Philosophy of Education Society – Oxford Branch Summer 2014

Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford)


Unless otherwise specified, seminars are held at 15 Norham Gardens, Oxford, from 5 to 6:30 pm. All are welcome.


Prof Gloria Dall’Alba (University of Queensland, Australia)

8 April: ‘A lifeworld perspective on learning for the professions’

Seminar Rom D


Dr Eleonora Belfiore (University of Warwick)

6 May: ‘‘Impact’ and ‘value’ in the neoliberal monoculture: making sense of the question of value in the arts and humanities’

Seminar Room D


Dr Ruth Heilbronn (Institute of Education, London)

13 May: ‘Reclaiming, reframing solidarity in teacher education’

Seminar Room E


Dr Jeanette Atkinson (OUDE)

20 May: ‘Learning to respect: affective principles’

Seminar Room D


Prof Ron Barnett (Institute of Education, London)

3 June: ‘Understanding the University’

Venue: Harcourt Campus, Oxford Brookes University


Dr Claire Donovan (Brunel University)

9 June: ‘From multiversity to postmodern university’

Seminar Room A (Monday Public Seminar)


Prof Monica McLean (University of Nottingham)

10 June: ‘A capabilities approach to educating public-good professionals’

Seminar Room D


Prof Stefaan Cuypers (University of Leuven, Belgium)

13 June: ‘Child-centred education and RS Peters’ critique of the 1967 Plowden report’ (R.S. Peters Memorial Lecture)

2-3:30 pm, Seminar Room D


Dr Carina Henriksson (Australian Catholic University)

24 June: ‘“What they had been waiting for” – Hermeneutic phenomenology in education’

Venue: Oxford Brookes University, Harcourt Hill Campus

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. []

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 of the 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 ( ) – 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 presence respectively). 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


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?

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

Philosophy of Education Society Events, Oxford Branch 2014



14 January 2014

Influencing policy? The example of religious education

Revd Dr John Gay, Dr Janet Orchard (Bristol University) and Dr Alis Oancea

17:00 – 18:30, 15 Norham Gardens, OUDE, Seminar Room J

Convened by Dr Alis Oancea and Dr Liam Gearon, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum


6th March 2014

A dialogue between phenomenology and realism in pedagogical and educational research

A symposium supported by the Higher Education Academy, featuring Professor Margaret Archer, Professor Tone Saevi, and Professor David Scott

09:30 – 16:00
15 Norham Gardens,OUDE, Seminar Room A, by prior booking only (via the HEA website)

Conveners: Dr Alis Oancea and David Aldridge (Oxford Brookes)


8 April 2014

A lifeworld perspective on learning for the professions

Prof Gloria Dall’Alba

17:00 – 18:30, 15 Norham Gardens, OUDE, Seminar Room D

With its grounding in phenomenology, a lifeworld perspective offers rich and novel resources in researching learning for the professions. This seminar explores some of this potential through foregrounding the importance of our inevitable entwinement with others and things in social practice. It draws upon empirical research on learning in preparation for professional practice. A lifeworld perspective enables us to attend closely to integration of what aspiring professionals know or can do (an epistemological dimension) with how they are learning to be (an ontological dimension). In providing an integrated research framework, this perspective allows us to extend and enhance prevalent research approaches in ways that respond to contemporary challenges in professional practice. 

Gloria Dall’Alba is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, Australia. Her research draws upon hermeneutic phenomenology, especially related to higher education pedagogy, professional practice and qualitative inquiry. Her recent books are Learning to be Professionals (Springer) and an edited volume, Exploring Education Through Phenomenology: Diverse Approaches (Wiley-Blackwell).


