Schools: rethinking their purposes, practices and principles

Impington Village College | wikimedia commons

Exploring the changes needed in schooling for difficult times.


Dealing with the ‘new normal’. Creating places of sanctuary, community and hope for children and young people. Changing the shape of education, learning and change in schools and other civil society organizations following the COVID-19 pandemic.

the new normal

Pierre Bourdieu: Habitus, capital, and field. Exploring reproduction in the practice of education. Bourdieu’s exploration of how the social order is reproduced, and inequality persists across generations, is more pertinent than ever. We examine some key lessons for educators and pedagogues.

Rethinking schooling

What is teaching? A definition and discussion. In this piece, we explore the nature of teaching – those moments or sessions where we make specific interventions to help people learn particular things. This is set within a discussion of pedagogy and didactics and demonstrates that we need to unhook consideration of the process of teaching from the role of ‘teacher’ in schools.

What is education? Is it different from schooling? In this piece, we explore 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 in life.

What is learning? Is learning a change in behaviour or understanding? Is it a process? We survey some key dimensions and ideas and conclude learning is a process that is often not under our control and is wrapped up with the environments we inhabit and the relationships we make. It involves encountering signals from the senses; attending to them; looking for connections and meanings, and framing them so that we may act.

What is pedagogy? Many discussions of pedagogy make the mistake of seeing it as primarily being about teaching. In this piece we explore the origins of pedagogy and the often overlooked traditions of thinking and practice associated with it. A focus on teaching as a specialist role is probably best understood in other ways. Pedagogy needs to be explored through the thinking and practice of those educators who look to accompany learners; care for and about them; and bring learning into life. Teaching is just one aspect of their practice.

Rethinking curriculum. 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 other ways of conceptualizing educational interventions.

Viewing Impington. The development of community schooling in Britain and Ireland owes much to the vision of one man – Henry Morris. We explore his ideas through the design of Impington Village College.

Developing practice

Marie Paneth – Branch Street, The Windemere Children, art and pedagogy. Paneth was a talented painter, art therapist and pedagogue. Her book, Branch Street (1944) is a classic exploration of community-based work with children during the Second World War – and the healing use she made of art both with The Windemere Children (2020) and in later practice was pioneering. In this piece, we explore her work – mostly in the 1940s – and continuing relevance.

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 we explore these core processes.

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.

Understanding the context

Naomi Klein: globalization, capitalism, neoliberalism and climate change. Naomi Klein has probably done more than any other commentator, to raise public understanding of the relationships between capitalism, neoliberalism and climate change. Here we explore her contribution.

Richard Sennett: Class and the new capitalism, craftsmanship, cooperation and cities. Over 50 years Richard Sennett has contributed to our understanding of the experiences of class, capitalism and the life of cities – and our appreciation of Homo faber – humans as makers, users of tools and creators of common life. We explore Sennett’s life and work and reflect on his achievements.

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Acknowledgement: Picture: Impington Village College by Justin Cormack. Sourced from Wikimedia Commons and reproduced under a Creative Commons  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Last Updated on August 15, 2020 by