Welcome to this second volume of LINK, the online journal published by the University of Hertfordshire School of Education.
LINK has been created to make visible and accessible the research and scholarship undertaken by colleagues within and linked to the School. These include academics, professional staff, visiting lecturers and our partners in schools and other professional settings, as well as current and past post-graduate students. The work and ideas featured in LINK are intended to inform debate and invite critical engagement.
We are really pleased that our first volume has been so well-received.
As we begin our second volume, it is especially gratifying to feature articles from two of our post-graduate students, LizAnn Petch and Ross Gray. We hope that this heralds the beginning of a pattern of publication which allows 'new' writers to share with a wide audience their developing thinking and the fruits of their early research and scholarship.
The articles in this issue all invite us to consider the theory, practice and values which underpin education.
Ross Gray's article was developed from work he completed as an undergraduate on the BA Education Studies programme. He is currently studying on a Primary PGCE programme in the School of Education. His article sets out arguments for the proposition that the education system in England prepares society for a passive, civic liberal view of citizenship. Ross suggests that, under the guise of democracy, economic interests of the state drive education and its reforms, to produce a stratified production line of workers. He understands the overt and covert curriculum as a form of social control, ensuring conformity and compliance with the expected social values and norms of the ruling class.
The second article, developed by Rebecca Thomas and Joy Jarvis, focuses on a film and text showcase which was an exhibition of materials created by academic staff in the School of Creative Arts as part of a learning and teaching initiative. The exhibition documented the process of collaborative staff learning about the practice of education and some of the outcomes this process created. The exhibition, held in a gallery, included materials produced with and for students, and illustrated approaches to research into learning and teaching in the area of Creative Arts. The title 'Reframing Spaces' identifies that the framing of learning spaces influences what happens within them, and how reframing can lead to changed ways of thinking and acting.
LizAnn Petch's article poses the question, is there a place for rote learning of multiplication tables in English primary schools? The question arises in part from insights given through recent neurological studies into learning, including memorising and recall. LizAnn suggests that these new discoveries have not been considered in terms of what they might contribute to the understanding of rote learning. Considering the findings of these studies, LizAnn makes the argument that the commonly-held view that rote learning is not an appropriate tool for mathematics learning should be reconsidered.
Finally, Theo Gilbert's article invites us to consider the place of compassion in education. He presents the findings of his study on how to embed the concept of compassion explicitly into the design of pedagogy for seminars and explore the effect, if any, of this on the social and learning experiences and academic achievement of its participant students. Theo found that students adapted quickly to the cognitive processes required for compassionate action in their seminars. They were effective at assuming responsibility for their own and others' social and learning experiences, and found eye contact pivotal to maintaining equal spread of participation in their seminars. Findings also suggested, tentatively, the potential of compassion-focused pedagogy to reduce the national attainment gap in terms of critical thinking in seminars.
Our Thought-pieces take up this theme of educational theory, practice and values and the links between them.
Professor Norman Thomas asks us to consider the purpose of education, challenging the notion that the learning of facts is of paramount importance and instead suggesting the centrality of working from where individuals are in order to stimulate their own learning journey. Such an approach militates against the value of judgements based on performance tables alone and instead invites us to look at the rewards which adjusting the educational experience to fit the individual can bring.
John Mower's Thought-piece demonstrates how such a viewpoint can be put into action. He gives an account of a project in which he worked collaboratively with junior school colleagues to create a series of lessons using practical resources in mathematics. The project allowed him not only to experiment and thus develop his own thinking but also to collect data which will be shared with student teachers to facilitate their understanding of the theory-practice link.
'It's all about the shoes' by Joy Jarvis and Sally Graham prompts us to explore both our own perspectives and those of others around teacher education. The Thought-piece offers a three-part approach, designed to enable teachers to develop a curiosity about their own and others' perspectives and to develop a process to enquire into the assumptions and ways of seeing the world that underpin teaching.
Reflecting this theme, in our final Thought-piece of this issue, Liz White shares some of the influences on her personal professional development as a teacher educator. She seeks to use her piece to provide a stimulus for others as they consider their own professional development, especially for those who are considering becoming a teacher educator and for those going through induction into the profession.
We hope that you enjoy engaging with this issue of LINK. Anyone in or linked to the School is welcome to write an article or Thought-piece for the journal and to use it as a means of contributing to the advancement of understanding about educational practice. The readership of LINK is similarly intended to be both academics and practitioners - locally, in the rest of the UK and globally.
Please consider developing an article or a Thought-piece for a future issue - we would love to hear from you!
Amanda Roberts and Philip Woods