Thursday, June 02, 2005

Educashun, educashun, educashun

Down at the Institute of Education for a morning seminar on popular education in Latin America yesterday. It was run by the Latin American Perspectives in Education (LAPE) group who have been extremely active since they started up earlier in the academic year. If there’s one gripe I have it’s that having signed up to their emails, I get copied into everyone else’s.

While the seminar gave me a new insight into thinking about education and my dissertation topic, I must admit to being no closer to understanding what is meant by ‘popular education’. As far as I can tell it involves education knowledge and practices from the grassroots up, drawing on local ideas and communities – I think.

Of the three speakers, Glasgow University’s Liam Kane made the most interesting points for me, arguing that ideology was an important part of an educator’s makeup; the challenge is to separate ideology from teaching methods, so the educated can see where the teacher is coming from. Afterwards I asked him whether ideology and methodology weren’t linked together. While there was some relationship Liam pointed out that good educators were able to separate their ideology from the teaching, while some bad teaching he had seen involved sound ideology (from his socialist perspective) but poor methods.

David Archer from Action Aid gave his presentation on the NGO-teaching union campaign to improve public education (public being distinct from popular since it is provided by the state) on a national and global scale. I attended the education conference at Oxford University’s Brazil centre where he gave exactly the same presentation so was already aware what he would say.

Finally Eduardo Zimmerman from the Universidad de San Andrés in Buenos Aires made some observations from the two presentations, including the institutional arrangements available for popular education (can’t decentralisation and federal arrangements assist in innovative education practice, including popular education forms distinct from the mainstream public system?), the fine line between and educator’s ideological commitment and encouraging students to think and act for themselves, and the actual content of popular education (what exactly should be taught? Is the purpose to reintroduce common values?)

All food for thought, if not directly related to my dissertation topic per se. Speaking of which, I’m off to Brazil on Monday to begin the fieldwork. So far I’ve got people provisionally lined up to speak to, but it’s not set in stone; I’ll try and do that when I get to Rio next week.

And to the relief of my one or two readers, I’ll also try and bring in some lighter topics as well.

No comments: