Stellenbosch University
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TLA Seminar: The classroom as an assemblage of places
Author: Dr Karin Cattell-Holden
Published: 29/04/2024

You are invited to attend the second quarterly TLA (Teaching-Learning-Assessment) seminar of 2024, offered by the Division for Learning and Teaching Enhancement:


Speaker:  Dr Taryn Bernard (Extended Curriculum Programme [ECP], Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences) (SU Teaching Fellow)

Topic:  The classroom as an assemblage of places

Date:  16 May 2024

Time:  13:00-14:00

Place:  MS Teams: Click here to join the meeting


Summary of seminar

Gulsen and Symes (2007:97) point out that educational theory “takes its cues from other disciplines" and that educationalists tend to be followers of broad epistemological “turns" rather than initiating them. In this paper I acknowledge the decolonial turn in South African Higher Education (HE) contexts while, at the same time, I draw on the work of critical geographers like Harvey (1996) and Massey (2005) and ideas emanating from the “spatial turn" – a turn which HE practitioners in South Africa have not (yet) taken up in a systematic way. By drawing on three years of visual, ethnographic data that I collected from a group of multilingual students at Stellenbosch University, I highlight how attention to 'space' and spatial theory contributes to nuanced and sophisticated understandings of diversity, access, inclusion, and exclusion. Examining Stellenbosch from a spatial perspective is not about creating new problems; rather, it is about providing explanatory frameworks that can disrupt what we think we know, and, in the process, put forward new possibilities for teaching, learning and assessment. My talk takes the form of a critical self-reflection in which I contemplate the process of “becoming an ethnographer". As I do this, I weave my data together with theory and, at the end, I ground my theoretical reflections in concrete examples of how attention to 'space' has changed my pedagogical practices. 

Biography of speaker

Dr Taryn Bernard is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. She has a PhD in (critical) applied linguistics and her research has always been focused on critiquing dominant institutional discourses and discursive representations. She currently holds a Teaching Fellowship for a longitudinal, visual ethnographic study that explores the identities, language ideologies and the language and literacy practices (“the linguistic repertoires") of a group of multilingual students as they navigate their way through Stellenbosch University.


Gulson, K.N. & Symes, C. (2007) Knowing one's place: space, theory, education. Critical Studies in Education, 48(1): 97-110. DOI: 10.1080/17508480601123750

Harvey, D. (1996) From space to place and back again. In: Bird, J., Curtis, B., Putnam, T. & Tickner, L. (eds.). Mapping the future: Local cultures, global change. London: Routledge. Pp. 3-29.

Massey, D. (2005) For space. London: Sage.


More information is available from Dr Karin Cattell-Holden at .