30 July 2020 | Story Valentino Ndaba | Photo Anja Aucamp
Dr Fumane Khanare opted to integrate poetry into her teaching practice, using innovative ways to keep the curriculum afloat and interesting at the same time.

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown has severely affected teaching and learning. Lecturers and students alike have been challenged to explore innovative ways to keep the curriculum afloat and interesting at the same time. Dr Fumane Khanare, Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Education, has opted to integrate poetry into her teaching practice. Her Community Psychology students have shifted over the past few months from merely interacting with the course material to generating their own content.

Learning in the times of lockdown

According to Dr Khanare, the psycho-social impact of COVID-19 remains unknown as the world grapples with a backlog of information, accompanied by loss and grief. However, collaborative strides are being made in the right direction, considering that this is unchartered territory. “Recommendations advocating for online teaching and learning, bidding for free data, and laptops for the majority of students, especially those at the peripheries of a mainstream economy – and of course physical distancing-adhering wellness programmes – may enable effective teaching and learning.” 

Why poetry?

“Lurched in at the deep end and taking into account the students who are not well-equipped with the integration of information and communications technology in learning, is significant. This realisation led me to seek ways to help my students develop a deeper understanding and critical-thinking skills, as well as becoming self-motivated students amid COVID-19,” explained Dr Khanare.

Students were first tasked with analysing the poetry of Butler-Kisber (2002). Thereafter, they were required to write poems about COVID-19, underpinned by the Community Psychology in Education module. “The activity provided students with an opportunity to use and reinforce concepts learnt prior to the lockdown, monitor their own understanding and progress, plus motivate them to come to the lecture prepared – a function known as co-creators of knowledge,” she said.

The artistic creations of these students were circulated among peers for review, allowing them to move from the peripheries to the centre of knowledge production amid a pandemic. 

Digitising the education space

Beyond the classroom, Dr Khanare will attend the 2020 Women Academics in Higher Education Virtual Symposium. As the co-convener of the World Education Research Association-International Research Network, she continues to ensure that research-related activities continue, despite a ban on international travel.

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