Forest School - at the fireside

Sustainability and social justice

Collective hopes in the age of privatised visions - Giroux

This is a cluster of differences with a future-forming orientation in actu. It aims to make the scholarly work of researchers and practitioners, including students and teachers, matter more in the following ways: a) a reconciliation of the different facets of our work on sustainability and social justice; b) a movement of ethical and life principles, not just economic priorities and measures; and c) a pedagogical commitment to renew and preserve ‘educare’. If you want to hear more about our cluster and connect with what we have been doing, please get in touch with Judith Enriquez-Gibson

Within pluralistic practices that have emerged and have indeed become the foundation and legitimising principle of post-structural, post-modern or post-human conditions of educational research and pedagogic knowledge, all research projects and case studies could be represented in their own terms to make a difference. In forming a collective or a commons, we suspend the ontological status of the ‘object of study’ and the epistemological and scholarly value of published work– to shift from what is the pre-conditioned elements of research: aims, methods and outcomes to what is becoming in praxis, achieved through and represented within ongoing action. Therefore, this cluster does three things:

(1) as a live space of commonality, it honours and celebrates with care our differences;

(2) as an scholarly and personal portfolio of identities and initiatives; conversations and commentaries and any other traces of our aspirations and imaginings of the future

(3) as a deliberate act to shift the thrust of educational research and pedagogy with sustainable principles, without having to always appropriate ‘sustainability’ and ‘social justice’ to our ends ‘for the future’

The thrust of the sustainable principles of the work being done by this cluster is to reverse the priority of the status quo as it relates to the dominant form of scholarship and research excellence through publications in journals and books. We, undeniably so, do a lot of things with words and texts both in setting boundaries and creating connections, from our names to our social status and forms of belonging. However, it is more productive and just to reverse the default orientation of scholarship and research excellence to the published text as having the primary position. The members of this cluster undertake research as a form of social action, with the published work following after. This is our sustainable and just stance – to channel our energies as social scientists, educators, community workers and global citizens and our academic resources of intelligence, ingenuity, innovation and hope into creating more future-forming projects in actu.

The logic of impact of the work we do is inevitably inscribed and intently embodied in one of our sustainable principles, a logic of care, in the following actions of change:

Areas of actions and change

We care about the:

  • children of parents in prison in the work of Dr Lorna Brookes
  • children who experienced parental separation or loss in the work of Dr Sue Kay-Flowers
  • forgotten skills like darning, sewing and knitting by teaching young children what it means to ‘mend’ through the Intergenerational Cafes led by Diane Boyd-
  • ecological values of young children where a pedagogical toolkit has been developed in the work led by Diane Boyd and Nicky Hirst
  • our student body and the integration of sustainability related pedagogies in higher education through the research by Dr Nicky Hirst and associated research in our Subject Area. Our work and subsequent publications are intended as conversations between, in and across each other to be ‘discursive plateaus’ or ‘assemblages of meaning that inform each other and do not stand alone’ (Honan 2007, 536)
  • holistic wellbeing and development of young children through forest schools and outdoor learning in the work of Dr Avril Rowley
  • enquiry-based learning, helping our learners to become more thoughtful, more reflective, more considerate and more reasonable individuals by creating safe spaces for dialogue through Philosophy for Children (P4C) in the work led by Kathryn Stokell
  • ethics of care, advocating the transformative power of reflexivity and reflexive teaching approaches, which are key to the process of seeing and appreciating other perspectives and democratic and participatory approaches towards relational ethics (praxeology) in the work of Dr Naomi McLeod (see her recent publications below)

Presence in outreach, media coverage and partnerships

The above actions and project initiatives reach out to future-forming relationships with various media, agencies and charities:

  • School of Tomorrow (an Erasmus+ project 2019) in partnership with Liverpool World Centre brings brings together educators from Hungary, UK (get in touch with Kathryn Stokell), Malta, Greece, Italy and Sweden to create inclusion and prevent early school leaving by collaborating and using various educational methods to empower students
  • video clip: Meet the kids learning to fix punctures (2018)
  • BBC 1 documentary “Prison, My Parents and Me” (2016) with Dr Lorna Brookes shows what it is like to be a prisoner’s child

Countries where the presence of our actions sustain connections and further actions nationally and internationally include: Nepal, Romania, Denmark, Philippines, Tanzania and the USA.

Published work