What can education learn from the arts about the practice of education?

Elliot W. Eisner argues that the distinctive forms of thinking needed to create artistically crafted work are relevant not only to what students do, they are relevant to virtually all aspects of what we do, from the design of curricula, to the practice of teaching, to the features of the environment in which students and […]

The impact of austerity on schools and children’s education and well-being

The impact of austerity on schools and children’s education and well-being. Cutbacks in government-sponsored services, growing inequality and falling real wages, and changes in housing and income support are impacting upon the lives of children and creating major challenges for schools and colleges in the UK. Mark K Smith explores some key areas of concern […]

Jean Baudrillard and educational practice

Jean Baudrillard. Jean Baudrillard’s radical questioning of the character of signs, symbols and simulation in our postmodern age points towards the necessity to reconsider the role of contemporary educational practices as a possible site of resistance to the ‘code’. Trevor Norris investigates. Contents: jean baudrillard · further reading and bibliography · links · how to […]

Jerome Bruner and the process of education

Jerome Bruner and the process of education. Jerome Bruner has made a profound contribution to our appreciation of the process of education and to the development of curriculum theory. We explore his work and draw out some important lessons for informal educators and those concerned with the practice of lifelong learning. contents: introduction · jerome […]

Leslie Button and developmental group work

Leslie Button and developmental group work. The ideas of Leslie Button were influential in youth work practice and training for over 30 years. He developed a method for both training youth workers and working with young people that became known as developmental group work. He also made a significant contribution to the development of active […]

Henry Caldwell Cook

Henry Caldwell Cook. Pioneering teacher and advocate of natural education in self-governing communities. Henry Caldwell Cook (1885-1939) taught at Perse School, Cambridge and was best known for his (1917) book The Play Way. He had a vision of ‘natural education in self-governing communities’ but argued for a transition involving a ‘partial liberation from the classroom’. […]

Too few, too many: The retreat from vocation and calling

Photo by Steinar Engeland on Unsplash Tony Jeffs examines some of the uncomfortable questions raised by Victoria Climbie’s murder and subsequent policy responses around the training, recruitment and management of welfare professionals including informal educators such as youth workers and community educators. In particular he argues that face-to-face work has been devalued and constrained; policymakers […]

Mary Carpenter, reformatory schools and education

Mary Carpenter, reformatory schools and education. Mary Carpenter’s path-breaking work on the experiences of children in trouble – and the education that should be offered them was a landmark in nineteenth-century educational and social analysis. Her realism, tolerance, and good humour struck a particularly liberal note. We explore the main principles and methods of her […]

Offering community to children and young people in schools and local organizations

Mark K Smith explores how, in the context of the ‘new normal’, educators, pedagogues and practitioners need to offer community to children and young people. This article is part of a series: dealing with the new normal • offering sanctuary • offering community • offering hope] contents: introduction • friendship • social capital • associational life […]

Community education

What is community education? A guide and booklist. Broadly, we can approach community education as ‘education for community within community’. In other words, something called ‘community‘ is not just the place or context in which education is to occur, fostering community is also a central concern. The process of becoming part of an existing social […]

Community schools and community schooling

What is a community school? How has theory and practice developed? contents: what is a community school? · the development of the community school · texts and references · acknowledgements · how to cite this piece A great deal has been written about community schools – especially in the period between 1970 and 1990. However, […]

Roger Hiemstra: The community school

Impington Village College This chapter from Roger Hiemstra’s The Educative Community (1997), originally written in the early 1970s, sets out some of the key elements of the North American community school. contents: introduction ·the community school – center of community education · the community school – past and present · the administration of community schools · […]

New community schools in Scotland

In a fascinating initiative, over 150 Scottish schools were due to develop more integrated services to raise attainment and promote social inclusion. Will they work? The new community schools initiative in Scotland has, not unexpectedly, been spun and trumpeted as a significant attack on a ‘vicious cycle of underachievement’. They are a key aspect of […]

What is competence? What is competency?

