allow me to follow up on some of these questions as the proposal involves research in Ghana, Suriname and the Netherlands. A quick bullet of key musings from the this visit include:

    • “…lives were conceived, continued and completed”: I found this most repeated phrase in the audio and video tour very peculiar and intruiguing. This phrase was repeated at the end of narratives such as “…and so under the silk wool tree lives were conceived, continued and completed”, “…amidst the conditions of plantation slavery, lives were conceived, continued and completed”. There is a worth of analysis to be mined from this the choice of this particular phrase and it repetion.
    •  The Portuguese-Jews and Spanish-Jews settlers with plantions: how did they come by their plantations? Where did their labour force come from?
    • Michiel de Ruyter: Dutch squadron leader and seafarer who in 1664 led the capture of Elmina Castle from the British was granted a tomb in the Nieuwe Kerk
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      His assistant on this military operation got an oil painting done for him in which the Elmina Castle can be seen in the background.20200224_110447It took another two years about the capture of Elmina Castle in Ghana for the Dutch to also take over Suriname from the British. How related are these 2 events? 20200224_123001

    • Bauxite and WW I/WW II: The boom in the bauxite industry in Suriname in part is attributed to the World Wars and demand for aluminium needed to be plans and other weapons. This made me wonder if there are any links with bauxite development in Ghana vis-a-vis the World Wars and/or Dutch colonial linking through Suriname
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Perhaps my biggest critic of the exhibition from the vantage point of my research interests lies in the ’embodied absence’ (I develop this concept in my research grant proposal) of the dwellings of the enslaved on the plantations. The exhibition offers a nice critique of the visual arts of the era including oil paintings, particularly diorama which privileged plantation houses and fields at the expense of representations of the slaves working on sites. The diorama example below for instance shows the ‘nice’ setting of plantation life with the plantation house at the centre, a few slaves tending the front gardens and not representation of the housing of the slaves or their workings on the plantations.

20200224_110241Surprisingly, in the same breathe of critiquing, the Great Suriname Exhibition somehow perpetuates this same erasure of the lived experiences of the slaves on plantations. This is in terms of the model housing of plantations that were exhibited – there was no model house of what the slave housing quarters on plantations might look like. The grandeur of the slavers’ housing (often built from the sweat of the enslaved) is again given prominence over the housing situation of the enslaved. I searched around this exhibition area again and again but did not find a replica slave house on show. Perhaps I missed it but I’m not sure.20200224_12064120200224_12034820200224_120257

There is a lot that I still need to analyse and unpack from my experience at this exhibition which look forward to doing when my grant proposal is awarded.

Enjoy a slideshow of pictures I took from the exhibition…

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Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa: manuscript submitted! Yaay!!!

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Finally! Finally!! Finally!!!…..we clicked on send, submit, done, BAM! It is gone now and we can catch some respite. I am excited to say that with my wonderful co-editors – Marina Novelli and Manuel Ribiero – we have finally submitted the entire manuscript for the Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa to the publishers.

The Routledge Handbook of Tourism in Africa is focused on a dialogue between academics and industry practitioners. We will have 30 standard chapters by primarily African academics and 10 InFocus shorter chapters written by industry practitioners across the continent with a Foreword written by the current Secretary-General of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation. We are looking forwarding to seeing the final book.

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It has been a long journey that started from late summer 2017 when we developed the book proposal and signed the book contract in November, 2017. Between November, 2017 and February 2020, there have been many ups and downs on this journey of putting together this volume. This is only the ending and the beginning of a new phase – production queries, proofs to be corrected, etc – that is still to come. However, it is great to have finally arrived at this point and it is right that we can pause to celebrate this milestone as the manuscript gets on the production line.

Cape Chronicles Reloaded: in search of a whale and place names

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Every job has its great and not-so-great sides, the perks vs. the drudgery, the good days vs. the not-so-good days. This two-sides-to-every-story phenomenon is most pronounced for me as a tourism academic. On one hand, I get to travel to some amazing destinations but on the other hand, I barely get the chance to see and experience the destination as much I would like to. This is not a complaint but a description of academic life with its perks and downsides especially when it comes to attending conferences. It is a bit like going on a whale watch out at sea – it is exciting but it also comes with the possibility of puking due to sea-sickness.

