Monthly Archives: April 2016

Creativity Cluster March 2016 – Reflecting on the Big Bang Data Exhibit

Written by Kirsty Devaney, graduate teaching and research assistant, PhD student
@KirstyDevaney

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On the 6th February the creativity cluster attended the Big Bang Data exhibition in London. You can read more about the exhibit from Becky Snape and Geof Hill in their blog posts. In the creativity cluster meeting this March we were asked to prepare questions which reflected the themes that we felt were highlighted through the exhibition.

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Consent and privacy:

George Turvey felt the exhibit raised questions around personal data collection asking about what is happening with the data we create and who owns the data at the end of the day:

  • Where are we going with our endless production of data – in colossal and ever-growing quantities?

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Apple’s cloud data centres

  • Does it matter? (Why? Do we care? Do we know what’s happening? [in terms of use of technology and data including by us])
  • How is data being used? – including data that relates to us and is sometimes personal data
  • Is the data we produce still ours? – e.g. texts over mobile networks, soFBcial media posts crossing the internet and causing interactions in huge, distant data centres, photos stored on our own harddrives, online or in cloud storage
  • Does our technology and use of data enhance life or make us ‘better people’?

PhD student Becky Snape asked similar questions around consent:

  • To what extent have our private lives become public, and what implications does this have for society and the individuals who negotiate it?Twitter
  • Do we have to accept that we give up some of our rights to privacy when we use the Internet?

Many in the cluster brought up the work ‘The Others’, from the exhibit, by artists Eva and Franco Mattes:

The Others is a slideshow of 10,000 photographs stolen from hacked computers, sound-tracked by songs taken from the same hard-drives. The series provokes ideas about our concept of public and private space, and how it is becoming more and more blurred.’

This work had a significant impact on the group as it raised concerns about the consent of the participants in this piece of art.Alex Wade made an interesting comment that we are ‘selling our lives for convenience‘. Personally, the exhibit made me feel that on the surface social media has its benefits but it can also have a much darker side. It feels like a time-bomb and at some point it could be turned against us if needed.

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Redefining the Rules:

Questions around ‘power’ and ‘rules’ in research we raised. Who determines if research is done ethically? Who defines ‘good’ data collection. Becky Snape discussed data collection through social media and the idea of consent from participants. Victoria Kinsella wondered if we, as researchers, can learn from the artists in the in the exhibit – can we can start challenging the norms and ‘rules’ of research – redefining what research and data mean:

  • What is the relationship between the knower and the unknown?
  • Disrupting ways of seeing
  • Foucault – notions of power and the gaze

The exhibit made the group consider how we can communicate data and meaning besides just using the written word. We discussed why we perhaps choose writing as the dominant form of communication and how we may challenge this norm. I thought about two examples of how I use images and music to communicate meaning:

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1) The first image is of my Primary PGCSE class – I get the students to draw their route into the uni – we then use their graphic journeys to create music.

2) The second set of images below are pictures of music classrooms for my PhD research. I have been amazed about how one image can stimulate a number of discussions and topics raised in my PhD and how the images link to the interviews and observations. These images are a vital part of the research.

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All of these extensive topics have important relevance to the research taking place in CSPACE. The exhibit has made us challenge our own perceptions of data, dissemination, communication, privacy, power, consent and ethics.

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Supporting children born prematurely – Dr. Susan Foster-Cohen

 Dr. Susan Foster-Cohen from the Champion Centre in New Zealand will be visiting Birmingham City Universitdry to deliver an International Guest Lecture in June, 2016. Places can be booked here https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/bio-psycho-social-consequences-of-premature-bir

“Children born prematurely are at risk of a variety of neurological impairments…such research is revealing trends and likelihoods of developmental, educational, mental health and social consequences of prematurity that can, and must, be addressed in early intervention.”

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What is tutoring for?

Written by Imran Mogra, Senior Lecturer in Religious Education and Professional Mogra-Imran-mainStudies, @ImranMogra

In the changing landscape of the HE and FE sector, many new roles are appearing to support and advise students. The guiding roles of academic faculty and professional services are also being re-defined and explored. The theme of the first annual UKAT, held at Southampton Solent University in March 2015, was Exploration of Student Advising, Support and Guidance in the context of Student Success, Attainment and Retention.

