Previous Seminars

Seminars Summer Term 2017

Wednesday 26th April in Brooks 2.19
Prof Tim Ingold, University of Aberdeen, UK
Anthropology and/as Education

Wednesday 10th May in Brooks G.16
Dr Charlotte Jones and Dr Jen Slater, Sheffield Hallam University, UK
School Toilets: Queer, disabled bodies and gendered lessons of embodiment

Friday 26th May in the Biosocial Research Lab - Brooks 2.52
Dr. Chris Murgatroyd, School of Healthcare Science
The Epigenetics of Early Life Stress: Emerging connections with biosocial research

Seminars Spring Term 2017

February 15th in Brooks G.17
Dr Rachel Rosen, University College London, UK
'The Scream': Sociological reflections on the politics of voice and early childhood 'soundscapes'

March 8th in Brooks G.17
Professor Matthew Clarke, York St John University, UK
Beyond reproductive futurism and cruel optimism: Teaching-learning as world spectatorship

March 22nd in Brooks G.17
Professor Helen Gunter, University of Manchester, UK
An Intellectual History of School Leadership

Seminars Autumn Term 2016

All seminars run 4.00pm - 5.30pm unless otherwise stated

October 12th in Brooks Room G16
Dr Janet Batsleer, Manchester Metropolitan University
Participation: A Horizon for Democratic Citizenship Education?
Audio file

Occasional Seminar
November 2nd
in Brooks Room 3.03 at 2.00pm - 3.00pm
Dr Nick Hopwood, University of Technology Sydney
Disrupting conservatism in simulation pedagogy: a diffractive appeal to theory.

November 2nd in Brooks Room G16
Professor Peter Kraftl, Professor of Human Geography, University of Birmingham
Alter-childhoods, After Childhood? (Re)Theorising the Geographies of Alternative Education.

November 16th in Brooks Room G16
Dr Andreja Zevnik, Lecturer in International Politics, University of Manchester
Post-racial society as social fantasy: Black American and the struggle for political recognition

December 7th in Brooks Room G16
Dr Amanda French and Professor Alex Kendall, Birmingham City University
Acting out: rhizovocality in post-graduate supervision practices; An ethno-drama in 3 parts

Seminars Summer Term 2016

April 20th in Brooks 2.16
Professor Kay Tisdall, University of Edinburgh
New avenues for children's participation in collective decision-making?
Audio file

May 11th in Brooks 1.58
Gabrielle Ivinson, Manchester Metropolitan University
Politics of Affect: Poverty, young people and aspiration

June 8th in Brooks G.17
Maggie MacLure, Manchester Metropolitan University
Qualitative methodology and the new materialisms: do we need a new conceptual vocabulary?

June 22nd in Brooks G.16
Dr Anna Hickey-Moody, The University of Sydney
Deleuze and The Cultural Politics of Childhood
Audio file

Seminars Spring Term 2016

February 3rd in Brooks G.17
Professor Ruth Lupton, University of Manchester
Dr Anat Greenstein, Manchester Metropolitan University
Reasons to be miserable: The 'bedroom tax' its implications for children and education

February 24th in Brooks G.17
Dr. Ben Anderson, University of Durham
Neoliberal Affects

March 16th in Brooks G.17
Dr. Dalene Swanson, University of Stirling
Decolonising Global Citizenship Education and ethical alternatives
Audio file

Seminars Autumn Term 2015

October 7th in Brooks 4.66
Geoff Bright, Manchester Metropolitan University
"Beyond The Limits Of What Is Already Understandable". Working With Social Haunting - The Implications For Educational Ethnography.

October 21st in Brooks 4.66
Rebecca Martusewicz, Eastern Michigan University
Toward Pedagogies of Responsibility: Wendell Berry, New Materialism, and our Work for the "Great Economy"

November 4th in Brooks 4.66
Chris Perkins and Jana Wendler, University of Manchester
Playing the Field

November 18th in Brooks 4.66
Avery Gordon
Daily into the Blue: The Utopian Margins

December 2nd in Brooks 4.66
Doug Belshaw
Digital Literacy, dead metaphors, and a continuum of ambiguity

Seminars Summer Term 2015

April 29th in Brooks 4.65
Prof Kenneth Mølbjerg Jørgensen and Prof Paola Valero, Aalborg University, Denmark
Storytelling, Subjectivity and Education

May 13th in Brooks 4.65
Rodrigo Constanzo, University of Huddersfield
DF Score: Improv Pedagogy

June 3rd in Brooks 4.65
Professor Judy Wu, University of California, Irvine
Digital Narratives and Oral Histories: Tools for Pedagogy and Knowledge Production

June 10th in Brooks 4.65
Dr David Menendez Alvarez-Hevia, Manchester Metropolitan University
Employability in Education Studies: A student-lecturer collaborative enquiry

Seminars Spring Term 2015

January 28th in Birley 4.65
Prof Robert Pfaller, University of Art and Industrial Design, Linz, Austria
The End of the Big Narrative and the Emergence of the Little Student: postmodernity and infantilisation

February 11th in Birley 4.65
Dr Sverker Lundin, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
Ambivalence towards mathematics as a driving force behind mathematics education

February 25th in Birley 4.65
Alfie Bown, University of Manchester
Teaching Popular Culture and the Discourse of the University

March 11th in Birley 4.65
Dr Ansgar Allen, University of Sheffield
Prospects for the educated nihilist: Cynicism, suicide and failure

April 1st in Birley 4.65
Dr Sarah McNicol, Manchester Metropolitan University
The muddled and the mundane: life story through comics

Autumn Term 2014

October 8th in Birley 4.65
Dr Farida Vis, University of Sheffield
Picturing the social: Pictures shared on Twitter around the death and funeral of Margaret Thatcher will be examined as part of the world's first academic research project studying the explosion of images now shared across different social media platforms and apps.

October 22nd in Birley 4.65
Professors Bill Green & Jo-Anne Reid, Charles Sturt University, Australia
Researching (Im)possibility? Negotiating Aporias in Teacher Education

November 5th in Birley 4.65
Dr Suryia Nayak, University of Salford
The Activism of Black feminist Close Reading Practices: Zami: The Epilogue as ‘Myself Apart from Me’

November 12th in Birley 4.65
Dr Vicky Duckworth, Edge Hill University
Motherhood and violence: taking agency and challenging the dominant gaze

December 3rd in Birley 4.65
Dr Charles Neame, Manchester Metropolitan University
Values and academic identities in higher education – a sequence of ideas

Summer Term 2014

30th April in Behrens 1.2
Dr Harriet Rowley ESRI, MMU
Navigating Research Partnerships as a Critical Secretary

May 14th in Behrens 1.6
Dr Stephanie Daza ESRI, MMU & Richard Craig Huddersfield University and Middlesex University
Feedback Loops

May 28th in Behrens 1.2
Dr Nicola Ingram University of Bath
Topic to be confirmed

June 11th in Behrens 1.2
Professor Yvette Taylor London South Bank University
Past, Present, Future Encounters: Bodies that Travel, Bodies that Stay

Spring Term 2014

January 22nd in Behrens 0.3
Professor Martin Mills University of Queensland
Challenging the 'tyranny of no alternative': Teachers and students working towards socially just schooling

February 5th in Behrens 0.3
Dr. Wayne Holmes University of Oxford
Neuroeducational Research in the Design and use of Games-Based Teaching

February 19th in Behrens 0.1
Dr Anne Llewelyn School of Education, University of Durham
From functional automata to romantic inquisitor: an exploration of the production of the mathematical classroom and the mathematical child within the becoming of primary school student-teachers in England

March 5th in Behrens 0.3
Professor Carl Bagley School of Education, University of Durham
Evoking Anti-Colonialism: Critical Arts-Based Research with Undocumented Americans

March 19th in Behrens 0.3
Professor John Preston University of East London
Disaster education: race and social justice

26th March in Behrens 0.3
Hauke Straehler-Pohl Free University of Berlin
Disfunction or symptom? Mathematics education in a context of segregation

2nd April in Behrens 0.2
Francyne Huckaby Associate Professor & Director of the Center for Public Education, TCU College of Education, Texas
Public Education: Voice, Activism & Uprising

Autumn Term 2013

October 9th
Dr Andrew Wilkins, University of Roehampton
Governing through accountability: linking school governance to performativity and neoliberalization.

