A Webtool for Diversity-Attuned Teaching

What characterises good teaching at an arts university? What specific teaching_learning situations exist at a university of music and performing arts? And how to reflect upon one’s own teaching practice in a self-critical manner?

The moment finally came in March 2023: at the invitation of the Rector, Tricky Moments—a webtool for diversity-attuned teaching—was presented and launched as an initiative of the mdw Diversity Strategy by its co-publishers Barbara Gisler-Haase (Vice Rector for Academic Affairs and Young Artists’ Promotion) and Gerda Müller (Vice Rector for Organisational Development, Gender & Diversity) together with the members of the DiversityPolicyTeam for teaching, research, and further education. “This webtool is the result of countless exploratory forays, thought processes, and discussions. It integrates individual voices alongside diverse viewpoints and experiences of both faculty and students. This is evidenced by, among other things, its varied types of text ranging from situational descriptions and analyses, testimonials, and practical guidelines to descriptions of concepts and checklists,” says the team behind this webtool.

At its centre are seven “tricky moments”—fictitious descriptions of sensitive and touchy situations inspired by students’ and faculty members’ accounts of real experiences and events. Over the course of the working process, these accounts were shared, discussed, critically analysed in terms of discriminatory aspects, and contextualised from a multitude of perspectives. These moments represent the core of this tool as well as what makes it so special: it identifies structurally rooted power relations and inequalities, valuative and devaluative behaviours, and discriminatory acts, linking these in an exemplary manner with concrete teaching and learning situations that are specific to a university of music and performing arts. It conveys knowledge about central aspects and backgrounds that underlie a teaching and learning culture attuned to diversity and goes on to offer a variety of ideas to be acted upon that are geared toward cultivating teaching practices that critically engage discrimination. These ideas take the complexity of pedagogical situations into account by examining a given situation’s various perspectives, offering alternative courses of action and concrete methodological examples, and highlighting opportunities to explore these things in greater depth. In doing so, this webtool provides an avenue for comprehensive reflection upon one’s own teaching and learning practice, enabling both teachers and students to contemplate their actions in a nuanced way. It is thus intended to support the self-reflective and critical review of personal practices while also facilitating an understanding of sensitive moments as opportunities for personal development.

In this spirit, it is the goal and ambition of Tricky Moments to convey knowledge about the realities of discrimination as well as to catalyse processes of discovery concerning the effects of one’s own actions, thereby making a pivotal contribution to the raising of awareness with regard to teaching practices at the mdw that critically engage discrimination. Tricky Moments can thus be viewed as a starting point and a further building block in the (continued) development of gender- and diversity-related competencies in order that we might arrive at a culture of teaching and learning that is well reflected and diversity-aware.

The Administrative Department for Equality, Gender Studies and Diversity will be glad to offer formats for reflection and further training in connection with the webtool Tricky Moments that are oriented toward specific needs. Requests are welcome at ggd@mdw.ac.at.

To the Webtool: mdw.ac.at/tricky-moments

Comments are closed.