In the past week, I have had the privilege to attend an intensive Associates Conference at the School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Johannesburg, South Africa. This small scale and intimate conference was part of the celebration of 50 years of tourism and hospitality education at the University of Johannesburg. ef8n03wxuaa9usr.jpg20190930_121443

It was such an enriching and intellectually stimulating experience with colleagues at various stages of their academic career. I have many fond memories from this week of intensive discussions, presentations, eating and lots of laughter. After the first day at the University of Johannesburg campus, we went out to the Grootbos Private Nature Reserve in the Western Cape of South Africa. This beautiful location deserves a blog post in itself (perhaps after I clear up the backlog of emails that has piled up). One thing that I want to reflect on in this short post is about places and their names. One of my colleagues at this conference on the last day called on us to consider the stories we tell of the places we visit as travellers or tourists or academic tourists. By consistently crafting our travel narratives around big place names (even when we barely stayed there), we consistently erase the names of the small towns and villages we really encounter and experience on our visits.

For instance, if I were to asked to describe where I have been last week, the easiest answer will be to say – “oh, I went to South Africa, 2 nights in Jo’burg and then 4 nights in a private nature reserve close to Cape Town”. Such an answer while easy and straightforward to say and understand, does a great disservice to the many wonderful towns and places (names) encountered. After all, I only encountered ‘Cape Town’ through its airport and nothing of the city itself. The last time I was actually in Cape Town was 3 years ago and my experiences there are chronicled in this series of chronicles I, chronicles II, chronicles III, chronicles IV and chronicles V. This time around, my visit was a matter of touch down at the airport, drive out, drive back to the airport and then fly out.

In response to my colleague’s entreaty, I would like to give a shout out to the beautiful small places I encountered during this trip. I can start by saying my principal stay in South Africa was in the Overstrand Local Municipality in the Western Cape province which falls within the Overberg District Municipality. Specially, it was the towns of Hermanus and Gansbaai that I encountered and experienced the most even as my everyday view was set on the Walker Bay. I shouldn’t forget to mention that en-route from the airport, we made a stop along the Botriver wine route for lunch and wine tasting drinking at Beaumont Wines.

It was a memorable experience seeing new places and faces, eating too much and laughing too hard, and importantly exchanging learning and knowledge with an amazing group of people. One sure highlight of the week was the adventure tourism of going whale watching. There was great excitement about going out to sea on the rough waves and extreme delight when we were fortunate enough to meet two mum-and-kid families of Southern Right Whales . There was also some sea-sickness and puking but that story is for a few ears only. The whales were such huge but graceful animals. We had one mummy whale swimming close by our boat and gently turning away as if passing by to say hello.

So remember, the next time you travel and have to recount your adventures, make sure to mention the names of the small places you really encounter – that neighbourhood, the main street, the corner chop bar etc. The more we give a shout out to the local places and names, the more we place them on the global map for others to know. I leave you with some slide show pictures…enjoy!

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Travel and see!!! Happy World Tourism Day 2019

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Happy World Tourism Day 2019!

Did you know that each year, 27 September is celebrated as World Tourism Day which is organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s (UNWTO). This is an event celebrated to foster awareness among the international community about the importance of tourism in terms of its social, cultural, political and economic value. The 2019 World Tourism Day is being celebrated under the theme of “Tourism and Jobs: A better future for all’ and is officially being hosted by India.

For this year’s event, I got myself involved in a number of initiative on different fronts to celebrate this day. We are all tourists and the travel urge to explore new places is deeply embedded in the human DNA. I am glad that I fell into this research area of tourism which is a fundamental social phenomenon we need to fully grasp and harness it’s positive potentials. Anyway, back to my activities to celebrate World Tourism Day 2019:

As a Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Tourism Planning and Development journal, I have curated a virtual special issue on Tourism, jobs and sustainable livelihoods that brings together 12 already published articles in the journal. The articles covers the themes of tourism’s role in job creation, livelihood diversification and poverty reduction which are in line with this year’s World Tourism Day theme. The articles are free to read and download from today until 31st December, 2019. The link to access these articles is:

RTHP Tourism Planning & Development Article Collection

In addition to curating the virtual special issue, I also got involved in a video production celebrating the World Tourism Day. This video puts a spotlight on the World Tourism Day and how my department of Cultural Geography at Wageningen University and Research is contributing to tourism research. It showcases our suits of MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) offering in Sustainable Tourism. Our MOOC course on Sustainable Tourism: Rethinking the Future is a top 10 finalists of the edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning.  In celebration of this and on the occasion of the World Tourism Day, we are offering a discount for enrolling on this  Professional Certificate course. The link to do that is here:

https://www.wur.nl/en/news-wur/Show/Celebrate-World-Tourism-Day-by-joining-the-online-courses-on-Sustainable-Tourism.htm

Finally, the video that I made. In my last post about teaching across cultures, I mentioned that one of my childhood career ambition was to be TV News broadcaster. Well, it turns out my dream can still come through. This was my first experience of cameras, lights and flash and I think I didn’t do too badly…there is always room for improvement. Who knows? Maybe, this is a start of a career change for me. What do you think?

