Tag Archives: Education

EDUCATIONAL ACTIVISIM IN BRAZIL

Birmingham City University and the University of East Anglia are currently engaged in a collaborative research project with Brazilian education activists for whom critical pedagogy and popular education pedagogy are harnessed to facilitate a critical, politically engaged education processes for social change.

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CSPACE recently held a Research Seminar, Wednesday , 11 May 2016 : which showcased the work of Brazilian educators visiting from Fortaleza in the state of Ceara, and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

  • Dra Maria das Dores and Dra. Jackline:Rabelo: ‘The World Bank and its consequences for Education in Brail and Latin America.
  • Dra Sandra Maria y Dr Luís TavoraFurtado Ribeiro: ‘Universities, Social Movements and Social Transformation’.
  • Dr Paolo Vittoria: ‘The implications for education of the threatened parliamentary coup in Brazil today

We welcomed our Brazilian colleagues back to continue the face-to-face dialogue begun last year. This dialogue explores possibilities and constraints for alternative education processes in, against and beyond the neoliberal university in the current challenging context where the governing Brazilian Workers’ Party faces a ‘parliamentary coup’ whilst, at the same time, progressive social movements like the Landless Movement (The Movement of Rural Landless People or MST—Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) have developed impressively well organised bottom up processes of educational change that seeks to build social movements to improve the lives of, amongst others, the rural landless people.

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For more information about the Landless movement click this link: Brazil’s Landless Movement

Our thanks to Tessa Burswood who did such a brilliant job of translating !!

I’ll leave the last word to one of the participants who wrote:

I wanted to thank you both very much first for inviting me to the seminar and then for the seminar itself. Collectivity, solidarity and dialogue… wonderful!

 

Reimagining Further Education Conference – Book now

The conference will bring together practitioners, researchers and key figures in the field of Further Education (FE) and will cover a range of themes from apprenticeships and work-based learning to accountability and governance in FE.
FEInstead of the conventional ‘stand and deliver’ format of many conferences, ‘Reimagining Further Education’ will be organised as group conversations framed and facilitated by a discussant and chair for each of the 6 thematic strands included. By exploring positive, imaginative and creative ways forward that enhance agency, workforce development and the professional ethos of all FE practitioners, this conference aims to put the ‘confer’ back into conference!
Dates:
29 Jun 2016 (9:00am – 4:00pm)
Venue:
Curzon Building , 4 Cardigan Street Birmingham B4 7BD United Kingdom (Map and Directions)
Price:
£50
Download the programme here: a5-reimagining-fe-programme-131074510792152821

If you are interested in attending the conference and/or would like to know more about it, please contact: suzanne.savage@bcu.ac.uk 

OR go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reimagining-further-education-conference-reimaginefe-tickets-21208624567 to book tickets 
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Time and Space for Music Education

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

Ian Axtell reflects on the music curriculum and asks: ‘is time for music education in England going to disappear in schools?’

“Classroom music can instill the same sense of motivation and challenge if musical events are a regular part of the curriculum…Where music making is shared there is an opportunity to be positive, to recognise and value individual contributions and to promote meaningful thinking and learning. However, relying on the musical events themselves is not enough. Composing or performing do not just happen.  They quickly lose their value if pupils are not provided with the time and space to prepare. Regular recordings can provide a safety net and promote the opportunity reflect, adapt and improve music making prior to an event but time is needed for this to happen.”clock

“Personal experience suggests that the opportunity for children to experience the buzz of sharing a musical event or magical moment, particularly after their careful planning and preparation, is disappearing because music does not fit into the EBACC or STEM agendas…the emphasis from government is on a narrow perception of academic knowledge that prioritises certain subject domains at the expense of others.”

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Music is an academic subject but it is not just theoria, it is also techne and poiesis.   Music education goes beyond the academic because it brings together a variety of ways of thinking and doing.  It is cognitive but also psycho-motor and affective (Pierce & Gray, 2013).

“If schools are being measured through their engagement with the EBACC then will the time for all pupils to engage with active music making be reduced or even stopped entirely?  This appears to be already happening, particularly in the context of Key Stage 4.  If there is no Key Stage 4 music then what will happen to music at Key Stage 3 or Key Stage 2?”

Read the full article here: https://ianaxtell.wordpress.com/

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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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.

 

 

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”.

Screen shot 2016-04-02 at 14.18.30Mayor Music 4

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 – Kirsty Devaney

Name: Kirsty DevaneyBlack and white headshot

Role at BCU: Graduate Teaching and Research Assistant in Education. I teach on the Early Years and Primary PGCE courses helping teachers include music into their classrooms. I also lecture and run projects at Birmingham Conservatoire and teach composition and theory at Birmingham Conservatoire Junior Department.

