Posted on Friday, 20 November 2015 at 3pm
by Lynne Cade. See more of my posts here.
Over the last few weeks the PHE cohort have engaged in several extracurricular activities outside of the usual taught sessions on campus. This has included an independent visit to either a local art gallery or the Thackeray Medical Museum, students on the LLC module Applied Information Literacy attending a Politics in the Pub event and the whole cohort coming together for a book signing event with the graphic artist ‘Una’ (recently a guest on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour programme).
The individual museum and gallery visits were followed by small group seminars to discuss either the economic, social and political issues inherent within the NHS or the role of creativity and art for the individual and society.
As part of the Politics in the Pub evening I was asked to present the regular ‘Speakers Corner’. I made a passionate and informed speech about the role of widening participation in higher education, in particular the role of mature access routes in light of plans to increase university fees in line with inflation. I have since been informed by the organisers that my speech has been voted as the most inspiring and engaging to date.
All the planned activities were aimed at broadening social capital and developing an awareness of current political concerns, and were clearly linked to the learning outcomes of the LLC module Academic and Personal Development – in particular those relating to critical thinking skills.
We know from our own experiences, and those of other mature widening participation students in higher education, that ‘imposter syndrome’ can impact on retention and success rates. Feeling ‘out of your depth’ and ill-informed about current concerns can add to a sense of not belonging. An understanding of the political and cultural worlds around us can give a person a sense of ‘knowing’, developing personal confidence and self-awareness, as well as independent and critical thinking skills.
The following are some of the comments students have made about these events:
I never thought I would see myself at a political debate.
I have purchased the book by ‘Una’ and look forward to exploring some of the gender politics within its storyline.
My family and friends are starting to notice the change in me when I comment on some of the government’s actions or things we see in the news.
I have really enjoyed the activities and feel better about myself, more confident and I am feeling happy about being at university.
My children really enjoyed the art gallery; they’ve not been to one before.
I’ve started watching Question Time for the first time and I’m shocked I understand it.
Going to the debate and book reading this week has pushed me out of my comfort zone and I have mingled with people I never thought I would.
The Politics in the Pub event has made me realise more about the reality I live in and has got my cogs turning!
The highlight of the week was the book event, I have never been to anything like that before and it was truly inspiring.
The whole PHE cohort will be attending the next Politics in the Pub event in December, at which there will be political debate, a quiz and the opportunity to network. The group have been asked by the organisers if they would like to organise their own political event in 2016 and invite local politicians to discuss issues relevant to the students. I was extremely pleased to see their enthusiasm for taking this challenge on and look forward to reporting back on their progress.