Events archive

Does contemporary character education rest on a mistake?

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22 May 2018 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Dr Dafydd Daniel, University of Oxford

Convenor(s): Professor Alis Oancea, Associate Professor Nigel Fancourt and Associate Professor Liam Gearon

The Future of Publicly Funded Faith Schools : A Critical Perspective

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01 May 2018 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor Richard Pring, University of Oxford

Convenor(s): Professor Alis Oancea, Associate Professor Nigel Fancourt and Associate Professor Liam Gearon

Separating Islam from Jihadist Extremism: An Educational Imperative

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13 February 2018 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Terence Lovat, Emeritus Professor, University of Newcastle, Australia and Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Education, University of Oxford Convener: Professor Liam Gearon The seminar will explore the ease with which radical Islamist or Jihadist discourse has utilized Islamic sacred source material to promote its cause.  It will be proposed that such utilization is misplaced, based on poor knowledge of Islamic sources and having the practical effect of destroying Islam’s credibility in the public eye.  The seminar will attempt to unpick the method by which this malpractice has been achieved, one more commonly utilized in Western discourse than is often appreciated.  The seminar will move on to explore the educational ramifications of such methodological practice and the need for a form of religious and theological education that can counter its negative effects and provide much-needed enhanced literacy about the core beliefs, values and practices of Islam.

Social and cultural influences on how young children's identities are shaped in a globalised world

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30 January 2018 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr Tony Eaude

Seminar Abstract: This session is based on preliminary thinking for a book on how young children’s identities are  shaped and the influence of culture on this. By young children, I mean pre-adolescents, though I tend to split this age group at around the age of 7. I present identity as a construct and a constantly changing narrative, with each person having multiple identities, distinguishing between substantive and situational identities. I shall explore the wider social and macro-cultural influences on how young children's identity is shaped, focussing primarily on aspects such as family breakdown, the fragmentation of communities and weakening of support structures, such as faith-based and community groups, and how images presented in the media including television, computer games and advertising may affect young children’s sense of identity. The approach will be interactive, inviting questions and contributions from different disciplinary and personal perspectives.

Mediatising religious education: BBC radio and television for children and schools, c.1920s-1970s (Public Seminar)

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27 November 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G/H

Speaker: Professor Stephen G Parker, University of Worcester

Convener: Dr Liam Gearon, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

Drawing upon research carried out as part of a Leverhulme Trust-funded project, this lecture provides a selective account of religious educational broadcasting at the BBC between the 1920s and the 1970s. Against the background social change, policy and curriculum developments, it examines the changing aims of broadcasters, the style, content and modes of delivery of programmes, and considers how religious education on radio and television in schools was listened to and viewed by teachers and children in the past. Amongst the larger questions to be considered will be how was the sacred depicted for children; what influences did religious educational broadcasting have upon curriculum RE, and teaching practises; to what extent did religious educational broadcasting prove a vehicle for mooted dechristianisation; and what might be said to be the successes and missed opportunities of religious educational broadcasting?

Stephen Parker is Professor of the History of Religion and Education at the University of Worcester. He has published widely on aspects of religious education in schools, and the history of religion in the twentieth century.

He is a leading contributor to developing international perspectives on the history of religious education. In addition, he has published research utilising social scientific methodologies, and on aspects of the philosophy of education and religion. Stephen is Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Beliefs and Values: studies in religion and education.

The research funded by the Leverhulme Trust upon which this lecture is based, will be published in 2019 by Oxford University Press, and titled: Religious Education in British Broadcasting: a history.

Value learning trajectories: negotiations on values and memberships

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20 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr Arniika Kuusisto, University of Helsinki

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

This paper introduces an interdisciplinary examination on value learning trajectories, presenting personal experiences on value learning and value negotiations from various research projects.

The data cover a variety of perspectives to value collisions between personal and social norms and expectations, often closely connected to shared values and thereby the external and internal definitions of memberships and belonging. The critical battle, then, often comes down to one's personal agency and the resilience of individual values when facing pressures for adjusting these.

Besides providing examples on children's and youth's negotiations on values and memberships, the presented data includes examples of value negotiations related to educators' professional trajectories.

The methodological approach derives from mixed methods design combining quantitative and qualitative methods.

Getting involved with The Sopranos: television series as medium for self-reflection

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13 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor Markus Rieger-Ladich, University of Tübingen, Germany

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon, Professor Alis Oancea and Lorraine Foreman-Peck, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

Television series can become a medium of self-reflection. Shows like The Sopranos can function as a mirror of our inner self. They confront us with inconvenient observations and painful discoveries. They know things about us that we didn’t want to know which gives them the potential to work against our self-betrayal. They raise the issue of the human condition. They open up spaces of self-reflection – and confront us with abysses of human existence. They reveal our worst possibilities. They depict human beings as ambivalent creatures that are capable of anything.

Using The Sopranos as an example, I will argue that these characteristics make television series a subject of educational studies and a suitable medium for philosophy of education.

Professor Markus Rieger-Ladich holds the chair for philosophy of education and is director of the Institute of Educational Studies at University of Tübingen, Germany. In his research he is interested in critical theories of education and post-modern aesthetics, especially contemporary novels, television series and architecture.

Ethical complexities of classroom and professional life: the case of gossip

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06 June 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Patricia White, UCL Institute of Education

Conveners: Alis Oancea, Liam Gearon and Lorraine Foreman-Peck , Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

This paper examines the claim that gossip is damaging to individuals and disruptive to the ethical life of educational institutions.

A rough delineation of gossip and small talk is offered and the suggestion is advanced that gossip, in its disrespect for the lives and experiences of other people, strikes at the heart of moral life: for this reason, it should be avoided by individuals and proscribed by professional codes of conduct.

In the rest of the paper a discussion of five examples suggests that rather than a blanket prohibition a nuanced approach to gossip is more beneficial for the ethical life of an educational institution. The five examples move the discussion away from black and white certainties to highlight the ethical grey areas in which teachers must operate daily. In this way, the immediate topic of this paper, gossip, works as a lens to focus on its underlying concern, the ethical complexities of a teacher’s professional life.

Patricia White is an Honorary Senior Research Associate at the UCL Institute of Education.

She is a former Chair of the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain, an Honorary Vice President of the Society and a member of the Editorial Board of the Society’s journal, The Journal of Philosophy of Education.

Her publications include Beyond Domination: an essay in the political philosophy of education (Routledge, 1983); Civic Virtues and Public Schooling: educating citizens for a democratic society, (Teachers College Press, 1996) and a four-volume international collection of work in philosophy of education, Philosophy of Education: Themes in the Analytic Tradition, (Routledge, 1998) co-edited with Paul Hirst. She has written many papers on ethical and political aspects of philosophy of education. Most recently she has co-edited a Virtual Special Issue of The Journal of Philosophy of Education, which celebrates and opens up the archive of work in Philosophy of Education contained in the first 50 volumes of the Journal.

Education and the sacred: Jewish ideas of holiness and the dynamics of teaching and learning - an ethnographic study from Jerusalem

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16 May 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Isaac Calvert, Department of Education

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

In order to concretely explore the relationship between educational practices and the sacred, I specifically investigated the relationship between Jewish ideas of holiness and the dynamics of their teaching and learning as practiced in Jerusalem. Of so many communities that could have served as a first, specific study in this line of inquiry, Judaism in Jerusalem embodied the paramount importance of both education and the idea of holiness within its philosophical and theological traditions. As Jerusalem was especially, perhaps uniquely suited to exploring sanctity and its interactions with lived experience (including teaching and learning), especially within the Jewish tradition, and through the prolonged engagement characteristic of an ethnographic approach there, the connections between sanctity and education were more readily discernible.

While the backdrop of Judaism in Jerusalem may evoke intense and divisive debate in fields as diverse as geo-politics, archaeology, and international relations, all these elements remain peripheral and subsidiary to my more central focus, which is the relationship between the sacred and education. I hope that Judaism’s interpretation of the sacred and the dynamics of its relationship with educational practices will contribute to a deeper understanding of the role and influence of the sacred and belief therein as manifest in and connected to educational practice more broadly conceived, be it religious, secular or otherwise, and serve as a catalyst for further exploration into how other religions, cultures and communities address this topic.

A comparative study of religious education policy in Turkey and England

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09 May 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Abdurrahman Hendek, Department of Education

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

It has long been recognised that education policy has been questioned, critiqued and reformed in response to a variety of supranational and national factors. In the field of religious education, in recent years, there is a growing argument for comparative works to study this relationship between wider factors and religious education policy. In this study, I seek to present a comparison of religious education policy in state schools in two strikingly different countries, Turkey and England, by interviewing various policy actors, to unravel some of the complexities and contestations around supranational and national factors and their influence on religious education policy.

The study reveals that wider factors have shaped religious education policy by constraining and enabling policy actors. Yet, religious education policy can be better understood through a conflict theory lens, because policy actors still respond and interpret wider factors and their influence on religious education policy widely and contradictorily, reflecting their deeply held worldviews and values. Furthermore, in the context of the collision of wider factors and rival policy actors, religious education policy in Turkey and England has tended to converge on confusion, marginalisation, charge of indoctrination and unabated reform talk.

The study suggests that there is a need for sensitising for plurality across and within societies and that plural societies need more open and plural religious education policies.

Religious education and religious diversity

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07 March 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr Mark Halstead, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch).

This paper explores a key problem in the relationship between religious diversity and religious education. It was the desire to show respect for the diversity of faiths in Britain more than anything else that underpinned the adoption of a World Religions approach to RE in all non-denominational schools. But what are the theological and practical implications of this move? The RE teacher must adopt a neutral position between different religions (and between belief and non-belief), and children are likely to pick up that all major world religions are simply different routes to the same spiritual goal, and therefore in a sense all equally true. The effect of this is that where children have been brought up to accept the exclusive claims to truth of their own faith, they are now being required by the school to accept a different framework of belief, namely that their own faith is no more and no less true that any other religion. Parents whose children are in this situation are unlikely to feel that their faith is being respected (which was the reason for the introduction of the World Faiths approach to RE in the first place).

