Book launch - 'Repositioning Out-of-School Learning'

Join us to celebrate the launch of 'Repositioning out-of-school learning', a book co-authored by Professor Tim Jay, Head of the Mathematics Education Centre, Loughborough University.

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Out-of-school learning spans varied formal and informal contexts and is hugely important for the lives of children. The need for time, flexibility, and agility in research within this field is highlighted throughout this multi-disciplinary edited volume, as each author reflects on how to make sense of the unknown and varied contexts in which out-of-school learning takes place. A range of different case studies discuss research methods used, challenges faced, and ways challenges were overcome in relation to out-of-school learning are presented, followed by a series of critical reflections. The case studies include a range of research foci and methods, from large-scale quantitative secondary data analysis, through interviews and workshops, to ethnographic and participatory methods. A series of shorter reflections drawing on all case studies consider the negotiation of the researcher role, building relationships, the ways knowledge is constructed, the role of place and power, keeping hold of messiness and complexity, ethical practice; and ‘slow research’. The principles outlined in this volume are relevant for all research on learning, whenever and wherever it takes place –whether in school or out-of-school.


Dr Janet Goodall, Swansea University

Janet will talk about the conceptualisation of ‘learning’ as distinct from ‘schooling’ and the intersection of learning, schooling and education.  Learning is a wide ranging concept, beginning at least at birth (if not before) and going on at least until death; it is generally defined as a more or less permanent change (of whatever scale) in the learner.  Education is a subset of learning, defined by formalised rules, either for the learner or in what is learned – so while this encompasses what goes on in the classroom, it also takes into account sports (offside rule, types of swimming strokes…), music, as well as activities such as clubs and societies.  Within this, there is then the more concentrated concept of schooling, which is generally a socially mandated set of curricula (both overt and hidden), carried out within or at least under the auspices of state sanctioned educational institutions, by those deemed by the state qualified to do so.  The confusion of these three terms – learning, education and schooling – underpins  many of the issues faced by authors of this book, as well as practitioners supporting learning in its vast and myriad forms.

Dr Laura Mazzoli-Smith, Durham University

Collaborative writing: pushing beyond the boundaries of traditional structures

In putting the book together, the whole writing team met on a number of occasions to think through the form and structure that the book might take, in a way that pushed us beyond what might have been a more traditionally conceived set of chapters. This collaborative, dialogic and creative process enabled us to talk through our research in ways that led to the development of thematic chapters, drawing out from our case studies varied foci that might otherwise have remained latent, not only in the book, but to some extent in our thinking. I will discuss how this process evolved and why it was so effective in the development of a multi-authored book with this innovative format.

Dr Jo Rose, University of Bristol

Stepping outside the box: the need for innovation in researching out-of-school learning

This book showcases some of the diversity of out-of-school learning, with wide ranges in terms of: what it is; where, when, and why it happens; who participates and what roles they take on. Such diversity and unpredictability in what out-of-school learning "looks like" means that many long-established approaches to researching learning will simply not work. I will discuss the need for researchers of out-of-school learning to adapt and innovate their methods, as they progress through their projects. Researchers in this field need the ability to reshape how they do research, to respond to the unpredictable contexts in which they find themselves, and make sense of the complexity of out-of-school learning.

Professor Tim Jay, Loughborough University

I will be talking about what I have learned from the book, and how I am planning to draw on this in the design of research that will form part of the new ESRC Centre for Early Mathematics Learning at Loughborough University. A recent review of research on the Home Mathematics Environment (HME) highlighted current limitations in the measures used and the restricted participant populations (Hornburg et al.,). We plan to bring a novel, interdisciplinary perspective to this area of research by incorporating participant-led methods and a focus on the quality of social interactions. I will discuss ways in which the key themes of ‘Repositioning Out-of-School Learning’ – in particular those on ethics, on emergent research designs, and on managing messiness and complexity in research – might inform the development of our work.  


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