October 16th
Professor Debra Myhill, University of Exeter
Researching Grammar in the Curriculum.

October 23rd
Dr Anne Pirrie, University of West of Scotland
Lost bodies in the academy.

November 6th
Professor Bernd Remmele, Wissenschaftliche Hochschule Lahr
Do playing and learning fit together?

November 20th
Dr Lisa McKenzie, School of Education, University of Nottingham
Belonging and Exclusion: Council estate life in Nottingham

December 4th
Dr James Duggan, ESRI, MMU
The emphasises, biases and constraints of a leaderist approach for improving collaboration in children's services.

Summer Term 2013

May 8th
Christine Callender, Institute of Education and Lorna Roberts, ESRI, MMU
Free speech in the Post-racial era: racialised discourses in cyber space

May 22nd Professorial Lecture in the Assembly Hall, Didsbury (4.30pm - 6.00pm)
Professor Yvette Solomon, ESRI, MMU
Adding or Taking Away: how “Doing Mathematics” defines us

June 5th
Dr Lisa Blackman, Goldsmiths College (University of London)
Affect and Automaticity: A Transliminal Orientation

June 12th
Dr Imogen Tyler, University of Lancaster
The Riots of the Underclass?: Stigmatisation, Mediation and the Government of Poverty and Disadvantage in Neoliberal Britain.

Spring Term 2013

January 23rd
Professor Uvanney Maylor - Director of Institute for Research in Education, University of Bedfordshire
Knowing they matter: Black parental involvement.

February 6th
Dr Kim Allen - Research Fellow ESRI, MMU
The X Factor Generation? Young people's aspirations and celebrity culture

February 20th
Professor Mary Brydon-Millar - Director, Action Research Center, College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services, University of Cincinnati
Community Covenantal Ethics and Structured Ethical Reflection: Enacting the Values of Action Research

March 6th
Professor Les Back - Goldsmith's College, University of London
From Afghanistan to Croydon: Dialogue, Ethics and Authorship in the Craft of Ethnography

March 13th
Hanne Knudsen - Department of Education, Aarhus Unviersity, Denmark
Playful hyper responsibility: Deconstructing parental responsibility

March 20th
Dr Sue Timmis - University of Bristol
The role of digital media in sustaining epistemic engagement and belonging in higher education

Autumn Term 2012

October 10th
Cristina Mendes da Costa - Learning and Research Technologies, University of Salford
Learning Journeys – the participatory web in the context of academic practice.

October 24th
Professor Mike Neary - Dean of Teaching and Learning, Centre for Educational Research and Development, University of Lincoln
Student as Producer: reinventing the undergraduate curriculum.

November 7th
Professor Helen Gunter - Professor of Educational Policy, Leadership and Management in the School of Education, University of Manchester
Using Hannah Arendt to think about Reform and Research in Education.

November 21st
Dr Kate Pahl - Centre for the Study of Childhood and Youth, University of Sheffield
Approaches for Co-constructing Literacies Research with Young People in Arts Practice and Collaborative Ethnography.

December 5th
Sarah Dyke - Research Associate, ESRI at MMU
Rethinking the 'everyday' and the 'virtual' of Anorexia through the Deleuzian event. Acknowledging the real incorporeality of the body.

Summer Term 2012

2 May
Professor Bridget Somekh - Emeritus Professor ESRI, MMU
The future of action research in the current climate of research concentration, selectivity, and the creation of ‘big social science’

9 May
Professor James Conroy - University of Glasgow
Caught in the Middle: Childhood, Education and Adult Responsibility

30 May
Professor Heather Piper - ESRI, MMU, Dr Dean Garratt - University of Chester, Dr. Bill Taylor - ESS, Crewe and Simon Fletcher - Ph.D student
‘Hands Off’!

13 June
Professor Diane Reay - University of Cambridge
'Hard Times': working class young people's experience of schooling in a period of austerity

20 June
Donna Gronn - Australian Catholic University
Teaching Teachers for the Future

Spring Term 2012

25 January
Becky Francis - Director of Education, RSA
Reinvigorating the dialogue on principles for socially-just schooling

8 February
Angelo Benozzo - University of Valle d’Aosta and Huw Bell - MMU
Gay man seeks straight man for honest conversation about coming out at work

22 February
Steve Higgins - Durham University
SynergyNet: Researching digital technologies for education

29 February
Dan Goodley and Katherine Runswick-Cole - MMU
The violence of disablism: schools, kids and violence

7 March
Julie Allan - Stirling University
Difference in policy and politics

14 March
Katherine Ryan - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Evaluation for Learning and Accountability?

Autumn Term 2011

October 19th
Irene Malcolm - University of Dundee
Professional learning in the software localisation industry: privileging knowledge and the problem of gender in digital working.

October 20th
Diana Masny - University of Ottawa, Canada
Rhizoanalysis: A transdisciplinary approach to literacies research.

October 26th
Prof Marjorie Mayo - Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Carol Packham - Manchester Metropolitan University
Zoraida Mendiwelso-Bendek - University of Lincoln
Taking Part? Exploring resilience in civil society and third sector organisations. Interim findings of the ESRC Capacity Building Cluster (CBC) for Active Citizenship and Community Empowerment.

November 2nd
Karen Nairn - University of Otago, New Zealand
The emotional geographies of New Zealand’s neoliberal school reforms: Spaces of refuge and containment.

November 16th
John Pryor - University of Sussex
Jumping the lights- more than feedback.

November 30th
James Conroy - University of Glasgow
Caught in the Middle: Childhood, Education and Adult Responsibility.

Spring and Summer 2011

January 19th - Dr Paul Taylor Senior Lecturer in Communications Theory, Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds
February 2nd - Dr Ellie Lee Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, School of Social Policy, Sociology & Social Research, University of Kent
February 16th - Professor Saville Kushner Department of Education, University of the West of England
March 2nd - Dr Artemi Sakellariadis Director, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE), Bristol
March 16th - Professor Tara Fenwick The Stirling Institute of Education, University of Stirling
March 30th - Dr Neil Selwyn Senior Lecturer in Information Technology, Institute of Education, University of London
May 11th - Professor Rupert Wegerif Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter
May 25th - Geoff Bright Visiting Research Associate, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University
June 8th - Dr Felicity Colman Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Art and Design, Manchester Metropolitan University
June 22nd - Dr Christine Redman Senior Lecturer, Science and Technology Education, University of Melbourne, Australia

January 19th

Dr Paul Taylor, Senior Lecturer in Communications Theory, Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds
Zizek and the Media.