UkatUnited Kingdom Advising and Tutoring (UKAT) is a professional body of practitioners and researchers interested in all aspects of advising and personal tutoring in FE and HE in the UK.

UKAT’s conference explored the current trends and methods of student advice, support and guidance, and considered the broader context of student success, attainment and retention whilst sharing innovative practice. The conference was held over two-days with participants from different countries, although were from the UK. I participated in the ‘show and tell’ session and presented my poster, Trainee Teachers and their tutorial system: a case study.

In a keynote speech the success of student discourse was of central concern. Karen Sullivan-Vance, covered this ground by touching on real students’ lives. She emphasised that tutors were the first people to demystify the curriculum for many students. For student success, to her, tutoring meant: to be persistent against retention, to promote academic achievement, to set academic milestones, to support students in reaching their goals, to review educational attainment and to support high impact practices. Prior to Karen, the DVC Jane Longmore, referred to the changed climate in HE participation. She questioned the support required to close the attainment gap among white working class boys and black, ethnic minority students.

These presentations became reminders for not taking-for-granted the power dynamics, cultural capital and generational structures of the education systems from which student come and enter into.

The audience listened attentively as Karen shared her experiences from Western Oregon. She made some stimulating points:

  • young people have to learn how to deal with failure
  • young people do not study in a vacuum, their lives are impacted by HE, globalisation and many other factorsrb2688_PGCE-StudentsinClass
  • everyone is struggling in terms of how to support students
  • Advisors give advice which makes students rocket scientist, advising is not rocket science.

At least five implications could be deciphered. Staff need to be advocates of tutoring. Conduct assessment of tutoring. Promote best practice. Model active learning for students and create annual PD Plans.

It was interesting to note how the discourse on advising is formulated in academic circles compared to what is actually discharged in policy and practice – particularly among support service providers. Here, questions were raised about the framing of tutoring as a moral obligation, the accepted conflation of retention and the prominence of attainment and success in FE & HE.

HE in 21st century

Later, in a symposium, the habitual question about definitions and meanings was raised as a way towards the deconstruction of advising and tutorial. As expected, attendees expressed divergent perspectives. Some suggested advising was a teaching function others thought tutoring was about on-going support.

Over the years, having been exposed to a wide range of challenging issues faced by my tutees, some of which have been complex and related to their psychological well-being and other deeply personal ones, it was evident that the construction of tutorial comes to fruition in the dynamics of tutorials within institutions. Instead of defining it, perhaps, the question to ask would be: what is the mission? Are coaching, mentoring, advising and tutoring all about student success? Is there more to the student than success? Would a student centered enterprise be fully satisfied by mere reforms on policies and use of technology in systems which are already constrained?

Some students deny they need help. Others recognise they need help, but power differentials may impede their voices. Others might feel intimidated or pride may withhold them

– whatever the reasons, I was getting the impression that waiting for the student to come to the tutor will soon, if it has not yet, become an outdated practice. Rightly so, students should be prevented from ‘coming in’ when it is too late. The message, thus, was to notice them early. In so doing they may be surprised and pleased that someone is noticing them.

While current policy trends in tPoster viewinghe UK and NSS surveys might suggest that ‘the job’ is being done. Sir Christopher Snowden VC went on to suggest that more needs to happen to understand students’ needs and reminded the audience that academics are forming their students, they are not yet formed! He appeared to have reservations about the pressure on Universities to conduct, behave and do things in certain ways. He argued that shifting teaching and learning onto the Web without sufficient personal contact might become a shallow experience for some students. Talk, he claimed, was essential for scholarship and development. He also invited questions to be asked about how systems allow student to fail.

In a climate clamouring against withdraws and advancing retention, a team of presenters, which included two students, recapped that tutoring can be emotionally draining for tutors. Some institutes have initiated the use of peer tutors who are mobile and highly visible. Perhaps, this is a shift from a ‘problem’ centered tutoring system where student meet the tutor when there is a problem to one where the ‘door is open’. The presentation, raised many questions and issues.