Competence and competency. What is competence? How has it been reduced to competency? What is the impact on education and training? Contents: introduction · what is competence? · competency and product approaches · curriculum as process · conclusion · further reading · acknowledgements · how to cite this article Over the last twenty years the […]

Social exclusion, joined-up thinking and individualization – new Labour’s Connexions strategy

Tony Jeffs and Mark K. Smith explore some of the key themes and ideas that run through the British government’s Connexions Strategy for young people in England. Five of these are explicit: social exclusion, ‘the knowledge economy’, ‘joined up thinking’, transition, and targets; and two, individualization and surveillance, are not. However, all seven are central […]

What is curriculum? Exploring theory and practice

Curriculum theory and practice.The organization of schooling and further education has long been associated with the idea of a curriculum.  But what actually is curriculum, and how might it be conceptualized? We explore curriculum theory and practice and its relation to informal education. Contents: introduction · curriculum as transmission · curriculum as product · curriculum as process […]

John Dewey on education, experience and community

John Dewey on education, experience and community. Arguably the most influential thinker on education in the twentieth century, Dewey’s contribution lies along several fronts. His attention to experience and reflection, democracy and community, and to environments for learning have been seminal. (This ‘John Dewey’ page is due to be extended). John Dewey (1859 – 1952) […]

Education for democracy

contents: · introduction · the meaning of democracy and the meaning of education · John Dewey, democracy and education · A. S. Neill on democratic schooling · · further reading and references One of the major tasks that education must perform in a democratic society, Kelly (1995: 101) argues, ‘is the proper preparation of young […]

Extended schools and services – theory, practice and issues

Extended schools and services – theory, practice and issues. In an attempt to emulate full-service schooling initiatives in the USA an English scheme looked to develop extended schools providing a range of activities and services often beyond the school day, ‘to help meet the needs of its pupils, their families and the wider community’. We […]

The development of folk high schools

A survey of their development and listing of key texts. Contents: introduction • the development of folk high schools in Denmark • folk high schools beyond Denmark • further reading and references • acknowledgements • how to cite this piece The first Folk High School first opened in 1844 (the year the YMCA was founded). […]

Feature: Friendship and education

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash In this set of articles we examine some key questions surrounding the theory and experience of friendship – and the significance for education and educators. Friendship theory Many people’s understanding of friendship in northern societies is rather thin. We explore some classical views of friendship, the development of theory […]

Friedrich Froebel (Fröbel)

Friedrich Froebel (Fröbel). Best known for his work on kindergardens and play, Froebel has a lot to say for informal educators. Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel (Fröbel) (1782 – 1852). Friedrich Froebel, the German educationalist, is best known as the originator of the ‘kindergarten system’. By all accounts he had a difficult childhood. His mother died […]

Full-service schooling

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash The idea of full-service schooling aroused considerable interest. In the United States a range of initiatives were taken; and it has been considered as a serious policy option in Britain and Australia. But what is it and what issues surround it? contents: introduction · what is a full-service school? […]

Mahatma Gandhi on education

Mahatma Gandhi on education. His critique of western, particularly English, education was part of his critique of Western ‘civilization’ as a whole. Barry Burke explores his vision. contents: early life · swaraj and swadishi · on education · references · links · how to reference this piece The real difficulty is that people have no […]

Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences and education

Howard Gardner, multiple intelligences and education. Howard Gardner’s work around multiple intelligences has had a profound impact on thinking and practice in education – especially in the United States. Here we explore the theory of multiple intelligences; why it has found a ready audience amongst educationalists; and some of the issues around its conceptualization and […]

Henry A. Giroux: neo-liberalism’s nemesis

Henry A. Giroux: neo-liberalism’s nemesis. Henry A Giroux is well-known for his explorations of critical pedagogy, neo-liberalism and the condition of young people. Doug Nicholls reflects on his contribution and continuing significance. contents: introduction · henry giroux – background · some key themes · publications · about the writer · how to cite this piece […]

