Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

"Reflecting Forward" on the Digital in Multidirectional Memory-Work between Canada and South Africa/réfléchir À L'avenir : La Place Du Numérique Dans le Travail De Mémoire Multidirectionnelle Entre le Canada et L'afrique Du Sud

Academic journal article McGill Journal of Education (Online)

"Reflecting Forward" on the Digital in Multidirectional Memory-Work between Canada and South Africa/réfléchir À L'avenir : La Place Du Numérique Dans le Travail De Mémoire Multidirectionnelle Entre le Canada et L'afrique Du Sud

Article excerpt

Language has unmistakably made plain that memory is not an instrument for exploring the past, but rather a medium.

(Benjamin in Assmann, 2011, p. 153)

Where thinking suddenly stops in a constellation pregnant with tensions, it gives that constellation a shock.

(Benjamin in Rothberg, 2009, p. 43)

Scholarly publications tell the story of data.

(Borgman, 2007, p. 225)

Teachers are the primary "memory agents" in schools, ranging from their role in selecting which texts, approaches to text and projects become the focus of student learning within the curriculum, to the fact that teachers often come to occupy a space in the memories of former students (O'Reilly-Scanlon, 2001) and also need to contend with their own memories of learning, schooling and the curriculum (Pinar, 2011). Teachers also stand at the front lines in integrating technology into the curriculum, developing students' "21st century" skills (UNESCO, 2008). As co-authors, we have all been teachers (elementary or secondary) and are now teacher educators while also being educational researchers; our research regularly brings us back in contact with students and classrooms. We also share an abiding interest in memory in Benjamin's (1999) sense of its being a medium, and have been exploring this interest primarily through actively engaging teachers (ourselves included) in autobiographical and biographical forms of memory-work. Our memory-work projects have primarily been located in two places: Canada and South Africa, with some of us working mostly in Canada and some of us mostly in South Africa. In Canada, one key focus has been Canada's history of relations with Indigenous peoples, especially the legacy of residential schooling, while in South Africa, the focus has mainly been on the effects of HIV and AIDS on rural schooling in a post-apartheid context. Our work has been framed by social justice issues of race and/or gender. Sensing their interrelatedness, we have looked for opportunities to bring this work together through, for instance, a research collaboration on partnerships in education, which resulted in a symposium held in Durban, South Africa in 2007 and an edited book on self-study and social justice (Pithouse, Mitchell, & Moletsane, 2009), but most notably through a Productive Remembering research workshop held at McGill in 2008, which resulted in two co-edited collections of papers -Memory and Pedagogy (Mitchell, Strong-Wilson, Pithouse & Allnutt, 2011) and Productive Remembering and Social Agency (Strong-Wilson, Mitchell, Allnutt, & Pithouse-Morgan, 2013). These conversations helped us to begin to collectively develop our ideas around memory as a medium for "productive remembering" as phenomenon and method. However, it was only when we embarked on talking about research that each of us had been conducting separately in relation to teachers, students and the digital that we could envision generating "digital dialogue" (Wegerif, 2006) between teachers in Canada and South Africa, and in so doing link this dialogue to our previous memory work, through what we provisionally called digital memory-work (Strong-Wilson, Mitchell, Morrison, Radford, & Pithouse-Morgan, 2014).

We are interested in exploring the place that the digital can occupy in teachers' pedagogical practices around social justice and in particular, with how memory-work can deepen and enhance teacher practices. As democracies, both Canada and South Africa are haunted by glaring examples of their "present pasts," with apartheid continuing to having an impact on South Africa 20 years after the first democratic elections, and the Idle No More movement ing to intergenerational issues from Canada's shameful legacy of Indian residential schools.1 At the same time, there is also a multidirectional f low between the two countries in relation to these shared histories. Following Canada's example of establishing the reservation system, South Africa established the Group Areas Act in 1950, which legally enforced apartheid. …

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