Program for Semester 2 (2018/19)

Posted on

Wednesday, 8 May 2019, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Calculating Risk: International Organisations and the Construction of Governing Utopias

Sotiria Grek, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

 

Wednesday, 3 April 2019, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

A youth practitioner’s view of young people’s politics in the UK

Dena Arya, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

 

Wednesday, 6 February 2019, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Practice and provision for gifted and talented students: a comparative study of primary schools in England and Scotland

Esthir Tzivelopoulou (School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh)

 

Wednesday, 6 March 2019, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Bioinformatic education: neuroscience, genomics, and a new data-centred science of precision learning

Ben Williamson (School of Education, University of Edinburgh)

 

To be added to the group’s emailing list, please contact anna.pultar@ed.ac.uk


Calculating Risk: International Organisations and the Construction of Governing Utopias

Posted on

Wednesday, 8 May2019, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Sotiria Grek, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

 

Calculating Risk: International Organisations and the Construction of Governing Utopias

The dominance of International Organisations (IOs) in the production of global metrics has become a key feature of the transformation of the transnational education policy field. However, surprisingly little is known about the ways in which global processes of quantification are reconfiguring education governance. Recent decades have seen fervent activity by IOs to build broad alliances for finding ‘global solutions’ to ‘global crises’. Given the moral dimension that these new indices of educational progress have taken, as well as the enormous human and environmental cost of their failures, it is now imperative to examine the production of quantification for transnational education governance.

What are the properties of numbers that would suggest such a central role in governing? Numbers are characterized by qualities such as order; mobility; stability; combinability; and precision (Hansen and Porter 2012). Anthropologies of numbers suggest that ‘our lives are increasingly governed by – and through – numbers, indicators, algorithms and audits and the ever-present concerns with the management of risk’ (Shore and Wright 2015; 23). However, there is also –and perhaps primarily- need to focus on ‘the people classified, the experts who classify, study and help them, the institutions within which the experts and their subjects interact, and through which authorities control’ (Hacking 2007:295).

It is precisely the data experts that this lecture aims to focus on. We will examine what Latour called ‘the few obligatory passage points’ (1987; 245): in their movement, data go through successive reductions of complexity until they reach simplified enough state that can travel back ‘from the field to the laboratory, from a distant land to the map-maker’s table’ (Hansen and Porter 2012; 412). IOs constitute such ‘centres of calculation’. If we consider IOs central to the production of knowledge, we can infer that their interactions as the knowledge gatherers, controllers and distributors must have crucial governing impact.

 


A youth practitioner’s view of young people’s politics in the UK

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Dena Arya, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

 

A youth practitioner’s view of young people’s politics in the UK

Young people across UK nations face a host of challenges present and future; exacerbated by austerity policies and the privatisation of welfare services. Whilst the amplification of these challenges are apparent, so is an abject awareness amongst a spectrum of young people of the causes; an experience often reflected in my practice. This paper offers a practitioner’s view on young people’s politics through service provision and how this has led to a comparative doctoral research in youth political participation in England and Scotland.

Traditionally, young people have been seen as un-interested and disengaged in the political process. This longstanding idea is shifting following on from a surge in youth political engagement over recent years. Now, scholars such as Henn and Hart (2017) and Pickard (2018) pose a fresh perspective of young people’s political identity as motivated and agitated engaging in more informal methods of parliamentary politics. This paper is a contribution that aligns with these shifting scholarly views and demonstrates the importance of further research into youth political identity.

In recent years the language of co-production with young people has become woven into the frameworks of youth organisations. The reality is far less enchanting, with a process that is often top down, offering young people very little agency in the networks designed on their behalf. Over the past decade, I have worked with young people from a myriad of backgrounds and ages through local government, charity and third sector organisations; predominantly in deprived areas of London. This paper will reflect on my experience of young people’s participatory action outside of traditional politics through my work in the youth sector. The key areas that will be addressed are how institutions in the youth sector are creating obstacles for meaningful political engagement; how young people are creating alternative political spaces and why further research into this area is instrumental to supporting young people to have greater political agency.


Bioinformatic education: genomics and a new data-centred science of precision learning

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Wednesday, 6 March 2019, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Ben Williamson, Moray House of Education, University of Edinburgh

 

Bioinformatic education: genomics and a new data-centred science of precision learning

Big data, biological science and business have united forces in emerging approaches to the genetics of education. The emerging data-centred science of ‘precision learning’ raises significant challenges for educational research, as knowledge is produced through bioinformatics infrastructure, and raises the potential for biologically-informed education policy based on expertise in human genomics.

 


Practice and provision for gifted and talented students: a comparative study of primary schools in England and Scotland

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Wednesday, 6 February, 12-1 pm (Conference Room, 2.15 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Esthir Tzivelopoulus, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

Practice and provision for gifted and talented students: a comparative study of primary schools in England and Scotland

Educational provision for gifted and talented pupils in primary schools is under-researched (especially in Scotland) and so far an empirical comparison of school practices in England and Scotland has not taken place. The aim of this thesis is to investigate and compare how selected primary schools in Scotland and England have approached the development of policy and practice for the educational provision of gifted and talented pupils, by exploring how primary practitioners conceptualise giftedness, how they interpret and restructure national or local authority policy and what processes they follow to identify and provide for these pupils.