  • Has the time come for students to be informed about what they are entitled to? The Compliance with consumer law is not only important in giving students the protection required by the law, but also helps to maintain student confidence and the standards and reputation of the UK Higher Education sector.
  • Should all academics have an expectation to be tutors and should this work load be discussed with their line managers?
  • Does HR have a responsibility to support tutors?

Tutoring has moved into teaching and learning, which is a welcome shift –signs of a holistic approach to student experience. However, questions about resources were raised for a system to be truly student centred rather than a paper exercise. It was observed that shared values, care, people well-being and pride are more important than papers and policies. It was also noted that academics were being asked to do more to intervene, to make formal referrals, to create data bases for individual students and to tract attendance and their success. From the tutoring perspective, it is significant that the tutorial should not to become about the data of the student instead of being about the student.

The future

Apart from the conference, online discussions show that some institutes are interested in creating a role of Senior Personal Tutor (SPT), as is the case at Plymouth. The SPTs support personal tutors, may be responsible for allocation, training sessions and dealing with problems and complaints. There is interest in exploring a supportive structure or framework within which SPTs would operate and how personal tutoring looks like in different institutes and what is the nature of the provision. In another institute, proposals are being considered for SPTs to have a formal responsibility for monitoring and reporting, via the quality process, on the effectiveness of personInternational delegate posteral tutoring in their academic area.

Tutoring and research

In terms of survey research, I was encouraged to discover that UKAT had conducted its first national survey of personal supervision and academic tutoring. The purpose of which was to examine and report on the use of and approaches to personal supervision/academic tutoring within HE institutions in the UK.

Tutoring is a relatively recent phenomenon, perhaps 12 years, as one presenter noted. Thus, there is recognition that student experience in HE matters and tutoring is seen as a way of ensuring students succeed. In this context the experience of staff is important too. Thus this growing field of advising, mentoring, tutoring and coaching opens wide the opportunities for further research.

 

Educational Excellent: Freedom or Straight Jacket?

Written by Ian Axtell, Subject Leader for Music Education, Secondary Partnership Coordinator, @IanAxtell

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There is some very powerful rhetoric in the Education White Paper: Educational Excellence Everywhere. Who cannot warm to the ideas that educational excellence is for everyone and that schools and teachers should have the freedom to teach in the manner which is most appropriate for their pupils? But, how can you ensure there is excellence for every pupil if teachers and schools have the freedom to teach how they like? The answer in the White Paper is to make sure that teaching and learning can be measured using easily quantifiable outcomes. The processes of teaching and learning, the pedagogy underpinning how we make subjects accessible to pupils, no longer seems to be important as long as pupils can pass the test. Schools and individual teachers will be held accountable for how well their pupils pass these tests, tests that have been devised by the government.

Is this real freedom?

The WScreen shot 2016-04-06 at 11.43.29hite Paper indicates that the focus will be on embedding existing reforms to the accountability measures in education. This might come as a relief to those of us who have been in education for over 30 years where the standards debate has seen a gradual increase in the pace of reform. However, recent reforms have further emphasised accountability measures, linking them to pay and conditions and restricting pupils to the range and scope of subjects with which they can engage. Is this in the interest of teachers and pupils? Schools and teachers will now be held accountable for the number of children who pass academic subjects highlighted in the Ebacc. In effect, the White Paper supports the idea that:

Being academic (focusing on theory) = educational excellence.

It is interesting that the place of theory has been questioned when it comes to teacher education (DfE, 2010) but appears to be the priority when it comes to pupils’ learning. Focusing on academic education addresses the assertion that “knowledge matters” and

“the ability to think demands a basic knowledge of the thing about which one is thinking”(Woodhead in Kitchen, 2014: xi)

but in many tests the focus is on knowledge recall rather than promoting thinking. Knowledge and knowing go beyond recalling facts. Testing facts can provide a limited and even distorted picture of what a person knows and understands. Measuring the recall of facts consigns people to think in a particular ways about particular knowledge suggesting compliance and conformity rather than creativity and individuality (worryingly compliarb5255_Education-SecondaryArtnce and conformity underpin many forms of extremism that exist in our world today). Testing facts looks backwards rather than forwards and ignores the potential for pupils to contribute their own creative thinking. Pupils need access to knowledge but they also need opportunities to share their own personal perspectives, experiences, aptitudes and capabilities related to that knowledge.

