Category Archives: Thesis

The evasiveness of conversation as educational research

Bojesen’s description of conversation as educational research captures the way I had begun to think about the empirical aspect of my thesis. However, having just assessed thirty of my own students’ small-scale pedagogic research projects, I confess to occasionally feeling … Continue reading

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Nietzsche and Spinoza on Humanity and Education

The central concern of my doctoral thesis is the role of universities in supporting our vision of humanity – of how we should live. I’m interested in what both Nietzsche and Spinoza have to say about human perfectibility, and I … Continue reading

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The Two Cultures: A Psychedelic Solution?

The key point of C.P. Snow’s 1959 Rede lecture on The Two Cultures is an imperative to address a schism between the two cultures of science and literature (or at least, literary criticism). Snow accuses the latter of romanticising the pre-scientific … Continue reading

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Why do we talk about the purpose of universities?

There are seven and a half billion of us on a rock hurtling through the vastness of space. We are collections of atoms with the capacity for conscious experience. Many of us live in vast, densely-populated cities. Others live in … Continue reading

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Bildung, powerful knowledge and downward mobility

I referred in an earlier post to Von Humboldt’s specification of Wissenschaft (the ‘broad science’ that goes on in universities) as a communal endeavour in the service of Bildung. Bildung was the topic of this week’s PESGB seminar at the … Continue reading

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Changing ourselves, changing others

I want to return to something I wrote in my last post about encountering different approaches to life. I was responding to Karl Jaspers’ claim that tension between the individual and the world is necessary for self-knowledge and a true … Continue reading

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Karl Jaspers: universities, love and leadership

Wyatt, J.F. 1982. Karl Jaspers’ The Idea of the University: An existentialist argument for an institution concerned with freedom. Studies in Higher Education 7 (1), pp21-34. I’m still playing around with Newman’s Idea of the University and have been delving … Continue reading

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Oakeshott’s definition of the university

Oaskeshott, M. J. 1967. The Definition of a University. The Journal of Educational Thought / Revue de la Pensée Éducative, 1 (3), pp. 129-142 Writing four years after the publication of the Robbins report, Oakeshott responds here to a ‘confusion … Continue reading

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Possibly the dullest book in the world

Blessinger, P. and Anchan, J. P. 2015. Democratizing Higher Education: International Comparative Perspectives. Routledge. I bought this book over a year ago for a princely sum, fresh off the first print run. When it arrived I was disappointed – not … Continue reading

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Kreber and Barnett on authenticity, strangeness and what it means to be a graduate

Kreber, C. 2014. Rationalising the nature of ‘graduateness’ through philosophical accounts of authenticity. Teaching in Higher Education, 19 (1), pp90-100. While the internet was down at work, I read this. I hadn’t heard of Carolin Kreber before; her work was … Continue reading

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Nixon #2: the four thinkers

Nixon, J. 2013. Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education: Arendt, Berger, Said, Nussbaum and their Legacies. London, Bloomsbury. Nixon uses the middle section of his book to develop his ideas around higher education as interpretation through four thinkers; Hannah Arendt, John … Continue reading

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Nixon’s ‘pedagogic university’ #1

Nixon, J. 2013. Interpretive Pedagogies for Higher Education: Arendt, Berger, Said, Nussbaum and their Legacies. London, Bloomsbury. I found this a rather unusual book. It gripped, then it intrigued, and ultimately disappointed. And now I have the fun of articulating … Continue reading

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Supervision #2

I met with David at Brunel on Monday for a supervision meeting and gave him a brief update on what I’ve been doing and what my plans are over the next few weeks. It really is action stations at the … Continue reading

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On work, fun, and capitalism

Last week I had the urge to clear out my desk space at work, and came across a little brown envelope. Inside, I discovered a memo I’d been required to write to myself at our first EdD seminar, three and … Continue reading

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Employability, Tragedy and the Meaning of Life

The day after the PESGB seminar on entrepreneurship and the performing arts, I attended an education research seminar at Queen Mary on engagement with employability and graduate attributes. The seminar was given by Finola Farrant, a lecturer in Criminology at … Continue reading

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Becker, Barnett, and ‘building networks of mutual help’

Howard Becker’s How to Start and Finish Your Thesis (2007) is a nice easy read. I should probably start every month with it! A piece of sage advice that I’ve been following is to actively build ‘networks of mutual help’ (p175) … Continue reading

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Entrepreneurship and Employability #1

Clark, J. O., and Jackson, L. 2017. Ideology in the Academy: The Entrepreneur and Neoliberal Higher Education. Paper presented at PESGB London, Institute of Education, 15 February. In his 2008 book The Craftsman, Richard Sennett writes about the decline of … Continue reading

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Self-education and seeking the truth through conversation

I had a great chat with David on Friday about my literature review, through which I want to build a strong bridge between my methodology (conversation) and the subject matter (aims/purpose of higher education). He suggested a few things to … Continue reading

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Ricoeur’s ‘testimony’ and conceptions of the university

Lythgoe, E. 2011. Paul Ricoeur: Thinker of historical testimony. Analecta Hermeneutica (3), p1-16. At my last supervision, Ian suggested I might find Paul Ricoeur’s definition of ‘testimony’ to be relevant to my thesis on Conversation and the Idea of the … Continue reading

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Drapers’ lecture 2017 – Whose property are international students and researchers?

On 25 January I popped along to the annual Drapers’ Lecture at QMUL to hear Dr Jo Beall, Director of Education and Society at the British Council, talk about ‘Intellectual Property: Rights, Risks and Rebellions in International Higher Education‘.  I … Continue reading

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