 

Once again, Happy World Tourism Day!

 

 

Teaching across cultures: lost in translation?

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As a professional student and an academic, August/September have always been the start of the year in many sense. Here in The Netherlands, the new academic year has already began today Monday 2nd September, 2019. This is new for me after 6 years of being used to the UK where the academic year starts at the end of September. As the teaching preps begin in earnest, I look forward with excitement and anticipation to the start of my academic adventure in the Netherlands. I’m left pondering though, on how my teaching skills and experience developed in Ghana and the UK will translate to the Dutch context.

In February, 2019, I was awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education at Sheffield Hallam University after a year of part-time study. It was a thoroughly enjoyable reflective learning experience and gave me tools to enhance my teaching practice. Completing this study also qualified me to achieve the status of Fellow of  The Higher Education Academy in recognition of my attainment against the UK Professional Standards Framework for teaching and learning support in higher education.

Fellow HEACertainly, many of the principles and tools have universal application but also certainly there are cultural factors that might confound the application of some of these in the Dutch context. I am in this sense, very keen to get started with teaching in order to better understand, observe and (re)learn effective blended teaching approaches that translate across borders.

Poised to begin this new teaching journey, I keep re-reading the reflective “Self-appraisal and professional development plan” I had to write as my last piece of assessed work on the Postgraduate Certificate course. I share the table of contents, introduction and conclusion sections here (let me know if you would like to read the full 4375 words reflective essay, excluding references)…as a reminder to myself:

Self-appraisal and professional development plan

Table of contents

Introducing the dream… 3

Who I am and used to be: Me, myself and I 3

HE as a market place: what in the world!?! 6

Who is in my class, why, and what can I do?. 8

The new me in 2019 and beyond….. 10

Personal Development Plan.. 12

References. 17

Appendices. 20

Appendix 1 – LT2 Teaching Observation – Session Plan.. 20

Appendix 2 – LT2 Teaching Observation – Focus Sheet. 26

Appendix 3 – LT2 – Teaching Observation – Feedback. 30

Appendix 4 – LT1 Teaching Observation – Feedback. 34

Introducing the dream

I caught the teaching bug during my undergraduate days in Ghana when over two consecutive summer vacation in my second and third year (of a 4-year degree programme) I volunteered to teach Geography at my former secondary school. After a shifting career ambition of becoming a TV News broadcaster and then dreaming of becoming an architect, I finally settled on the romantic idea of becoming an academic. A little over ten years later and having just seen this dream coming true, I find myself looking back to see if my romantic ideas match up with reality – especially in the context of what I have encountered through the Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) course. In this self-appraisal report, I seek to reflexively reflect on my professional development and teaching practices as an academic vis-à-vis an interrogation of my own professional values. This self-appraisal is carried out in relation to the wider changing context of learning and teaching in higher education (HE) in the UK and set against the Higher Education Academy UK Professional Standards Framework (UKPSF).

UKPSF

I begin this reflexive piece by situating myself and the origins and development of my professional values. I show my starting points and how over the past 12 months on the LTHE, I have continued to develop my teaching practice. The next section considers how the contextual factors – national policy agenda and university level agendas – of HE ultimately interacts with my professional values and on (my) teaching in the classroom. In the third section, I reflect on the impact of learner diversity on the design and delivery of my teaching session. I focus on the innovation I developed for my teaching observation and how it sought to address learner diversities. The first three sections then allow me to conclude my discussion by opening unto my priorities for future professional development in relation to the UKPSF.

Who I am and used to be: Me, myself and I

In Ghana where I completed my undergraduate degree, going to university was a time of great excitement. University was a place of self-motivation and full of students with great enthusiasm for learning. With no fancy PowerPoint presentations or virtual learning environments at that time, teaching was basically in the form of a lecturer in front of the class talking, explaining and dictating notes while the students scribbled away their own notes and understanding of the materials being presented. It took the self-drive of students to follow up with extra reading in the library. It was here that my romantic idea of being an academic took root. The starting point of my professional values stem from this period when I came to see teaching primarily as giving a lecture. I did not really have any experience of a seminar as even tutorial sessions with teaching assistants was another lecture. Thus, to me being a teacher was about pouring out my store of knowledge to eager undifferentiated students who are all beholden of me and are conditioned to (rote) learning on their own as evidenced by external behavioural changes (Watson, 1913; Skinner, 1973; Pavlov, 1928). I came to see the content model of curriculum development as the way to structure teaching. Certainly, there are strengths to this approach of teaching as there are downsides. Imagine my delightful surprise then, when I first encountered the UK HE during my first MSc degree programme at King’s College London in 2009. What I experienced was the ease and availability of learning material, interactive lectures and seminars, and outstanding teaching support. In sum, I came to see the HE environment in the UK as one that puts everything on an easy platter for students. Students only had to open their mouths to eat, often with the HE environment ready to spoon-feed them.