Slavoj Zizek reaches the parts of the media that other theorists cannot. With sources ranging from Thomas Aquinas to Quentin Tarantino and Desperate Housewives to Dostoyevsky, Zizek mixes high theory with low culture more engagingly than any other thinker alive today. His prolific output includes such media friendly content as a TV series (The Pervert's Guide to Cinema) a documentary movie (Zizek!) and a wealth of YouTube clips. A celebrity academic, he walks the media talk.

This seminar focuses on Paul's new book Zizek and the Media which provides a systematic and approachable introduction to the main concepts and themes of Zizek's work, and their particular implications for the study of the media. The book:

  • Describes the radical nature of Zizek's media politics;
  • Uses Zizekian insights to expose the profound intellectual limitations of conventional approaches to the media;
  • Explores the psychoanalytical and philosophical roots of Zizek's work;
  • Provides the reader with Zizekian tools to uncover the hidden ideologies of everyday media content;
  • Explains the ultimate seriousness that underlies his numerous jokes.
As likely to discuss Homer's Springfield as Ithaca, Zizek is shown to be the ideal guide for today's mediascape.
If you would like a copy of the powerpoint presentation and/or an audio recording of Paul Taylor's seminar, please contact Cathy Lewin

February 2nd

Dr Ellie Lee Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, School of Social Policy, Sociology & Social Research, University of Kent
Frank Field, Graham Allen, Iain Duncan Smith and the relentless rise of 'parent training'.

No-one with an eye on debates about the family, education and social policy will have failed to notice recent statements from politicians about the urgent need to address 'poor parenting'. This month (January 2011) Graham Allen MP issued comments arising from his work with the 'Early Intervention Commission', established as part of the Coalition Government's programme of activities on 'poverty and life chances'. Allen has concluded so far that there should be regular assessments of all pre-school children focussing on their 'social and economic development'. Parents in particular, he argues, need to be provided with ways to help them better understand how to interact with children in the early years.

Allen's argument, that focussing on the early years in general and parenting in particular is the key to addressing poverty and social mobility, echoes the case made by Frank Field MP in December 2010. The findings of Field's 'independent review on poverty and life chances' published that month make parenting the determining factor for the development of these social problems, and Field argues (among other things) that children from primary school onwards should be taught about parenting as part of the national curriculum.

This paper will situate these proposals as part of wider developments in contemporary parenting culture. It will explore suppositions of this agenda for parent training as set out in the founding document of the Early Intervention Commission Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens published by the think tank the Centre for Social Justice (paper can be downloaded here). Particular attention will be paid to the emphasis placed on 'the brain' which, it will be argued, can be thought of as a sort of new phrenology. Consideration will also be paid to the effects of the approach that now dominates political thinking for family life, and for schooling.
powerpoint presentation can be downloaded here
Monitoring Parents: Science, evidence, experts and the new parenting culture event flyer can be downloaded here

February 16th

Professor Saville Kushner, Department of Education, University of the West of England
Busting the Trope: Evaluation and the obligation to challenge the 'single narratives' of politics

Are we on the edge of 'economic crisis'? Is our national indebtedness high? Do we have an unsustainable fiscal deficit? Is an extended welfare state and public sector no longer affordable? For the most part, the frequent answer to each of these is 'yes' - albeit lamentably. But why? Where does this answer come from? Not from evidence, for most of the economic data point in the opposite direction. There is a similar case to be made for climate change - for which there is insufficient hard data to support the global levels of belief and commitment that prevail. There are three possible sources for these beliefs: one is balanced evidence, another is a hegemonic and persuasive nafrative given by a believable authority, the third is the presence of a trope - a social/cultural leaning, a general tendency in thought that defies alternative.

If we take a more expansive view of evaluation than that given by the limited assessment of outcomes and impact we have an instrument through which to mediate these three possible sources of belief and commitment. Deliberative democracy demands a foundational, Habermas-ian resource that allows for the managed collision of evidence and disposition, open exchange and contestation - and some have advocated that programme evalation plays such a role. Starting with a busting of the single narrative of economic crisis (along with the evidence) and its associated tropes, I will explore that role, starting with the first manifesto principle of Lee Cronbach:
Evaluation is a process by which society learns about itself
presentation with voice over can be viewed here.

March 2nd

Dr Artemi Sakellariadis, Director, Centre for Studies on Inclusive Education (CSIE), Bristol
Dialogic inquiry: an alternative to traditional academic writing forms

Time on my hands. Lunch with John. He thinks academic texts cannot be both scholarly and engaging – an oxymoron, he called it – and insisted that academic writing is a monotonous monochromatic monologue by default. I argued that there is no need to conform to established academic moulds, described dialogic inquiry and showed him my chapter on inclusion for all (Sakellariadis 2011, in press). Although uninterested in the substantive field of inclusive education, John was intrigued by the methodological innovation. He encouraged me to present dialogic inquiry to academic audiences, suggesting the abstract should hint at dialogue if it is do the work justice. I agreed, of course. I have scripted this. There is no John. I do not keep a diary. In this paper I shall present an unconventional text form, discuss the rationale behind it, share examples of published writing and present feedback to date.

Sakellariadis, A (forthcoming, Nov 2011) Inclusion and SEN: a dialogic inquiry into controversial issues. In Peer, L. and Reid, G. (eds) Special Educational Needs: A Guide for Inclusive Practice. London: SAGE

March 16th

Professor Tara Fenwick, The Stirling Institute of Education, University of Stirling
Older Professionals Learning in a Changing Society: negotiating positions and representations.

Older workers, defined as 50+ in EU and UK documents, have been constituted as an important policy focus. Concerns are represented in terms of their continually increasing numbers, their continued labour force participation and income security, and the recognition that their experiences and skills will have growing influence on labour force performance as a whole. Learning is represented as a particularly important dynamic for older workers in fast-changing technologised work environments expecting innovation, entrepreneurism and resilience. While much focus has been placed on new professionals’ learning and conditions of work, little has been published about older professionals’ learning, such as coping with the changing stresses on their practices in contexts of new public managerialism. Our research team was funded to examine questions such as: What learning demands experienced by older professionals are unique, and through what learning practices do they negotiate the challenges they encounter? What we found was that age-related discrimination and discourses of decline and obsolescence can devalue ageing professionals, constituting them as problems taking up jobs and resources. Older workers in general are represented in contradictory ways that can create subtle barriers to opportunities, and gender appears to be linked to these ageist barriers. While organisational rhetoric praises older workers’ stability and experience, in practice what is often valued are the flexible dynamism and technological competence that is assumed in younger workers. Older workers’ knowledge is not always acknowledged, understood or supported, and older professionals often find themselves compelled to employ strategies such as accelerated credentialism, learning audits, and forms of self-presentation in ways that can undermine their own identities, work history and knowledge. This presentation will draw from studies of accountants, social workers, nurses and teachers to explore older professionals ‘learning’ experiences amidst contradictory discourses around professionalism, ageism, and informal learning.

March 30th

Dr Neil Selwyn, Senior Lecturer in Information Technology, Institute of Education, London University
Rethinking 'the school' in the digital age.

What future is there for formal schools and schooling in an increasingly digital age? Are educational technologists justified in arguing for the re-construction of school processes and practices along digital lines? Do contemporary digital technologies simply render the educational institution entirely obsolete? This paper outlines – and then critiques - the radical forms of digital ‘re-schooling’ and ‘de-schooling’ that are often argued for within current academic debates over educational technology community. Instead the paper explores a number of opportunities for using digital technologies to work with schools as they currently are, rather than against them. In particular an ‘agenda for adjustment’ is presented that, if implemented, could see schools revitalised as sites of innovative, imaginative and empowering digital technology use.