Three ways forward are discussed: (i) abandoning RE altogether; (ii) insisting on a pluralist approach to RE and dismissing religious exclusivity as unethical; (iii) encouraging a frank and open discussion of differences between faiths within RE rather than brushing them under the carpet and trying to create an artificial unity.

The paper draws significantly on a volume published by Bloomsbury last year: Religious Education: educating for diversity, by Philip Barnes and Andrew Davis, edited by Mark Halstead.

Mark Halstead is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, and Azman Hashim Fellow and Co-ordinator of the Muslims in Britain project at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Of roles and rules: towards a differentiated theory of professional ethics

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28 February 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr Gerard Lum, King’s College London

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch).

There has, of late, been an increasing interest in the potential of virtue theory to provide a theoretical basis for professional ethics.  While virtue theory’s evident practitioner focus does much to explain its appeal, the approach remains susceptible to complaints that ethical practice should properly be bound by rules, or that practitioners must necessarily have an eye to the ultimate consequences of their actions or to the general good.  My aim here is to outline an alternative theoretical approach, one which by avoiding resort to the traditional deontological, utilitarian or virtue perspectives might provide a more cohesive theoretical basis for professional ethics.

My starting point is to differentiate, first, the three basic role types (the ‘practitioner’ being one such) that I suggest are necessarily implicated in ethical decision-making – something that seems to have been neglected by theories of ethics/ social justice which emphasise variously just one of the three roles.  Second, and drawing on previous work, I distinguish between three fundamentally different kinds of rules which delineate and essentially constitute professional practice; this, again, being something overlooked in the literature relating to professional practice where ‘rules’ are often conceived as being of a single type.  Having distinguished the relevant role/rule types I propose that professional ethics can usefully be conceived as an integrated framework of rules whereby ethical roles are at once both interconnected yet differentiated by dint of being differently configured in relation to the rules.  This, I will suggest, allows for a more coherent theory of professional ethics which can be seen to avoid many of the difficulties commonly associated with classical ethical theories.

Dr Gerard Lum is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Education Management at King's College London.  His research is primarily in the philosophy and theory of education. He has a particular interest in epistemological issues relating to education and in recent work has been concerned with questions about professional education and professional ethics.

Education and the new Conservatism: social wellbeing, national character, and British values (Public Seminar)

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27 February 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Professor Gary McCulloch, UCL Institute of Education

Convener: Dr Liam Gearon, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

Conservative policies in education have often been analysed in terms of their neoliberal characteristics.  In the early years of the 21st century, the neoconservative themes of education policy are also highly visible, in particular social wellbeing, national character, and British values, strongly influenced by broader contemporary issues but also by longer-term historical legacies.  In this seminar we will review briefly the key themes of Conservative policies in education in the 20th century before examining the emergence of neoconservative themes over the past decade, continuities and changes in education policy since the 1980s, and current prospects for new and alternative themes.

Professor Gary McCulloch is the Brian Simon Professor of the History of Education and Director of the International Centre for Historical Research in Education at UCL Institute of Education London.  He is currently vice-president and president-elect of the British Educational Research Association and Editor of the British Journal of Educational Studies.  His recent publications include The Struggle for the History of Education (2011) and (with Tom Woodin and Steven Cowan) Secondary Education and the Raising of the School Leaving Age (2013). He has recently completed a social history of educational studies and research.

Who are the good immigrants? Teaching and testing citizenship for naturalisation

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21 February 2017 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Kristine Gorgen, Department of Education

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch).

2016 has seen politicians, the media and the wider public in heated arguments over immigration. In the UK debates raged over the number and characteristics of immigrants that were deemed desirable. Disagreement continues about ways to restrict and manage immigration in a way that yields maximum economic returns and minimum social disruption. One potential outcome of immigration is naturalisation, the process by which immigrants can become citizens of their destination country.

In her research Kristine focuses on naturalisation tests- who gets to decide on the content and design of naturalisation tests, what kinds of questions are asked, what values are implicitly and explicitly supported, what is the relationship of the naturalisation test to debates about immigration and integration. On this occasion she presents a work in progress and shares the results of her literature review.

Kristine Gorgen is a first year DPhil student at the Department of Education and a research assistant at OUCEA.

Government control of schools and curriculum: philosophical issues arising

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29 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Emeritus Professor Richard Pring, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Education 

Convener: Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

This paper will partly arise from the conference marking the 40th anniversary of Prime Minister Callaghan’s Ruskin College speech, details of which are at http://www.soss.org.uk/category/ruskin-callaghan-speech-40-years-on/, and will cover such matters as: the right of Government to decide what should be taught in schools; the right of particular groups (e.g. Faith Groups) to have their own schools within the State system; the demise of local responsibility and accountability; redressing inequalities in provision.

Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) among Muslim youth in Australia: The role of inter-theological education

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22 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor Terence Lovat, University of Newcastle, Australia

Convener: Dr Liam Gearon, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

All are welcome

The paper offers a critique of current attempts at school-based ‘Muslim de-radicalization’ programs and proposes instead that curriculum intervention described as inter-theological education has unrealized potential to inform, challenge and impel dialogue and self-reflection about the theological dimension that, while denied by much Western-based scholarship, inevitably underlies at least part of radicalization motivation. It will be argued and justified that education of this sort would be aimed principally at the goals of holistic education but would also possess a potential spin-off effect of dealing better with ‘de-radicalization’ issues than is the current experience in Australian schools, most markedly government schools wherein, statistics illustrate, the major issues of Islamist radicalization abound.

Terence Lovat was appointed Professor Emeritus at the University of Newcastle, Australia in 2011, having retired from the position of Pro Vice-Chancellor (Education & Arts) and member of the Executive Committee of the University, a position held since 2001. Prior to that, he was Dean of Education for 6 years and before that Head of the Department of Education from 1992. During this lengthy term as a University administrator, Professor Lovat was also active in professional work and national associations, serving continuously from 1997-2009 on the Board of the Australian Council of Deans of Education, including as President between 2004 and 2005, and as an Executive member of the Deans of Arts Social Sciences and Humanities from 2006-2009. He also served on the Executive of the NSW Teacher Education Council for many years, including as President between 1998 and 2000. In 2004, he was appointed by the Federal Minister of Education Science and Training to the inaugural Board of the Carrick Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (later ALTC) and to the National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy. Professor Lovat now teaches and researches in the discipline area of Philosophy, Religion and Theology in the School of Humanities and Social Science, as well as with the University's theological partner organization, The Broken Bay Institute, Sydney. He is qualified in Theology, Ethics, Education, Philosophy and Social Anthropology, with particular expertise in matters of Islamic versus Judaeo-Christian Theology, and religion, ethics and values in their application to education. This background has led to a particular species of research in education. In the early 1990s, he was involved in the development of professional ethics, especially in medicine, and later took much of this background into educational research, applying philosophical and ethical perspectives to a range of educational issues, including curriculum, religion in education and values education.

SEMINAR CANCELLED Religious education and religious diversity

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15 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30

Speaker: Dr Mark Halstead, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies

Convener: Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

My paper explores a key problem in the relationship between religious diversity and religious education. It was the desire to show respect for the diversity of faiths in Britain more than anything else that underpinned the adoption of a World Religions approach to RE in all non-denominational schools. But what are the theological and practical implications of this move? The RE teacher must adopt a neutral position between different religions (and between belief and non-belief), and children are likely to pick up that all major world religions are simply different routes to the same spiritual goal, and therefore in a sense all equally true. The effect of this is that where children have been brought up to accept the exclusive claims to truth of their own faith, they are now being required by the school to accept a different framework of belief, namely that their own faith is no more and no less true that any other religion. Parents whose children are in this situation are unlikely to feel that their faith is being respected (which was the reason for the introduction of the World Faiths approach to RE in the first place).

Three ways forward are discussed: (i) abandoning RE altogether; (ii) insisting on a pluralist approach to RE and dismissing religious exclusivity as unethical; (iii) encouraging a frank and open discussion of differences between faiths within RE rather than brushing them under the carpet and trying to create an artificial unity.

The paper draws significantly on a volume published by Bloomsbury last year: Religious Education: educating for diversity, by Philip Barnes and Andrew Davis, edited by Mark Halstead.

Mark Halstead is Emeritus Professor of Education at the University of Huddersfield, and Azman Hashim Fellow and Co-ordinator of the Muslims in Britain project at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies.

Religion and Belief in Britain: the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life (Public Seminar)

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07 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Speaker Dr Edward Kessler, Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies, University of Cambridge

Convener Dr Liam Gearon, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

Abstract

Religion and belief are driving forces in society today. Although there is some divergence of opinion over the extent, there is unanimity that the UK is becoming less Christian, less religious and more diverse. Dr Ed Kessler, Vice Chairman of the Commission on Religion and Belief in British Public Life, will discuss the implications of the dramatic changes in the religious landscape in less than two generations.

The Commission’s report, ‘Living with Difference’, was published in December 2016 and generated a fierce debate about UK public policy related to religion and belief. Dr Kessler will reflect on the reaction to the report as well as its impact in the areas of education, the media, law, dialogue and social action.

Understanding religion and belief is not an option but a necessity that the Government needs to factor into their approaches. The pattern of religious affiliation has changed and continues to change. Policymakers and politicians need to catch up with events, to enhance their capacity to read a most potent sign of our times - religion and belief.

About the speaker

Dr Edward Kessler MBE is Founder Director of the Woolf Institute, a Fellow of St Edmund's College, Cambridge and a leading thinker in interfaith relations, primarily, Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. Dr Kessler was described by The Times Higher Education Supplement as 'probably the most prolific interfaith figure in British academia' and was awarded an MBE in 2011 for services to interfaith relations.

