Life ever stops. Mixing bikes, research and work is my challenge AND my pleasure – as regular readers well know! As a change from our usual bike posts, this post is a little indulgent academic wankery. It has been a very busy week with my new 10-week course starting, a 4-day family trip and a 3-day conference to attend – among other things. Now that peak crazy period has passed, here’s an update of the RE4D Summit (conference) that has been the focus for this week. Cheers! NG.
Earlier this week I attended and presented at the ReImagining Education for Democracy (RE4D) Summit.
It was the first time I have attended this conference and I was very impressed.
To get details of each session – here is the Conference Program.
Essentially, this conference uses Critical Pedagogy perspectives to unpack and explore aspects of contemporary education research, policy and practice that are complex and challenging.
The Summit has a strong political undercurrent with sessions wrestling with issues such as globalisation, the role of the state and markets, technocratic models of education and how equity, access, fairness and social justice are being addressed in schools and within wider educational dynamics and systems.
So what was the ReImagining Education for Democracy Summit?
This event was an awesome 3-day conference that covered an wide range of education policy, process and practice. There were 5 keynote speakers, a free public lecture, and event called Pedagogy in the Pub, and over 80 presentations in the form of symposiums, focus panels, individual research papers and workshops.
The was a wonderful range and scope of the presentations. You can always tell a good conference when you are conflicted about what session to go to for fear of missing out on other sessions.
My presentation was part of a symposium with 3 other presenters.
As a group, we had developed the abstract (see below) and each of us contributed a differing perspective to our main contention.
We decided to go for the practical, for the personal and for the challenging.
Unfortunately, on the day one of our speakers (Ian) could not make it, so we were missing the male perspective, but it also meant that we had more time.
Here’s the abstract for our symposium:
Our presentation was awesome.
We had a great topic and some really interesting and unique expreinces and difficulties to share.
Naomi started us off by presenting her experience of being a mother whilst doing her PhD to tease out some key political and neoliberalist tensions. Sherilyn followed up with a little more methodological view to processing some key transformative ‘moments’ she had during her work disrupting educational and social structures within in her own local community.
Then, I ended by outlining some of the practical ‘shadows, cracks and hauntings’ that I have experienced in my work and telling 6 stories that hit at the heart of when things can go wrong when working on gender justice.
This format worked really well and the session was a pleasure to be part of. The build-up and layering of ideas from one presentation to the next was strategic and served well to show the individual, dynamic and complex nature of the work we do as well.
I told a few stories that I have not told before, which was a little daunting, but I was glad that my presentation struck a cord with the audience and reminded people that there are ofter negative ethical, social and other consequences of the work we do that need to acknowledged, shared and addressed.
Here’s my abstract for session on the symposium:
Did I mention that Prof. Michael Apple, his wife Rima and Prof. Pat Thomson from the academic blog Patter (among others) attended my presentation? Talk about a big gun audience!
Following the symposium, I had a number of audience members come up and say how much they enjoyed it – which was very affirming!
I was touched when one woman said that she was very moved by the stories and that my presentations really made her think. She said it was so important to share stories of when things go wrong and to acknowledge that there are dark sides to research, researchers and researching – and I agree!
As a final boost, I was stoked when a friend sent me through this Twitter post that was uploaded from an audience member I’d never met before.
One final thought about the Summit…. Prof. Michael Apple
Prof. Michael Apple
Listening to, and meeting Prof Apple was a real highlight for me.
It was so refreshing to hear his keynote speech on the second day, least of all because it was jammed pack full of provocative ideas. His topic was Can education change society and I was struck by his eloquence and skill as a public speaker. It was truly a pleasure to listen to his educated arguments. He is a consummate orator and gifted storyteller -and a delight to listen to.
To often keynotes are generic, pussy-footing-dont-want-to-upset-too-many-people-or-prensent-anything-too-controversial. But, Prof Apple went there, giving his ideas on some pretty tricky issues – which was great as it meant you knew exactly what he thought and could agree or disagree with it. So suddenly – hey, presto you have a conversation! Awesome! Thats what a conference is all about after all!
Before the conference, I wasn’t fully aware of who he was and I didn’t fully appreciate the immense impact and influence he has within the field of Education and Critical Pedagogy.
Turns out he is one of the fifty most important educational scholars of the 20th Century and one of the ‘first fathers’ that established this field of inquiry and was a contemporary of Paulo Feire and Basil Bernstein – a big deal in my circles.
And, after following up on some of the things he mentioned and finding out more about his about his amazing political commitment to progressing educational and social/cultural activism, I am now a big fan.
Prof. Michael Apple has written widely on educational and social activism with the most recent being his article Critical educational reforms and dirty toilets: being honest about blockages and contradictions for AARE – a very interesting read indeed (especially given some of the ensuing comments).
I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference! See you there!
To give you an idea of the topics covered, below is the 2017 schedule:
More info please!
The website Rage and Hope gives a great overview of the key thinkers of Critical Pedagogy.
For more details on the main thrust, debates and foci of the Critical Pedagogy movement, Aliakbari and Faraji (2011) Basic Principles of Critical Pedagogy is a clear and easy read to get the basic principles and concepts of what Critical Pedagogy is all about and how it is related to education, politics and society.