May 11th

Professor Rupert Wegerif, Graduate School of Education, University of Exeter
Technology and Dialogic Space.

Dialogic space is a paradoxical concept: on the one hand it is a practically useful concept in classrooms where the opening and closing of dialogic space is an almost tangible reality that can be empirically measured, on the other hand it is a quasi transcendental concept implying that an infinite potential for new meaning emerges from the invisible gap between perspectives in dialogue. In this talk I explore the relationship between technology and dialogic space. Different media of communication, from varieties of oracy through varieties of literacy to varieties of new communications technology, have different affordances in relation to dialogic space. Artefacts can enable continuity and development in dialogues. Through the analysis of recent data from online dynamic concept mapping I compare and contrast a neo-Vygotskian analysis of artefacts as cognitive tools being mastered and appropriated to a more dialogic analysis of artefacts as themselves voices within dialogues.

May 25th

Geoff Bright, Visiting Research Associate, Education and Social Research Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University
"Ever since Coalbrook's been Coalbrook"? – Educational disaffection in a former coal-mining area.

In this seminar, he will explore some of the key issues emerging from his doctoral ethnography of intergenerational continuities and discontinuities in attitudes towards education in a former coal-mining area. Using richly textured examples from the ethnographic data, he will argue that widespread 'school disaffection' is a classed form of resistance to formal schooling that is deeply situated in a local context of political, industrial and cultural insubordination and that it continues to be transmitted intergenerationally in ways that are not generally understood.

Drawing on ideas of social and cultural memory as well as theorisations of affect and its modes of transition, he suggests that the repertoires of refusal and disaffection employed by young people in these localities – a kind of 'sealing of the heart' (Brennan, 2004) - re-enact the 'affects of trauma' (Hardt, 2007) linked to the fierce contestations of local history and cannot, therefore, be dismissed as aspects of individual pathology but must be recognised as a living feature of collective experiences with which educational curricula might usefully engage.

June 8th in Room

Dr Felicity Colman, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Art and Design, Manchester Metropolitan University
Affective animal: becoming-sacred in reverse labour forms

Drawing from Bataille’s work on the inferences of the reciprocal relations between human registration through the animal-human cave figures of Lascaux and the Chauvet caves of Southern France (as documented in Werner Herzog's 2010 film 'Cave of Forgotten Dreams'), this paper will consider images of becoming-animal not through ‘codifications’ or ‘resemblances’, ‘the informe’ or ‘transgressions’, but as images-in-process that offer insight into the affectivity of the ‘sacred’ of the animal-human. I explore how the sacred of this process is in fact a sited form of labour, a place that is made by a specific set of circumstances, which move through transversal applications and uses. The process of becoming imagines its past course of action within this image; it is a past that Bataille offers as a continuum of creative becomings. While Bataille’s Lascaux work has been read in terms of a Bataillian mode of desire, I want to argue for the polar prosaic of this desiring mode. These are the terms of the affective labour that the face and reversal of animal to human to animal provides. The transsemiotic, political constitution of such images of becoming are also that of the mundanity of the animal, its labour-affectiveness and use-value to human practices. As the affective animal reveals, the sacred can take many forms and offers much for human thinking.

June 22nd

Dr Christine Redman, Senior Lecturer, Science and Technology Education, University of Melbourne, Australia
Using Positioning Theory to understand the Complexity of the Lived Space

This session will review the contemporary role and contribution of Positioning Theory. Positioning theory provides insightful ways to analyse the soc-cultural setting and to make sense of a person’s hermeneutic of their habitus. It acts as a methodological research tool shown to support very useful coding of social discursive interactions. It supports examination of institutional practices, social rhetoric and the associated degree of confidence or commitment of people. Positioning Theory has become an efficient tool for successfully analysing discursive practices in diverse settings. It illuminates the dialogical exchanges making clearer the social dynamics and shifts in responsibility that occurs in exchanges, like conversations. Both Vygotsky and Wittgenstein’s alertness to the role language plays in the lived world has informed this approach. Positioning theory examines the storylines, position and act/action as well as the hermeneutics associated with the allocation or adoption of peoples’ rights and duties. The study of discourse has an established tradition, using positioning theory is to utilise a fine grained analysis approach.

Top of the page

Autumn 2010

September 22nd

Dr Keith Crome, Department of Politics and Philosophy, MMU
Learning Habits and Teaching Techniques

Autonomous learning - the capacity to think for oneself - is a cornerstone of Higher Education. The argument I would like to develop is that the capacity for autonomous learning is an acquired habit. Since habitual activities are often regarded as thoughtless and unintelligent - activities that are mindlessly repeated - such a definition might seem, at best, paradoxical. However, if it is accepted that habits are not necessarily unintelligent then there are good grounds to understand autonomous learning as an acquired habit. Having put forward my case for this claim, I should like to present for discussion what I think are its implications.

Download paper here (pdf document)

October 6th

Helen Colley ESRI, MMU
How does austerity impact on the work of educators? Time, space and 'ethics work' in an economic crisis.

The new Con-Dem coalition has embarked upon an 'austerity' drive in the face of a deep and global economic crisis. Prime Minister David Cameron has warned that ‘life as we know it’ will change beyond recognition. What does this mean for educators – whether in early years, schools, youth work, colleges, or universities? How can we understand more fully the impact of this crisis on practitioners’ work? And how can we find ways to respond to it?
In this seminar, I offer a detailed analysis of these issues, drawing centrally on the work of social geographer David Harvey and his understanding of time-space. I shall argue that Harvey's work not only encourages us to consider time and space as inextricably interlinked aspects of our experience in a capitalist world – but also implicitly draws ethics into the equation as well. Such an analysis allows us a fuller understanding of the tensions educators are experiencing in every sector of their work, which all too often are lived as intolerable individual stresses.
This also points to a pressing need to investigate the everyday 'ethics work' into which austerity draws practitioners: that is to say, the ways in which crucial ethical dilemmas – often about supporting (or not being able to support) learners – are increasingly devolved onto individual practitioners. The relevance of the analysis is illustrated through findings from a recent research project on Personal Advisers in Connexions.
The seminar will offer an opportunity to discuss these issues from a range of perspectives, in the hope of shedding further light on them. It may also help us to think through the possibilities for developing research on ‘ethics work’ in a time-space of austerity.

Download paper here (word document)
Download presentation here (powerpoint)

October 20th

Dr Terry Wrigley, Independent Consultant, previously at University of Edinburgh
Social justice and school change: the trouble with official School Improvement.

The presentation will begin by engaging with competing explanations of the links between class and education, evaluating in particular the relationship between poverty and low achievement. It will discuss the dangers of deficit-based explanations. It will then critique the dominant paradigm of school change in England, which has been called 'official School Improvement', and reasons for its failure to improve education for working-class and ethnic minority pupils. Lessons will be drawn from successful inner-city schools, and proposals made for alternative models of school change, as the basis for discussion.

Dr Terry Wrigley has recently left the University of Edinburgh, and is now working independently. He has written extensively on school-based education, and particularly educational change.

November 3rd

Dr Bryony Hoskins, Department of Lifelong and Comparative Education, Institute of Education
Young peoples' beliefs and perception of gender inequality: Motivators or 'breaks' on active citizenship?

