Staff spotlight: Steve Puttick

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Category: News

Steve joined the department as Associate Professor of Teacher Education in September. He is a curriculum tutor for the Geography PGCE and MSc in Learning and Teaching. Steve is a qualified geography teacher and was previously the head of department at a comprehensive secondary school in Oxfordshire. He holds an MA in Educational Leadership and Innovation from Warwick University, an MSc in Educational Research Methodology and DPhil in Education from the University of Oxford which were funded by an ESRC Studentship. He is also a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Before coming to the department he was the Head of Programmes for Secondary, FE and Research Education at Bishop Grosseteste University in Lincoln.

Tell us about your education, previous work experience, personal and professional achievements.

I first joined the department as a PGCE student, and I have often told people since that I have never underestimated anything as much as I underestimated teaching. Graham Corney was an amazing PGCE tutor, and I will never forget the realisation that not only did teaching represent an incredible opportunity to be a part of young people’s development, but it was also a massive and stimulating intellectual challenge. Partly this is because of the question about how you might take something as complex and dynamic as an academic discipline (in my case, ‘geography’), and make it understandable, relatable, accessible and interesting to young people – how you might bring them into this conversation about the world and their place in it. So from that moment I was hooked! And I have spent the last fifteen years trying to grapple with these questions from different perspectives, including as a school teacher, head of department, teacher educator, and researcher.

Can you tell us about any current research you’re working on?

I am excited to have recently been awarded seed funding from the Nuffield Strategic Fund to support our work on climate change education. In this project (Trust and Climate Change: information for teaching in a digital age), a collaboration with the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford, we will be taking forward questions about the sources of information teachers’ access to improve our understandings of the kinds of evidence, argument, and explanations that are used about the complex, rapidly changing and important topic of climate change. It represents one of the ways in which my research is positioned at the interface between the academic discipline and school subject of geography, and is designed to facilitate some great interactions between academic geographers and school geography teachers.

 I am also involved in an AHRC-GCRF collaboration with colleagues from Kolkata, Nottingham and Loughborough that builds on our ‘SMARTIES’ Net project on smart cities in India led by Professor Michelè Clarke. The SMARTIES Net project was shortlisted for the 2017 Newton Prize (India), and we are looking forward to understanding more about the ways in which digital urbanism might work to preserve and tell the narratives held in tangible and intangible heritage of and around migrant and diaspora communities on the Hoogly riverfront in Kolkata.

What teacher had the greatest impact on you?

I have already mentioned the way in which Graham Corney – my PGCE tutor – transformed my understanding of geography teaching. In terms of who had the greatest impact, I think it is a tie between Graham and Professor Alis Oancea who taught me so much about educational research through my DPhil.

Which one book or publication would you recommend and why?

The educational book that I have returned to more than any other – and each time found something new, or a slightly different way of thinking about something – is Richard Pring’s Philosophy of Education and I often recommend individual papers from this and the book as a whole.

What do you like most about your job?

There are so many things that are amazing about my job, but above all it is such a privilege to be surrounded by so many brilliant and inspiring colleagues.