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Thursday, 11 June 2015

New Horizons in the History of Education: conference report




Manchester Jewish Lads Brigade 1908 (Manchester Jewish Museum)



By Steven Cowan and Alice Kirke


 The first annual conference of the International Centre for Historical Research in Education (ICHRE) held at the UCL-IOE last week brought together historians of education, UCL students and ICHRE visiting fellows to engage with ‘new horizons’ in the history of education.
            UCL IOE students Katherina Grant and Edward Whiffin explored their developing ideas and research. Katherina gave an insight into the potential use of visual sources for her research project on pupil experiences of progressive education at King Alfred School, London, between 1930 and 1960. Edward focused on school histories as a source for assessing identity formation in public schools in the 20th century. Pauline Adams, who spent many years as a lecturer at the IOE in music education, stirred the memories of many of the audience with her presentation on secondary school music in Britain between 1945 and 1970.
            ICHRE Visiting Fellows Marcella Sutcliffe and Don Harrison opened the discussion into areas which had strong personal resonances for them. Marcella synthesised current strands of research on transnational education from the Risorgimento to Liberal Italy, offering examples of Italian schooling for migrant communities in Italy and the UK. Don brought a lifetime of experience working in international aid and development to his presentation on why there was ‘no exact place’ for international understanding in the shaping of England’s National Curriculum.
            An innovation in the afternoon was a presentation by a mixed panel which included two second-year BA students, Christan Francis and Kate Heptinstall, archivist Rebecca Webster and programme leader Mark Freeman, providing delegates with an insight into some of the research being undertaken by students on the BA Education Studies degree.
            The first keynote speaker was Rebecca Rogers from Universit√© Paris Descartes, who focussed on the legacies of colonialism in women’s and girls’ education through international exhibitions, with particular reference to Algeria. Rebecca has a recent book on this theme: A Frenchwoman’s Imperial Story (Stanford University Press, 2013). 
             Our second keynote speaker, Sarah Mills from Loughborough University, demonstrated the value of applying geographical perspectives to the history of informal education, drawing on her archival research into the Scouts, Woodcraft Folk, and Jewish Lads’ Brigade. Her book, edited with Peter Kraftl, Informal Education, Childhood and Youth: Geographies, Histories and Practices (Palgrave, 2014), uses a range of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches to the study of education and young people in the past and present. 
            The day was not only interesting because of the content of the presentations, but also the stimulating manner in which each of the speakers actively engaged a varied audience. For more information about future ICHRE conferences and seminars, see http://ichre.ioe.ac.uk/events/  

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