13 May 2014

Reclaiming, reframing solidarity in teacher education

Dr Ruth Heilbronn, Institute of Education, London

17:00 – 18:30, 15 Norham Gardens, OUDE, Seminar Room D


3 June 2014

Understanding the University

Prof Ron Barnett, Institute of Education

Harcourt Hill Campus, Oxford Brookes University


24 June 2014

Dr Carina Henriksson, Institute of Child Protection Studies, Australian Catholic University

Phenomenology of education – title tbc

17:00 – 18:30, Harcourt Hill Campus, Oxford Brookes University






SoE Research Seminar Series: Danny Dorling

Education and inequality: a tour from global to local, with some suggestions

14th January 2014

Glasgow Room, Harcourt Hill Campus

All Welcome

Danny Dorling joined the School of Geography and the Environment in September 2013 to take up the Halford Mackinder Professorship in Geography. He was previously a professor of Geography at the University of Sheffield. He has also worked in Newcastle, Bristol, Leeds and New Zealand, went to university in Newcastle upon Tyne, and to school in Oxford. Much of Danny’s work is available open access (see With a group of colleagues he helped create the website which shows who has most and least in the world. His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education, wealth and poverty. His recent books include, co-authored texts The Atlas of the Real World: Mapping the way we live and Bankrupt Britain: An atlas of social change.

Language Development: what place for local languages in a globalised world? (Ian Cheffy, SIL)


SoE Research Seminar Series, December 4th, 5-630pm

In a world which is increasingly interconnected, and where English is commonly seen as the global language of communication, there would appear to be a strong argument in favour of the homogenisation of communication, promoting peace and development in a unified world through a common language. But is there then no value in the 5,000 less dominant languages of the world, spoken typically by small communities in developing countries?
This presentation will explore the language development work which is conducted by SIL International among speakers of oral languages, and which includes linguistic research, the development of writing systems, and the integration of these languages in formal and non-formal education. It will be argued that language development of this kind contributes significantly to individual and community development, and that the way forward for intercultural communication lies through multilingualism rather than monolingualism.
Ian Cheffy has been a member of SIL for over 25 years, of which he spent 10 years in Cameroon working in local language literacy programmes. He is now a literacy and language development consultant. His PhD research (University of Lancaster, 2008) explored the conceptions of literacy held by people in a local language area of northern Cameroon.

‘Storied Lives on Storied Landscapes’ (Caroline Way)

Wednesday Lunchtime Research Seminar Series, 27th November 2013

In this session Caroline will explore her research on adult accounts of childhood imaginary companions. The talk will focus on Caroline’s emerging research strategy for her doctoral research, specifically exploring methodological questions to do with narrative, narrative research, and balancing theoretical and conceptual frameworks with capturing the richness of the data being gathered.

Moral Education and the Common School: Building on Wilson’s ‘New Introduction’

School of Education
Research Seminar Series 2013-2014

Moral Education and the Common School: Building on Wilson’s ‘New Introduction’

Dr. Richard Davies (Aberystwyth University)
November 26th, 5-6.30pm
Glasgow Room
In 1990 John Wilson published a single authored response to the multi-authored and multi-disciplinary ‘Introduction to Moral Education’ (Wilson, Williams and Sugarman, 1967). The new introduction purported to set out a systematic approach to moral education suitable for schools. It once again developed his widely used PHIL, KRAT, EMP, etc. terminology. Wilson was ‘…a towering figure in moral education…[his] work has been controversial and distinctive’ (Taylor, 2005) and continues to be so in moral education research and practice. A matter recognised in the posthumous award of a memorial lecture at the PESGB annual conference and supported by the Association of Moral Educators.

In this paper I begin by reviewing Wilson’s arguments in the ‘New Introduction’ (Wilson, 1990) before presenting a critique of the main aspects of his work. I conclude with a defence of a virtues approach to ‘moral education’, but claim that such an account is incompatible with the common school. I suggest that in the light of this schools ought to focus on supporting moral education, and one feasible option is to promote an ‘education in moral philosophy’ of the type Wilson suggests. This is, however, not to be confused with ‘moral education’.
Beginning this semester, the SoE will host a series of external speakers as part of the SoE Research Seminar Series. This will run throughout Semester 2 as well, and will cover a range of topics that we hope will be interesting to all members of academic staff. If colleagues have ideas for particular speakers that they would like to invite for next semester, please contact Patrick Alexander ( A full schedule for the seminar series will be posted in due course on the SoE Blog and in the Glasgow Room.

This lecturer has been organised in conjunction with the Oxford Branch of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain.

Flyer: SoE Research Seminar Poster 26 Nov Richard Davies