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Journal of Education (University of KwaZulu-Natal)

On-line version ISSN 2520-9868
Print version ISSN 0259-479X

Journal of Education  n.68 Durban  2017

 

RESEARCH ARTICLES

 

Cognitive justice and the higher education curriculum

 

 

Brenda Leibowitz

Faculty of Education, University of Johannesburg. brendal@uj.ac.za

 

 


ABSTRACT

This article is set against the backdrop of calls for the decolonisation of the curriculum in higher education institutions in South Africa. It is an attempt to contribute towards the debate on decolonising the curriculum, with a focus on the tasks of academics and academic developers. The first half of the article outlines several key aspects of current theorising about academic development or teaching and learning in higher education, informed by more general debates about education. These aspects limit the potential to imagine a more inclusive or socially just, decolonised curriculum. The second half of the article proposes cognitive justice as a useful concept to lead thinking about how to change the curriculum. It discusses what cognitive justice is and how this intersects with writing on decolonisation. It outlines some of the gaps in this conceptualisation, which would need more attention if this concept were to be useful to take the process of transforming teaching and learning forward.


 

 

Introduction

Calls for decolonising the higher education curriculum, arising out of the student protests in 2015-2016 in South Africa, have unleashed much soul searching as well as creative energy and intellectual excitement. At some universities academics, sometimes along with students and other role-players, have been getting together to explore the implications of the calls for curriculum redesign and to discuss what a decolonised higher education curriculum might look like (see report on a workshop at the University of Johannesburg, Leibowitz and Mayet, 2016, or at Rhodes University by Jagarnath, 2015, as examples).

A 'decolonised curriculum' is an all-embracing collective noun that lies between abstract and concrete. It could be concrete in that it could imply a system led by design, but it is also abstract, it implies various more formal and more informal aspects of the experience of a student's university learning and the aspects that influence learning, such as social behaviour or residence life. The notion of a 'decolonised curriculum' is all embracing in that it cannot happen in a piecemeal fashion, where one or two individuals tinker with their module frameworks - rather, it requires all role players to become involved. Two important groups are teaching academics, and academic developers, whose task it is to support academics in the redesign of the curriculum.

This article is written from the point of view of an academic developer who has been working in this field on an off for the past two and a half decades. It draws from the literature on teaching and learning as well as from observations of having worked in this professional sphere - the conversations, policy debates, seminars and colloquia, conferences and scholarly journals that inform work in academic development. By way of example, conferences attended include the local conferences Higher Education of Learning and Teaching Association of Southern Africa (Heltasa), Kenton, the South African Education Research Association (SAERA) and internationally conferences of the American Education Research Association (AERA), the Society for Research in Higher Education (SRHE) and the International Consortium for Education Developers (ICED). The article focuses on the South African context and debates, but with an understanding that these are informed by, and hopefully inform, international scholarly debates. It should be noted that theorising of teaching and learning in higher education draws from a wide range of literatures, including those on adult education, general schooling, and more recently, on childhood education.

This article makes two interrelated points: first, that the way academics and academic developers have been thinking about curriculum change towards more equitable and accessible education has been held captive by logics that prevent thinking of alternative and transformative approaches, and secondly, that a useful way forward would be the concept of 'cognitive justice', but that this concept would require significant elaboration. 'Logics' has been used in the plural, since higher education and academic development are heterogeneous fields, working off a plurality of philosophical and ethical underpinnings, and of understandings of the word 'curriculum' and of 'teaching and learning'. The problem with a discussion that attempts to characterise a field of study over several decades is that it either covers all tendencies, becoming extensive and possibly laborious and descriptive, or it is necessarily selective and possibly impressionistic. For this reason the discussion that follows in the next section, on the views that limit our thinking, is by admission subjective, focussing on the tendencies that as author, I believe are significant and powerful, rather than those that might even have featured more times, if counted. They are also views of left-leaning, progressive thinkers, whom I believe have been influential in setting trends in this country. These are a variety of ways of thinking, and these may feature ontology, epistemology or theory. As a final word on the style of argumentation as well as purpose of the article, this represents the attempts of one academic developer to come to terms with and account for her developing understanding of what it might mean to take forward the transformation of the curriculum, such that it becomes more genuinely inclusive.

