In this article, my co-author Ola Erstad and I revisit the history of our interest in the term, ‘learning lives’ in order to explicate the meaning(s) of the phrase and to set up a series of challenges for research into young people’s learning. We suggest that a learning lives perspective depends on three areas for investigation. First of all is the challenge of how to capture, theorise and describe the travel and trajectories if researchers are truly to ‘follow’ learners through, around and in their learning across everyday life. Secondly, it means refusing what seems to be the most apparent levers of change, namely media and technology. And thirdly, learning lives approaches need to address the pedagogicization of everyday life and the schooled society. Learning lives approaches help us see the changing place of the meaning of education and institutional pedagogies across all the nooks and crannies of everyday life.
Blogpost on TUMO Centre for Creative Technologies
I have just spent the week visiting the TUMO Centre for Creative Technologies in Yerevan, Armenia. I was asked by the Asian Development Bank to design an evaluation of TUMO’s work with a view to measuring its impact on learning, economic growth and society in general. TUMO is an extraordinary achievement offering a mixture of online self-directed learning programs and production workshops in filmmaking, web design, games production and animation but also offering courses and workshops in drawing, music and robotics amongst many other creative opportunities. It reaches about 7000 young people per week and has already set up satellite centres in three other places across Armenia. Its Facebook page gives a hint of its range of activities and energy.
I spent the week watching the centre at work and meeting staff, young people and other stakeholders. In the context of a challenging post-Soviet economy and education system and in a small country – albeit with a large and active diaspora – TUMO represents an extraordinary beacon for change.
Talking about The Class to teachers
I have co-authored a white paper outlining the context and research questions behind a Europe-wide project investigating young children, digital technologies and changing literacies. It can be downloaded here.
I gave this talk at The Playful Learning Centre in Helsinki, Finland. I argued that although play has always had a role in many theories of education and child-rearing, we now seem to live in an era where playfulness, especially in the form of games, penetrate many aspects of domestic, civil and social life. Perhaps because of this, play in schools is now a highly serious and formal demand which has found its way into the range of digital toys now being bought by parents for their children. I tried to mock why we take play so seriously in education and argued that educators need to find a way to constantly stay close to the edge in a world becoming more hidebound, controlled and constrained.
This co-authored book exploring the learning lives at home, at school and with friends of a class of London 13-14 year olds is now in production. It can be found here on the publishers website. It will be published free online at the same time as it is available in book format. It is the result of a year’s fieldwork 2011-2012.
I participated in a webinar, discussing how to think about the world that young people are transitioning into, how we might begin to develop a research agenda and conversation that addresses the challenges posed by the ongoing shifts in our society and economy? The CLRN has framed this challenges as the “Last Mile”, a reference to the ongoing struggle to connect learning (wherever it happens) and schooling to real world opportunity, especially among youth from resource-constrained schools and communities.
From validating subaltern cultures to pedagogicizing everyday life: the dilemmas of researching out-of-school learning
I gave this talk at North Western, Chicago 9th April. For over 25 years I have been interested in bringing together students’ out of school cultures and academic learning. Starting in media education classrooms the challenge was to find ways to build upon students every day consumption of popular media in order to build critical and political understanding of the role of mass media in their lives. I then followed through studies of emerging digital technology exploring how domestic and amateur technologies may or may not support forms of creativity. I have examined semi-organised community-based out-of-school learning institutions as well as ethnographic investigations of everyday making and learning.
At the same time, the politics of education have changed radically with their emphasis on outcomes driven standardised testing and a drive to colonise children’s lifewolrds as in some ways ” educational”.
Drawing on this range of experience and concluding with details from informal music playing from a recent year-long ethnography of 13 to 14-year-olds, I reflected on why we are interested in learning out-of-school: what’s at stake in our investigations and in whose interests such endeavours take place in order to tease out some of the pitfalls in the current focus on out-of-school learning experiences.