This paper, using IEA 1999 CIVED data from 28 countries, explores two questions. First it examines how perceptions of gender inequality and beliefs about equality are related by categorising the respondents into 8 groups according to their gender and their perceptions and beliefs on gender equality. The 8 groups are Girls social justice, Girls Meritocracy, Girls traditional satisfied, girls traditional dis-satisfied, Boys social justice, Boys Meritocracy, Boys traditional satisfied, Boys traditional dis-satisfied. By far the largest category of respondents from both girls and boys were the meritocracy groups who believed in gender equality and perceived no form of discrimination suggesting that, across the 28 countries, the system belief in meritocracy is quite strong. The next highest group was the social justice group combining a strong belief in gender equality with a perception of inequality. Lastly, we found a small minority of respondents not believing in gender equality and falling into the two traditional categories for both boys and girls.
Similarly patterns could be found within the different countries except for Sweden who had a much larger percentage of respondents in the social justice groupings for both boys and girls. Russia and then other former communist countries had the smallest numbers of social justice respondents. French speaking Belgium and Italy topped the groups for meritocractic respondents. Correlations run with the Gender Equality Index showed that in those countries where there is greater equality there were both higher beliefs in gender equality and higher perceptions of inequality.
The second question addressed the relation between these categories and attitudes towards participation. The results of a multilevel regression analysis show that both the girls social justice group and boys social justice group had a higher association with positive participatory attitudes than their respective meritocratic groups. We can tentatively conclude from these results that believing in gender equality and recognising the discrimination women face are motivating factors for participation.

November 17th

Dr Charles Crook, School of Education, University of Nottingham
A critical consideration of new learning spaces

Currently there is enthusiasm for investment in the re-design of spaces used for learning within institutional contexts. This is most apparent through various design initiatives pursued by universities, particularly within libraries. But it is also a strong part of the agenda for the former “building schools for the future” project. This talk will reflect on the pedagogic arguments underpinning such design themes. It will present observations from field work in secondary schools and data relating to how undergraduates make use of an open format learning space created in a university library. Such initiatives reflect an ambition to “informalise” formal learning and, in particular, to do so by re-mediating learning in terms of peer-oriented social experience. The attractions and risks of socialising learning in this manner will be discussed.

December 1st

Professor Marjorie Mayo, Goldsmiths, University of London
Zoraida Mendiwelso-Bendek, University of Lincoln
Dr Carol Packham, MMU CAEC
Taking part? the ESRC capacity building cluster, work so far: the challenges and opportunities for community based participatory research

The three university leads will give an overview of the context and work to date of the capity building cluster, including:

  • an overview of the previous research and the focus for the ESRC research;
  • links to the national Takepart network and pathfinders;
  • a discussion of the approach and methodology, methods and some examples of research being undertaken;
  • what has come out of it so far and the dilemmas we have faced and opportunities for influence.

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Summer 2010

April 21st
Clement Cooper

PRIMARY is comprised of portraits of children from culturally diverse backgrounds, photographed in numerous primary schools in the North West, Lancashire and West Mid lands at the beginning of the new millennium. Cooper presents ambiguous images, which ask us to confront romantic stereotypes of the child. Investigating beauty, innocence and vulnerability. The movie invites us all to question our own transition from child to adult.

April 28th
Cathy Lewin - Education and Social Reserch Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University

Personalisation of learning has become prominent within many European educational policies (OECD, 2006) with potential impacts such as increasing student engagement and maximising opportunities for learning (Jarvela, 2006). ICT can enable teachers to facilitate personalisation of learning and students to have greater choices and flexibility (Underwood et al, 2007; Robinson et al, 2008). This exploratory case study focuses on radical curriculum changes introduced for a cohort of 11-12 year olds in a UK secondary school. The intention is to provide students with personalised learning enhanced through the development of self-management skills, within a technology-rich environment. The cohort were based in a large open plan space with 5 break-out rooms, designed to hold no more than 15 students to entail a seminar/small group approach. All students had a school-owned laptop which enabled an ICT-led presentation of the curriculum to be followed. The students needed to meet the weekly time requirements for each subject (for example, 3 hours for mathematics) and plan their ‘learning journey’ accordingly. The aims of this research were to: illustrate the achievements of the project; identify the processes which brought about success; and identify issues for the future. Data on the development of the project were collected from September 2008 to July 2009, and included interviews with teaching staff and school managers, online surveys of staff and students, focus groups with students, and observation. The findings are informed by activity theory, highlighting the extent to which traditional definitions of rules, community and divisions of labour in a classroom setting have been disrupted and transformed. The processes adopted to achieve included adapting staffing structures, the integration of ICT, the development of new assessment practices, and pedagogical shifts. The achievements include greater flexibility in terms of staffing, students developing self-management skills, enhancing personalisation through choice and flexibility (what, when and where), and a perceived impact on attainment. The paper concludes with a discussion of the changing role of the teacher in this context and the implications for staff development.

May 5th
Professor Louise Morley - Centre for Higher Education and Equity Research, University of Sussex
Imagining the University of the Future

Higher education today is characterised by the hyper-modernisation of global, entrepreneurial, corporate universities and speeded up, nomadic public intellectuals. This is often underpinned by the archaism of globalised vectors of gender inequalities and elitist participation patterns. Change has been rapid and extreme. Public and private boundaries are less distinct and the value of higher education is in flux, with the policy logic of the knowledge economy challenged by the global economic recession. Counter hegemonic advocates did not necessarily predict the scale of neo-liberal/neo-conservative driven change. Traditionalists did not foresee the industrialisation and massification of higher education. The academic imaginary has often been harnessed to compliance, critique, and more recently, to survival. There have been limited opportunities to engage in futurology. Desire, as well as loss and threats, needs to be considered. Questions about the morphology of the university of the future seem to be eclipsed by pressing concerns in the present. What should the university of the future look like?

May 12th
Danae Stanton Fraser - Bath University
Methodologies for longitudinal urban studies

In this talk I will describe a technique for the design and evaluation of pervasive systems. We recruited a cohort of 30 participants who engaged with an EPSRC interdisciplinary pervasive computing project Cityware over 3 years. This cohort represented a broad mix of ages and technological abilities so as to increase the ecological validity of evaluationof systems and applications developed within the project. I will discuss someof the techniques and methods that we have been able to employ as a result ofmaintaining this group of participants and illustrate how their data feeds into Cityware studies and applications. I will draw on some of the ethical implications of this work and our responses to them. While recruiting and maintaining a cohort has its costs, the benefits in terms of the depth, richness and validity of results produced are significant. I discuss this in relation to the data we have collected around privacy and trust, personality types and perceptions of the city.

May 19th
Renée DePalma - Research Fellow, University of Vigo, Spain
Senior researcher on the ESRC-funded No Outsiders project (2006-2008)
Are we queer yet?: (Not) reconciling participant perspectives in a participatory action research project

From September 2006 to January 2008 members of the No Outsiders research team, school teachers and university researchers, explored together ways to challenge heteronormativity, homophobia and transphobia in primary schools. As a participatory action research (PAR) project, No Outsiders designed and analysed classroom-based practice with an immediate social activist agenda. During the course of the project we developed a more complex understanding of the tensions between queer interrogations and classroom teaching, between queer uncertainties and emancipatory practice. In this seminar I will explore some of these productive, although at times uncomfortable and confusing, tensions. On one hand, I will examine the essentialising risks of an identity-based project: What (hetero)sexist stereotypes might be propagated by role-model approaches based on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity politics? On the other hand, I will examine the possibilities afforded by strategically deployed identity work: In what circumstances can identity politics be useful, and who might be harmed by an insistence on fluidity and non-unitary identities?

