University as both vehicle to, and shelter from, the future

Research group member John Lowenthal’s latest blog post for the ‘Imagining the Future’ project on urban and rural youth transitions – this project also involves Humanistic Perspectives member Patrick Alexander. John is currently resident in the States but sharing his thoughts online…

Discourses of education are often centred around notions of investment and the future. Young people are encouraged, as well as threatened, to go further and further into their studies through an ideology of delayed gratification. By “sacrificing” the present and committing time, effort, and in the case of HE, a great deal of borrowed money then you’re in with a chance of great things. Whilst a lottery, the future is kept alive through the promise of possibility. Failure to strive within this forward momentum is depicted throughout schooling as dangerous, degenerative, and against one’s own future interests. Yet even then, education is framed across the life course as salvational and solutional. Adults without a degree may “redeem” themselves later in life; much like aspirational immigrants who “use” education to “pull themselves up by the bootstraps”; meanwhile, those already with a degree increasingly consider further, and yet further qualifications, trying to escape a dull or competitive present in the hope of something better.

For more see:


Why Picturebooks Matter

And here is Mat Tobin, introducing a post on his own blog:

What is children’s literature and why it is worthy of our time, as adults, is something that I have been exploring since first graduating as a Primary Teacher. Although the two words could be read as mutually exclusive, they do in fact go hand in hand. In order to break down the walls of criticism that comes with studying children’s literature, I decided to write the following blog as an introduction to exploring what children’s literature does and why it is important that, as educators in all forms, we recognise its potential.

Lessons from the History of Reading

Our research group member Nick Swarbrick has his own blog. Here is a taster:

It is now unorthodox or even heretical – except among those for whom it is not – to claim that the simple view of reading is fallible. I noticed recently a University lecturer being taken to task for “pedalling tripe” by suggesting he was going to read Davis’ critique of systematic synthetic phonics. We live in a time where vitriol is easily poured out – whether on those heartless fascists who espouse a top-down model of teaching or those careless, loveless airheads who think that children should find it all out for themselves. Such, at any rate, would be the Martian judgement (for “Martian” see the work of Eric Berne as shorthand for a commentator completely outside the system). No matter how important they seem to the protagonists, Single Issue Politics -whether at national or staff-room level – can get very nasty very quickly.

And for the rest see: