The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Education / The Education Project

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 4:00am to Wednesday, July 22, 2015 - 10:30am

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Education
The Education Project

Monday 20th July – Wednesday 22nd July 2015
Mansfield College, Oxford, United Kingdom

Call for Presentations:
Providing education to students is likened to a gift and considered beneficial to society. Through teaching, futures can be made or destroyed. Knowledge acquisition is primarily a means of learning for life, but it is also a spatial and temporal journey through human existence. It has to do with growing up and finding one’s position in society. Institutionalized education, as in the industrial nations of the West and East Asia, is not the only way of learning, there are also informal instruction, home schooling and indigenous teaching, and the much lesser known educational histories of, for instance, African or Arab countries, missionary schools or remote island nations. There are people who advocate both life-wide and life-long education. For some individuals this journey often ends too soon, for others not soon enough, still for too many people in the world it never ever begins.

There is also a reason why the phrase “school is hell” is a common metaphor. In the educational environment, both institutionalized or private, people can grow up, succeed and fail, thrive and founder, be among loneliness and companionship, cruelty and love, without the one ever noticing the other. Schools are battlegrounds for fundamental antagonisms of society, for ideologies, pedagogies, bodies, minds, ethics, politics and struggles over class, gender, race and culture. The idea of schooling, to provide education to people, is an honourable one, but it can become perverted, abused, neglected, twisted and indoctrinated by all kinds of variables. Education can lead to enlightenment, but at times also carries dangers for teachers and students, threats of incarceration, prosecution, discrimination, addiction, suicide or even becoming a victim of terror or mass murder. On top of that, terrorists are often “educated” in school-like conditions as well.

Schools are represented in the works of countless writers, musicians, filmmakers and artists, in which the collision of educational reality with romanticism and ideal often result in most vivid expressions and commentaries. But we also find them in the paintings of children or picture books around the world which take us back from the often abstract discourse surrounding education among the intelligentsia to the very people who receive it. While “educational dystopia” has been a common theme in life, art and fiction through the ages, “educational utopia” is just as much becoming a catchword, especially in times when Finland leads as “top-notch” education system in the news and campuses world-wide begin to cater to “edutainment,” “gamification” and materialism to justify their existence .

Thus, education is all pervasive; policy, administration as well as management are increasingly involved in defining what it means to be educated in the modern day context. Not only pedagogues, politicians, lawmakers or parents have something to say about it, it is just as interesting to anthropologists, psychologists, historians, artists, writers, media makers and – first and foremost – pupils and students; each one can contribute to the matter, as school is indeed a metaphor for life. This project therefore seeks to bring together participants from a broad range of backgrounds to address the full range of ideas concerning the good, the bad and the ugly of education.

The following examples only comprise a small list of possible approaches to the subject; needless to say that the categories below do frequently overlap. There are many voices we would like to invite to this international exchange of ideas, research, reflections, analyses, performances or critiques:

 1) Educational Contexts: National, Transnational and Global:
– Education for all genders, cultures, ages and races
– Different educational systems , Western, Asian, African, Arab
– Indigenous and minority education, natives, tribes, initiation rituals
– Traditional knowledge and skills to be passed on from generation to generation in family education, folklore
– Charity projects and school houses in third world societies, welfare, foundations
– Spatial diversity, different school architectures and spaces, labyrinths and concrete jungles, huts, boats, remote teaching
– School exchange programmess, voluntary social years (see Germany and Austria)
– “Strangers in a strange land”, expats, refugees, diaspora, missionary schools
– Different interpretations of what comprises “fields of education”
– Trade school experiences, reform school experiences, special education experiences
– Formal and informal education

2) Educational Reality:
- Teaching methods, exams and tests, qualifications
– Punishments, sanctions and disciplinary measures
– Parent expectations, helicopter parents, pressure, puberty, Prozac
– Inter-student relations, in-groups and outsiders, stereotypes, peer-pressure, fashions, gadgets, networking, the road to school
– Experiences of teachers, administrators and staff, idealism vs. realism, disillusionment, burn-out
– NGO groups involved with student rights, teachers’ rights, etc.

3) Modern, Alternative, Dystopian, Utopian:
- Institutionalization, control and anarchy, uniforms, security and weapons, censorship, abuse, surveillance apps of parents monitoring the school performance/attendance of their children
– Childhood and teenage school traumas and nightmares
– Terror (the attack on Malala Yousafzai), murder, persecution, secret learning, forbidden knowledge
– Student aggression against teachers and the institution, school massacres
– Abuse of students by teachers, violence, paedophilia
– Cults and sects, and conditioning
– Drugs and alcohol, sex and teenage pregnancy, discrimination, bullying, hazing rituals, suicide
– Materialism, fashion, commercialization, education as business
– “Designer” and “fun” education, edutainment, gamification, virtual teachers

4) Policies, Theories and Ideologies:
- Government legislatures, mandatory education, laws that regulate the school experience
– Boarding schools, gendered education, stigmatized school systems
– Secularity, the religious right, home schooling
– Public and private schools, connections between class standing and specific types of schools
– Educational approaches, teacher education
– Educational histories and philosophies and their effects on society, Confucius, Aristotle
– Feminist movements, civil rights movements
– The myth and ideal of renowned institutions

5) Examples: School and Education in Art, Fiction and the Media:
– Schools in international children’s literature (e.g. British boarding school novels), from the charming and cute to the magical and  horrendous
– Film (e.g. Anglo-American high school movies and coming of age stories,  comedies and Cinderella stories, dramas, musical schools), television (Korean soaps)
– Japanese Manga
– Picture books, children’s paintings
– Classical and popular Music, ballet, dance and opera.

The Steering Group welcomes the submission of proposals for short workshops, practitioner-based activities, performances, and pre-formed panels. We particularly welcome short film screenings; photographic essays; installations; interactive talks and alternative presentation styles that encourage engagement.

What to Send:
Proposals will also be considered on any related theme. 300 word proposals should be submitted by Friday 1st May 2015. If a proposal is accepted for the conference, a full draft paper of no more than 3000 words should be submitted by Friday 19th June 2015. Proposals should be submitted simultaneously to both Organising Chairs; abstracts may be in Word or RTF formats with the following information and in this order:

a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.
E-mails should be entitled: EDU1 Proposal Submission.

All abstracts will be at least double blind peer reviewed. Please use plain text (Times Roman 12) and abstain from using footnotes and any special formatting, characters or emphasis (such as bold, italics or underline). We acknowledge receipt and answer to all proposals submitted. If you do not receive a reply from us in a week you should assume we did not receive your proposal; it might be lost in cyberspace! We suggest, then, to look for an alternative electronic route or resend.

Organising Chairs:
Petra Rehling:
Rob Fisher:

The aim of the conference is to bring together people from different areas and interests to share ideas and explore various discussions which are innovative and exciting.All proposals accepted for and presented at the conference must be in English and will be eligible for publication in an ISBN eBook.  Selected proposals may be developed for publication in a themed hard copy volume(s). All publications from the conference will require editors, to be chosen from interested delegates from the conference.

Inter-Disciplinary.Net believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract for presentation.

For further details of the conference, please visit:

Please note: Inter-Disciplinary.Net is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence.


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