May 26th
Tony Shallcross - Education and Social Reserch Institute, Manchester Metropolitan University
Rediscovering and reinventing Nyerere? The Teacher Education Crisis in sub-Saharan Africa; incorporating education for sustainable development i(ESD) into the Education for All (EFA) process

The presentation will review the research design and findings of a project funded through UNESCO by Japanese Funds in Trust. The JFIT remit for the allocation of the funding of $50000 to UNESCO was that the research had to focus on ESD in teacher education. MMU was asked to write a proposal for the use of this funding for the UNESCO Teacher Education Section. The decision to focus on sub-Saharan Africa was one taken by UNESCO and MMU.
The proposal was for a collaborative project based on the design used to produce the sub-Saharan African strategy for the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development. The funding only allowed for two of the four UNESCO sub-regions in sub-Saharan Africa to be involved. The presentation will outline:

  • Why East and West Africa were the two regions that were selected and specifically Mali and Tanzania.
  • The reasons for prioritising a collaborative research design and some of the difficulties encountered in this process.
  • The specifics of the research design.
  • The findings reported to UNESCO and JFIT including an emerging view that the focus of much research into indigenous knowledge in Africa may be missing a fundamental insight.
  • The emphasis on the application of practical local, knowledge to sustainable actions may be overlooking the more global relevance of the educational process inherent in much traditional education in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, Nyerere's concept of Education for Self Reliance may have much to say globally as well as locally about the direction in which ESD should be going.
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June 2nd
Carol Taylor - Sheffield Hallam University and Carol Robinson - University of Brighton
Theory-Practice Relations in Student Voice Work: Power and Participation

This seminar brings together our recent thinking on student voice work (Robinson and Taylor, 2007; Taylor and Robinson, 2009) with our continuing reflections on, and developing analyses of, the relations between theory and practice. In the seminar, we trace how core values which underpin student voice are realised in the complexities of student voice practice at the micro-level of the classroom, and we relate this detailed understanding to broader issues of ethics, power and student participation. We begin by briefly outlining what we see as the four core values which underpin student voice work: communication as dialogue; the requirement for democratic, inclusive participation; a recognition of the unequal and problematic nature power relations; and the possibility for change and transformation. We then go on to consider theoretical notions of power in relation to student voice. We do this in two ways. First, through an examination of the theoretical legacy student voice has inherited from critical pedagogy which enables us to bring a critical lens to bear on issues of ‘empowerment’ and ‘dialogue’. Second, by considering what postmodernist notions of power might have to offer to student voice. These considerations provide us with the theoretical tools to take forward our analysis of the complexities of implementing student voice as an empirical practice within school settings and it is to this we turn in the final part of the seminar as we think through teachers’ practices when organising and running student voice projects; the relations and conditions of power which operate within schools; and some of the ways in which participation in student voice projects impacts on students’ identities. We end the paper by reflecting on the ethical implications of student voice as a participatory mode of educational practice.

June 9th
Emilie Smeaton
Off the Radar and Out of School: Children on the Streets in the UK

Recent research has identified how children and young people are living on the streets in the UK with no support from their family or other institutions established to care for their welfare. These children and young people are away from home or care for lengthy periods of time and live outside of key institutions such as family, education and other statutory services. They do not receive formal sources of support and become self-reliant or dependent upon informal support services. Many of these children end up living on the streets or become street-involved, whilst some remain hidden behind closed doors. They have very few options for legitimate support, often resort to dangerous survival strategies and are at risk from others wishing to harm or exploit them. At present, policy and practice developments generally do not incorporate their needs. The majority of these children and young people do not enjoy school and left before the age of sixteen. Many have been excluded from school. For some, irregular attendance at school began whilst still at primary school because their parents did not facilitate attendance. Some are unable to attend school because of caring duties. Finding from research with children and young people on the streets in the UK highlights how children and young people become detached from school, preferring the company and culture of the streets, finding attractive alternatives to attending school. The difficulties experienced in attending school coupled with the pull not to attend school means that many children and young people are not able to attend school or are not interested in doing so. As well as the important role that schools play in providing education necessary for training and employment and supporting with socialisation, social skills and safeguarding children and young people, schools can also play an important part in preventing children and young people from moving to the streets and becoming lost.

June 16th
Helen Manchester (with Sara Bragg)
'Youth voice' and creative teaching: comfortable companions or provocative pairing?

This seminar will share some of the findings from our 2009 research report for Creativity, culture and education (CCE) on 'Youth Voice in the work of Creative Partnerships' ( The report covers a wide range of activities that aim to put young people 'at the heart' of what Creative Partnerships does. Drawing on a Foucauldian framework, we argue that 'youth voice' does not simply exist, but has to be brought into being and rendered recognisable through specific organising practices and structures, which also 'make up' subjectivities for those involved.
We interrogate the discourses and frameworks drawn on by those involved in our research when explaining and justifying 'youth voice' to conclude that 'youth voice' is a contestable concept where rhetoric often outstrips reality (cf Fielding 2006, 2007). In particular, we point to the implicit 'deficit' model of young people employed by many adults, in which young people need to be 'equipped' with 'skills' they allegedly lack, in order to be 'empowered' to participate – a modernist understanding of power and agency. We contrast this with other models, associated particularly but not exclusively with creative approaches, which have a more complex understandings of power and that in attempting to draw on young people’s existing modes of participation in (youth) culture, offer rather different subject positions for those involved. We conclude by exploring how youth voice might be theorized and practiced beyond the confines of modernist 'empowerment' models.

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Spring 2010

January 13th
Dave Heywood & Joan Parker - MMU
Research Led Teaching

The project reported here draws on a decade of researchworking with trainee and practising teachers in developing subject and pedagogic expertise in science. There are some ideas that are as difficult foryoung students to grasp as they are for teachers to explain. Forces, electricity, light and basic astronomy are all examples of conceptual domains that come into this category. Our work rejects the traditional separation ofsubject and pedagogical knowledge. We believe that to develop effectiveteaching for meaningful learning in science, we must identify how teachers themselves interpret difficult ideas and, in particular, what supports their own learning in coming to a professional understanding of how to teach such concepts to young children. A particular focus of the project has been concerned with how to implement research led (as different from research informed) practice. This has involved reviewing student and practising teachers' learning during taught sessions to determine their perceptions about the factors that contribute to supporting their understanding in science. It is predicated on the notion that in engaging with ideas at their own level, teachers are afforded the opportunity to develop insight into the synthesis of subject and pedagogical knowledge to support learning more effectively.

January 20th
Professor John Schostak & Lorna Roberts - MMU
'Democracy matters in race matters' : Obama, desire, hope and the manufacture of disappointment

If the presidential victory of Barack Obama promises 'change' and settles any doubt that "America is a place where all things are possible", then what really has to change? What really is at stake in "the dream of our founders" and the "power of our democracy"? The media portrayed Obama as capturing the imagination of individuals globally, embodying aspirations for a politics of hope. His body is being written as emblematic of spacial and temporal shifts, hopes and fears. For many, the past, present and future converge so the struggles of the past have been overcome through his victory. As transgressive symbol 'Obama' mediates the passage from a 'violent history of slavery and racism' and opens the possibility of a newpolitics - a 'new man' (Fanon) or 'last man' (Fukuyama)? - where 'race', 'nation', 'civilisation(s)' 'Empire', the 'global' are 're-imagined' and 're-represented' forming a new 'cartography'. But after the euphoria - what next? 'Is it possible that democracy can be a way of being in the world, not just a mode of governance circumscribed by corporate power and moniedinterest'? (West, 1999: xx) This paper explores how desire for a transformative politics, and issues of race, are replayed, reimagined, re-represented through the symbolic imaginary 'Obama'. It draws on news media to explore political/rhetorical strategies already set into play that 'manufacture disappointment' in order to undermine and negate the transformative, transgressive symbolic significance of 'Obama' and thus manage the theme of 'change' to reassert the 'same'.