Further info at: http://www.woolf.cam.ac.uk/people/profile.asp?ItemID=51

To what extent is Oxford still an Anglican foundation university?

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01 November 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Revd Dr John Gay, Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Education

Convener: Professor Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

The term ‘Church university’ is normally limited in this country to the group of new universities evolving out of the teacher training colleges established by the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church.  However four of the earliest universities, Oxford, Cambridge, Durham and King’s College London were ecclesiastical foundations. Whilst these four have broadened and secularized over the years, nevertheless there are still significant ecclesiastical elements remaining in their constitutions, their organisational structures and their practices.  This seminar focuses on Oxford as a case study.

John Gay is an honorary research fellow at the Department of Education and a visiting professor at the University of Winchester.

‘Love is a Teacher’: pedagogical attention in The Brothers Karamazov

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07 June 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor Peter Roberts, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosphy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with the PESGB

Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov is widely acknowledged as one of the most important philosophical novels ever written.  The Brothers Karamazov deepens and extends Dostoevsky’s treatment of themes addressed in his earlier fiction: the clash of values and worldviews; the tensions between reason, faith and feeling; and the complexities of human relationships.  A key claim made by one character in the book is that ‘love is a teacher’.  Dostoevsky develops a notion of active love, contrasting this with the more abstract principle of loving humankind.  Active love focuses on particulars; it teaches us how to love individual human beings, with all their frailties and flaws.  Iris Murdoch’s concept of attention, adapted from the work of Simone Weil, provides a helpful starting point in exploring some of the broader educational implications of these ideas.

Peter Roberts is Professor of Education at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.  His primary areas of scholarship are philosophy of education and educational policy studies.  His latest book is Happiness, Hope, and Despair: Rethinking the Role of Education (2016).

Beyond happiness? Pondering the purpose(s) of education (Public Seminar)

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06 June 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Professor Peter Roberts, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

Over the last two decades a booming industry in ‘happiness’ has emerged.  Academic research on happiness has attracted widespread media attention and spawned a host of more popular publications, many of which have a strong ‘self-help’ flavour.  Happiness is typically construed as something we all want and ought to pursue; indeed, it is often seen as the ultimate end to which our activities are directed.  Education is expected to enhance, not impede, human happiness.  This presentation offers an alternative way of thinking about the nature and purpose of education.  It acknowledges the importance of certain forms of happiness while also investigating the role education has to play in creating discomfort, uncertainty, and unhappiness.

Peter Roberts is Professor of Education and Director of the Educational Theory, Policy and Practice Research Hub at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand.  His primary areas of scholarship are philosophy of education and educational policy studies.  His most recent books include Happiness, Hope, and Despair: Rethinking the Role of Education (2016), Education, Ethics and Existence: Camus and the Human Condition (with Andrew Gibbons and Richard Heraud, 2015), Better Worlds: Education, Art, and Utopia (with John Freeman-Moir, 2013), The Virtues of Openness: Education, Science, and Scholarship in the Digital Age (with Michael Peters, 2011), Paulo Freire in the 21st Century: Education, Dialogue, and Transformation (2010), and Neoliberalism, Higher Education and Research (with Michael Peters, 2008).  In 2012 Peter was a Rutherford Visiting Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge, and in 2016 he is a Canterbury Fellow at the University of Oxford.  He is the Immediate Past President of the Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia.

Ethics from the perspective of young children’s development: questioning the premises of duty ethics

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24 May 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr Tony Eaude, Honorary Norham Fellow, Department of Education

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Education and Religion Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

Drawing on ideas developed in my recent book, I explore how a range of research related to young children’s development may bring into question several premises underlying a view of moral education based on duty ethics.  I argue that simple distinctions between right and wrong do not reflect the vast majority of decisions to be made and that there is no clear age at which children become moral beings. Referring to the work of Wall and Noddings, I suggest that one should be wary of a view of adults being morally superior to children and an individualistic view of ethics. I touch on lessons from neuroeducational research, in relation to the role of emotion, habituation and example. From this, I shall suggest that a Kohlbergian view of moral education as stage-related and based primarily on reasoning is inadequate. I argue rather for an ‘ethic of care’ where children are encouraged from an early age to make judgements, and to act, in ways that take account of the context. This emphasises character development with qualities such as empathy and thoughtfulness encouraged across the whole of children’s, and adults’, lives, as far as possible, rather than just in discrete programmes.

Dr Tony Eaude was previously headteacher of a primary school before completing his doctorate and is now a Norham Fellow at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. His most recent book on which this seminar is based is New Perspectives on Young Children’s Moral Education- Developing Character through a Virtue Ethics Approach, published by Bloomsbury. More details of Tony’s work are available on www.edperspectives.org.uk

Youth civic engagement in the Hong Kong Umbrella Movement

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17 May 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr Liz Jackson, University of Hong Kong

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in association with PESGB

Traditionally Hong Kong education has been conceived as “de-politicized,” and its population as apolitical and materialistic. However, the youth-led Umbrella Movement of 2014-2015, with its bases in Occupy Central and the National Education controversy of 2012, put an end to such discourses. Though initially perceived as the result of a recent curriculum reform, research reveals these movements reflect youth desires for democratic engagement in political processes not driven by educators or other adults in society. This movement has also given youth from ethnic minority communities an opportunity to identify themselves as local, providing a valuable lesson to these and mainstream youth alike. On the other hand, government responses to these events, as well as intergenerational struggles, have led to a kind of tragic political education for many, who have come to see the Umbrella Movement as a lesson in powerlessness and hopelessness over time. This presentation discusses the political identities constructed by youth in recent years in Hong Kong and civic engagement’s role in civic education.

Liz Jackson is Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Hong Kong, Division of Policy, Administration, and Social Sciences Education. Her research interests include multicultural education, citizenship education, and global studies in education. Her book, Muslims and Islam in U.S. Education: Reconsidering Multiculturalism (Routledge, 2014) won the 2015 Philosophy of Education Society of Australasia Book Award and 2014-2015 University of Hong Kong Research Output Prize for the Faculty of Education. Her current research explores global citizenship and civic identity and multiculturalism/interculturalism in Hong Kong.

Rather than a pill…”: Reflections on parents, children and scientific parenting (Public Seminar)

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09 May 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room A

Speakers: Dr Judith Suissa, UCL Institute of Education and Dr Stefan Ramaekers, University of Leuven

Conveners: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum

The background to this presentation is our recent work on the changing discourse of ‘parenting’, where we explore accounts of childrearing and the parent-child relationship in order to suggest a philosophically-informed analysis of the practical experience of being a parent.

Central to this work is a critique of the scientization of the parent-child relationship, focussed on two interrelated issues: the psychologization of this relationship, i.e. that the meaning and significance of childrearing is predominantly expressed in the languages of psychology (specifically neuropsychology); and the professionalization of parents, i.e. that parents are expected to see themselves as learning subjects, who must continuously gain more knowledge (provided by the disciplines of psychology), and so must refine their skills in order to properly raise their children. In our work, our concern is with how the scientific account of parenting defines and restricts both how we think and talk about childrearing and the parent-child relationship and also, therefore, how parents understand themselves.

In this talk, we will focus on Oliver James’ Love-Bombing; Reset Your Child’s Emotional Thermostat, a popular book aimed at parents, which, as we will discuss, exemplifies some of the philosophical, ethical and political problems inherent in the dominant account of scientific parenting.

Dr Judith Suissa is Reader in Philosophy of Education at the UCL Institute of Education. Her research interests are in political and moral philosophy, with a particular focus on questions to do with the control of education, social justice, libertarian and anarchist theory, the role of the state, political education, and the parent-child relationship. Her publications include Anarchism and Education; a Philosophical Perspective (Routledge, 2006) and The Claims of Parenting; Reasons, Responsibility and Society (with Stefan Ramaekers, Springer, 2012).

Dr Stefan Ramaekers is Senior Lecturer in the Laboratory for Education and Society, KU Leuven. Over the last years, his research has mainly focused on a critical investigation of the discourse of ‘parenting’ and the parent-child relationship and on the ‘pedagogical’ significance of educational support. Together with Dr. Judith Suissa of the Institute of Education (University College London) he published the book The Claims of Parenting: reasons, responsibility, and society (Springer). Recently he has started collaborating with Dr. Naomi Hodgson on researching figurations of ‘parenting’ in cultural representations, such as film.

Doing feminist work in a Christian setting: teaching gender and education as an undergraduate course at a small Canadian university

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23 February 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room C

Speaker: Professor Allyson Jule, Trinity Western University, Canada

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea,  Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum in conjunction with PESGB Oxford

This presentation describes and discusses the current complexities of establishing a Gender and Education module in a private Christian liberal arts university in Western Canada. Class composition in relation to the specific university is considered here, along with student comments on course topics and ways of engaging with material concerning an understanding of gender and its effects on education and teaching. Student feedback on the course offering, its assignments, and the classroom atmosphere are highlighted. Conclusions settle on the need for a strong commitment of the university administration, a qualified course instructor, and a connection of pre-service teachers to the complexities of gender in educational contexts.

Allyson Jule, PhD, is Professor of Education and Co-Director of the Gender Studies Institute at Trinity Western University in Langley, BC. She is the author of A Beginner’s Guide to Language and Gender and Gender, Participation and Silence in the Language Classroom: Sh-shushing the Girls and the editor and co-editor of four collections of sociolinguistic scholarship: Gender and the Language of Religion, Language and Religious Identity, Shifting Visions: Gender and Discourse and her most recent book, Facing Challenges: Feminism in Christian Higher Education and Other Places (2015).