We have always had tests and always will. They can provide a helpful snapshot of what a person might know at a particular time in a particular place but there are other forms of summative assessment. The most rewarding teaching experiences I have had are when knowledge is used as a catalyst to promote thinking. It is more difficult to measure thinking but infinitely more engaging for the learner:

“the unexamined life is not worth living for the human being” (Socrates from Plato’s Apology in Hetherington, 2012: 31).

Thinking is: “the highest and perhaps purest activity of which men are capable” (Arendt, 1958: 5).

If pupils are just taught how to pass the test rather than to use knowledge to promote thinking then they become automatons that expect to be told what to do and say. They lose the potential to develop a sense of their own individual identify. The process of acquiring knowledge through thinking is engaging and empowering. When this thinking involves metacognition it can provide the skills and aspiration to acquire further knowledge:

“Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking” (Dewey, 1916, p.181).

This is real freedom.

References:

  • Arendt, H. (1958) The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Dewey, J. (1916) Democracy and Education. New York: MacMillan.
  • DfE (2010) The Importance of Teaching: The Schools White Paper 2010. London: Crown Copyright.
  • Hetherington, S. (ed.) (2012) Epistemology: Key Thinkers. London: Continuum.
  • Kitchen W. H. (2014) Authority and the Teacher. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

 

 

Pupil Premium, Academisation and Governance

Written by Dr. Rob Smith, Reader in Education, @R0b5m1th

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Rob spoke on Radio WM during Adrian Goldberg’s show on the 30th March 2016 8am about pupil premium in the light of recent Perry Beeches. BBC WM

The pupil premium policy provides an example of tensions that are at the heart of English education policy at the moment. To start with there are the market structures of competition between different schools. With this marketisation comes a centralised model of governance through data (see for example, Ozga 20
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). Schools are required to produce data so that their “pData1erformance” in relation to other schools can be compared. As we know, the consequences of this emphasis on performance data include a narrowing of the curriculum consequent on teaching to the test and the gaming of data. The problem with marketisation is that we may expect schools to be run public-mindedly, in the spirit of meeting all students’ needs, with a public service ethic, but the landscape in which they operate forces them to focus their efforts on being a viable financial institution with a staff drilled in the production of favourable performance data.

The academisation of all schools by 2020 is a further consolidation of the same policy of marketisation. The principle underlying this is that competition “is the rising tide that lifts all boats” (Willetts) – in other words the unfounded notion that competition is a like a force of nature that raises standards in every institution. In my view, this is a wildly one-sided view of the impact of marketisation. But it is important to note that academisation facilitates a more direct funding relationship between schools and central government.

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Within this marketised policyscape, the pupil premium policy is a redistributive policy that acknowledges the link between household income and educational attainment (see Lupton and Thomson 2015, here). In other words, the pupil premium policy is designed to address social justice in education. Pupil Premium is an amount of money (around £1000 per student p.a. in secondary) that is paid to schools based on census data they gather about the househoMeasuring1ld income of individual students’ families. The implication is clear: schools with additional financial resources are in a better position to meet the needs of those students and in so doing to address the inequality in attainment that currently seems to exist.

Now here’s the tension:

What happens when a policy that seeks to tackle social injustice is nested within an overall cultural environment of institutional self-interest?

In the last few weeks, we may have been provided with some answers in the Perry Beeches saga.

Perry Beeches was a shining example of the success of Free School and academisation policies. The principle underlying these policies are that academy chains provide a better template for raising student attainment and that local authority governance of schools needs to end. The performance of Perry Beeches 1 and 2 appeared to provide evidence for this claim. It was only with the poor inspection result of Perry Beeches 3 last summer that the success story started to unravel. This was followed in October 2015, by allegations to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) that Perry Beeches the Academy (Perry Beeches 1) “had recorded pupils on the annual census entitled to receive FSM where no entitlement existed” (EFA 2016, 3). This resulted in an investigation and a report.