 

Limitations of current thinking about teaching and learning in higher education

One important limitation emanates from the literatures about decolonisation and decoloniality themselves. Calls for the decolonisation of the curriculum in South Africa have been couched in arguments derived from the fields of philosophy, politics, literature and psychology, thus the social sciences broadly, for example with reference to contributions by Franz Fanon, Steve Biko, Ngúgï Wa Thing'o or Edward Said. There have been a small number of South African scholarly contributions on the subject of decolonising the curriculum which link these broader discussions with educational theory - for example on decolonising the curriculum, Le Grange (2016) or Mbembe (n.d. and 2016), on Africanising the university, Seepe (2004) or on Africanising the curriculum (for example Msila and Gumbo, 2016). By and large theory on teaching and learning with regard to schooling or higher education, has been produced in the West, and within the discourses and paradigms emanating from the West. Whilst in the field of academic development and teaching and learning much literature, bibliographic or case study research has been produced in the global South, certainly from South Africa, the 'big ideas' on which this literature rests remains Western (see for example the theorists cited in Msila and Gumbo, 2016, on the subject of Africanising the curriculum). My own work is also a case in point. There is thus no substantive 'decolonised' or 'decolonial' theory, to guide the transformation of the curriculum.

This is related to a second limitation, namely that educationists in South Africa are informed by our own class positions - mostly middle class and by writers that stem from or write about education from this mainly Western and Cartesian, enlightenment point of view. Being so dominant, this perspective influences all aspects of our thinking, leading many of us to an inability to think outside of the hegemonic form (Kumashiro, 2015). Mbembe (n.d.) describes the western hegemonic tradition as humanist, and that it so pervasive that it becomes difficult to see outside the frame: "This hegemonic notion of knowledge production has generated discursive scientific practices and has set up interpretive frames that make it difficult to think outside of these frames." Some ways of thinking are absolutely fundamental to the way we understand the world. Yet as feminist writer Harraway observes,

It matters which stories tell stories, which concepts think concepts. Mathematically, visually, and narratively, it matters which figures figure figures, which systems systematize systems (Harraway, 2016, p.101).

And it matters, what knowledge systems we use to consider how to generate new or more equitable and fair knowledge systems.

In describing these two limitations there is the danger of the suggestion that the literature on decolonisation and decoloniality are outside of the influence of Western enlightenment thinking, i.e. that one can draw a strict line between these as separate epistemologies or ontologies. There is also the danger that the article is advancing a strong standpoint theory, namely that one can only write about something if one originates from a particular social position. Neither of these are intended, but one cannot escape the fact that the Western Cartesian and enlightenment approach is so pervasive, that thinking outside of its parameters is extremely difficult.

A third limitation is the manner in which several important interrelated phenomena are seen as bounded: knowledge as separate from learning and as separate from language; the personal as separate from the social; and curriculum as separate from pedagogy or teaching and learning. The vision of knowledge as separate from learning, or doing, is most clearly expressed by the social realists, whose output has been very influential in South Africa. According to Young (2008, p.183) social realism "Stresses the externality of knowledge that is separate from the processes of knowing and doing". A separation between the social and the personal, as well as between experience and learning, is captured in the quote from Durkheim, who was very influential in the work of the social realists: "One does not recreate science through one's own personal experience, because [science] is social not individual; one learns it (Durkheim 1956, p.48, quoted in Young and Muller, 2010, p.123). This once again denies the embeddedness and contextuality of coming to know so aptly demonstrated in the work of theorists on practice demonstrated by Heath (1983), Holland, Lachicotte, Cain and Skinner (1998) or Lave (2011). The work of the theorists on practice has been popular amongst some academic developers in South Africa, but not as dominant as that of the social realists.

Linked to the idea of knowledge as relatively bounded and autonomous is the trend amongst the social realists to emphasise the rational, cognitive, and the importance of theoretical propositions:

it is only when we understand the rules that we can meaningfully and purposefully change the rules. This is why theoretical knowledge must be at the centre of all educational qualifications, including occupational qualifications (Wheelahan, 2010, p.145).