Research Interests:

  • Music Education – composing in classrooms
  • Creativities in education and school
  • The creative & composing processes
  • Assessment of creativity
  • Technology in music education

Research you are currently working on: I am mainly working on my PhD investigating composing in upper secondary schools at examination level. I am looking at how the assessment of composing impacts the teaching and learning of composing in the classroom.Screen shot 2015-01-28 at 23.14.51

Other research includes a composing project with BCU, Birmingham Contemporary Music Group (BCMG) and Sound and Music. My role was assisting with the action research that secondary music teachers were doing with their students. I have also been involved in London scheme ‘Teach Through Music’ conducting interviews for the research on behalf of my supervisor.

I run a number of education projects at Birmingham Conservatoire and always include an element of action research. I am now planning a collaborative cross-disciplinary research project looking at composing and creative writing working working with Amanda French and Becky Snape. 

Research methodologies you are using: For my PhD I am using a mixed methods approach collecting qualitative and quantitative data through:

  • Two online surveys (KS4 & 5)
    • Follow-up telephone interviews
  • Five case studies
    • Semi-structured interviews with music teacher
    • Focus Group interviews with students (KS4 & 5)
    • Classroom Observations
  • Semi-structure interviews with ‘composer-educators’

I have taken a grounded theory approach to my research and each stage of the data collection informs the next.

Current issues, thoughts and reflections on education & research: With the introduction of the Ebacc music in education in under threat. Many teachers I work with regularly have said they have already seen an impact on what subjects students are deciding to take, with the more ‘academic’ students being pressured even more into taking not just the Ebacc subjects, but doubling up (e.g. 2 languages). This is leaving very little space for students to take other subjects such as music, art or drama. I worry that numbers will start to fall dramatically and that schools will pull GCSE, BTEC and A-Level music along with other subject. My little sister (currently in year 8) is startimusic percng to plan her GCSE options and she wants to do art, music, drama and textiles – why is this set of subjects seen as ‘inferior’ and why should her enjoyment of school, and potential future be decided by someone else who think they know what is best for her?

I also worry that exams are becoming more about ‘assessing what is easily assessable’ rather than assessing what is important. Teachers and students become very aware how to ‘play the game’, and ‘tick the boxes’ for the exams but this wastes time for students to be musicians, composers and having a meaningful musical experience. Teachers are under intense pressure to ‘achieve’ and get high grades with these exams – if they don’t the future of their students, their careers and music in the school is at risk.

Most influential research you have read/seen: Legg, R. (2012) Bach, Beethoven, Bourdieu: ‘Cultural capital’ and the scholastic canon in England’s A-level. The Curriculum Journal 23(2):157-172

Having been struggling with how Bourdieu’s concepts on ‘cultural capital’ & ‘social mobility’ relate to my own research, this article really helped me reflect on the data I have been collecting and how it links to wider social issues.

Advice for new researchers: I studied as a composer for 4 years and wrote more music than I did words; so coming to do a PhD terrified me! What I have come to realise that my background in composing has really helped my research and that is a strength not a weakness. Find your own strengths and don’t compare yourself to others around you. The more I talk to people the more I realise everyone gets ‘imposter syndrome’ at some point.

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For me the PhD is about tracking how your own thinking has developed and grown over the years. It changes the way you view the world and how you make connections through everyday events.

Mini fact about you: I have a phobia of red jelly!

In which I worry about Vogons

Martin Fautley, Professor of Education, Birmingham City University
@DrFautleyMF

I have been wondering recently whether we are seeing the beginning of the end of music education as we know it.”

Martin Fautley, our Professor of Education has written about his worries in relation to music education in the UK. With many people in the creative industries apposing the EBacc  (http://www.baccforthefuture.com/) and fighting for music and the arts in schools it has prompted a lot of debates and discussions at Birmingham City University. What are your thoughts or concerns with the reforms happening in education?

To read his full blog please visit: https://drfautley.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/in-which-i-worry-about-vogons/

18 months in to the PhD – reflections

Written by Shannon Ludgate, PhD Student, School of Education – Early Yearsshan
@ShannonLudgate

Shannon Ludgate is researching children’s experiences using touchscreen technologies in different early years settings. She has written a blog about her experiences 18 months in:

“The data collection period has taught me how important it is to be flexible to the needs of the setting and to be adaptable.”

“…it must be acknowledged that at times practitioners are aware of why I am in their setting, so may opt to use technology more”

“Focus-group interviews with children have been interesting; it was great to hear their views and for them to take control and show me what they most liked about touchscreen use, demonstrating their skills during conversations.”

“This (my research) will hopefully empower each setting to develop touchscreen use in ways in which they see fit and appropriate for their children.”

To read the full blog go to: https://shannonludgate.wordpress.com/2016/02/17/18-months-in-to-the-phd-reflections/

Shannon’s 4 months reflections: http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/education/2015/06/22/my-phd-experience-four-months-in/

Shannon’s data collection reflections: http://blogs.bcu.ac.uk/education/2015/11/16/data-collection-time/