I think the report speaks for itself. But I think it should also be read in conjunction with the Ofsted report for Perry Beeches 2 that took place in April 2014. In this report the school was deemed outstanding for leadership and management. Pupil premium was mentioned specifically:

“Over half the students are eligible for the pupil premium, which is well above average. This is additional funding for students known to be eligible for free school meals, those in local authority care and any with a parent in the armed services.”

Furthermore, governance was praised in this area:

Governors ensure pupil premium funding is used effectively to provide additional teaching and support staff, for intervention and enrichment support for the students for whom the funding is received.

Since then, the Chief Executive of the Perry Beeches Academy has resigned from his post but intends to continue as a head teacher. The academy chain is to be taken over by another academy chain. The failings of OFSTED to do anything other than affirm the school as a shining example and early adopter of the government’s academisation policy needs to receive greater attention.Measuring2

As for Pupil Premium, the episode provides yet another example of the worrying effects of the colonisation of educational cultures by a market mentality that is championed by the current government. While bowing to the forces of colonisation may secure funds for schools in the short term, this can lead to a distortion of the truth of the kind we are familiar with in commercial culture.

That can not provide a sound foundation on which to construct a world class education system.

Annual Education Conference: Watch this space!

Dear all,

This is just a gentle reminder that we will soon be putting out a Call for Papers for this year’s Annual Education Conference, which will be held on 11th July 2016. This year, CSPACE will be teaming up with CELT to deliver an exciting conference which will encompass a broad range of aspects of research, teaching and learning in education across the university.bcu world

Regardless of which Faculty you work in, we’re keen to hear about the work that is being done with regards to education across BCU. You might want to talk about a teaching approach or technique that has worked well for you, or you may some interdisciplinary research that you’d like to share. Whatever you would like to talk about, we’re keen to hear about your work.

Below is an overview of the conference foci:

Pedagogy, Practice, Politics and Policy: Where to next in teaching, learning and research in education?

(a) Professional practices in teaching

(b) Formal and informal lifelong learning pedagogies

(c) Public and popular debates in education policy

(d) Researching education

Each strand will encourage papers from all education sectors;

  • Further Education
  • Early years
  • Higher Education
  • Schools
  • Third sector /Voluntary provision

We’ll soon be opening the call for papers, so it’s a good idea to start thinking now about what you might present. For now, if you have any questions you can contact me on Rebecca.Snape@bcu.ac.uk or other members of the organising committee on Victoria.Birmingham@bcu.ac.uk or Edward.Hulbert@mail.bcu.ac.uk.

Meet the CSPACE Team – Matt O’Leary

Name: Matt O’Leary

Matt O'Leary - Office Photo - Feb 2016Role at BCU: Reader in Education

Research Interests:

  • Classroom observation
  • Teacher assessment
  • Teacher identity and professionalism
  • Teacher improvement
  • Teacher as researcher
  • Professional learning and development for teachers
  • Vocational pedagogy

Research you are currently working on: The impact of the government’s austerity agenda on further education; the politics and pedagogy of peer review in Higher Education; observing teaching in Higher Education

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Research methodologies you are using: In terms of my epistemological and methodological positioning, I am a mixed-methods researcher with understanding and experience of both quantitative and qualitative methods of data collection and analysis. The research I am currently working on is predominantly of a qualitative nature (i.e. interviews, focus groups and document analysis)

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: I am committed to encouraging a collaborative, participatory approach to research, wherever possible and appropriate, as I am mindful of the need to develop researc1h capacity amongst staff in education departments that have traditionally been on the margins of university research activity. One of the priorities for me in developing a research culture in education is the creation of a vibrant and collaborative environment in which staff are encouraged to engage in thinking, discussing and writing about their practice. I have witnessed directly the way in which working collaboratively with and mentoring others can help to develop research and writing skills, along with building the confidence of staff to produce publications. Talking to members of staff on a one-to-one basis to understand their interests, needs and what kind of support is best suited to developing their research and writing capacity, is crucial starting point in creating such a culture.