Work on learning and emotion by Zembylas (2015; 2010), taken up in the South African context amongst others, by Leibowitz, Swartz, Bozalek, Carolissen, Nichols and Rohleder (2012), stresses that learning is not only cognitive: it is active and affective, and experiential (Michelson, 2015). The problem with the view that knowledge is most importantly theoretical, is once again that it is viewed as disembodied, and separated from process, context and experience. What would be the means for students who do not share social worlds with the world where such theory is developed, to engage with this knowledge? How would they come to know it? Social realists do not pronounce how students should be encouraged to learn. They specify that their sphere of concern is the curriculum and the place of knowledge within that. However they do imply that it is possible for all students to be able to access powerful forms of knowledge: ". . .all students should be provided with equality of access to the most powerful forms of knowledge through the means that most reliably enable that access" (Maton and Moore, 2010, p.8). The assumption that one can design a curriculum around what knowledge is, and not around how people come to know, is a problem:

Theorizing the nature of knowledge is thus a key task of the sociology of education, because this provides an understanding of the way it should be structured in curriculum so that there is equitable access to it (Wheelahan, 2010, p.17).

The artificial separation of private and social, and of learning from knowledge is not the prerogative of the social realists, and is perhaps so dominant in Western educational writing that it is a common sense notion. Michelson (2015), for example, demonstrates how prevalent this thinking is amongst some writers on adult education and reflection, most notably Kolb. She uses a cameo of adult student, Mary, to demonstrate that when we think and reflect, our thought is social:

The concepts we use are part of the received structures within which we experience, reflect, and act. Thus, they are shared tools, not individual ones; even when we are thinking on our own, that thinking is mediated through the sociality of language and the social production of meaning (Michelson, 2015, p.91).

The point is that whilst it might be useful to separate out learning from knowledge as concepts, or curriculum and teaching and learning, this separation hinders thinking about how education could be more accessible or inclusive, since it forecloses the thinking about the very sociality Durkheim refers to, with regard to how learning takes place.

A further limitation has been the pre-eminence of a social reproduction theory of education, represented by the stringent critiques of capitalist schooling and higher education, Pierre Bourdieu and Basil Bernstein, amongst others. These critiques might be useful as critiques, but cannot be transposed into values or a vision for a way forward. With regard to Bernstein this body of knowledge explains how the social stratification in society is perpetuated through schooling. Further elaborations of his writing by those who write under the ambit of a 'social realist approach to knowledge' (Wheelahan, 2010; Young, 2008; Maton and Moore, 2010), provide a strong heuristic to analyse curricula and qualification frameworks. This critique is also useful in analysing how apparently liberal and progressive curricula obscure the means through which principally the humanities maintain exclusive. The work of Bourdieu and his deployment of the concepts 'social', and 'cultural' capital, and their role in social reproduction, has allowed for a tendency to see education, or let us say knowledge, as a form of capital, and thus as a commodity. In other words, the metaphor of 'capital' has travelled further than its value as a tool for critique -it operates as a metaphor for what should be done with the curriculum. An example and the way the language of capital has permeated current thinking about the curriculum is this extract on the work of Bourdieu in relation to literacy:

[Literacy is]a discursive space in which certain resources are produced, attributed value, and circulated in a regulated way, which allows for competition over access and, typically, unequal distribution (Heller, 2008, p.50).

Bernstein does not use the term 'capital' but his account of the role of social relations in influencing the acquisition of knowledge and the outcome of education, similarly stresses the manner in which education is part of society's reproductive process, impacting on students' access to status and power:

Finally, social class relations through distributive regulation, distribute unequally, discursive, material and social resources which in turn create categories of the included and excluded, makes crucial boundaries permeable to some and impermeable to others, and specialises and positions oppositional identities (Bernstein, 2000, p.207).

The word 'distributive' is evocative, such that in her outline of the social realist approach to knowledge Wheelahan (2010, p.9) refers to 'distributional justice' which she admittedly does not equate with status and wealth, but with access to powerful knowledge and the ability to participate in the creation thereof. This notion of powerful knowledge as a form of capital has tacitly as well as overtly informed much intellectual and academic development work undertaken in South Africa over the past two decades. It is one of the possible reasons why so much academic development work has focused on making adaptations to the curriculum so that students from 'disadvantaged' backgrounds can be successful within the current system, rather than on transforming higher education and its content more substantially.

The suggestion that the current way of knowing can or should be 'distributed' is not only practically unfeasible - for all but a handful of extremely promising or driven students - but it also forecloses thinking of alternatives. The emphasis of the value of received wisdom is most prevalent amongst social realists. Moore (2010) describes the richness of knowledges as these have been generated over time:

Collective representations are the product of an immense cooperation that extends not only in space but also through time; to make them, a multitude of different minds have associated, intermingled, and combined their ideas and feelings; long generations have accumulated their experience and knowledge. A very special intellectuality that is infinitely richer and more complex than that of the individual is distilled in them . . . (Moore, 2010, p.152).

