What is action research and how do we do it?

Action research. In this article we explore the development of some different traditions of action research and provide an introductory guide to the literature. contents: what is action research? · origins · the decline and rediscovery of action research · undertaking action research · conclusion · further reading · how to cite this article. see, also: […]

Adult education and lifelong learning – southern critiques and alternatives

Adult education and lifelong learning – southern critiques and alternatives. What can northern educators learn from the experience of the south? A review and introductory reading list. Contents: context · resisting colonialism · respecting local forms · looking to the whole rather than the individual · implications for the north  · references · how to […]

Andragogy: what is it and does it help thinking about adult learning?

Andragogy: what is it and does it help thinking about adult learning? The notion of andragogy has been around for nearly two centuries. It became particularly popular in North America and Britain as a way of describing adult learning through the work of Malcolm Knowles. But what actually does it mean, and how useful a […]

Animate, care, educate – the core processes of pedagogy

Animate, care, educate – the core processes of pedagogy. Pedagogy can be viewed as a process of accompanying people and bringing flourishing and relationship to life (animation); caring for, and about, people (caring); and drawing out learning (education). Here Mark K Smith explores these core processes. contents: introducing pedagogy • accompanying • core processes • […]

Animateurs, animation, learning and change

Animateurs, animation, learning and change. Animation means, literally, to breathe life into some thing. A transformation is involved, what was still now moves. But what place does animation have in stimulating learning and change? What do animateurs do? Where are animateurs to be found? contents: introduction · some models for starters · animateurs in France […]

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 […]

Association, la vie associative and lifelong learning

Association, la vie associative and lifelong learning: we explore the process of joining together in companionship or to undertake some task – and the educative power of playing one’s part in a group or association. contents : introduction · the significance of local institutions and associations · the decline of associational activity · la vie associative […]

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 […]

Robert Baden-Powell as an educational innovator

Robert Baden-Powell as an educational innovator. Famous for his contribution to the development of Scouting, Robert Baden-Powell was also able to make several educational innovations. His interest in adventure, association and leadership still repay attention today. contents: introduction ·the early development of scouting · Robert Baden-Powell and ‘doing good’ · citizenship, taking responsibility and participation […]

Robert Freed Bales, group observation and interaction processes

Robert Freed Bales, group observation and interaction processes. R. F. Bales pioneered the development of systematic methods of group observation and measurement of interaction processes. In this brief article we survey his contribution. contents : introduction · group observation and interaction processes · conclusion · references · how to cite this piece Robert Freed Bales […]

St. John Bosco – An exhortation to educators

Letter from St. John Bosco to his Salesians, from Rome, May 10, 1884 outlining the place of friendship, relationship and recreation in his ‘preventative’ approach. contents: preface · an exhortation to educators · how to cite this piece Don Bosco (1815-1888) was a talented educator and animateur. He was particularly concerned with the needs of […]

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 […]

Martin Buber on education

Martin Buber on education. Buber’s focus on dialogue and community would alone mark him out as an important thinker for educators. But when this is added to his fundamental concern with encounter and how we are with each other (and the world) his contribution is unique and yet often unrecognized. contents: life · i-you, i-it […]

Researching education, learning and community: building theory

Researching education, learning and community: building theory. In this piece we examine the process of generating theory. We ask ‘what is theory?’ We also look at the process of analysis, integration and imagination. For the last of these we pay special attention to the work of C. Wright Mills. Contents: introduction · what is theory? […]

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 […]

Calling and informal education

Calling and informal education. The notion of calling, once rather unfashionable, has re-emerged as an organizing idea within education. Michele Erina Doyle examines calling and vocation, and sets them in particular within Christian discourse. She argues that fulfilling our calling as informal educators means we work with others for the processes of knowing, testing, naming, […]

Caring in education

Caring in education. In this article Nel Noddings explores the nature of caring relations and encounters in education and some of the difficulties educators have with them. She also looks at caring relations as the foundation for pedagogical activity. Contents: introduction · caring relations and encounters in education · why is the relational view difficult […]

Jean Lave, Etienne Wenger and communities of practice

Jean Lave, Etiene Wenger and communities of practice. The idea that learning involves a deepening process of participation in a community of practice has gained significant ground in recent years. Communities of practice have also become an important focus within organizational development and have considerable value when thinking about working with groups. In this article […]

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 […]

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 […]

Contactpoint – because every child matters?

Server farm by sugree on flickr ContactPoint is an online database which contains basic information about every child and young person in England from birth to their 18th birthday. David Hoyle explores the nature of the system – and the critisicisms made of it. He asks is the scale of the threat to children and […]

Grace Coyle and group work

Grace Coyle and group work. Grace Coyle made an extraordinary contribution to our understanding of group work. She was also an important advocate for the work within US social work and an innovatory trainer. Contents: introduction · on group work · conclusion · bibliography · how to cite this article. Grace Longwell Coyle (1892-1962) made […]

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 […]

Developing community

A set of pages exploring the development, theory and practice of community development and community work Introducing community development : Walking social action: exploring social action and community development through a virtual walk in Bermondsey and Rotherhithe.  New : Reclaiming the radical agenda: a critical approach to community development. Margaret Ledwith argues we need to be […]

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) […]

Dialogue and conversation for learning, education and change

Dialogue and conversation  for learning, education and change. ‘Dialogue’, Freire says, ‘is the encounter between men, mediated by the world, in order to name the world’. Here we explore this idea – and its roots. Contents: introduction · Gadamer – horizons of understanding · emotions and virtues · Habermas: dialogue, power and distortion · Bohm on […]