For me one of the greatest challenges in education research at the moment has to be the issue of IMPACT of educational research. Putting to one side the issue of party politics and the selectivity of successive governments to listen to or ignore the findings of educational research, the research community is still faced with the challenge of making findings more accessible to wider communities.

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Most influential research you have read/seen: I’ve always found Stephen Ball’s work incredibly interesting and a big influence on my own work.

Advice for new researchers: Work hard continuously! There are no short cuts to becoming a successful researcher. Intelligence will only get you so far. It’s about putting in the hours and effort on a continuous basis. It’s also worth pointing out that you’re likely to come up against lots of obstacles and challenges as part of any research project, but don’t let this worry you as it’s a natural part of (research) life and the way in which you respond to them is an important part of your development as a successful researcher.

Mini fact about you: Cycling and cooking are my two favourite pastimes when I’m not working or spending time with my family.

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Personal reflections on the 2016 London Mayor’s summit on music education: wants and needs

Written by: Martin Fautley, Professor of Education, Birmingham City University

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On Tuesday 22/3/16 I attended the London Mayor’s summit on music education, a prestigious event held in the equally prestigious surroundings of City Hall, on the banks of the Thames, overlooking Tower Bridge. Nice! It was, however, a curious event in many ways in my opinion, and I shall try to explain why here.

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My role was to be on a panel concerning CPD and teacher development. I, and some of the BCU music education team, have been working on evaluating the Teach Through Music programme in London (read the reports here), and I was happy to talk about it, as I feel it has been a good thing, and made a differencScreen shot 2016-04-02 at 14.25.37e. But more on that later…

The day began with an address by Nick Gibb, the Minister of State for Schools, which can read here . This opener set the tone for some of the overall oddness of the day. NG didn’t mention the white paper ‘Educational excellence everywhere’, which had come out the previous week, at all. What he did talk about was a music education which seemed to me to be almost entirely to be about learning to play an instrument, and/or singing. Screen shot 2016-04-02 at 14.17.31

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OK, yes, he did mention the National Curriculum, but seemed to think it was about performing and listening only, composing never got a mention. But then neither did universal academisation, which has the potential to make the NC nugatory and otiose, so maybe the omission of composing is how those at DfE towers want to think of music education? Some nice children singing madrigals, and playing some Purcell and Bach will be very pleasant, won’t it? I don’t move in the rarefied atmosphere of the upper political echelons, so don’t know if it is normal for a politician to do his stuff then go (‘eats, shoots, and leaves’!), but there was no opportunity to ask questions at all.

One primary school teacher heckled from the floor “no forced academisation!” but that was as interactive as it got.

Read the teacher’s own reflections on the day here 

Then there were a series of panels, presenting on various aspects of music education. Then a rather nice buffet lunch, with a chance to talk to people. Networking, and getting a feel for the zeitgeist, is an important part of such days, I always think.Mayor Music 8

Screen shot 2016-04-02 at 14.16.20Following this, in the afternoon sessions, something began to bother me quite a bit, this was a mounting feeling that, as the late, great, Yogi Berra said, “It’s like deja-vu, all over again!”. Music Excellence London (MEL) had just spent a shedload of money on music education in the capital (that’s another issue, I know, especially as I’m writing this in Birmingham), and yet I got the feeling that people in the audience who maybe weren’t teachers didn’t know about this, hadn’t read the work on MEL and evaluation that Trinity Laban, Music Mark, Sound Connections, Alison Daubney and I had done, and didn’t seem to have engaged with what a longitudinal CPD programme might entail. There seemed to be a lot of “well, we can offer a splendid Chinese nose-flute CPD session for teachers”, rather than a joined-up, clearly articulated, research-informed programme, which MEL had entailed.