The problem with the social realist approach is that it does not encourage multiplicity, including a welcoming of new epistemologies.

The notion that it is the present knowledge that should be more equitably distributed is akin to the phrase, 'epistemological access', which implies that all students, irrespective of social and educational backgrounds, should have access to the present knowledge system. This phrase was coined by Wally Morrow (2007) to distinguish between a student's formal access to a higher education institution and the subsequent access to the knowledge therein. It is a useful distinction, and the phrase has become commonplace in academic development literature, including my own publications. It was Yunus Ballim, however, at a provocative keynote talk at a conference at the Central University of Technology in 2015, that led me to consider that the phrase is 'colonialist', as he argued on that occasion.

The problem with an emphasis on the known and the given is partly that it impedes the consideration of what other societies or groups have to offer, and it impedes knowing what has not yet been said:

In order to identify what is missing and why, we must rely on a form of knowledge that does not reduce reality to what exists. I mean a form of knowledge that aspires to an expanded conception of realism that incudes suppressed, silenced, or marginalised realities, as well as emergent and imagined realitie (De Sousa Santos, 2014, p.157).

The social realists have also argued that students should be enabled to think the unthinkable. However the implication is that one requires access to powerful knowledge, in order to do so, and that outside of powerful knowledge, one cannot think the unthinkable. The difference in import here could be one of emphasis, or of application.

In this section various approaches to knowledge and learning that have been influential in academic developers' thinking - certainly if I think of my own academic biography - have been outlined. I have argued that these approaches make it difficult to imagine a new, decolonised or more inclusive approach to higher education. In the next section the concept of 'cognitive justice' is posed as a possible way to think differently about teaching and learning.

 

Cognitive justice

The concept of 'cognitive justice' is a 'normative principle for the equal treatment of all forms of knowledge' (Van der Velden, n.d., p.12). This does not mean that all forms of knowledge are equal, but that the equality of knowers forms the basis of dialogue between knowledges, and that what is required for democracy is a dialogue amongst knowers and their knowledges. This dialogue is necessary because the present context where Western knowledge forms are all-powerful, is problematic in two ways. It is inadequate to solve the problems of social injustice and inequality of our times. It thus requires an ecology of knowledges and the availability of new knowledges (De Sousa Santos 2014). This hegemony of knowledge forms leads to the destruction of other forms of knowledge and other knowledge practices. According to Visvanathan (2002) other knowledges become museumified, meaning that they become an object of study, lifeless and without voice, rather than equal players. De Sousa Santos (2014) calls this hegemony 'epistemicide', in that not only are the forms of knowledge lost or destroyed, but the practices of which they are a part. This destruction includes the natural ecology of the planet. Cognitive justice requires the bringing into relation of different knowledges, 'the plural availability of knowledges' (Visvanathan, 2016, p.4/8).

Cognitive justice allows for the unknown, and the awareness that our knowledge forms have absences (De Sousa Santos, 2014). It requires difference in order for democracy and creativity to flow and it is an awareness that all knowledges can and should be flexible: "Cognitive justice is not a lazy kind of insistence that every kind of knowledge survives as is" (Visvanathan, 2016, p.5/8).

The call for cognitive justice is by no means a relativist position on knowledge, though it would perhaps lead to more unpredictability within education. Writers have provided criteria for choosing between epistemologies, or for how to decide which knowledge is most appropriate, and under which conditions. De Sousa Santos stresses the important criteria of purpose or of which questions need answering, or that consideration should be given to how the knowledge was produced (De Sousa Santos, 2014). Visvanathan (2007) provides a list of criteria that is by no means comprehensive, but is illustrative of the criteria one might want to develop further:

1. Each knowledge system if it is to be democratic must realise it is iatrogenic in some context.

2. Each knowledge system must realise that in moments of dominance it may destroy life-giving alternatives available in the other. Each paradigm must sustain the otherness of other knowledge systems.

3. No knowledge system may 'museumify' the other. No knowledge system should be overtly deskilling.

4. Each knowledge system must practice cognitive indifference to itself in some consciously chosen domains.

5. All major technical projects legitimised through dominant knowledge forms must be subject to referendum and recall (Visvanathan, 2007, p.215).