Dialogue, conversation and praxis

In this piece Paul V. Taylor examines: dialogue as a norm of behaviour; dialogue as a theory of knowledge; dialogic competence; conversation and interpretation; and praxis as action and reflection. Contents: introduction · dialogue and conversation · communicative competence · the I and the you of dialogue · interpretative dialogue · dialogue and citizenship · […]

What is education? A definition and discussion

What is education? Is it different from schooling? In this piece Mark K Smith explores the meaning of education and suggests it is a process of inviting truth and possibility. It can be defined as the wise, hopeful and respectful cultivation of learning undertaken in the belief that all should have the chance to share […]

Elliot W. Eisner, connoisseurship, criticism and the art of education

Elliot W. Eisner, connoisseurship, criticism and the art of education. Elliot W. Eisner has deepened our appreciation of education in a number of areas. Here we examine his argument that education involves the exercise of artistry and the development of connoisseurship and criticism. We also assess his contribution to the debates around school reform. contents: […]

Encounters for learning, education and change

Encounters for learning and change. Pedagogues, animators and informal educators work for encounters – face to face meetings. They also work for encounter – relation or engagement with themselves and others. Contents: · seeking situations of co-presence · co-ordinating activities · encounter and personal growth · encounter and relation · further reading · how to […]

Evaluation for education, learning and change – theory and practice

Evaluation  for education, learning and change – theory and practice. Evaluation is part and parcel of educating – yet it can be experienced as a burden and an unnecessary intrusion. We explore the theory and practice of evaluation and some of the key issues for informal and community educators, social pedagogues youth workers and others. In […]

Experience

Experience. Is there is a difference between ‘having an experience’ and ‘knowing an experience’? ‘Experience’ can be quite is a problematic notion. It is a well-worn term that is often used with little attention to meaning. In the twentieth century is, arguably, the work of John Dewey has done much to help rescue the notion […]

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 […]

Facilitating learning and change in groups and group sessions

Facilitating learning and change in groups and group sessions. Just what is facilitation, and what does it involve? We explore the theory and practice of facilitation, and some key issues around facilitating group sessions. Contents: introduction · what is group facilitation? · core conditions and the facilitator · the facilitator’s role · core values ·  […]

Using focus groups in evaluation and research

Using focus groups in evaluation and research. Focus groups have been part of market research for many years. Their popularity in advertising and marketing – and their use to find new ways of getting us to buy particular products or ideas – puts off a lot of people. However, they are a very useful tool […]

Friendship theory: some philosophical and sociological themes

Friendship: some philosophical and sociological themes. Many people’s understanding of friendship in northern societies is rather thin. We explore some classical views of friendship, the development of theory and practice in ‘modern’ societies, and some key aspects of the current experience of friendship. On a linked page we examine some of the implications for educators. […]

Friendship and education

Friendship and education. Today received wisdom has it that educators should be friendly with those they work with, but not friends. But is this right? We examine the nature of friendship – and ask whether its cultivation should be an aim of educators and part of education. We also explore the possibilities and problems friendship […]

Paulo Freire: dialogue, praxis and education

Paulo Freire, dialogue, praxis and education. Perhaps the most influential thinker about education in the late twentieth century, Paulo Freire has been particularly popular with informal educators with his emphasis on dialogue and his concern for the oppressed. contents: introduction · contribution · critique · further reading and references · links Paulo Freire (1921 – […]

Erich Fromm: freedom and alienation, and loving and being in education

Erich Fromm: freedom and alienation, and loving and being in education. Erich Fromm was both a practicing psychoanalyst and a committed and insightful social theorist. We explore his continuing relevance to educational practice and focus on his deeply instructive appreciation of freedom, love and human flourishing. Contents: introduction · erich fromm – his life · […]

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 […]

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 […]

What is a group?

What is a group? How are we to approach groups? In this article we review the development of theory about groups. We look at some different definitions of groups, and some of the key dimensions to bear in mind when thinking about them. contents: introduction · the development of thinking about groups · defining ‘group’ […]

What is groupwork?

What is groupwork? While many practitioners may describe what they do as ‘groupwork’, they often have only a limited appreciation of what groupwork is and what it entails. In this piece we introduce groups and group work, define some key aspects, and suggest areas for exploration. In particular we focus on the process of working […]

What is group work?

What is group work? While many practitioners may describe what they do as ‘group work’, they often have only a limited appreciation of what group work is and what it entails. In this piece we introduce groups and group work, define some key aspects, and suggest areas for exploration. In particular we focus on the […]

Social groupwork: formulation of a method, 1920-1936

In this important (1981) piece Kenneth E. Reid explores a pivotal time in the development of the theory and practice of working with groups within social work. He assesses the contribution of Grace Coyle, W. I. Newstetter and other key figures and reflects on the emergence of ‘social group work’. Contents: preface · introduction · […]

Group work – expansion and professionalism 1937 – 1955

In this important (1981) piece Kenneth E. Reid explores how group work was increasingly presented as part of social work (as against informal education and recreation) and the fascinating process of delineating its boundaries. Contents:  introduction · developments in social work · beginning of a professional organization · search for a definition · separation of group […]

Haltung, pedagogy and informal education

Within informal education and social pedagogy, the character and integrity of practitioners are seen as central to the processes of working with others. Here Mark K Smith explores how the German notion of ‘haltung’ draws together key elements around this pivotal concern for pedagogues and informal educators. contents: introduction • patience • haltung, Aristotle and pedagogues […]

Helping

Pages exploring the theory and practice of helping Introducing helping What do we mean by helping – and what is its relationship to informal education, counselling and teaching? Explore helping relationships. The art of helping others The art of helping others: A set of support pages for the book by Heather Smith and Mark K. Smith. […]