January 27th
Michael Fielding - London Institute of Education
Radical education for radical democracy - in praise of utopianrealism

Emerging from the New Left and feminist movements in the 1970s thenotion of ‘prefigurative practice’ argues for the legitimacy of radicalapproaches as a catalyst for deep social and political change. Looking briefly at the heritage of progressive education and its simultaneous dismissal andco-option by neo-liberalism, this draft chapter from a forthcoming book offersa contemporary account of prefigurative practice partly inspired by theBrazilian social theorist Roberto Unger and the Marxist economist E.O.Wright. It concludes by linkingprefigurative practice to a new framework for radical democracy within the stateeducation system in the UK.

February 10th
Professor Paul Connolly - Queen's University Belfast
The Struggle for Social Justice and the Place of Randomised Controlled Trials in Educational Research

In this seminar Paul will argue that many of the current debates surrounding randomised controlled trials (RCTs) in educational research have been based upon a misunderstanding of the nature and role of RCTs. In making this argument he will challenge the prevailing discourse that tends to position RCTs as part of a positivist and modernist project that is defined in opposition to radical, critical and emancipatory research. In contrast, Paul will argue that RCTs do have an important role to play in evaluating the effectiveness of particular educational programs or interventions delivered in specific contexts. In building upon this argument he will suggest that critical social researchers should, by definition, be concerned with educational outcomes and the question of whether educational programmes and interventions are effective in challenging inequalities and promoting social justice. Paul will conclude by setting out how RCTs can be used appropriately by critical social researchers to begin addressing these issues.

February 17th
David James - University of Western England
Schools, threshold thinking and work-related learning in a recession: Deficit, denial, and deification

This paper draws upon a just-completed 18-month evaluation study of a Work Related Learning (WRL) Project funded by the Learning and Skills Council (South-West) which sought to raise achievement of 14-19 year olds by instigating and supporting various forms of ‘high-quality work-related learning’. I will set out some examples of the celebrated outcomes of the Project and how they have engaged learners in new and exciting tasks. Yet whilst in many respects the Project was successful in its own terms, the evaluation also threw up some very troubling effects of WRL in schools dominated by league tables. I set out what I term ‘threshold thinking’, then address the 3Ds: Deficit refers to what both teachers and learners are perceived as lacking, and how the discourses of WRL continually position ‘education’ as not serving ‘the economy’ properly; Denial refers to a deep irony, in the removal of opportunities created by WRL from large groups of students because they were regarded as ‘safe bets’ to attain GCSE passes at C and above in Maths. Deification refers to the way in which WRL portrayed the world of work in an entirely positive light, as ‘the real world’, as unproblematic and benign for those with the right attitudes. The paper makes some practical suggestions for overcoming these troubling tendencies and also suggests what kinds of theoretical tools might help.

March 3rd
Neil Mercer - University of Cambridge
What do we really know about the value of dialogue for classroom education?

Research in recent decades has provided some interesting insights, and some hard evidence, into how spoken dialogue in the classroom can contribute to children’s learning and cognitive development. I will discuss the cumulative findings of this research and its implications for our understanding of educational processes, the relationship between language and thinking and ways to improve classroom education.

March 10th
Martin Hughes - Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol
Stories out of school: what children and young people tell us about their out-of-school learning

There is currently much interest in the learning which children and young people engage in when they are not in school. In particular, there is considerable debate over whether out-of-school learning is an area which should serve more closely the needs of the formal education system, or whether it provides alternative and more authentic models of learning which could be used to reshape - or even replace - formal education. This seminar will draw on the work of a recently completed ESRC professorial fellowship to look at some of the issues involved. In particular, it will look at the theories about learning which emerge from children and young people’s own accounts and dramatic performances of their learning in a range of out-of-school settings, including learning to play in a rock band, learning about teenage social life, and learning ‘life’s tough lessons’. It will be argued that these ‘stories out of school’ provide a coherent account of learning in which ideas such as performance, identity, self-belief and risk are paramount, and the relevance of this account for in-school learning will be discussed.
Martin Hughes is Professor Emeritus in Education at the University of Bristol. He has researched and written widely on children’s learning, both inside and outside school.

March 17th in The Old Chapel, Didsbury Research Centre
ESRI Research Poster Session
Sharing Research, Making Connections.

We would like to welcome all staff to the re-launch of the Old Chapel Main Hall in the Didsbury research centre, following renovation works. This event will be an opportunity for all staff and postgraduate students within the Institute of Education and beyond to find out about the ESRI research groups and current/recent research projects. ESRI researchers will be 'standing by their posters' to engage and explain. Come and chat to them about their work at an informal gathering, with wine and nibbles. Identify the research group(s) which could provide you with an opportunity to engage in debates of mutual interest, and if required, get support and guidance. Share your own research and make connections with people who have similar interests. Find out more about the ESRI bag lunches - lunchtime meetings to discuss fledgling research ideas, possible proposals for funding, tricky issues, or early findings.

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Autumn 2009

October 7th
Professor Yvette Solomon - MMU
Choosing mathematics, choosing identities?

Why is it that that even students who are successful in mathematics can feel very insecure in it, that sooner or later they are going to fail? And why does this feeling tend to be expressed more often by girls and women? Yvette will talk about differences in male and female experiences of university mathematics and the part these play in women’s ongoing narratives of self. Using data from three universities to illustrate, she will explore the ways in which women can and do resist the traditionally offered positions in mathematics learning, drawing on local and personal resources to re-figure their relationships with their chosen subject.

  • Seminar Presentation
  • October 14th
    Professor David Bridges - Executive Director of the Association of Universities of the Eastern Region and Professorial Fellow in the Centre for Applied Research in Education, University of East Anglia
    Research quality assessment: impossible science, possible art?

    David will explore some of the problems and possibilities in relation to the assessment of research quality, with particular reference to the UK RAE and discussion around the proposed Research Excellence Framework and the ongoing work of the Framework 7 European Education Research Quality Indicators project (EERQI). He will consider whether there are any meaningful generic criteria of quality and then attempt to identify measurable indicators of quality, suggesting a focus on intrinsic characteristics rather than extrinsic characteristics – a quality ‘appreciation’. He considers whether this might offer a better approximation to the kind of judgement involved in quality assessment of a piece of research writing than the sorts of metrics approaches favoured in current discussion.

    Published in the British Educational Research Journal, Volume 35, Issue 4, August 2009, pages 497-517 click here to view

    October 21st
    Professor Sue Middleton - University of Waikato, New Zealand
    'Sylvia's Place': Ashton-Warner and Progressive Education in New Zealand 1928-68

    Sylvia Ashton-Warner, a New Zealand teacher, won international acclaim in the 1950s-1950s with her novels, autobiographies, and accounts of her educational theory. Blurring genres between fiction and autobiography, much of her writing was centred on the 'creative teaching scheme' she developed in Maori Schools. At the heart of the scheme was the idea that literacy was best achieved when children captioned their experiences of fear and sex, the two great (Freudian) drives. In Sylvia’s infant room, these erupted to the surface by means of captions (a child's 'key vocabulary'). I introduce Lefebvre’s idea of 'rhythm analysis', applying it first to the teaching scheme, then to the ‘system’ in which Ashton-Warner taught. With reference to extracts from Ashton-Warner's Creative Teaching Scheme and her early autobiographical work Myself, I connect the rhythms of her life with her 'theory'. I identify Sylvia's own 'key words' (violence and war; ghosts; sex and the kiss) and their rhythmic engagements and collisions with educational 'authorities'.

