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PESGB Seminar with Professor Julian Stern

Posted by. Ed Podesta
Posted on 28 October 2019


​​Attendees of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (PESGB) seminar on Tuesday 16th October were treated to fantastic selection of biscuits, a fascinating talk by Prof. Julian Stern, from York St John University, about the history of loneliness in childhood, and two 'provocations' from LTU staff. The evening was the first in a series of seminars and a promising start for the re-launched PESGB branch.

Wednesday's meeting started with an explanation of our new mission. The PESGB WY (West Yorkshire branch) exists to help practitioners, parents, pupils, administrators and academics meet and engage together in philosophy of education with a practical as well as a thoughtful edge. The seminar series will provide established speakers with opportunities to present their ideas, but also offer a venue for people to take their first steps in speaking, presenting arguments and ideas.

To that end each evening will start with a 'provocation'. This is an open invitation for volunteers to prepare short (up to 5 minute) description of something that has provoked them to stop short, think differently, become irritated, sad, angry, or engaged, interested or hopeful, about anything to do with education or the philosophy of education. You can find more details about 'provocations', and who to contact if you're interested in providing one, on the ppt attached.

Last week's provocations came from Naziya O'Reilly, a PhD student, and Ed Podesta, who is a lecturer on our Secondary PGCE. Naziya talked about the recent decision of Scottish local education authorities to allow pupils one day off a year for protests such as school strikes or climate strikes. Naziya made a strident and persuasive argument against 'sanctioned protest', putting forward the view that learning to protest was part of the process of growing up, and that protest requires conflict with established authorities, not their approval.

Ed raised the issue of teacher agency, and the extent to which we should only do things that 'Ofsted want' us to do, following a twitter controversy earlier in the week in which ITE courses were criticised for asking trainees to produce lesson plans. Ed argued that teachers too easily forget that learning to plan lessons is part of the process of learning to teach. He argued that our first question should be 'will this help trainees become teachers?', rather then 'does the regulator require me to do this?'.

Julian's talk was a wide ranging and fascinating talk which tracked the development of ideas about 'loneliness' and 'solitude' in childhood. Being alone is a modern development, according to Prof. Stern, and one which relies on ideas of rejection of the self, after it fails to come up to a self-imposed standard. We heard how participants in Julian's research reported feelings of guilt in relation to feeling lonely, and how this has lead to a really fruitful line of philosophical enquiry over the last 10 years. Most excitingly we considered how different ideas of loneliness are explored in poetry and writing over time, but also in different cultures. There is, we found out, even an international conference called 'Alone Together' which meets to discuss 'solitude in community'.

Please join us for similarly interesting and thought provoking discussions at our next event. It is on 13th November, when Dr Alexis Gibbs, University of Winchester will be speaking about: 'What is education? Thoughts out of Cinema.' and two LTU students will be providing provocations. For more details and booking information click here.

If you're interested, we are still searching for provocateurs for our other sessions:

  • Wednesday 11 December – Dr Anne Pirrie, University of the West of Scotland: 'Venturing from Home: Writing (and Teaching) as Creative-Relational Inquiry for Alternative Educational Futures.'
  • Wednesday 15 January – Aimee Quickfall, Bishop Grosseteste University'Philosophy in Primary and Early Years Education: What Teacher Trainees and Children Think about Thinking in the Curriculum.
  • Wednesday 12 February – Dr David Rudrum, University of Huddersfield:  'Teaching Literature and Censorship in the 21st Century: Requiem for a Module That Never Was.'
  • Wednesday 11 March – Dr Penny Lawrence, University of Roehampton: 'Buber in the Streets: Dialogues with Environments.'
  • Wednesday 13 May – Ed Podesta, Leeds Trinity University'Teachers – Curriculum Agents, or Agents of the Curriculum?'