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Life Course as Method: Age Imaginaries in School Ethnography

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By Patrick Alexander (Originally published here)
Like most social scientists, my approach to methodology is in important ways entangled with personal narrative. My interest in age as a field of social analysis emerged from my early experiences as a secondary school teacher. As a twenty-three year-old trainee, I was barely older than the more senior teenage students in my charge. At the same time, I was easily recognizable to my senior colleagues as member of the same generation as their own children. Training to be a teacher involved my immersion in the uncertain performance of several different identities: professional adult, grown-up in a classroom full of kids, youthful teacher. It was jarring to me to experience simultaneously what seemed like mutually exclusive categories of age. Out on the playground, students (and, sometimes, teachers) engaged in their own complex and ever-shifting negotiation of the age-based rules of engagement in everything from friendship to bullying, dating…

Why Picture Books Matter (Mat Tobin)

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Why Picturebooks matterto read the original and fully illustrated version of this blog entry, click here: This blog was born out of two events: a Mocksted visit to my previous school and a rereading of Judith Graham’sPictures on the Page for my very first seminar at Oxford Brookes’ School of Education. What I share here are my own thoughts but I cannot deny that they have been steered by Graham’s. Published back in ’91 her words still ring true and her text should be considered as the first stepping stone into understanding the power of picturebooks. I’d like to share the Mocksted incident first as it might ring true for many teachers who have had to tackle with those who don’t ‘get’ picturebooks and may not be applicable to those who read this blog but have nothing to do with state education. If that’s you, then please feel free to start at Accessibility. A straw upon the camel’s back. We had decided, as an Academy, to have a Mocksted. Our Head had moved on and we wanted to see where …

Brookes in the Bronx: Civilly Disobedient Youth, HK – NYC

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From New York City to Hong Kong (both places close to my heart), the past few weeks have provided good cause for reflection on the relationship between issues of civic participation, disobedience, and the place of ‘youth’ and young people in imagining new political futures. Here in NYC, as the first golden brown leaves shimmered down in Central Park, the arrival of the UN General Assembly in mid-September brought about mass demonstrations around the connected issues of global capitalism and climate change. On 22nd September approximately 300,00 people marched through the streets of the city under the banner of the ‘People’s Climate March’, bringing traffic to a standstill and sending Instagram accounts into overdrive. This was the largest public demonstration focusing on climate change in history, organised to coincide with UN talks on environment. The intention was to show popular outcry about the current state of the planet. When the Yankees finished playing in the Bronx, and the G…

Brookes in the Bronx: Reflecting on Youth, Race and Futurity

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The unusually clement summer weather in New York City this summer has made it easier to get on with most things, it would seem. A soft breeze has blown across Manhattan from the Hudson since we arrived, and like a good Englishman I’ve been happy to talk (to anyone who would listen) about how lovely the weather is and how lucky we’ve been to avoid the usual Dog Days of Summer. Where the weather has been mild, the tensions around issues of race and youth have been anything but. This has led me to reflect on the ways in which race and ethnicity are imagined in relation to gender and imagined futures – and on the potentially terminal consequences that dissonant, negative constructions of race and ethnicity can have on the lives of the young people involved. In the context of the 24-hour news cycle, last summer’s verdict on the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin by neighbourhood watch captain Michael Zimmerman seems like a distant memory (and more distant still for those of us ac…

On ‘phonics denialists’

Friday’s TES published a letter from a group of educationalists to Michael Gove calling for the abolishment of the Year 1 ‘phonics check’. Signatories included the general secretary of the UK Literacy Association, the chairman of the National Association for Primary Education, the general secretary of NASUWT, and the chair of the National Association for the Teaching of English. In response to the letter, one well-known educational commentator (@oldandrewuk) tweeted “See some phonics denialists got a letter in the TES”. I’m not going to spend any time questioning the use of the markedly pejorative term ‘denialists’, and the attribution of a questionable ethical agenda that is usually implied by it. I’ve done my homework here and see that Andrew Old has used this term in relation to phonics for some time, been called out for it, and made his responses. But the substance of the charge (implied in this tweet but offered explicitly elsewhere) is that a large number of academics and other e…

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 speakerMarlene 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 IncludeTechnology in the Classroom     School-Based Community DevelopmentThe Nature of Graduateness     Making Meaning from School ClosuresDecision Making and Research to Practice     Cultural Proficiency for Teachers Please complete the online booking form to register your application We are inviting the submis…

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.…