Assessing virtue: measuring moral education at home and abroad

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02 February 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Professor Hanan Alexander, Haifa University

Conveners: Dr Alis Oancea and Dr Lorraine Forman-Peck, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum/Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

How should programs dedicated to education in virtue be assessed? One influential answer argues that if we can measure which inputs and processes produce the highest levels of virtue among participants according to some reasonable criterion, we will be able to determine which sorts of programs engender the most desired results. Although many outcomes of character education can be assessed in this way, taken on its own, this approach may support favorable judgments about programs that indoctrinate rather than educate; education in character entails teleological thinking to generate new norms, not merely reproduce old ones.  I argue instead that assessment of these programs requires an expansive view of character education in both particular and common goods that avoids the tendency to indoctrinate, moral education at home and abroad, and an inclusive conception of measurement that takes into account qualitative in addition to quantitative methodologies.

Hanan Alexander is Dean of Students and Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Haifa, where he heads the International School and the Center for Jewish Education.  A past head of Haifa's Department of Education, he is also a Senior Research Fellow in the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. His research interests include political, moral, spiritual, religious, and Jewish education and the philosophy of social research.

Educated at UCLA, Stanford, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, Alexander has taught philosophy and educational studies at the American Jewish University, where he was Academic Vice President; UCLA; the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York; and Bar Ilan University, Israel.  He also served as Editor of the journal Religious Education, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Visiting Fellow at St. Edmund's College and the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK.

Alexander has published more than 125 essays in various academic and professional venues, a number of which have been translated into German, Dutch, Chinese, and Hebrew. His books include Reclaiming Goodness: Education and the Spiritual Quest (University of Notre Dame Press, 2001), which won a 2002  National Jewish Book Award, Ethics and Spirituality in Education: Philosophical, Theological, and Radical Perspectives (Sussex, 2004), Citizenship Education and Social Conflict: Israeli Political Education in Global Perspective, with Halleli Pinson and Yossi Yonah (Routledge, 2011) and Commitment, Character, and Citizenship: Religious Schooling in Liberal Democracy, with Ayman Agbaria (Routledge, 2012).  His new book, Reimagining Liberal Education: Affiliation and Inquiry in Democratic Schooling, which was published by Bloomsbury in 2015, was recently nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.

Reimagining liberal education: affiliation and inquiry in democratic schooling (Public Seminar)

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01 February 2016 16:30 - 18:00
Seminar Room A

Speaker: Professor Hanan Alexander, Haifa University

Conveners: Dr Alis Oancea and Dr Lorraine Foreman-Peck, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Form/Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

Drawing on my new book Reimagining Liberal Education, I argue in this talk for a form of education in open, diverse, liberal democracies that eschews neutrality.  Instead, educators need to enable students to embark on a quest for intelligent spirituality grounded in thick traditions with roots in strong transcendent values, while paying heed to pedagogies of difference that engage a variety of alternative perspectives in dialogue. To understand one's self requires engaging those whose views are different from one's own. But to genuinely encounter difference one must also acquire a deep understanding of the traditions to which one is heir or with which one chooses to affiliate. This philosophical position offers an account of school curriculum and moral and religious instruction that throws new light on the possibilities of a nuanced, rounded education for citizenship devoted to a modus vivendi for living together across deep difference in peace.

Hanan Alexander is Dean of Students and Professor of Philosophy of Education at the University of Haifa, where he heads the International School and the Center for Jewish Education.  A past head of Haifa's Department of Education, he is also a Senior Research Fellow in the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. His research interests include political, moral, spiritual, religious, and Jewish education and the philosophy of social research.

Educated at UCLA, Stanford, and the Jewish Theological Seminary, Alexander has taught philosophy and educational studies at the American Jewish University, where he was Academic Vice President; UCLA; the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley; the Jewish Theological Seminary, New York; and Bar Ilan University, Israel.  He also served as Editor of the journal Religious Education, Richard and Rhoda Goldman Visiting Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and Visiting Fellow at St. Edmund's College and the Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK.

Alexander has published more than 125 essays in various academic and professional venues, a number of which have been translated into German, Dutch, Chinese, and Hebrew. His books include Reclaiming Goodness: Education and the Spiritual Quest (University of Notre Dame Press, 2001), which won a 2002  National Jewish Book Award, Ethics and Spirituality in Education: Philosophical, Theological, and Radical Perspectives (Sussex, 2004), Citizenship Education and Social Conflict: Israeli Political Education in Global Perspective, with Halleli Pinson and Yossi Yonah (Routledge, 2011) and Commitment, Character, and Citizenship: Religious Schooling in Liberal Democracy, with Ayman Agbaria (Routledge, 2012).  His new book, Reimagining Liberal Education: Affiliation and Inquiry in Democratic Schooling, which was published by Bloomsbury in 2015, was recently nominated for a National Jewish Book Award.

Education, Ethics and Experience. Essays in honour of Richard Pring

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26 January 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Forum, in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

Speakers:
Professor David Carr, University of Birmingham
Dr Alis Oancea, Department of Education
Dr Judith Suissa, Institute of Education, University of London
Professor James Tooley, University of Newcastle

Response:
Professor Richard Pring, Department of Education

The launch of Education, Ethics and Experience. Essays in honour of Richard Pring, edited by Michael Hand and Richard Davies, will be followed by a wine reception at 6.30 pm. All welcome.

Please register at http://www.etouches.com/145922

Download an invitation to the event
Download a flyer for the book

Thanks to the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain and the University of Oxford Department of Education for co-sponsoring this event

Educational philosophy for a postsecular age

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19 January 2016 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Speaker: Dr David  Lewin, Strathclyde University

Conveners: Dr Alis Oancea and Dr Lorraine Foreman-Peck, Philosophy, Religion and Education Research Forum/Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

Abstract

What does education look like in a post-secular age? What philosophical and pedagogical issues are raised by the new context of the post-secular? In this presentation I explore the varied conceptions of secularism and the post-secular, arguing that the post-secular complicates rather than overturns the so-called secularization thesis. The argument advances a view of religion and belief that challenges the idea that religion is basically reducible to doctrines, creeds or truth claims. The point here is to show that the ‘problem’ of religion and education is not best understood as a problem of competing and irreconcilable worldviews. The post-secular announces a shift in the debates within religion and education away from questions around, for example, indoctrination versus autonomy, or forms of relativism versus forms of realism. The post-secular presents a fresh opportunity to reflect on the formative nature of education.

Dr David Lewin is Lecturer in Education at Strathclyde University. His research interests focus on the intersections between philosophy of education, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of technology. He has published articles on wide-ranging topics such as contemplation, attention, hermeneutics, and digital pedagogy. He is the author of Technology and the Philosophy of Religion (Cambridge Scholars 2011) and has co-edited (with Todd Mei) From Ricoeur to Action: the Socio-Political Significance of Ricoeur’s Thinking (Continuum 2012) and (with Alexandre Guilherme and Morgan White) New Perspectives in Philosophy of Education (Bloomsbury 2014). He is currently working on a monograph entitled Educational Philosophy for a Post-secular Age (Routledge 2016).

Philosophy, literature and education: devising a curriculum, defining a field

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14 December 2015 17:00 - 18:30

Conveners Emma Williams and Dr Liam Gearon, the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

Attendance at the seminar is by invitation only, please contact alis.oancea@education.ox.ac.uk

Knowledge and virtue in teaching and learning

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17 November 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Forum, in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

Trusting teachers within reason: dialogical pedagogy and the epistemology of testimony

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03 November 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy, Religion and Education Forum, in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch)

Developing Citizenship Education in England

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16 June 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room H

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch), jointly hosted with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum.

Conservative education policy on free schools

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09 June 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch), jointly hosted with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum.

Gendered Excellence in the Social Sciences

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26 May 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford) Abstract: This talk will describe a research topic that has recently commenced, assessing how gender differences in several disciplines (History, Political Science, Philosophy, Sociology and Economics) might reflect the ways in which feminist and gender research have – or have not – been incorporated into the disciplinary core. Where women are most under-represented (in the PPE disciplines) feminist research is marginalised and gender rarely appears as a key research category in mainstream journals. Initial research suggests that History and Sociology present a contrasting picture. After describing the project I will particularly focus on some on my preliminary findings about Philosophy. About the Speaker: Dr Fiona Jenkins is a senior lecturer in Philosophy at the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University and is the convenor of the ANU Gender Institute. Recent publications include two co-edited books, Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change? (OUP 2013) and Allegiance and Identity in a Globalised World (CUP 2014).

England and Turkey: a comparative study of religious education

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05 May 2015 17:00 - 18:30

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch), jointly hosted with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum.

Being a religious education teacher in the digital age: professional identity in online social space

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28 April 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch), jointly hosted with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum. Abstract As the world around us becomes ever more dominated by technology, online social spaces increasingly provide key opportunities for teachers to engage with subject specific peers about their professional practice.  Using data gathered through a year-long digital ethnography of three online social spaces used by Religious Education teachers, this paper discusses what it means to be an RE teacher in the digital age.  It will be argued that engagement in online social spaces can disrupt traditional modes of professionalism and provide opportunities for RE teachers to perform and construct identity in increasingly national and politicised contexts in a way that has the potential to challenge existing structures that dominate the subject. About the speaker Dr James Robson completed his DPhil in Oxford University’s Department of Education in 2014, where he undertook a digital ethnography investigating Religious Education teachers’ engagement in online social space.  He is currently the Coordinator for the Learning and New Technologies Research Group at Oxford University and teaches on the Learning and Technology MSc in Education.  He is the Knowledge and Online Manager at Culham St Gabriel’s where he manages the trust’s Religious Education research agenda and suite of technology related educational resources.  He sits on the DfE funded Expert Advisory Group for RE and the RE Teacher Recruitment Strategy Steering Group as a social media expert.