Now I know I am getting old, but parading one’s ignorance of history used to be something that was looked down on, now it seems to be something that is celebrated. If we had worked like that in ancient times, every few years or so someone would say “look, I’ve invented the wheel”. It struck me that a number of people there from the floor, as it were, were either thinking out loud in public, or making observations that betrayed that either they or their organisation had something to sell, or that they had little conception of what life is really like for a busy classroom music teacher. Alongside this, there seemed to be little knowledge or conceptualisation of what has gone before. When one of the contributors mentioned he had been taught by Brian Dennis, I wondered how many people had read his ‘Experimental Music in Schools’ book of 1970? Or, sadly, I also wondered how many have read, or even know about, the important music education book published the same year by Paynter and Aston, ‘Sound and Silence’? It struck me then that what might be termed the ‘institutional memory’ of music education is in real danger. I said in my mini-talk “we have to both know stuff, and know how to teach stuff”.

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This, for me, is important. And “knowing stuff” includes stuff that we have done before. Whilst we need – and want – new entrants to music education, we also need – and want – them to know something of what has been done in the past. So, the thought that was bothering me became crystallised – why do we seem to be still asking the same questions, ignoring the all the work, research, and words that many people have written (especially my words, I put a lot of effort into them!), and trying to start again?

I had been hoping that the summit would be a high point, a pinnacle, literally, a summit, to look back upon the achievements of MEL, which are, from my perspective as one of the evaluators, very highly significant indeed. Instead it felt to me like we were down at base camp bickering about whether we wanted Kendall Mint Cake or Lucozade, whereas in my view we want – and need – both!

It also reminded me that in teacher education we used to run sessions on philosophy, history, sociology, and psychology of education, but they have long gone. And now as government thinking seems to be that learning to be a teacher involves basically “sitting with Nellie” (which, incidentally, is describeMayor Music 3d nicely and pejoratively by Oxford reference here http://bit.ly/1RCRXqt), there will be little chance of inducting people into the rich community of practice of music education; which is a shame, as both Gove and Gibb have cited Matthew Arnold’s notion of “the best which has been thought and said”, and there is a lot in music education which falls into this description. But then Gove dismissed me and my ilk as “the Blob”, so maybe this is just my blobby thinking!

Anyway, in conclusion, this isn’t meant to be a criticism of the organisation, or of the arrangements, which were all fine, but just the feeling of “here we go again”. I think this is a worry, not just for music education, but for education generally. There is a lot that has been “thought and said”, and it ill behoves us as a sector to ignore, downplay, or negate this. After all, as Burke said “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”!

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Meet the CSPACE Team – Dr. Victoria Kinsella

Name: Dr. Victoria Kinsellavic

Role at BCU: Research Fellow in the school of Education

Research Interests:

  • Creativity in Education
  • Activity theory
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Music Education
  • Art and Design Education

Research you are currently working on: I am lead and co-researcher on a number of arts and creativity projects:YM

  • Youth Music Exchanging Notes Evaluation
  • Koestler Trust Arts Gateway Mentoring Scheme
  • One Handed Musical Instrument Teaching Project
  • Saatchi Gallery/ Deutsche Bank Art Prize for Schools External Project Evaluation.
  • Stringcredibles Evaluation Project.

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Research methodologies you are using: The research and evaluation projects consists of a mixed method research design which involves both qualitative and quantitative methods allowing a wide range of data to be collected. This enables the resulting research and evaluation to be as valid and reliable as possible. Engaging in the complex teaching and learning environment requires not just one way of knowing but methods that take into account diversity and difference.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: In England, the development of creativity in education is in a state of flux. The omission of the arts from the English Baccalaureate and challenges posed by school assessment and performativity measures can be viewed as indicative of discrimination against creative and cultural forms of intelligence.

Most influential research you have read/seen: Engeström’s (1999) activity theory has been most influential for my research. It provides an ideal framework through which a more holistic view of learning is possible. It accounts for different identities, intelligences, modes of learning, and pedagogical processes.

Engeström, Y. (1999) Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Engeström, Y. Miettinen, R. & Punamäki R. L. (Eds) Perspectives on activity theory .Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 19-38.

Advice for new researchers: To talk about your work with your peers. I found casual discussions with colleagues often illuminated something about my work that I had not previously considered. This was most effective whilst drinking coffee!

Mini fact about you: I love going to rock concerts!