Globalization and the incorporation of education

Globalization and the incorporation of education. Here we draw out some of the profound implications of globalization for education and the work of educators. As part of this we also look at some of the issues surrounding the increased presence of corporations and branding in education. Contents:  introduction · globalization, commodification and the corporate takeover […]

William Godwin on education

William Godwin (1802) William Godwin on education: ‘Refer them to reading, to conversation, to meditation; but teach them neither creeds nor catechisms, either moral or political.’ contents: introduction · life · anarchism · education · references · links · how to cite this piece William Godwin (1756 – 1836) was the first writer ‘to give […]

Antonio Gramsci, schooling and education

Antonio Gramsci, schooling and education. Gramsci’s emphasis on critical awareness, the importance of intellectuals being part of everyday life, and on the part played by so-called ‘common sense’ in maintaining the status quo have helped to open up the transformational possibilities of education. contents: introduction · ideological hegemony · organic intellectuals · gramsci on schooling […]

The Hadow Reports: an introduction

Derek Gillard provides notes on the historical context and membership of the Consultative Committees chaired by Sir William Henry Hadow, summarises each of the six reports produced between 1923 and 1933, and assesses the extent to which their recommendations informed the development of education in England. contents: background – historical context, membership of the hadow […]

Kurt Hahn, outdoor learning and adventure education

Kurt Hahn, outdoor learning and adventure education. A key figure in the development of adventure education, Kurt Hahn was the founder of Salem Schools, Gordonstoun public school, Outward Bound, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme and the Atlantic Colleges. Kurt Mathias Robert Martin Hahn (1886 – 1974). German educationalist, born in Berlin, who founded the […]

Happiness and education – theory, practice and possibility

Happiness and education – theory, practice and possibility. What makes us flourish – and what does not? We explore the theory, practice and possibilities of putting happiness at the centre of education and helping. Contents: introduction – why all the interest in happiness? · what is happiness? · what makes us happy and unhappy? · […]

Helping relationships – principles, theory and practice

Helping relationships – principles, theory and practice. In this article we explore the nature of helping relationships – particularly as practised within the social professions and informal education. We also examine some key questions that arise in the process of helping others. In particular, we focus on the person of the helper. Contents: introduction · […]

A brief introduction to holistic education

A brief introduction to holistic education. What is holistic education? What are the primary philosophies that distinguish it from traditional education? Who were the pioneers in holistic education? Ron Miller provides an introduction. Contents: · holistic education · holistic education resources · links to holistic organizations and schools · how to cite this article Holistic […]

John Holt, learning and (un)schooling

John Holt. John Holt’s explorations of the failures of formal teaching and schooling influenced a generation of educators. By looking to the experiences and interests of children, and the sense they made of learning and education, we can find great possibility. John Caldwell Holt (1923-1985) forthcoming   Websites The best starting point is holtgws.com. It […]

Hope, utopianism and educational renewal

Hope, utopianism and educational renewal. In this piece David Halpin offers an analysis of the nature of hope and its significance for educational practice. He identifies three ways in which a renewed optimism of the will can be nurtured among educators, despite the current talk of professional decline. These ‘three ways’ involve taking seriously: ‘hopelessness’; […]

Informal learning, home education and homeschooling (home schooling)

Informal learning, home education and homeschooling (home schooling). Most families who start out “doing school” at home find that what works in school does not transfer easily to the home. Of necessity, home educators find themselves pioneering new educational approaches, nearly always less formal ones. They provide convincing evidence for the potential of informal learning. […]

Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviviality and lifelong learning

Ivan Illich: deschooling, conviviality and  lifelong learning. Known for his critique of modernization and the corrupting impact of institutions, Ivan Illich’s concern with deschooling, learning webs and the disabling effect of professions has struck a chord among many informal educators. We explore key aspects of his theory and his continuing relevance for informal education and […]