Teaching as moral injury: the ethics of educational injustice

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10 March 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch) and Religion, Philosophy and Education Forum joint seminar programme Please email alis.oancea@education.ox.ac.uk if you have any inquiries. Abstract: Consider a case study of school personnel who must decide whether to expel a fourteen year-old student for bringing marijuana onto campus. The case enables us to explore a class of ethical dilemmas in which educators are obligated to take action that fulfills the demands of justice, but have to do so under conditions in which no just action is possible because of contextual and school-based injustices. Under such circumstances, educators suffer moral injury: the trauma of perpetrating significant moral wrong against others despite one’s wholehearted desire and responsibility to do otherwise. Educators often try to avoid moral injury in intrinsically unjust contexts by engaging in loyal subversion, using their voice to protest systemic injustices, or exiting the school setting altogether. No approach, however, enables educators adequately to fulfill their obligation to enact justice and hence to escape moral injury. Although it is educators who suffer the moral injury, it is society that owes them moral repair—most importantly, by restructuring educational and other social systems so as to mitigate injustice. In assuming these obligations, society must also collaborate with experienced educators who have insights to cut through what otherwise appear to be intractable normative challenges. As a methodological point, case studies of dilemmas of justice may enable philosophers, educators, and members of the general public to engage in grounded reflection as a means of achieving phronetic equilibrium, thus further reducing moral injury and enhancing educators’ capacities to enact justice in schools. About the speaker: Meira Levinson is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, following eight years as an eighth grade teacher in the Atlanta and Boston Public Schools.  She is the author of No Citizen Left Behind (Harvard University Press, 2012), which has won awards from the National Council for the Social Studies, American Educational Studies Association, American Political Science Association, and North American Society for Social Philosophy.  Her other publications include The Demands of Liberal Education, the coauthored Democracy at Risk, the co-edited Making Civics Count, and over 30 scholarly and popular articles and book chapters. Levinson earned a DPhil in political theory from Nuffield College, Oxford, and her BA in philosophy from Yale University.  She is spending this year at Nuffield College as a Guggenheim Fellow, writing case studies, articles, and a book about dilemmas of justice in schools.  The project is intended to give educators tools for making just decisions in their own practice, and also to push political theorists to develop theories of justice that are robust enough to address complex school-based dilemmas.  This project, like her previous research, reflects Levinson’s commitment to achieving productive cross-fertilization—without loss of rigor—among scholarship, policy, and practice.

Late have I loved you: Beauty, truth and goodness in the design of learning: St Augustine as curriculum designer for the postmodern era?

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10 February 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch), jointly hosted with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum. Abstract This seminar will argue that current curriculum design in several school curriculum subjects lacks an ontology. By referring to subjects such as RE and Citizenship, and elements such as spiritual, moral and social development, I shall seek to establish that the epistemological foundations of these curriculum elements are weak, and require a stronger theoretical rationale based in a longstanding and complex understanding of human existence. Consulting the 5th-century  African philosopher, theologian and teacher St Augustine, and learning from his unofficial trinity of beauty, truth and goodness, I shall seek to sketch out a possible design theory for knowledge in the curriculum of our own era, an era both different from, and similar to his own. About the speaker Mark Chater is Director of Culham St Gabriel’s Trust, an educational charity supporting research, development and innovation in school-based Religious Education in the UK. A qualified teacher, Mark taught RE in British comprehensive schools for ten years before becoming a researcher and teacher trainer. He gained his Doctorate in 1997 with a thesis on the changing relationship between confessional and secular rationales for RE. For four years he was the national adviser for RE with the civil service. He is co-author of Teaching the Primary Curriculum, (2002), Developing Teaching Skills in the Primary School, (2007), Mole Under the Fence: Conversations with Fr Roland Walls, (2006) and Does Religious Education have a Future? (2013). He is working on Jesus Christ, Learning Teacher: Where theology meets pedagogy (due 2015). Numerous journal articles and official civil service documents have focused on the nature and purpose of RE, spirituality and values in education, school leadership, and the challenge of raising standards in RE. Mark is passionate about improving RE, resolving its longstanding weaknesses and working collaboratively across belief and national boundaries.

From critical thinking to intellectual virtue

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27 January 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch), jointly hosted with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum. Abstract Philosophy prides itself on its ability to teach students how to think. In teaching students 'critical thinking', philosophy believes that it serves the academy by straightening out students' thinking. It is for this reason that large (often first-year) courses in critical thinking (or 'reasoning', 'argumentation' or 'informal logic') are often presented as service courses across the university. Evidence whether such courses work, however, is mixed. While high performance on a standard critical thinking course can show mastery of specific critical thinking skills, it does not necessarily demonstrate critical thinking in life in general or - importantly - whether students are inclined to think critically in their lives outside the classroom. With this in mind, the critical thinking movement has begun to study critical thinking behaviours or dispositions in addition to ability at critical thinking. In this talk I discuss what it means to be 'disposed to think critically'. While the field is heading in the right direction, I hold that a focus on dispositions or behaviours is still insufficient to capture what we really expect of students' personal growth towards becoming critical thinkers. Rather than critical thinking skills (and the inclination to apply these skills), I shall hold that students need to develop a number of intellectual virtues. I will sketch what the study of intellectual virtue can contribute in this area and will show how the study of critical thinking should shift focus from studying skills to studying the people who have them. About the speaker Ben Kotzee is Lecturer in the School of Education at the University of Birmingham. He works on applying insights from contemporary epistemology to questions regarding intellectual character development. He has written on the epistemic aims of education and on the nature and development of expertise; he is the editor of Education and the Growth of Knowledge: perspectives from social and virtue epistemology (Wiley Blackwell, 2014).

Am I a critical realist?

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20 January 2015 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford branch) Abstract The paper arises from the recent invitation of Roy Bhaskar ('A Critical Introduction to Contemporary Philosophy') to address his international conference on Critical Realism. Since I did not know what a critical realist is, I was puzzled as to what to say. Hence, this paper is an attempt to find out what critical realism is and whether I am one. Unfortunately Roy has since died and therefore can no longer give judgment. I therefore leave open to the audience to decide whether I should be let into that distinguished club. About the speaker Director of Dept. of Educational Studies, 1989-2003; Lead Director of Nuffield Review 14-19 Education and Training 2003-2009; 'Life and Death of Secondary Education for All', 2013; Third and much rewritten edition of 'Philosophy of Educational Research', 2014; Paperback edition of 'John Dewey; philosopher of education for the 21st century', 2014.

Thinking beyond the straits of reason

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02 December 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Dr Liam Gearon and Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain

On the nature of antitheism: an exploratory study of anti-Christian prejudice in English secondary schools

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25 November 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Dr Lorraine Foreman-Peck and Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain Abstract The French philosopher Jacques Maritain used the term “antitheism” to describe atheism that is positive and absolute in its hostility towards God. Recently, it has been used as an epithet by atheists, most famously by the New Atheist Christopher Hitchens. According to Maritain, an antitheist is someone who rejects the possibility of God and wishes the idea of God to be banished from the intellectual, public and political spheres. Some have claimed that antitheism is not a prejudice like anti-Semitism or Islamophobia. They argue that as prejudice must involve an element of irrationality, and hostility to the idea of God and the influence of the Christian Church in society is rational, it follows that antitheism is not a prejudice. This view is endorsed by the New Atheists, and has been articulated by those critical of the role of Christian groups in public life who see opposition towards the beliefs, values and influence of Christianity not as a prejudice but a right of free thinkers in a liberal society. This paper considers these arguments and suggests that contrary to them, antitheism bears conceptual similarities to other forms of religious prejudice. This philosophical argument is supported by a sociological analysis of the reported experiences of Christian adolescents in English secondary schools. About the speaker Daniel Moulin is a Research Fellow in the Institute of Culture and Society in the University of Navarra, Spain. He has published articles in the British Educational Research Journal, The Oxford Review of Education, and the British Journal of Religious Education. He completed his Economic and Social Research Council funded doctorate at Oxford University Department of Education and Harris Manchester College. He was awarded a boursier d´excellence scholarship in the Autonomous Faculty of Protestant Theology in the University of Geneva in 2013, and the Carmen Blacker Prize for the Study of Religion by Somerville College in 2012. His introduction to the educational thought of Leo Tolstoy is published in paperback by Bloomsbury this autumn.

How do we know that someone knows how?

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18 November 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Dr Lorraine Foreman-Peck and Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain Abstract This paper considers how professional knowledge should be assessed. The intellectualist arguments of Bengson and Moffett, which suggest that someone’s giving an account of how to F should suffice for attributing to them knowledge of how to F are set out. The arguments fail to show that there is no necessary distinction between two kinds of know-how, namely the ability to F and knowing that w is a way to F, such that the latter is more fundamental. The consequences of this failure for our understanding of professional assessment are then considered. The issue of the assessment of tacit knowledge is then addressed. It is concluded that there is no context-dependent codifiable or articulable propositional knowledge of how to F which could be substituted for being able to F and that therefore tacit knowledge can only be assessed in performance. The parallel with Gettier cases is reviewed and it is concluded that the provenance of accounts of and justifications for the attribution of know-how are not matters of indifference to its assessment. Finally, the question of evaluability or what Ryle would have called the applicability of intelligence epithets is discussed in relation to its relevance to our procedures for assessing practical knowledge. Once again, it was concluded that excellent performance is necessary to attribute excellence in know-how. About the speaker Christopher Winch is Professor of Educational Philosophy and Policy in the Department of Education and Professional Studies, King's College, London. He has taught in primary, further and higher education. He is the author of 'Dimensions of Expertise' (Continuum 2010) and a forthcoming book on teacher know-how.

