The non-formal arts learning sector, youth provision, and paradox in the learning city

The ‘learning city’ contains a range of non-formal learning economies. In recent years researchers have focused on, what has been termed, the non-formal arts learning sector, to document best practices, the emergence of new literacies and/or cultural practices, and to highlight interventions that support otherwise marginalised and underserved communities. Yet, for all of this attention, the non-formal learning sector has remained an opaque object, defined by hazy boundaries, diverse programme structures, and a presence in cities that is difficult to grasp. In this paper we develop an account of the non-formal arts learning sector for socially disadvantaged youth by treating it as a ‘socio-technical assemblage’ of the learning city. We draw on data from the Youthsites research project and examine the history, priorities, and tensions in the sector between 1995 and 2015, a period when the youth arts sector has become a significant feature of urban space. We trace the emergence of the sector in three global cities, analyse a series of paradoxes linked to income and property, the labelling of youth, and organisation aims, and show how these paradoxes shape the sector’s broader relationship with the state, labour and consumer markets, and related institutions that allocate support for young people.

This article comes out of the YouthSites project and can be found here.

Crossing boundaries between home and school: teachers and the challenge of digital connectivity

In November, 2018, I was invited to visit South Korea and to give a talk at a conference jointly organised by the Reading Association of Korea and the Association of Korean language education at the National University in Seoul. A video of my presentation can be found here.

My talk described research examining the lives of secondary school students at home, at school, with their peers, in out-of-school activities and with families and friends showing how digital technologies are recalibrating personal social and civic relationships. It then reported on a project called “the everyday digital” which helps teachers learn about the lives that their students are now living on screen and online and how to transform that knowledge into appropriate and relevant knowledge, pedagogy and school policy.

I also visited ?#?opencampus_?????? a school for creative arts in the alternative school sector as well as the Geongyyi Research Institute for education at Suwon meeting colleagues and sharing experiences.

Changing family cultures: the politics of learning with digital media

In October, I spoke at the YCC network ( young, creative, connected) in Madison Wisconsin. The aim of the symposium was to focus broadly on the ways that digital media may or may not be “changing” the nature of learning in the home. I co-authored a provocation paper for the event which you can find here.

My presentation was entitled “What counts as learning in the home?” And can be found on YouTube here.

This changes everything! What “the digital” means for the purposes and practices of education (2)

I gave a more detailed version this talk recently at the University of Sydney as part of the Media@Sydney series. This version can be found online here.

It a more elaborate argument about how schools and education systems are caught in the headlights of the digital era. Just as John Dewey formulated the principles of education for democracy in the context of violent industrialisation, rapid urbanisation and unprecedented social change in a new and emerging nation, so the global effects of computerisation and the digital are going to transform the wider purposes of education in both liberal democratic and authoritarian societies. This talk aimed to open up debates around: the changing function and practices of school itself; the wider purposes of digital literacy; changing nature of civic participation in an increasingly digitalised and datafied society; and the limits of the discipline of Education as principles and practices buckle and strain in an increasingly competitive and unfair world.

This changes everything! What ‘the digital’ means for the purposes and practices of education

I recently gave a talk on this topic which can be found on YouTube, here.

The argument is that schools and education systems are caught in the headlights of the digital era.

Educational reformer, John Dewey, created the principles of education for democracy as America was emerging as a new nation during a time of violent industrialisation, rapid urbanisation and unprecedented social change. Now, the global effect of computers and the digital era are going to transform education systems in liberal democratic societies.

This webinar aimed to inspire debate about the changing function and practices of schools, the wider purposes of digital literacy, and the limits of Education as principles and practices strain in an increasingly competitive and unfair world. Il also discussed the changing nature of civic changing nature of civic participation in an increasingly digitalised and datafied society.

This webinar will draw on recent research projects and offer principles to build a critical approach to digital media and culture, structured around principles of social justice.

Learning beyond the School

Following a seminar in Oslo in 2016 this book is now out. It explores the argument whilst whilst learning is central to most understandings of what it is to be human, we now live in a knowledge society where being educated defines life chances more than ever before.

Learning Beyond the School brings together accounts of learning from around the world in organisations, spaces and places that are schooled, but not school. Exploring examples of learning organisation, pedagogisation, informal learning and social education, the book shows not only how understandings of education are framed in terms of local versions of schooling, but what being educated could and should mean in very different social and political contexts.

With contributions from scholars based in Australia, Europe, the USA, Latin America and Asia, the book brings together accounts of learning outside of school. Chapters contain rich and detailed case studies of innovative projects, new kinds of learning institutions, youth, peer-driven and community-based activities and public pedagogies, as well as engaging with the dimensions of an argument about the place and nature of learning outside of the school. It challenges dominant versions of school around the world, whilst also critically discussing the value and place of non-institutionalised learning.

Researching the Everyday Digital in Children’s Lives

This new project based at Deakin University offers a structure and a process to support teachers to learn about their students’ every day digital experiences with the aim of developing appropriate curriculum and school based policy responses. We want to develop a genuinely critical future oriented way of doing school – that builds on the extraordinary knowledge and social practices that young people and their families are already developing at speed.

The project website is here.

An interview about the project can be heard here and here.

Digital Ethics, Political Economy and the Curriculum: ‘this changes everything’

This chapter co-authored with Allan Luke, Phil Graham, Doug Kellner and Jim Ladwig is published in The Handbook of Writing, Literacies and Education in Digital Culture. [eds] K. Mills, A. Stornaiuolo & J. Pandya-Zacher, New York: Routledge. It makes the case for a refocusing of teaching and learning across the curriculum on foundational questions about ethics in digital culture – and, hence, for reframing classroom practice around critical digital literacies.

Representing learning lives: what does it mean to map learning journeys

The paper:

  • Reviews vocabulary used to make sense of learning across contexts and over time.
  • Argues representing learning depend on narration, the filmic gaze and visual frame.
  • Argues reconceptualising mapping learning has implications for educational research.

‘Learning lives’, a double articulation both describing lifelong and life wide learning and the role learning plays in developing identity, relies on a process of portrayal. The vocabulary used to make sense of learning across contexts and over time is spatial in origin and metaphorical in application. Key terms include: mapping, connecting, navigating, tracing, pathways, vectors and networks. I suggest that we are now developing ways of representing learning that depend significantly on forms of narration, the filmic gaze and a visual frame making the concept of a “learning journey” more visible. Yet as we appear to capture and represent complicated forms of learning in “non-educational” contexts so the paradigm of studying such learning as movement is thrown into question.


Pedagogicizing the 21st Century: global research into learning beyond the school

I am currently at this seminar held by the University of Oslo on this theme with colleagues from the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, China, India, South Korea and Australia.

We have brought together a diverse international collection of scholars from Europe,in order to compare research into out-of-school learning with the aim of reflecting on global concerns with the pedagocization of everyday life. We will bring together accounts of learning outside of school which differ theoretically not only in how they conceptualise learning, but how each account relates to a normative presumption about the institutional nature of education within a range of societies. The seminar is structured to ensure full and proper debate of the meaning of the home/out-of-school sector within each country in order to produce comparative and contrasting analyses.

There will be more to follow on this theme as it develops.