Just a brief not on the Kaleidoscope Conference I attended on 1st June at the School of Education at the University of Cambridge. It was a very well-organised event, well-balanced programme and the keynote speakers were really good.
Prof Michael Young, from the IoE, reflected on his own research personal journey and how he has matured his views on the curriculum, educational opportunities and social justice. For me, his talk was the highlight of the day. He started by questioning the position that educational research is all about social justice. He illustrated his point tell us that when he started his career as an educator, he used to think that education, to be just, should be the same for everyone and that it should be based on learners’ needs. However, he now defends the position that people go to school to learn things that are not always necessarily part of their ‘contextual needs’. They do go to school to learn things that they would not learn in their own communities and that the curriculum has to reflect this. He believes that the curriculum alone cannot overcome inequalities that exist elsewhere in the society and that it should start not with the learners but with the objectives of the school and with what the school can actually do. He also stated that equality in education should apply to universal access but necessarily to the direction people take from there. He also made very clear that for him educational research is about producing new knowledge and not about social justice – ideally social justice should emerge from it but this does not entirely depend on the researcher because it does depend on what people do with the knowledge that is made available to them.
I think this is quite controversial and it may be easy to slip into dangerous paths but it is very interesting nonetheless. Food for thought.
In the afternoon, Dr Pamela Burnard talked about creativity in education and educational research and illustrated it with her personal journey through music and how she integrated her musical-self with her academic -self. Very interesting indeed.