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EdD Colloquium

Oxford Brookes University – EdD Colloquium: ‘National and International Perspectives on Education’ on Saturday 28 June 2014, 9am to 5pm at Oxford Brookes University – School of Education,Harcourt Hill Campus, Oxford, UK, OX2 9AT

Keynote speaker

Marlene Morrison PhD Med BA (Hons) FETC Dip IPM, Emeritus Professor of Education

Marlene is a sociologist of education who specialises in educational leadership for diversity and social justice, and is a critical analyst of recent trends in educational administration and services, and various aspects of doctoral education.

Introductory Welcome from Dr Mary Wild, Head of the School of Education

Presentations from Doctoral Students

Themes Include

  • Technology in the Classroom     School-Based Community Development
  • The Nature of Graduateness     Making Meaning from School Closures
  • Decision Making and Research to Practice     Cultural Proficiency for Teachers

Please complete the online booking form to register your application

We are inviting the submission of abstracts for small group presentations and/or outlines for poster presentations, on any research subject connected to teaching in schools, further and higher education settings.  This is an important opportunity for Doctoral students to share their research proposals and initial work, to an international audience of fellow students, in a supportive environment.

For queries about your application, please contact Marinka Walker mwalker@brookes.ac.uk  For queries about your abstract or poster presentation outline, please contact Maggie Netherwood mnetherwood@brookes.ac.uk

Why I’m blogging my way through the EdD

First Year EdD student Lyndsay Jordan explores the importance of blogging as part of the doctoral learning process.

I became interested in blogs as a learning tool back in 2008 when I was working as an e-learning development officer at the University of Bath and embarking on a Masters in Education. I have no idea what actually sparked my interest, but my first blog post  – on a blog I’d set up purely to explore the impact of blogging on learning (hence the name ‘metablog’) – drew heavily on Vygotsky’s ideas about thought and language. [http://metablogger.edublogs.org/2008/05/12/vygotsky-on-blogging-almost/]

I was encouraged and inspired when James Farmer – the founder of Edublogs and the author of one of the first academic articles on blogging (there weren’t many in those days) – commented on that first post. My unit tutor Jack Whitehead (the action research chap) also commented, asking me some questions about my educational influences which I found incredibly uncomfortable to answer. But I made a valiant effort for the sake of the experiment and it was probably worthwhile. I have left my response to Jack up there for the sake of integrity, although it still makes me feel sad to read it.

That first blog not only recorded my learning process; it was my learning. My own ideas, connections and meanings around blogging as a tool for learning were formed in the writing ofthe posts, and in undertaking the project in a holistic sense. Although it earned me my lowest unit grade on the MA, it was fundamental to my development as a learner and an e-learning professional, and was my springboard into academic publishing and presentation.

In 2009 I produced a short video on blogging with students and an accompanying paper , which led to a keynote invitation for the Future of Technology in Education conference . They had me back this year to talk more generally about online learning design in the post-MOOC era (ow.ly/qQCwv ) – but blogging for learning is still my core passion. I finally got the opportunity to get my own students blogging on a large scale in 2011 when I took over the leadership of the PG Cert Learning & Teaching at the University of the Arts London – an experience that I have explored, written and spoken about at length (as have my students). It was also the topic of my MA dissertation.

When I enrolled on the EdD I knew I would be relying on blogging as a tool for eliciting my thoughts, recording my learning, making and storing connections and directing the learning process. It allows me to consolidate my learning journey as I go; to keep my thoughts in carefully labelled packages that can still be brought out, played with and remixed while maintaining the integrity of what went on before. Van Manen (2007)  talks of the role of retention and protention in exploring and understanding the present. I feel that’s what my blog enables me to do – to enhance the present through explicitly situating it in a trajectory – more effectively than keeping handwritten notes or scribbles in the margin.

I just finished reading a short chapter by Theresa Lillis (full reference below) for the WrAP unit, which explored some of the tensions students experience between what and how they want to write, and what and how they are required to write; this may also be described in terms of a tension between who they are/want to be, and who they are expected to be (Ivanic (1995) describes this as authority; the ‘what’ and ‘how’ representing authorship and authorial presencerespectively). I definitely experienced this kind of conflict when working on my first formal EdD assignment, although not the same tensions that Lillis’ two students experienced. Up until that point I had been writing how I wanted to write (on my blog), and I felt that the feedback I received on my RRW1 assignment draft demanded a kind of sanitisation. It was suggested that I remove references to emotion, self-reflection, learning conversations with tutors and peers, and my own intentions and next steps. Clearly my writing ‘desire’ is to focus on myself and my own learning, whereas institutional regulation asks for something slightly different. I think the idea of addressivity (Bakhtin 1986) is helpful in understanding what’s going on here. My blog is essentially a diary that in theory I would be okay with anyone reading. It’s not written for other people, but the fact that it may be read by other people makes it what it is; its openness to others motivates me to present things clearly. Formal assignments, however, are written for the eyes of others. While in reality this is often only going to be the unit tutor, there is often a tacit acceptance that academic assignment should be addressed to an undefined third party.

