Keynote 1: Anthropology and the Education of Attention
I argue that education, and not ethnography, should be the primary purpose of anthropology.
To substantiate this argument, I also establish two parallel claims. First, while education is
something we undergo, this undergoing is active and not passive. Second, it is fundamentally
about the development of powers of attention rather than intention. I begin with the
distinction between doing and undergoing, explaining what it means to say that doing is
encompassed within undergoing rather than vice versa. I then imagine what happens when a
being whose doing is thus encompassed begins to walk, by contrasting the walking of the
maze with that of the labyrinth. Maze-walking, I argue, is intentional, whereas faring in the
labyrinth is attentional. This leads to a discussion of alternative senses of education,
respectively as instilling knowledge in to minds and leading out into the world, and to
corresponding meanings of attention, respectively as attunement and exposure. Contrary to
orthodox accounts, I argue that in any skilled practice, just as attunement follows exposure,
so submission leads and mastery follows. Finally, I apply this argument to the key way of
working in anthropology, namely participant observation, showing how the praxis of
anthropology is itself an education of attention.
Keynote 2: Rethinking Educational Change: Harnessing the power of collaboration?
It has become widely accepted that school improvement research, policy and practice is
associated with making schools ‘better places’ for students, teachers and the wider
community (Reynolds et al., 1996). More specifically, Hopkins and colleagues (1994) argued
that school improvement is concerned with enhancing student outcomes by focusing on the
teaching and learning process, and by nurturing the conditions necessary to promote positive
school cultures. This involves building the capacity to manage change effectively by
developing a critical perspective rather than “blindly accepting the edicts of centralized
policies” (p. 3). In this sense the school improvement change efforts have tended to adopt a
bottom up perspective to educational change.
Drawing on instructive examples of practice, this presentation argues we need to develop
a perspective that this requires deeper understanding not only about school level
improvement processes, but also about high leverage approaches to leadership, partnership
and collaboration, both ‘between’ and ‘beyond’ schools (Chapman et al, 2009). This shift in
emphasis is underpinned by the challenge of working across organizational, geographical and
professional boundaries and also by the fact that as we move from within- to between- and
beyond- school improvement the knowledge base associated with effective improvement
strategies becomes less secure. As the instructive examples illustrate, the complexity of rising
this to this challenge is difficult, requiring a fundamental rethinking of roles and
relationships within systems. In conclusion, in order to highlight the need to develop a
empirical evidence-base for Scotland, the presentation offers a number of questions for
reflection that might inform the debate.
Chapman, C., et al (2009) New Models of Leadership: emerging patters of practice,
Hopkins, D., Ainscow, M., and West, M. (1994) School improvement in an era of change.
Reynolds. D., Creemers, B. P. M.,Hopkins, D., Stoll, L. and Bollen, R. (1996) Making good
schools. London: Routledge.
Keynote 3: Matters of professional responsibility for hopeful futures
Tara Fenwick, University of Stirling
At a time when issues of professional responsibility and professionalism are invoked almost
continuously by concerned policy makers and a nervous public alike, it is important for
professionals themselves to grapple critically with certain disturbing representations and
prescriptions that are circulating in the name of improving quality. In these matters of
professional work, I adopt what some call a ‘sociomaterial’ perspective, working upwards
from the difficult, messy and highly complex material dynamics of everyday practice – the
‘matter’ of the matter. Two questions animate my discussion: How can we understand
professional responsibility, if it is a ‘mattered’ and relational enactment? What practices of
professional responsibility might lead to more hopeful futures? From a sociomaterial
perspective, my presentation will examine changing meanings of professional responsibility
within broader contexts of the general undermining of professional work, knowledge and
authority. In particular, I suggest six governing regimes that are wreaking important changes
in the expectations and moral imperatives constituting professional responsibility. Then, in
the spirit of the conference call for ideas about living wisely and well, I turn to everyday
practices of responsibility that professionals can – and do – employ. These are strategies that
knit themselves and others into more affirmative possibilities for well being that may avoid
both the naïve idealism and inflated prescription that often seep into existing discourses of
professionalism and professional responsibility.
The arguments of this presentation are developed more fully in the forthcoming book:
Professional responsibility and professionalism: a sociomaterial examination (Routledge
Keynote 4: Education because the whole Earth matters: Reconceptualising dialogic
spaces, learning places and meaningful pedagogies
This address will consider how learning as an ‘ecosystem’, where participants adapt to their
environment and in so doing shape that environment, challenges current pedagogic practices.
If the ‘classroom’ defines learning and is defined by learning then interaction between
inherent systems is fundamental involving physical, psychological, social and cultural
dimensions with languaging at the core. Through reciprocal processes of interaction and
adaptation, it demands that participants are empowered to deepen their learning by working
in, through and with organic dialogic spaces. When spaces are constrained by specific
interpretations of curriculum and pedagogies acted out through ways of being and behaving
in that space, then the potential for tackling real-world problems from multiple perspectives is
limited. Drawing on visual classroom scenarios, the session seeks to pose uncomfortable
questions. It challenges us to revisit what we mean by learner participation and
interaction, digital literacy, scaffolding and progression which bring into question how
societal values such as equality, diversity and global awareness underpin practices. It asks
why what we do know about inspirational learning has not found ways of readily shaping
pupil-teacher experiences. Finding solutions involves accepting responsibility and
consolidating approaches to multi-layered actions if we are to ‘make that difference’ –
because it matters.