Progression, knowledge and assessment in the curriculum: Who's interested in the sociology of knowledge now? (Public Seminar)

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20 October 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar room A

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Forum Abstract: Using tools from ethnography and Bernstein's concept of pedagogic discourse, this paper will consider the relationships between progression, knowledge and assessment as they have been instantiated in the literacy curriculum at two particular moments in time: at the beginning of the 19th century as elementary schools began to be founded; and under the education reform agendas of both Coalition and New Labour governments since 1997.  The different logics at work will be the focus for discussion, with a broader set of questions raised about the role of a sociology of knowledge in tackling the urgent problems facing practitioners now. About the speaker: Gemma Moss is Professor of Education at the Institute of Education, University of London.  Her main research interests include literacy policy; gender and literacy; the shifting relationships between policy makers, practitioners and stakeholders that are re-shaping the literacy curriculum; and the use of research evidence to support policy and practice.  She specialises in the use of qualitative methods in policy evaluation, and innovative mixed methods research designs. Her most recent research has opened up new questions in the sociology of knowledge by reviewing the design and use of literacy attainment data in different periods in the past.

The Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, reflects on his time as the Church of England’s lead bishop on education

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07 October 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room K/L

Conveners: Dr Alis Oancea, Dr Liam Gearon and Revd Dr John Gay, Religion Philosophy and Education Research Forum Abstract With 25% of primary and 6% of secondary schools being Church of England ones, for over three years the Bishop of Oxford has been in regular negotiation with central government on education issues. Described by the Guardian as ‘a deft politician who intends to make the best of government policies even though he may not agree with them’, he has never been afraid to speak his mind on issues such as collective worship, church school admission policies and religious education.  The inevitable headlines followed, such as -    ‘Bishop says’: Religious education wrecked by Gove’ (Times 20.07.13) -    ‘The Church’s educational mission should not be about collecting nice Christians into safe places’ (BBC 22.04.11) -   ‘Compulsory Christian school assembly should be scrapped’ (Telegraph 7.07.14)

A capabilities approach to educating public-good professionals

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10 June 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch) in association with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum Abstract Universities do not stand apart from urgent problems in society. As recipients of public funding and spaces for generating knowledge, it is important how universities understand their purposes and how their graduates, in particular those in professional fields, situate themselves in relation to these problems.  The focus of this seminar is an exploration of how university-based professional education might contribute broadly to the public good, and more specifically to poverty-reduction. A study of professional education in five different fields (engineering, law, public health, theology and social work) in three South African Universities is drawn upon to address the question of whether universities can educate and train individuals in the professions to possess knowledge and values that orient them towards the public-good and help them address inequalities and poverty in their countries.   The conceptual framework is the capabilities approach of Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum which lies within the domain of human development that recognises that while economic well-being is necessary to human flourishing, it is insufficient. In this conception of human development the focus is on improving lives and expanding choices and opportunities in a range of dimensions. The capabilities approach combined with an analysis of interviews with students, educators and practitioners allowed the construction of an ideal-type ‘public-good professional’ to convey the values, knowledge and skills required to provide public services that expand clients’ opportunities to lead better lives and to achieve what they have reason to value. The research generated a normative ‘Public-Good Professional Capabilities Index’ which is intended to be an evaluative space for thinking about public-good professionalism and practice. It has three elements: (1) Eight capabilities which are the normative goals of professional education-knowledge and skills; informed vision; affiliation; resilience; social and collective struggle; emotional reflexivity; integrity; and assurance and confidence (2) a set of educational arrangement likely to produce public-good professionals at university departmental level (transformative curriculum; appropriate pedagogies; and, inclusive departmental culture) and, at university level (having a transformative culture and environment; being critical, deliberative and responsible; and being socially engaged). (3)   identification in the specific national context (in this case South Africa) the social, economic, political, cultural and historical constraining and enabling factors for public-good professionalism. Although the case in which the Index was developed was in South Africa, it is intended or any profession that has a potential role in reducing inequality. About the speaker Monica McLean is Professor of Education in the School of Education at the University of Nottingham.  Her research interests focus on how social justice and human development aims might be pursued through university education.  She worked with Professor Melanie Walker in South Africa on a project exploring the relevance of the capability approach to university-based professional education (resulting in the book ‘Professional Education, Capabilities and the Public Good’); and has recently completed a project investigating quality and inequality in pedagogy and curriculum in UK universities.   She has also written ‘Pedagogy and the University: Critical Theory and Practice.

From multiversity to postmodern university (Public Seminar)

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09 June 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum Abstract This seminar presentation traces the emergence of postmodernist models of higher education institutions (HEIs) from Clark Kerr’s 1963 idea of the American multiversity to Zygmunt Bauman’s more recent notion of the postmodern university. In essence, postmodernist models of HEIs are characterised by viewing the university as in crisis: for example, that mass participation has turned students into consumers, that hyper-specialization in research has led to a fragmented academic community on campus, and that lack of consensus and the ‘end of meaning’ has led to the university losing its elite cultural function within wider society. This talk will explore a variety of postmodernist models of HEIs and what these imply for the university as a community, university governance, and the role of the university within wider society. Dr Claire Donovan (FRSA) has published widely on research evaluation and research policy, and has a particular interest in the place of the humanities, arts, and social sciences within science-based evaluation systems. She joined Brunel University as a Reader in 2010, and previously held research and teaching posts at the Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University; Nuffield College, Oxford University; and The Open University. She has been a visiting fellow at Cambridge University, Harvard University, the London School of Economics, the National University of Singapore, and the University of Sussex. The seminar is based on a chapter she has written for the forthcoming Handbook of the Sociology of Higher Education (Routledge).

Learning to respect: affective principles - SEMINAR POSTPONED

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20 May 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum THIS SEMINAR HAS BEEN POSTPONED TO BE RESCHEDULED TOWARDS THE END OF THE TRINITY TERM. APOLOGIES FOR ANY INCONVENIENCE Abstract The changing and evolving relationship between museums and communities, Indigenous, ethnic and marginalized, has been a primary point of discussion in the heritage sector in recent years. Questions of official and unofficial heritage, whose artefacts to collect and exhibit and why, have informed and influenced museum practice. Developing from this, a key issue is whether it is possible to raise awareness of differing cultural perspectives, values and beliefs and incorporate this into the education and training of heritage professionals, with the aim of making 'cultural awareness' an integrated and sustainable core part of future heritage training and practice. Taking as its focus international perspectives on education, values and ethics, and authenticity and significance, this paper explores whether it is possible to learn respect for differing cultural perspectives through the undertaking of educational programmes. It identifies various approaches that could complement the development of students and professionals in the cultural heritage and preservation sectors, and offers a means of actively engaging with cultural and professional values through a Taxonomy for Respecting Heritage and Values. Jeanette Atkinson works as a researcher on the AHRC Cultural Value project in the Department of Education at the University of Oxford. She is also an Associate Tutor in the School of Museum Studies, University of Leicester, and copy editor and member of the editorial board of museum & society. She holds a PhD in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester (AHRC funded) and has worked in regional and national museums in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Her monograph, Education, Values and Ethics in International Heritage: Learning to Respect, was published by Ashgate in January 2014.

‘Impact’ and ‘value’ in the neoliberal monoculture: making sense of the question of value in the arts and humanities

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06 May 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain and Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum seminar Convener: Dr Alis Oancea All are welcome. Please email jeanette.atkinson@education.ox.ac.uk if you plan to attend to ensure that enough seating is organised. Abstract Questions around the value of the arts and humanities to the contemporary world and the benefits they are expected to bring to the society that supports them through funding have assumed an increased centrality within a number of disciplines, not limited to humanities scholarship. Especially problematic, yet crucial, is the issue of the measurement of such public value, in the context to an ostensible commitment to evidence-based policy making over the past twenty years. This paper takes as a starting point a discussion of the ‘cultural value debate’ as it has developed within British cultural policy: here, the discussion of ‘value’ has been inextricably linked to the challenge of ‘making the case’ for the arts and for public funding. The pragmatic need to articulate the public value of the subsidised arts and culture in ways that might ensure the financial sustainability of the sector have resulted in the development of the often questionable rhetoric of the socio-economic impact of the arts, with particular reference to culture-led urban regeneration. The so-called ‘impact agenda’ therefore has reached a relative maturity in the arts sector, and it is interesting to observe that the more recent development of an impact agenda for arts and humanities research within the HE sector has been following a similar path. The paper discusses the problems with the persisting predominance of economics in shaping current approaches to framing articulations of ‘value’ in the policy-making context for both the arts sector and higher education. It concludes with a plea for a collaborative effort to resist the economic doxa, to reclaim and reinvent the impact agenda as a route towards the establishment of a renewed strategy for the public humanities. Dr Eleonora Belfiore is Associate Professor in Cultural Policy at the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies and Director of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value, University of Warwick.

A lifeworld perspective on learning for the professions

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08 April 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convenors: Dr Alis Oancea, David Aldridge (Brookes University) and Dr Lorraine Foreman-Peck, Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch) in association with the Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum Abstract With its grounding in phenomenology, a lifeworld perspective offers rich and novel resources in researching learning for the professions. This seminar explores some of this potential through foregrounding the importance of our inevitable entwinement with others and things in social practice. It draws upon empirical research on learning in preparation for professional practice. A lifeworld perspective enables us to attend closely to integration of what aspiring professionals know or can do (an epistemological dimension) with how they are learning to be (an ontological dimension). In providing an integrated research framework, this perspective allows us to extend and enhance prevalent research approaches in ways that respond to contemporary challenges in professional practice. About the speaker Gloria Dall'Alba is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Queensland, Australia. Her research draws upon hermeneutic phenomenology, especially related to higher education pedagogy, professional practice and qualitative inquiry. Her recent books are Learning to be Professionals (Springer) and an edited volume, Exploring Education Through Phenomenology: Diverse Approaches (Wiley-Blackwell). All are welcome. Please email Alis Oancea if you would like to attend this event.

