FORUM
ISSN 0963-8253


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Volume 56 Number 1 2014

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CONTENTS [click on author's name for abstract and full text]

 

Adventures in Education

Patrick Yarker. Editorial. Adventures in Education, pages 3‑7 http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.3 VIEW FULL TEXT OPEN ACCESS

Deb Wilenski. ‘We’re a little bit lost aren’t we?’: outdoor exploration, real and fantastical lands, and the educational possibilities of disorientation, pages 9‑18

Mary Jane Drummond. Learning from Children: learning from Caroline Pratt (1867‑1954). Early Progressives in Early Years Education, pages 19‑30

Jenifer Smith with Rebecca Griffiths. Writing Spaces, Professional Places: how a teachers’ writing group can nurture teaching identities, pages 31‑38

David Hewgill. My NQT Year: a primary teacher’s account of his first year of teaching, pages 39‑44

Rachel Marks. The Dinosaur in the Classroom: what we stand to lose through ability-grouping in the primary school, pages 45‑54

Vicky Grube. Beautiful Nonsense: children’s authentic art-making and Deleuzian difference, pages 55‑63

Jane McGregor. In Progress Internationally: student voice work in four countries, pages 65‑66

Roger Holdsworth. Spaces for Partnerships. Teach the Teacher: student-led professional development for teachers, pages 67‑78

Jean Courtney. Ontario’s Student Voice Initiative, pages 79‑90

Emily Nelson. Enacting Student Voice through Governance Partnerships in the Classroom: rupture of the ordinary for radical practice, pages 91‑103

Alison Cook-Sather. Student–Staff Partnerships as Transformational: the ‘Students as Learners and Teachers’ program as a case study in changing higher education, pages 105‑113

Rami Abu Zarad. A Teacher’s Retrospective View of the Syrian Educational System, pages 115‑121

Mike Cole. Comprehensive Education Bolivarian-style: the alternative school in Barrio Pueblo Nuevo, Venezuela, pages 123‑132

Tony Cotton. A Matter of Ideology: a response to the Draft Primary Mathematics Programmes of Study, pages 133‑141

Trevor Fisher. What Is To Be Done? Possibilities for the Counter-offensive, pages 143‑146

John Yandell. Classrooms as Sites of Curriculum Delivery or Meaning-making: whose knowledge counts?, pages 147‑155

Robin Alexander. The Best That Has Been Thought and Said?, pages 157‑166


 

We’re a little bit lost aren’t we?’: outdoor exploration, real and fantastical lands, and the educational possibilities of disorientation

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.9

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This article advocates an approach to outdoor exploration that begins by welcoming the unknown and quite possibly disorientating aspects of wild places. It proposes that one of the major ways in which young children make lasting connections with landscape is through imagination and the power of invention, and argues for the rights of children to experience two fundamental freedoms in the wild outdoors – physical freedom to adventure into the land, and freedom of the imagination, to make cultural meaning from their experience. The project described here took place in spring 2013, and was a ten-week collaboration between Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination (CCI) and Ruby Class (Reception) from Cromwell Park Primary School in Huntingdon. Two CCI creative practitioners, Deb Wilenski and Caroline Wendling, worked with thirty children, their teacher Ben Wilson, and assistants Karen Lewin and Kelly Smith. They spent each Monday morning in Hinchingbrooke Country Park, and in the afternoon returned to school to continue their explorations.

 

Learning from Children: learning from Caroline Pratt (1867‑1954). Early Progressives in Early Years Education

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.19

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This review of Caroline Pratt’s life and work in early years education includes an account of how a six-year-old boy taught a woman in her thirties what she needed to know in order to open a school – in 1914 – that continues to this day, a school that was, in the founder’s own words, fitted to the child and not the other way around. It finds a clear case of parallel evolution in some of her contemporaries in England, and examines aspects of her beliefs and practice that are highly challenging and contentious for educators today. Caroline Pratt’s story invites us to think about how reliable learning from children, or learning from the past, can ever be. Maybe all learners, teachers and children, yesterday, today and tomorrow, cannot escape the grand responsibility of asking their own questions, and of being in charge of their own learning.