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    October 28th
    Associate Professor Nick Lee - University of Warwick
    Childhood, biopolitics and human futures

    The study of childhood is currently weakened by a biological/social dualism, separating 'social' from 'developmental' traditions and falsely identifying the investigation of life processes with the naturalisation of childhood. Researching the emerging space of childhood bio-politics, in which life processes are central to social and political processes, requires that these problems be managed. The view of childhood as a 'hybrid' phenomenon allows for the management of dualism but has difficulty navigating bio-political space. A supplementary approach based on multiplicities of 'life', 'voice' and 'resource' is described. The argument is illustrated by discussion of sonic 'teen deterrent' in the UK.

  • Seminar Presentation
  • November 11th
    Professor Deborah Youdell - Institute of Education, London
    Troubling Schooling: pursuing radical politics in education

    In this seminar I explore possibilities for pursuing radical politics in education. Drawing on new ethnographic research inside schools, I bring together Judith Butler’s thinking about performative politics, Deleuze and Guattari¹s thinking about becomings, and Laclau and Mouffe’s work on agonistic pluralism to consider how these conceptual tools might help us to identify and enact radical practices inside schools. I argue that schools and other educational institutions are inevitably sites of politics and call for educators who are concerned with abiding social and educational inequalities to build new collectivities that might work to shift the education assemblage.

    November 18th
    Professor Andrew Burn & Dr Chris Richards - Institute of Education, London
    Children's playground games and songs in the New Media Age

    The presentation will discuss early data from the ethnographic studies of playground games in Sheffield and London, relating the games both to earlier traditions of collection and interpretation (especially the Opie archive at the British Library, which is a partner in the project), and to their local contexts. It will also discuss early plans for a prototype “Wii-type” adaptation of a suite of games.

    November 25th
    Dr Kate Pahl - Department of Educational Studies, University of Sheffield
    Every object tells a story: Artifactual Literacies

    This seminar will examine the potential of what I call ‘artifactual literacies’. It will draw on several research projects focused on the role of artefacts in literacy learning. ‘Narratives of Migration and Artefacts of Identity’, was an ethnographic study which aimed to find out about the special objects that belonged to a group of families of Pakistani heritage in Rotherham. The stories and narratives from the original project were then used to produce ideas to be used in family learning settings and in museums ( In another project, a group of families produced digital stories about their special objects in the home. The presentation will show how the focus on objects was a starting point for discussions around identity and opened up new listening methodologies. In all three projects the focus was on objects as a source of inspiration for literacy learning. The seminar presentation will end by looking at implications for practice of artifactual literacies for literacy learning in classrooms. More recent research work in schools will be linked to this approach to literacy learning.

  • Seminar Presentation
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    December 2nd
    Professor James Avis - Huddersfield
    Workplace learning and social justice: leftist illusions?

    The paper explores conceptualisations of work-based learning, knowledge and practice. It set the discussion in its socio-economic context one in which knowledge is seen as the route not only to societal competitiveness but also to well being. Such arguments emphasise the turbulent environment in which work is set as well as the fluidity and rapidity in the transformation of knowledge. The paper examines the varying ways in which knowledge is conceptualised within these debates arguing that transformation is frequently set on a capitalist terrain rather than being tied to a radical political project.

  • Seminar Presentation
  • December 9th
    Professor Johannes Slabbert - University of Pretoria, South Africa

    Educational Futures Seminar Series

    Seminar 1: Theorising Change: Traditions and Perspectives

    Tuesday December 15th 2009

    Location: room 0.0 Behrens Building, Didsbury Campus, Manchester Metropolitan University


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    Summer 2009

    13 May
    Dan Goodley, Professor of Psychology and Disability Studies - MMU
    Disability studies, inclusive education and psychoanalysis: couch or culture?
    This seminar will address a number of questions:

  • How can psychoanalysis contribute to understandings of disablism?
  • Does psychoanalysis provide a needed psychological input into disability studies and inclusive education?
  • To what extent can psychoanalytic theories make sense of ‘abnormality’ and ‘disability’ as necessary constructs in sustaining societal ideals of ‘normality’ and ‘ability’?
  • Can psychoanalysis offer disability studies and inclusive education helpful forms of cultural and political critique?
  • In what ways can Lacanian approaches to cultural critique contribute towards analyses of dis/ability?
  • 3 June
    Richard Hall - de Montfort University
    Can higher education enable its learners' digital autonomy and do they want it anyway?
    It has been noted that emerging technologies are having a profound impact on how people interact in their everyday lives. This paper will address the following questions in light of this statement:

  • How do emerging technologies impact the development of our learners' personal responsibility and decision-making?
  • How do academics help students to grasp the potential offered by emerging technologies to enhance personal responsibility and decision-making?
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    Spring 2009

    21 January
    Nicola Whitton and Keri Facer - ESRI, MMU
    To hell in a handcart? The challenges and opportunities for social software and Web 2.0 in education.
    This workshop/seminar explore some of the major challenges, opportunities and ideas arising from developments in social uses of Internet technology and to examine how these might be used to develop new approaches to teaching and learning, collaboration and knowledge building.

    4 February
    Louise Morley - University of Sussex
    Imaging universities of the future.
    A provocative look at possible futures.

    11 February
    Cate Watson - University of Aberdeen
    Futures narratives, possible worlds, big stories: causal layered analysis and the problems of youth.
    The seminar discusses ‘Causal Layered Analysis’ (CLA) as a narrative technique for constructing past and present and imagining the future, while challenging ‘chronological imperialism’ (Galtung). CLA ‘opens up space for the articulation of constitutive discourses which can then be shaped as scenarios’ (Inayatullah, 1998:815). Cate is the author of Reflexive Research and the (re)Turn to the baroque. Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the University (Sense).

    11 March
    Harry Torrance - ESRI, MMU
    The changing landscape of qualitative research.
    How far have theories, methods and topics changed over the last 3 decades? What has lasted and what has faded away? What are the implications? Harry will discuss some of the issues that have arisen in the course of editing a new handbook.

    18 March
    Lesley Saunders
    The sound of violets. The ethnographic potency of poetry?
    Based on joint work with Alison Phipps (University of Glasgow), the seminar explores the power of poetry to interrupt and/or illuminate dominant values in education and in educational research methods. Lesley is the winner of the Manchester Poetry Prize 2008 and a visiting scholar at New Hall Cambridge. She was formerly Policy Advisor for Research at the General Teaching Council and a member of the RAE 2008 Education Panel.

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    Autumn 2008

    22 October
    Ian Stronach - MMU
    From Here to Fraternity: re-educating the local in the age of the global
    Ian’s farewell seminar, and a taster for his forthcoming book.

    12 November
    Keri Facer - MMU
    Children's cultures, digital technologies and educational futures
    A ‘whistlestop’ tour of Keri’s research interests, providing the starting point for a discussion of possible directions for her work as a member of ESRI.

    3 December
    Carol Vincent and Annette Braun - Institute of Education, London
    'And hairdressers are quite seedy....' the moral worth of childcare training
    Annette and Carol will talk about their ongoing research into issues of professionalism and being a 'professional' in childcare training

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