 

Cognitive justice and related concepts

Cognitive justice, the 'decolonisation of knowledge' 'decoloniality', indigenous knowledge systems and africanisation of the curriculum can be seen as intersecting terms, depending on how one interprets each term. It is rare that protagonists of decolonisation adopt the view that the 'pure', 'essential', 'African' should obliterate the Western, powerful or hegemonic, and mostly call for a "decentring" - making knowledge other than it is (Le Grange, 2016, p.6) or a 're-centring' of for example African knowledge (Seepe, 2004). It is not and should not be isolationist (Mbembe n.d.). There are also significant written contributions cautioning against treating the 'decolonisation' term too lightly, and of allowing 'settlers' to escape the severity of harm they are associated with (Tuck and Yang, 2012).

Another approach to decolonisation relevant to cognitive justice is to select those aspects of a culture or epistemology that advance one's ethical project. Makgoba and Seepe (2004, p.14) argue that to Africanise requires identifying within African epistemology "that which is emancipatory and liberatory". It is not an assumption that what is African is good and should be adopted, and that what is not African should be rejected. The cautionary point with regard to Africanisation made by Prah (2004), is that one should avoid romanticising the past. He also acknowledges the elitism of the middle classes in much of Africa. Most of these writers are not advocating a focus on one pure knowledge, but rather, for the value of some form of multiplicity.

An argument against the maintenance of a hierarchic separation of knowledges is the demonstration of the similarities of knowledge systems, and of how societies can learn from one another. Comaroff and Comaroff (2014), showed in how many ways Europe or the global North can learn valuable lessons about social relations and politics from Africa, with examples from Botswana and South Africa. If we can learn from different knowledge systems, we can also learn from comparing them: "Through knowledge we liberate ourselves; through knowledge we question the limitations of a single culture/nationalistic identity" (Anzaldua, 2015, p.91). We can also use knowledges to answer questions or plug the gaps created by unitary knowledge systems (De Sousa Santos, 2014). Mbembe (2016, p.37) also calls for an embracing approach to knowledge: "a process that does not necessarily abandon the notion of universal knowledge for humanity, but which embraces it via a horizontal strategy of openness to dialogue among many epistemic traditions".

The focus on the 'how' or attributes of knowledge makers and knowledge seekers is an important contribution to cognitive justice, as it could have implications for how one might want students to learn (for example, that they are more active participants in the class, that the power relations are attended to). This encourages knowledge makers, users or acquirers from the global South to adopt a confident and agentic stand in relation to knowledge (Ndebele, 2016). It "allows Africans to be subjects of historical experiences rather than objects on the fringes of Europe" Makgoba and Seepe (2004, p.41/42).

 

Cognitive justice - remaining questions

Frameworks on cognitive justice have been for the most part frameworks about knowledge rather than theorisation of teaching and learning, though educationists such as Van der Westhuizen (2015) or le Grange have begun to write about this. There remain, therefore, a number of areas where these frameworks require further consideration. These areas are discussed in this section.

The idea that knowledges and knowledge practices are intimately bound up with people's cultures, practices and cosmologies (De Sousa Santos, 2014, Visvanathan, 2016) is important in the light of the limitations to the current logics that were discussed in the first part of this article. Knowledge is seen as part of people's practices, thus contextually situated, rather than as autonomous and objective, or 'outside'. This has important ramifications for learning, as this leads to an important question: if one is not a participant within knowledge practices where particular knowledge forms were generated, how best does one acquire this knowledge? This question should not be interpreted to imply that a student needed to have been an ancient Egyptian, for example, to be able to learn successfully about the wisdom of ancient Egyptians. Rather, it implies that one needs to be a participant in practices that value the learning of other historically prior cultures, one would require an understanding of the purpose of this learning that is shared by a particular community of practice, as well as a sense of what kind of questions this community would want answered by such study. At present, and since the enlightenment period, it is middle class schooling and Western higher education that has set the terms for how ancient or extant cultures are discussed and learnt about. This is a generalisation, as many religious societies that are not considered mainstream encourage the study of ancient languages in more culturally specific ways, where ancient texts might be venerated rather than as viewed as the source of information in the light of current concerns and questions. However, these are not considered universal or hegemonic or typical of higher education practices.