 

Writing Spaces, Professional Places: how a teachers’ writing group can nurture teaching identities

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.31

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The National Writing Project (NWP) aims to promote writing groups for teachers to inform practice and raise the understanding of writing and learning to write. Writing Teachers groups do more than support teachers of writing. They can be characterised as communities of practice and as such may provide a space where teachers may construct professional knowledge and establish teaching identities in mutually supportive ways. This article focuses, in particular, on how this may have worked for one newly qualified teacher.

 

My NQT Year: a primary teacher’s account of his first year of teaching

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.39

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This article describes and reflects on the experience of a newly qualified teacher (NQT) in an inner-city primary school awaiting its Ofsted inspection under Gove’s regime.

 

The Dinosaur in the Classroom: what we stand to lose through ability-grouping in the primary school

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.45

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Embedding setting (subject-based ability-grouping) into the primary school environment creates structural conflict – physically and culturally – fundamentally changing the nature of primary schools through the imposition of secondary practices and cultures and the loss of pastoral care. This article examines the hidden implications for teachers and pupils of taking on secondary school roles within the primary school context. It highlights the wide-ranging, yet nuanced impacts of the use of setting, examining the shift towards subject-based thinking and the erosion of the pastoral-centred holistic ethos of primary education.

 

Beautiful Nonsense: children’s authentic art-making and Deleuzian difference

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.55

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When we join with another who shares our sensibilities, we have potential for doing good. This article explores how the self-initiated art making of children that happens outside the classroom challenges the child emotionally and intellectually more than teacher-directed school art. Furthermore, authentic collaborative art making creates a site where a child can affect and be affected by others. This freedom opens shared spaces to encounter joy in otherness.

 

In Progress Internationally: student voice work in four countries

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.65

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The late Jean Rudduck led the most extensive and sustained programme of Student Voice work in the United Kingdom to date through the Economic and Social Research Council project ‘Consulting Pupils about Teaching and Learning’. She continues to inspire discussion around Student Voice and its transformational possibilities, bequeathing also a specific legacy, executed by John Grey, to support a a visiting fellow, Alison Cook-Sather, at Homerton College, Cambridge. In June 2013 the third of four seminars was held entitled ‘Linking across the Lines: works in progress’, hosted by Alison, John Gray and Julia Flutter. It was an exploration of cross-context and cross-level projects from ‘differently positioned participants’ in education (Cook-Sather, 2013), including students, teachers, researchers and policy makers, all committed to the development of relationships highlighted in Michael Fielding’s special issue of FORUM on Student Voice (2001).

 

Spaces for Partnerships. Teach the Teacher: student-led professional development for teachers

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.67

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Students and schools struggle to create recognised spaces within which partnership dialogues about learning and teaching can occur. This reduces the roles of students and their school organisations to either complainants or organisers of marginal activities. Students in Victoria, Australia have initiated a ‘Teach the Teacher’ program, in which students lead a process of teacher professional development around classroom or whole-school issues of concern that are identified by students. While the program is in the early stages of dissemination within secondary schools, there are promising responses from schools, and there is some indication of influences upon both learning practices and roles of student councils. Initial reflections identify the role of productive and collaborative questioning, teacher recognition of the value of authentic discussions with students, and the location of such a program in relation to state education guidelines as important factors to consider.

 

Ontario’s Student Voice Initiative

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.79

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This article describes in some detail aspects of the Student Voice initiative funded and championed by Ontario’s Ministry of Education since 2008. The project enables thousands of students to make their voices heard in meaningful ways and to participate in student-led research. Some students from grades 7 to 12 become members of the Student Advisory Council to the Minister for Education, and meet with the Minister twice a year to help inform education policy and spark new thinking.

 

Enacting Student Voice through Governance Partnerships in the Classroom: rupture of the ordinary for radical practice

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.91

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Student voice is a construct that has come to mean many things to many people. In this article the author is interested in forms of student voice practice that generate a shift in status for students, from passive recipients of schooling to governance partners with teachers in the classroom. She argues that governance partnerships that include students in joint pedagogical decision-making in the classroom embody the radical intent of student voice, which is to disrupt educational hierarchies and generate roles of influence for students. Within an educational context where student voice can mean almost anything – so is in danger of meaning very little – governance partnerships disrupt the ordinary as a starting point for radical practice.

