Published papers

Where I stand

Picture of Moira Laidlaw
Re: Revised paper Where I Stand with photo
by Moira Laidlaw - Thursday, 19 February 2009, 4:12 PM
I have enjoyed re-reading your paper, and in the process of preparing it for publication I have come to know it so much better than the first time. I share Catherine's enthusiasm for the way in which you have integrated the students' responses and clarified the ideas about openness and creativity, and how different circumstances and experiences impact on the work you have done. It is a fascinating account of your own creativity and how you have used it to encourage the creativity of others.

One of the reasons this process has fascinated me so much is the ways in which you have helped me to think about cultural sensitivities. You highlight the cultural differences you faced in Hungary, for example, and how these influenced conclusions people drew. The case of the student who was aggressive and even violent to another student before rushing out, is a case in point and yet was not criticised or censured, even, indeed, supported by the system. I can see the way in which you are developing your cultural sensitivity, by trying to learn what was of value in that situation, and trying to empathise with differing viewpoints. It reminded me of a book I read years ago - by Dale Spender, who wrote a lot about how girls' views were marginalised in many classrooms, and also how male-oriented the language of English can be - and I don't want to get into that; but it was her comments on how when teachers tried to change the balance of power in a classroom by attending more to girls' ideas and utterances, many boys reacted sharply and angrily to this - as they were used to having most of the teacher's time. What shocked Spender, was how the girls also conspired with the boys' reactions, suggesting that the teacher wasn't behaving fairly. She expected the girls to be grateful for the extra time they were getting, but in fact the opposite was true. I'm wondering whether that dynamic of identifying with the oppressor, a kind of fear-reaction, was playing a part in the Hungarian classroom dynamic you describe. Conflicting with a dominant dynamic can gain surprising reactions.

Anyway, I am delighted to have been a reviewer for your paper. I have learned a lot.

Warmest regards, Moira