The impact of the social sciences (Public Seminar)

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24 February 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch) Abstract University social science plays an essential role in the ‘human-dominated’ and ‘human-influenced’ systems that are central to our modern civilization. Across the world around 40 million people now work or study in university social science, or work in jobs where they ‘translate’ or mediate advances in social science research for use in business, government and public agencies, health care systems, media and civil society organizations. Yet the impacts of university social science have been under-researched, and their effectiveness often decried. Relatively little is known about the scale, diversity, and external salience of university social science research as a discipline group. About the speaker Patrick Dunleavy is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science, where he has worked since 1979. He was educated at Corpus Christi College and Nuffield College, Oxford, where he gained his D.Phil. He has authored and edited numerous books on political science theory, British politics and urban politics, as well as more than 50 articles in professional journals. His current research focuses on the academic impact of the social sciences and is funded by HEFCE.

Influencing policy? The example of religious education

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14 January 2014 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room J

Convened by Dr Alis Oancea and Dr Liam Gearon, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum

Religion, Philosophy and Education DPhil Symposium

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03 December 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room E

Convened by Dr Alis Oancea and Dr Liam Gearon, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum Interviewing the Powerful and Elites Adrian Hilton (University of Oxford DPhil student) Linda Bakkum  (University of Oxford DPhil student) Abdurrahman Hendek  (University of Oxford DPhil student)

The attraction of psychology and the rhetoric of neuroscience: On ‘knowing how to go on’ in the educational field (Public Seminar)

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18 November 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum in association with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford Branch) Abstract Psychology’s vocabulary and discourse has become part of our everyday conversations and for many educational researchers it has become the default auxiliary science of education. As a discipline it thrives in the present climate of performativity, where more attention is given to means than to ends. The paper analyses why psychology may be attractive nowadays in the educational field and identifies its prestige in academia, partly arising from its professionalization, but above all the use of a particular method and the focus on certain contents. What is argued in general is then illustrated with the case of (cognitive) neuroscience and its use, i.e., the possible benefits that are expected from this sub-discipline, in educational contexts.  Despite warnings from leading colleagues in the field of neuroscience and from some psychologists, there is something strange going on when the  insights of the mentioned sub-discipline are ‘used’ in the field of education. It is argued that a more balanced approach (invoking the particularities of the situation as well as a broader concept of practical rationality) is required for the study of education and that educational researchers should reclaim their territory, do justice to the responsibility that is required and highlight the importance of understanding social practices to a large extent in terms of reasons and intentions. Though one obviously always relies upon knowledge of various kinds, this moreover points to ‘knowing how to go on’ which invokes something that is different from what one normally understands by ‘knowledge’. The paper is an elaboration of some of the ideas that are developed in: - Smeyers, P., & Depaepe, M. (2012). The lure of psychology for education and educational research. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 46, 315-331. - Smeyers, P. (2013). Making sense of the legacy of epistemology in education and educational research. Journal of Philosophy of Education, 47, 311-321. About the speaker Paul Smeyers is Research Professor for Philosophy of Education at Ghent University, Extraordinary Professor at K.U.Leuven, both in Belgium, and Honorary Extraordinary Professor at Stellenbosch University, South Africa. He has a wide involvement in philosophy of education (around 300 publications) and is President of the International Network of Philosophers of Education, Programme Chair of Network 13, Philosophy of Education, of the European Educational Research Association, and chair of the Research Community Philosophy and History of the Discipline of Education established by the Research Foundation Flanders, Belgium. Professional web  profile: http://ppw.kuleuven.be/home/english/research/ecs/les/staff/paul-smeyers".

The pattern never lasts long in education: One man’s vision to improve society through the Farmington Trust

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10 October 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convened by Dr Alis Oancea, Dr Liam Gearon and Revd Dr John Gay, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum

Does Religious Education work?

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01 October 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convened by Dr Alis Oancea and Dr Liam Gearon, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum

Changing our landscape of inquiry for a new science of education (Public Seminar)

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20 May 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Alis Oancea, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum Abstract Research into education repeatedly makes a mistake first noted by Dewey. That mistake is in misunderstanding our science. Because of this misunderstanding, we often engage in unproductive kinds of research. The consequences of the error are amplified in current attempts to import various supposedly scientific precepts to education inquiry. These precepts do not, I argue, in reality characterize scientific endeavour, which is fluid and plural: science flexes to any angle to answer the questions that are posed in any field, and our questions in education concern worlds of practice and social relations wherein change and corrigibility draw the parameters for our inquiry. Our research becomes valuable only when it takes account of these realities of education endeavour, binding itself intimately with practice, examining the lineaments and interstices of individual practice. We should strive to forge a new science of education based on singular and shared understandings of such practice – it is these that should lie at the heart of our inquiry. Article in Spring 2012 Harvard Educational Review 'Changing our landscape of inquiry' About the speaker Being of a nervous disposition as a child, Gary Thomas failed to write anything on his 11-plus examination paper, which inaction took him to secondary modern school. His subsequent zigzag through the education system gave him broad experience of its good and bad sides. He eventually became a teacher, then an educational psychologist, then a professor of education at the University of Birmingham, where his teaching, research and writing now focus on inclusive education and the methods used in social science research. He has led a wide range of research projects and has received awards from the AHRC, the ESRC, the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the Department for Education, charities such as Barnardos and the Cadmean Trust, local authorities and a range of other organisations. He has written or edited 20 books and lots of boring academic articles. People tell him he looks far too young to be a grandparent, but, believe it or not, he is the proud grandfather of a little boy called Nicholas. He likes, in alphabetical order, cats, chess, cycling, dogs and writing. He dislikes 4x4 cars, pomposity and people who try to make things sound more complicated than they are (in that order). Despite supporting Aston Villa football club, he maintains an optimistic outlook on life.

A meeting of minds or ne’er the twain shall meet? Philosophy and policy-making in education

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30 April 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Dr Alis Oancea, Dr Lorraine Foreman-Peck, David Aldridge (Oxford Brookes) and Dr Janet Orchard (Bristol) Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford) and Rev. Dr John Gay and Dr Liam Gearon, Religion Philosophy and Education Research Forum Lesley Saunders will lead a seminar on the role of philosophy in education policy-making. She will be speaking from her personal experience of working closely with governments in England and abroad, most recently as senior policy adviser for research at the General Teaching Council for England.  She will give examples of two major contributions philosophy has the potential to make to policy formation:  critical thinking or ‘intellectual hygiene’ on the one hand, and normative thinking or foundational ‘philosophies of education’ on the other.  She hopes to stimulate a lively discussion!

The church school of the future - distinctive and inclusive?

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15 January 2013 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Conveners: Rev Dr John Gay, Dr Liam Gearon, Dr Alis Oancea Religion, Philosophy and Education Forum About the speaker Dr Priscilla Chadwick studied theology at Cambridge and then trained as an RE teacher here at Oxford. Having been Head of RE in three different schools, the last of which was a jointly managed ecumenical Anglican/Roman Catholic comprehensive school, she was appointed as deputy head at Twyford and later the head of Bishop Ramsey School, both in west London. She has published two well-reviewed books on church schools and, after a spell as Dean of Educational Development at South Bank University, she became Principal of Berkhamsted Collegiate School with the task of merging two historic public schools, one for boys founded in 1541, the other for girls in 1888. In 2005 she was the first woman to be elected Chair of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference. Currently she chairs the Bloxham Project and the Culham St Gabriel’s Trust and has chaired Church of England commissions on diocesan re-organisation and on church schools.

Politics, religion and education: perspectives from the Centre

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27 November 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Conveners: Rev Dr John Gay, Dr Liam Gearon, Dr Alis Oancea Religion, Philosophy and Education Forum

You're either a citizen or you're a believer: the tenuous relationship between civic and religious education in modern-day Serbia

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20 November 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Rev Dr John Gay, Dr Liam Gearon, Dr Alis Oancea Religion, Philosophy and Education Forum

The Christian atheist

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06 November 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Rev Dr John Gay, Dr Liam Gearon, Dr Alis Oancea Religion, Philosophy and Education Forum Canon Brian Mountford was Fellow and Chaplain of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and Vicar of Southgate in North London, before becoming Vicar of the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford, in 1986. He is an honorary Canon of Christ Church, Oxford and Fellow of St Hilda’s College, Oxford. At the University Church, he is responsible for an organization that offers worship, music, drama, the debate of ‘public theology’, including interfaith issues, and is one of Oxford’s principal tourist attractions. His principal theological interest has been in the beliefs and attitudes of those on the margins of Christian faith, summarized in his book Christian Atheist – belonging without believing, 2011, which is a contribution to the ‘God Debate’ from inside the Church. In 2005 he published Perfect Freedom, a short description of liberal theology from the Christian believer’s point of view.

Does Religious Education Work? The ongoing quest for meaning (Public Seminar)

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15 October 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Dr Liam Gearon Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum Abstract Professor Conroy will be discussing the three-year project he led, entitled Does Religious Education Work? This is the first major research project undertaken by the Centre for Studies in Faith, Culture and Education at Glasgow University. The project is funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s Religion and Society programme and is intended to create the single most comprehensive study to date of the state of religious education across the combined jurisdictions of the United Kingdom. The study unpacks the various kinds of claims made with respect to Religious Education in the very different contexts of England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Using a combination of philosophical, theological and detailed ethnographic approaches, we intend conducting a study of the local (school-focused) social, cultural and pedagogical practices which shape the delivery of Religious Education. About the speaker Professor James Conroy has previously held the posts Dean of the Faculty of Education, Head of Graduate School and Head of Department of Religious Education at the University of Glasgow.  Before joining the University of Glasgow he was Director of Religious Education and Pastoral Care at St Andrew's College; Senior Lecturer in Theology and Religious Education at St Mary's College, Strawberry Hill; and has taught in schools and adult education in England. Professor Conroy has written widely in the areas of religious education, religion, education and liberal democracy and education and the literary and aesthetic imagination. He has an enduring interest in (and written on) the philosophy of Hannah Arendt and the lessons to be learnt from her work for education and other social projects. He is also interested in and has written on childhood. Most recently he has been working on reconfiguring the arguments for and about pluralism in education, based on the recovery and refurbishment of some older terms and ideas. He has an enduring concern with education into the future.