The tension I felt while adjusting to assignment-writing is easing now – obviously because I can focus on my blog for now but also – I think – because I am moving towards a natural compromise between desire and regulation. It feels like my posts are becoming increasingly more purposeful in their structure, and I am feeling that synthesis is coming more easily.

Something people often say to me is that they can’t imagine how I find the time to blog as well as everything else. Even Ken Hyland said it (in a personal e-mail to me on January 31st):

“I really can’t imagine how you make space for that in addition to teaching and the EdD!  Speechless. I would like to blog but really am overwhelmed with writing deadlines, supervision, teaching and running a centre of 70 staff here in Hong Kong. An activity for retirement maybe…”

For me, the writing – the synthesis – is part of the reading. The idea of reading without writing scares the hell out of me; like the prospect of getting so drunk you can’t remember anything. Some people like doing that but I see it as a waste of time, money and brain cells. And that is why I am blogging my way through the EdD.

Lindsay’s EdD blog is at http://doctored.myblog.arts.ac.uk

Lillis, T. (1999). Authoring in Student Academic Writing: Regulation and Desire. In T. O’Brien (Ed.), Language and Literacies (pp. 73-87). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters
N.B. other references mentioned are secondary to this one and cited within.

Toughening up young teachers: Is Teach First really the answer to perceived problems in initial teacher education?

Toughening up young teachers: Is Teach First really the answer to perceived problems in initial teacher education?

From January 9th BBC 3 began broadcasting a six part series on Thursday nights called ‘Tough Young Teachers’, which follows the experiences of six graduates as they train to teach in challenging schools under the Teach First programme. Reaction from the media has been predictable – in a recent Sunday Times article titled ‘School of Hard Knocks’, Sian Griffiths  championed the cause of these beginning teachers under the strapline ‘An army of high-flying, idealistic young graduates is winning a tough battle to raise standards in some of Britain’s most deprived schools’. Depictions of the schools in which these new recruits train are uniformly bleak, as are most of the pupils they encounter; in direct contrast to the schools in which the trainees were themselves educated (Charterhouse in the case of one of the main trainees featured in Griffith’s article, Charles Wallendahl).
The statistics about Teach First are interesting: following the charity’s launch 11 years ago some 5,000 teachers have trained under its auspices. Trainees receive six weeks’ leadership training followed by two years of ‘on the job’ experience, which will gain them a teaching qualification. The target for recruitment in 2014/15 is 2,000, of whom just over 50% will stay in teaching following qualification (based on trends revealed in previous data from Teach First).  The Chief Executive of Teach First is Brett Wigdortz, a management consultant who established a similar programme in the US under the banner ‘Teach for America’ – he is obviously someone who is driven by the ways in which children in disadvantaged circumstances can be better taught. Tellingly though, as Griffiths makes clear in her article, ‘Teach First is backed by leading companies including Accenture and Deloitte, and an undoubted lure is the chance of a job with one of the sponsors after the first two years of teaching’.
Clearly it would be nonsensical to dissuade high flying graduates from coming into the teaching profession. What is less clear is whether models of initial teacher education (ITE) which focus on the ‘training’, rather than ‘education’, of new teachers – often without the significant involvement of higher education – are the most appropriate in preparing them for life in the classroom. School-led models of training have ideological roots (as, of course, may university-based courses) that can have a damaging effect on the future growth of the teaching profession. Clyde Chitty (2009) is characteristically unambiguous when he asserts that ‘’education’ is all about transforming the mind so as to equip us for independent judgement and rational action; whereas ‘training’ should be directed towards practical skills for particular ends’. Acquiring a toolbox of skills as a teacher is not enough; and, as such, being a good teacher ‘cannot be achieved by a short stint of ‘on-the-job’ training’. The choice of routes into teaching is wide, but arguably they are not of equal quality (and, worryingly, possession of a teaching qualification is not an essential attribute of those who teach in free schools or academies). Partnerships between schools and universities have served generations of new teachers well in their preparation for the classroom – the experience of learning to teach requires appropriate support and is, in part, an intellectual endeavour. Surely a route into teaching that requires additional reserves of toughness from new recruits, while at the same time exhibiting a reductionist view of teaching as simply a ‘craft’ that has no need of either theory or research, is far from ideal?
Graham Butt
Chitty, C (2009) Initial Teacher Training or Education? ITT or ITE? Forum, Vol 51 (2) p.259-261