Informal education in schools and colleges

In recent years there has been a significant growth in the numbers of informal educators working in formal educational settings like schools and colleges. We explore the phenomenon – and some of the possibilities and problems involved. contents: introduction · recent developments in school and college policy and practice · the decline in classroom teachers’ […]

Informal learning: theory, practice and experience

Informal learning: theory, practice and experience. In recent years a number of researchers and policy pundits have rediscovered ‘informal learning’. But is there really such a thing? We explore the theory and practice of ‘informal learning’ contents:  introduction · informal learning · non-formal learning · tacit knowledge · situated and distributed learning · informal education […]

Jiddu Krishnamurti and his insights into education

The Valley School’s birthday celebration. Established in 1978, itis one of the five schools of the Krishnamurti Foundation India Jiddu Krishnamurti and his insights into education. Scott H. Forbes explores Jiddu Krishnamurti’s (1895-1986) emphasis on education as a religious activity. (From a presentation at the first Holistic Education Conference, Toronto, Canada, 1997) contents: human nature […]

Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth

Homer Lane and the Little Commonwealth. A. S. Neill described him as ‘the most influential factor’ in his life. We look briefly at his life and work. Homer Lane (1875-1925) was Superintendent of the Little Commonwealth, a co-educational community in Dorset run for children and young people ranging from a few months to 19 years. […]

Homer Lane: An account of the Little Commonwealth at Evershot, Dorset

An extract from a lecture given by Home Lane in 1918. Reprinted from Homer Lane (1928) Talks to Parents and Teachers, London: George Allen and Unwin, pages 188-193 Homer Lane (1875-1925) was Superintendent of the Little Commonwealth, a co-educational community in Dorset run for children and young people ranging from a few months to 19 […]

Learning through outdoor experience. A guide for schools and youth groups

a5 version [free] · a4 version [free] · Kindle version from Amazon Experiencing the outdoors can be a powerful stimulus for learning. Being deep in a forest, feeling alone on a hillside or just sharing a cup of tea around a fire can set us on a path that changes the way we think about […]

Lifespan development and lifelong learning

Lifespan development and lifelong learning. ‘Development’ is one of those familiar concepts that seeps almost unnoticed into the conversations of educators. They are self-evidently concerned with the development of people. But what is development? Are there particular stages that we pass through in our life course? Contents · introduction · development · stages · gender, […]

Classical models of managerial leadership: trait, behavioural, contingency and transformational theory

What is leadership? Here Michele Erina Doyle and Mark K. Smith explore some of the classical models of leadership. In particular they look at earlier approaches to studying the area via the notions of traits and behaviours, and to what has become known as contingency theory. From there they turn to more recent, ‘transformational’ theories […]

Shared leadership

Shared leadership. Leadership can be explored as a social process – something that happens between people. It is not so much what leaders do, as something that arises out of social relationships. As such it does not depend on one person, but on how people act together to make sense of the situations that face […]

William Lovett and education

William Lovett and education. Sharing something of a similar political tradition to Robert Owen – but coming a different social position – William Lovett – has a significant place in the development of ideas around schooling and lifelong learning. ontents: introduction · education and politics · schools for the people · further reading and references […]

William Lovett on education: Extracts from Chartism – a new organization of the people

Sharing something of a similar political tradition to Robert Owen – but coming a different social position – William Lovett – has a significant place in the development of ideas around schooling and lifelong learning. Here we reproduce extracts from Chartism – A New Organization of the People (1840) – written with John Collins ____________ William […]

William Maclure: science, Pestalozzianism and reform in Europe and the United States

William Maclure: science, Pestalozzianism and reform in Europe and the United States. Ian Donnachie explores William Maclure’s role in educational reform during the eras of the European and American Enlightenment and early industrialisation. A scientist and educational reformer, he was the first to introduce Pestalozzian methods to the United States. contents: introduction · early career […]