When I transitioned after my PhD into a lecturing role, I initially found it difficult to fully comprehend why some students within HE in the UK were not fully engaged with their learning experiences and not keen on taking advantage of all the opportunities on offer. Given my undergraduate and postgraduate experience in Ghana and the UK respectively, I found it difficult to get my head around why some students in the UK HE environment had to be wooed, cajoled even begged to attend class and drop-in sessions, to engage in learning, interact in the classroom and to take advantage of all the opportunities in the university outside of the classroom.  I still struggle with this situation but now I am a bit wiser and more understanding. My 3 years of teaching experience in the UK HE and the past year on the LTHE course have made me more introspective. I have learnt to be a reflexive and reflective teacher (Hickson, 2011; Thompson and Pascal, 2012; Brookfield, 2017). I have now come to redefine a more nuanced foundation of my own professional values in teaching.

Upon much reflection and reflexivity [V3], I have come to see my own professional values and approach to teaching as one that is a blend of humanistic orientations and social constructivism underpinned by emancipatory goals (Vygotsky, 1962, 1980; Freire, 1972). Indeed, through completing the Teaching Perspectives Inventory, I have developed a better view of the relationship between my teaching beliefs, intentions and actions [V3]. The TPI Profile Sheet from this inventory provides some basis for how I am conceiving of my professional values.

TPIFigure 1 – Summary of Teaching Perspective Inventory

 

I believe that a key purpose of teaching is to inspire students to take a deep approach to learning – just as my undergraduate lecturers inspired me (Marton & Säljö, 1976; Biggs, 1999; Entwistle, 1991). Through the LTHE course [A5; K5; K6; V3], I now see that inspiring students through teaching ought to go together with providing them with the tools that enhances individual learning abilities [V1; A2; A4; K2; K3]. Consequently, my approach to teaching is one that encourages students to be intrinsically curious about our subject area [A1; K1], engage them in active learning through group activities (Joyce-Gibbons, 2017) [A4; K2; K3], and develop in them the freedom to learn [V1; V2] (Rogers and Freiburg, 1993; Smith, 1999). I am an active researcher and fortunately, the PG module I teach on is directly related to my research area of tourism policy and planning. My learning materials are underlined by state-of-the-art research in the field including my own research [K1]. This means that students can benefit from research-led and informed teaching.  These set of professional values are in no way settled in stone but are rather the seedlings of an ongoing developmental process. I intend to nurture and water these seedlings unto maturity through continuing professional development in my teaching pedagogy in my subject and disciplinary area [A5; K6; V3] set in the context of ongoing policy changes in HE.

The new me in 2019 and beyond…

Over the past 12 months of engaging with the LTHE course, I have changed – mostly for the better – and my resolve strengthened that being an academic remain the dream vocation for me. While I have found the romance of this vocation from the outside to be different from the messy reality once inside, I keep seeing glimpses of beauty and romantic sparks that need nurturing. I have made huge professional strides in terms of my teaching practice and find myself in a totally different place now than when I first began. My awareness of the key issues and agendas in HE has improved and has made me more understanding of the predicament of my students [V1; V2]. Importantly, I am better placed to contextualise the external macro and meso level policy changes that is driving real changes in my teaching at the micro level of the classroom [V3; V4] while holding onto my value that teaching should be inspirational for both the teacher and the student. With a revamped toolkit of teaching and learning approaches under my belt, I feel confident that I can enhance the learning experience of my students while enjoying the process myself [A1; A2; A3; A4] whether using the traditional chalk and board or the deft deployment of appropriate learning technologies [K4].

In the current ever changing messy reality of teaching in HE, I continue to strive to find a balance between my professional values and the conception of the purpose of teaching in HE within my subject group specifically and within SHU in general. It is sometimes a tough balancing act, but a key guiding light remain my desire to use my teaching to inspire students on a journey of lifelong learning. This desire has already seen some results with my nomination for the SHU Inspirational Teaching Awards 2018 and I seek to build on it through the following set of professional development plan for 2019 and beyond….