An analysis of the national policy background in these two jurisdictions preceded the empirical investigation of the approaches adopted in five selected schools.  One independent and four state-funded schools were purposively selected taking into account the number of pupils enrolled, the amounts eligible for free school meals and pupils’ achievements in literacy and numeracy in order to allow for meaningful comparisons to be drawn between each school and illuminate the topic studied from a variety of angles. Those schools’ policies were investigated first and then each was case-studied for a period of approximately 15 days. Data were collected through various methods, namely semi-structured interviews with teachers and head teachers, teacher- and pupil-observations and analysis of relevant documents (e.g. self-assessment or external school reports, pupil assignments, photographs). The analysis of the data collected through multiple methods and from multiple perspectives facilitated the comprehension of the often contradictory values and beliefs regarding gifted and talented education expressed by participants.

The analysis of the data showed that there are considerable differences not only between schools in England and Scotland but also within each case. Despite a heightened awareness of giftedness, teachers in this study still held stereotypic views about gifted and talented pupils (e.g. that they are privileged from nature and do not need additional support or that they have difficulties in their social life). Scottish teachers did not engage with the questions regarding the nature and terminology of giftedness as much as their English counterparts did, while teachers from the independent school rejected the concept of giftedness altogether. Identification of pupils as gifted and provision for their needs was very closely related to ability grouping and setting practices. A number of teachers equated identification processes with the procedures they adopted in order to group their pupils ‘homogeneously’ and suggested that this is one of the most effective ways to cater for all pupils’ needs, even though in many cases no differentiation of instruction or tasks was observed. The complex pattern of opinions about and attitudes towards gifted and talented pupils observed illuminates the degree to which teachers hold contradictory beliefs about the nature of giftedness and the dilemma to cater either for the ‘more vulnerable’ or the more ‘privileged’ pupils’ needs.


The distribution of student loans and grants: comparing the long-term financial impact of more targeted and more universal systems of student funding

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28 November, 12-1 pm (Conference room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Lucy Hunter Blackburn (School of Education, University of Edinburgh)

 

The distribution of student loans and grants: comparing the long-term financial impact of more targeted and more universal systems of student funding

Lucy is currently in the final year of a PhD  studying the relationship between family income and how much ex-students have to pay back to government after taking part in higher education. Her research examines how far different decisions on “free tuition” in Scotland and Wales are associated with different distributions of total borrowing by end of course, according to family income, and how the actual repayments of those who started from lower income backgrounds are likely to compare to those starting from higher income ones. The research contributes to the wider debate about the relative merits of universalism and targeting, or means-testing, in public services, as a way of reducing inequality.


Education, populism and civic virtue

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7 November 2018, 12-1 pm (Meeting Room 3, 311 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Lindsay Paterson (Social Policy, University of Edinburgh)

 

Education, populism and civic virtue

A consistent finding of research on education’s civic effects is that it fosters liberalism, respect, tolerance, and social responsibility. Yet education has also, much more recently, been seen as a source of division – as arousing anger among those who have little of it. It has been speculated that this education divide is a potential explanation of various kinds of populist rebellion against educated liberal elites. The paper considers survey evidence from several countries that might cast light on these recent debates.

 


Programme for semester 1 (2018/19)

Posted on

10 October 2018, 12-1 pm (Conference room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Introduction of new members and planning for 2018/19

 

7 November 2018, 12-1 pm (Meeting Room 3, 311 Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Education, populism and civic virtue

Lindsay Paterson (Social Policy, University of Edinburgh)

 

28 November, 12-1 pm (Conference room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

The distribution of student loans and grants: comparing the long-term financial impact of more targeted and more universal systems of student funding

Lucy Hunter Blackburn (School of Education, University of Edinburgh)

 

To be added to the group’s emailing list, please contact anna.pultar@ed.ac.uk


What is the Relationship between Justice and Pluralism in School Policy? Why the Scottish School System is more unjust than the English

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Tuesday, 5 June 2018, 2-3 pm (room 3.15, 18 Buccleuch Place)

Philip Cook, Lecturer in Political Theory, University of Edinburgh

 

What is the Relationship between Justice and Pluralism in School Policy? Why the Scottish School System is more unjust than the English

This presentation sets out an account of a ‘just plural school system’ that seeks to combine children’s entitlements as social equals, the expressive duties of school policy, with an account of a pluralist conception of liberalism. I briefly set out the principles, and then spend some time thinking through the implication for School policy. In particular I compare the Scottish and English systems and argue that the Scottish system is more unjust as it fails to express pluralism sufficiently.


Global, national, local – conceptions of citizenship among young people

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Wednesday, 18 April 2018, 12-1 pm (Conference Room 2.15, Chrystal Macmillan Building)

Christine Huebner, PhD researcher in social policy, University of Edinburgh

 

Global, national, local – conceptions of citizenship among young people

In light of an ongoing debate about an allegedly politically apathetic youth, ‘citizenship’ has become a catchphrase that scholars and practitioners employ to avoid a looming crisis of political legitimacy and educate a new generation of ‘responsible citizens’. It remains unclear, however, what it means to be a ‘good citizen’.

Having listened to young people in Scotland and the Netherlands talk about their understanding of citizenship, Christine learnt that the locus of citizenship is key for an understanding of what it entails. Given an increasingly globalized political and media landscape local, national, and global citizenship are meaningful concepts for young people, albeit very different ones. For some young people these understandings of citizenship are not sufficiently distinguishable, causing citizenship-as-legal-status and rights claiming to be conflated with a moralized version of citizenship (‘citizenship-as-desirable-activity’). In this presentation, Christine will share some very early analysis from her conversations with 46 young people aged 15 to 18 years, looking for feedback and suggestions for further analyses.


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