Right from the start? How lessons from young children's learning can enrich our understanding of ethics and of moral development

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24 April 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Rev Dr John Gay, Dr Liam Gearon and Dr Alis Oancea Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum. Jointly organised with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford)

C.S. Lewis, Theology and Education

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14 February 2012 -

Convener: Dr Liam Gearon, Religion, Philosophy and Education Research Forum Abstract A one-time fellow of Magdalen College, C.S. Lewis was not only the famous author of the Narnia stories but a renowned and prolific writer and broadcaster on Christian Theology. Alister will provide an account of C.S. Lewis as author, theologian and, in the broadest sense, educator. The presentation will be based on Alister’s forthcoming book on C.S. Lewis. About the speaker Professor Alister McGrath is Senior Research Fellow at Harris Manchester College, and formerly Professor of Historical Theology, University of Oxford. He presently holds a Chair in Theology, Ministry and Education at King’s College London. A world-renowned academic, Alister has published highly successful works in theology, religion and science, as well as literature.

Beyond the tyranny of the self: truth, truthfulness and knowledge in religious education’

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07 February 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Revd. Dr John Gay, Dr Liam Gearon and Dr Alis Oancea in collaboration with the Philosophy of Education Society of Great Britain (Oxford)

What’s in a worldview? A response to Trevor Cooling’s “Doing God in Education”

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24 January 2012 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Conveners: Dr John Gay, Dr Liam Gearon, Dr Alis Oancea. Jointly convened with the PESGB Oxford branch Note: Attendees at the seminar are encouraged to read Trevor Cooling's report in advance; it is freely available online here Abstract In his recent Theos report, Doing God in Education, Trevor Cooling aims to defeat what might be called the marginalizing view of the place of religion in education. I am sympathetic to this aim, and to at least some of the objections he advances. But I think Cooling conflates two different arguments, predicated on two different concepts marked by the term ‘worldview’, and that only one of these arguments is plausible. One argumentative thread assumes that worldviews are theories of the meaning of life and contends that learning in all areas of the curriculum bears on the credibility of rival worldviews, including religious ones. Study in any discipline can prompt reflection on wider questions of meaning and purpose. It is therefore important to give explicit attention to worldviews in education. This seems broadly right. The other argumentative thread assumes that worldviews are conceptual schemes and contends that, without initiation into a worldview, ‘children cannot think at all’. While it may be true that having a conceptual scheme is a condition of the possibility of experience, it is highly implausible to suppose that religions qualify as worldviews in this sense. So Cooling’s second argument poses no threat to the marginalizing view. About the speaker Dr Michael Hand is Reader of Philosophy of Education and Director of Postgraduate Research Programmes at the Institute of Education, University of London. He has research interests in the areas of religious education, schooling and upbringing, moral and political education, the teaching of controversial issues, education for autonomy, education for patriotism, and the teaching of philosophy. His books include Is Religious Education Possible (Continuum, 2006), Philosophy in Schools (Continuum, 2008) and Patriotism in Schools (PESGB, 2011).

Here be dragons: Religious Education as a politically dangerous subject.

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22 November 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

The Revd Dr John Gay is Research Fellow at the Department of Education, Chair of the RE Council’s PR Committee and until recently the spokesman for the Church of England on RE. Respondent The Rt Revd John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, Chair of the Church of England Board of Education and lead bishop on education in the House of Lords. Abstract In recent months Religious Education has been regularly in the national news. A strong parliamentary campaign was fought to have RE included as a humanities subject in the English Baccalaureate. This was finally rejected by the Department for Education largely on the grounds that its inclusion would damage plans to boost history. At the time ministers saw the negative effects on the future take up rates of RE at A level and GCSE as acceptable albeit unfortunate collateral damage but now as damage which needs to be repaired. As the established church and as the instigator of mass education in the 19th century with still a very large number of schools and several universities to its name, the Church of England continues to play a significant role at both local and national levels in the English educational system. The paper will focus on the evolution of Religious Education as a statutory subject in the curriculum of all types of state maintained schools and on the working concordat between the Church of England and the state which has enabled this to emerge and be sustained. It will give particular attention to the nervousness of politicians in handling matters of religion. The Bishop of Oxford will respond from his direct experience as a key participant in the educational aspects of the political process and in particular from his national lead role in supporting the future of Religious Education in all schools.

Writers and their dictators: authors, citizens, educators (Public Seminar)

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13 June 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room A

Convener: Revd. Dr John Gay Religion Values and Education Forum in association with the Teaching and Teacher Education Research Group. Abstract This Public Seminar presents initial findings from Liam’s Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Based on archival work at the Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, the seminar makes a case for literary-historical method in citizenship education research. As the preliminary presentation of findings, the paper traces three early stages in the history of the organisation: • Apolitical English PEN: 1917-1932 • PEN Politicised: 1933-1945 • PEN and Political Education: The Post-1945 programme Tracing the emergence of International Pen as a non-government organisation with worldwide concerns for freedom of expression, the paper demonstrates the historical conflation of the literary, the political and the educational within International PEN. Research Background Established in 1921, International PEN (Poets, Essayists, Novelists) began quite innocuously as a dining club for English writers and is today a worldwide association of writers campaigning for freedom of expression across more than a hundred countries. Based on an idea by a minor Edwardian novelist, Mary Dawson-Scott, her approach in 1917 to John Galsworthy to be the group’s first president met with success. Galsworthy’s presidency lasted until his death in January 1933, a month or so after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. One of the characteristics of the Galsworthy presidency was his insistence that PEN was a fellowship of writers which must stand above and remain detached from politics. Galsworthy’s apolitical stance is marked in declarations at international congresses throughout the 1920s and early 1930s. After Galsworthy’s death, H.G. Wells took the presidency of International PEN, in the wake of Hitler’s rise to power. Wells, renowned for his classic science fiction works, was also an educational thinker and actively engaged in world politics. He was involved in the League of Nations, and there was a 1934 meeting with Stalin. With these interests, Wells led PEN towards an increasingly political future. With this politicisation came the increasing need for PEN in the broadest sense to campaign, and in many senses formally educate the public about its now key defining remit of promoting literature and protecting freedom of expression. In the aftermath of the Second World War, for example, Stephen Spender headed up PEN’s collaboration with the newly formed UNESCO’s programme of education. The seminar will focus on these early decades of International PEN.

Reading Group - religion and school values

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31 May 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room D

Convener: Religion, Values and Education Research Forum Readings: Massignon, B. (2011) Laïcité in practice: the representations of French teenagers, in British Journal of Religious Education, 33:2, 159-172 Nixon, D. and S. East (2010) Stirring it up or stirring it in? Perspectives on the development of sexualities equality in a faith-based school, in Educational Action Research, 18:2 151-166

Religious pluralism for religious education

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10 May 2011 17:00 - 19:00
Seminar Room D

Seminar organised by PESGB Oxford Branch in conjunction with the Religion, Values and Education Forum All are welcome. Please email alis.oancea@education.ox.ac.uk if you intend to attend. Religious exclusivism, or the idea that only one religion can be true, fuels hatred and conflict in the modern world. I defend a moderate religious pluralism, according to which the truth of one religion does not automatically imply the falsity of others. This is very important since it is hard to respect others when we believe that their religious convictions are mistaken. Religious exclusivism I take to be informed by an inadequate approach to discourse about transcendence. In particular, its account of how we refer to God is logically flawed. Yet it is assumed by some objections to religious pluralism. The irreducibly metaphorical character of much religious language means that differences between world religions can be more apparent than real. Approaches to religious education should embrace a moderate religious pluralism. Andrew Davis is a Research Fellow in the School of Education, Durham University, and Assistant Editor of the Journal of Philosophy of Education. Many of his publications concern philosophical aspects of knowledge, abilities, learning, assessment and mathematics education. However, his academic career began with a Ph.D entitled 'Divine Transcendence', under the supervision of Richard Swinburne. Andrew has recently returned to the topic of religion, with a paper for PES San Francisco in April 2010 and an article about religious pluralism in the journal Ethics and Education.

Freedom of Religion - SEMINAR CANCELLED

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08 February 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

We have just heard that John Kinahan has had to go abroad on business and therefore will not be able to lead the seminar on Tuesday 8th February. A new date is being negotiated. Please accept our apologies for the cancellation of this seminar. Conveners: Revd Dr John Gay and Dr Liam Gearon For further information contact: Deborah Elwine (deborah.elwine@culham.ac.uk)

Speaking transcendentally: Vattimo, Heidegger and the subject matter of Religious Education

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25 January 2011 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room E

Conveners: Revd Dr John Gay and Dr Liam Gearon For further information contact: Deborah Elwine (deborah.elwine@culham.ac.uk)

Religious education policies across Europe

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30 November 2010 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

The elephant in the room: the avoidance of spirituality in Alberta’s public education system

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16 November 2010 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Margot McKinnon Department of Education

The experience of religious students in secondary school religious education.

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02 November 2010 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Dan Moulin Department of Education

The counter terrorist classroom: religion, education, extremism

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19 October 2010 17:00 - 18:30
Seminar Room G

Speaker: Professor Liam Gearon Department of Education Discussant: Trevor Mutton PGCE Course Leader The seminar will include time for a wide discussion and then at 6.30 there will be a short drinks and light refreshments reception in the Large Common Room to welcome Liam

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Philososphy, Religion and Education Research Forum