 

Student–Staff Partnerships as Transformational: the ‘Students as Learners and Teachers’ program as a case study in changing higher education

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.105

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In this article the author offers an example of a student–staff partnership program based in a higher education context in the United States. This program positions undergraduate students as pedagogical consultants to academic staff. The goal of the program is to counter traditional hierarchies and imbalanced power relations and foster a shift in institutional culture toward a more dialogic and collaborative approach to teaching and learning. Drawing on reflections of student and staff participants, the author illustrates how the program catalyzes student, staff and institutional transformation.

 

A Teacher’s Retrospective View of the Syrian Educational System

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.115

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This is a descriptive, as much as an interpretive, article about the Syrian educational system and the first-hand experience of an EFL (English as a Foreign Language) practitioner describing the system from within, as much as from without. ‘From within’ because it is based on observations derived from his own teaching experience at a private school in Syria. ‘From without’ because of his looking back at that experience from the vantage point, and with the wisdom, of hindsight.

 

Comprehensive Education Bolivarian-style: the alternative school in Barrio Pueblo Nuevo, Venezuela

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.123

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In this article, the author traces revolutionary developments in an alternative school in Barrio Pueblo Nuevo, Mérida, in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, a school that caters for students between 4 and 14. He begins by recounting some fieldwork done at the school on his behalf by Edward Ellis in 2010. He goes on to discuss a video made at the school by the children in 2011. He concludes by updating Ellis’s fieldwork. This consists of an interview in 2012 with the school’s co-founder, Miguel Cortez, also carried out by Ellis.

 

A Matter of Ideology: a response to the Draft Primary Mathematics Programmes of Study

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.133

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This article is the text from a talk given to the conference The Primary Curriculum: English, mathematics and science in 2014 on 27 February 2013 at Canterbury Hall, London, organised by the National Association for Primary Education (NAPE). In it the author argues that the current consultation process is flawed as there is an ideological divide between Subject Association’s views of effective learning and teaching and the beliefs of the current government. He argues that the Subject Associations base their arguments on research and years of experience whereas government policy often aims for easy political wins. This means that the current curriculum does not meet the needs of our learners. The article ends with a call for all who are engaged within the education system to work towards a curriculum which has the development of a participative democratic society at its heart rather than the economic needs of the government.

 

What Is To Be Done? Possibilities for the Counter-offensive

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.143

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This article sketches one line of march for the counter-offensive to current education policy called for in the previous issue of FORUM. It highlights three key areas where, in his drive to ‘revolutionise’ the education service, the Education Secretary has over-extended himself and become vulnerable. It calls for sharp and sustained scrutiny of current policy in the areas of teacher supply, the provision of school buildings, and changes to the examination and league table system purportedly designed to raise attainment.

 

Classrooms as Sites of Curriculum Delivery or Meaning-making: whose knowledge counts?

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.147

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Whereas the previous government, regarding education primarily as a means to an end, showed little interest in questions of curriculum content, Gove’s counter-revolution involves the enforcement of a deeply authoritarian politics of knowledge. An adequate response to such cultural and curricular conservatism needs to expose the falsity of Gove’s claims to rigour, but also to promote an alternative model of curriculum and pedagogy. The salient features of such an alternative are to be found both in the history of progressive education and also in aspects of current practice – aspects that are ignored or marginalised in the dominant discourses of education.

 

The Best That Has Been Thought and Said?

http://doi.org/10.2304/forum.2014.56.1.157

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FORUM has marked the progress of the Cambridge Primary Review by three previous articles from Robin Alexander, the Review’s director, and by critiques and responses from several others, notably FORUM’s Michael Armstrong. In 2013 the Review was superseded by the Cambridge Primary Review Trust, and this article is the text of the keynote delivered at the Trust’s London launch on 23 September 2013. It briefly assesses the Review’s impact to date, warning that to attempt to do so is a rather more complex enterprise than some commentators allow. It then outlines the Trust’s four programmes and seven priorities, tracing the latter back to the Review’s conclusions and the debate they provoked. Finally, the article returns to one of the Review’s (and this author’s) abiding themes: the public discourse of educational policy and policymakers’ handling of evidence. In both matters, the current government, like its predecessor, is found severely wanting, and the author argues that these discursive and evidential deficits not only continue to frustrate educational progress but are also in themselves profoundly anti-educational, not to say ill-educated.

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