The idea of knowledge as practice or part of practice rather than as autonomous, gives rise to several challenges, or areas of higher education theorisation that require attention. The first is simply, what theories of teaching and learning can be used as a bridge in order to advance cognitive justice in teaching and learning? Admittedly one cannot hope for learners to experience viscerally and via physical or emotional means, everything they need to come to know. However one important domain of experience, alluded to by practice theorists, is that of shared meanings within practical activity (Schatzki, 2001). An important component of academic practices is the tacit or overt understanding of the purpose of a practice. This point is made clearly in relation to academic practices by Reder (1994) or Clark and Ivanic (1997). Halliday (1985), the functional linguistic who shared ideas with Bernstein. Halliday (1995) made clear and important links between form, function and context - with regard to language, but the spill over from language to knowledge is evident. Thus if learners lived or worked in social contexts where functions of particular practices were self evident to them, they would indeed come closer to experiencing the knowledge, even the theory or rules they need to acquire. If they do not experience these living conditions, one needs to create learning opportunities in which they can engage in the practices, thus acquire the shared meanings and sense of purpose. A more poignant question would be, given that learning requires engagement with the familiar, with knowledge practices from one's own community of practice, as well as with the unknown, with knowledge practices that are not shared with one's own community, how is this leap from the known to the unknown advanced with students?

An important dimension of cognitive justice is that it must be accompanied by social justice (De Sousa Santos, 2014). Echoing the earlier work of Nancy Fraser (Fraser and Honneth, 2003) that social justice is based on the intertwined dimensions of recognition of value (of social categories such as class, race or gender) and distribution of material resources, De Sousa Santos writes that there can be no recognition without distribution (De Sousa Santos, 2001). This is all very well, but how does one advance cognitive justice in situations where there is social injustice, and can one use ideas pertaining to cognitive justice in order to advance social justice? Young states that "It follows that instead of concentrating solely on ideology critique, a social realist approach to the curriculum seeks to identify the social conditions that might be necessary if objective knowledge is to be acquired" (2008, p.165.) He reminds us that Bernstein once said that 'education cannot compensate for society' (2008, p.171). Given that education is part of society, it would be a mistake to give up altogether on advancing change in education or in the curriculum. Furthermore, given that the education system in South Africa in the main appears to perpetuate rather than ameliorate social inequality along lines of class and race, as has been pointed out in relation to schooling in general by Badat and Sayed (2014) and in relation to higher education by Bozalek and Boughey (2012) and Cooper (2015), not to work towards social or cognitive justice at all implies working to perpetuate social injustice. Is working towards cognitive justice feasible, in contexts of social injustice?

Critical pedagogy is one tradition which operates as a resource in order to consider how to work towards social justice via the curriculum. This is not sufficient, however, or as appropriate in the South African context (Jansen, 2009) as critical pedagogy has tended to remain within western academic discourses. It would be equally difficult for students not proficient in traditional academic discourses, of which critical pedagogy is generally a part. More recent writing on indigenous knowledge systems (cf Le Grange, 2016 on higher education, and Pacini-Ketchabaw and Taylor, 2015, with regard to early childhood education, where disrupting colonial practices have become a significant body of work), on disruptive teaching (cf Kumashiro, 2015), on feminist pedagogy (cf Michelson, 2015), and on posthumanist pedagogies (cf the Snaza and Weaver volume, 2015) that transverse the mind-body dualism have promise in this regard. Although these are relatively new under-explored fields, especially with regard to higher education, where substantial translation of concepts is required.

One of the most tantalising questions, is how to bridge the language of Western 'science' with that of alternative languages providing accounts of teaching and learning. The dominant accounts of teaching and learning are provided through the Cartesian, enlightenment lenses of research and theory building, not taking into account how learn is described in folk, religious and other communities across the world. Selected indigenous African ways of describing learning are provided by Banda (2008) with reference to metaphor and idiom, for example. How are these different accounts translated, bridged or brought into conversation with each other?

 

Conclusion

This article has pointed to some of the limitations in current thinking about teaching and learning in higher education and academic development, limitations which hinder our thinking about how to respond to current calls for the decolonisation of the curriculum. Some of these limitations are mitigated by an elaborated version of the concept of 'cognitive justice'. This concept however has been intended for the general topic of knowledge, rather than for teaching and learning, and thus requires substantial development and bridging, to be of use in current debates. A helpful concept in this consideration is that of 'practice', and of viewing knowledge as a practice rather than as autonomous text. However, given the call for different knowledges to be brought into dialogue with each other, this dialogue will be most challenging. It will require the participation of a broader group of educationists than those of us working in higher education and academic development, who administer, perhaps colonially to students, and it will require the dialogue to be conducted in a broader range of languages, discourses and practices.

 

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Received 8 August 2016
Accepted 11 January 2017

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