Power, democracy and technology: the potential dangers of care for teachers in higher education
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Internationally, there is a growing interest in the potential of care ethics as a useful normative framework to evaluate teaching and learning in higher education. However, to date there has been little engagement with the inherent dangers of care such as those of paternalism and parochialism. This is particularly pertinent in the South African context where there are on-going struggles to find ways of dealing with continuing inequality experienced by students, who may be at the receiving end of paternalism and parochialism. This article focuses on interviews conducted with teaching and learning practitioners collected during a larger national project on the potential of emerging technologies to achieve qualitative learning outcomes in differently placed South African higher education institutions. An analysis of the interviews indicated that while these lecturers were portrayed as innovative educators, using emerging technologies to enhance their pedagogy, issues of paternalism and parochialism inevitably affected teaching as a practice of care. The findings showed that without self-reflexivity and critical engagement with issues of power and control, including choice of technology, there exists danger that teaching could be paternalistic, leading to disempowerment of students and a narrow parochial focusing on the studentteacher dyad. What also emerged from the findings was that interdisciplinary teaching and student-led cross-disciplinary learnng has the potential to mitigate parochialism in the curriculum.