“Teaching & Learning Heist: How do we come out of all of this?"

Read time: 3 mins

-Inspired by popular Netflix series, Prof Willie Chinyamurindi Delivers a Keynote Address during a Conference Hosted by the University of Zululand

“The current situation that we face as institutions of higher learning can be equated to the situation of the Money Heist – a popular series on Netflix. As academics who work in the higher education ecosystem, we are caught in a Teaching and Learning heist.”

This is the view of UFH Professor Willie Chinyamurindi, Head of the Business Management department in the Faculty of Management and Commerce. He was speaking as a keynote speaker at the Teaching and Learning Conference hosted by the University of Zululand from the 12th-14th October. Prof Chinyamurindi was among three keynote speakers lined up for the three-day event.

Themed: Adapting to a “NEW NORMAL”: What are the Teaching and Learning Realities and Innovations in Higher Education? – The virtual conference sought to explore new and innovative learning and teaching possibilities to enhance student access to meaningful learning and digital transformation.

For those who are not familiar with the Netflix series, the story portrays a group of criminals that break into Spain’s Royal Mint to print their own money. A masterplan, orchestrated by ‘El Professor’, was aimed at robbing the bank without harming the 67 hostages in an attempt to maintain a positive public image.

In his presentation, Prof Chinyamurindi draws similarities between the series and likens the state of affairs presented by the Covid-19 pandemic in the higher education (HE) sector - especially in Teaching and Learning - to a heist.

Summarizing the start of the heist in the HE sector, Prof Chinyamurindi cites a paper from Rudman, published in the South African Journal of Higher Education on the unintended consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic giving an outline of the start of teaching under the pandemic:

March 2020, the month the world stopped, and it wasn’t a movie.

15 March 20:00, South Africa heard the greeting “My fellow South Africans” and lockdown was announced.

16 March 12:00, student activities ceased on campus.

30 March 08:00, the material for the first week’s online lecture material was ready.”

According to Prof Chinyamurindi: “The pandemic hit us at a time when we had other issues we were dealing with. These include: toxic institutional cultures, disparities in our institutions, racism, gender-based violence and a lack of push towards promoting a de-colonial agenda in higher education. As the heist started, so was change in the horizon. The World Health Organisation started to estimate that our lives will never be the same and you and I had to start making drastic changes.”

“These changes also necessitated a re-think in terms of telling a story of not only where we are but where we are going. This also affects issues related to the dissemination of information and how we also create knowledge in a world filled with so many restrictions.”

Further, Prof Chinyamurindi listed the complexities and opportunities brought by the heist to lecturers and students.

Prof Chinyamurindi believes that in order for everyone to come out of the heist, new professional roles must emerge from the pandemic experience. These include:

  • prioritisation of personal physical and mental health, the pandemic has taken a toll on us;
  • more development of technological skills and acumen needed to adjust to the challenges posed by the pandemic;
  • a need for a balancing act – technology is no just a tool, we still need to remain committed to the fundamentals;
  • promotion of continued professional learning; and
  • the necessity for support networks amongst students and staff in addressing challenges of the present for a re-imagined future.

Emphasizing the importance of coming out alive from the heist, Prof Chinyamurindi reminded participants that: “We must come out of this better.”

LISTEN TO FULL PRESENTATION HERE: https://www.facebook.com/703975197/videos/141319104847482/


By Aretha Linden