Open Thinkering


Month: September 2006

Ed.D. Thesis Proposal Outline

Here’s the thesis proposal outline I’ve just sent off:

Thesis Proposal Outline
DAJ Belshaw

If I were to, in one sentence, sum up the area I wish to explore in my Ed.D. thesis it would be:

Changing conceptions of, and reactions to, the nature of knowledge by educational institutions.

In particular, I am interested in how secondary schools in the UK have responded and are continuing to respond to the feeling that, ‘[k]nowledge has broken free from its moorings, its shackles.’ (Siemens, 2006) The questions I hope to use to frame my investigation include:

1. How have governmental/agency (esp. UK/European) conceptions of knowledge changed in the last 25 years?
2. What role has educational technology in changing conceptions of knowledge?
3. To what extent does education in the 21st century need to differ from 20th century curricula?
4. What different kinds of knowledge are there, and which kind should schools be teaching/developing?
5. Are metaphors and similes, as used by educational thinkers and policy-makers the most effective way to bring about fundamental changes in education?

These areas are broad, but I hope to narrow these as my reading continues and the focus of my interest becomes clearer. My motivation stems from the dual sources of the hopes and motivations I had (and continue to hold) when I entered the teaching profession three years ago, and the frustrations I have felt since then by being constrained by a system more interested in standardization than innovation.

Whilst I shall, of course, declare my particular biases at the beginning of my thesis, it is interesting to note the number of thinkers on education who seem to share my convictions. From publications by UNESCO to blogs by practising educators there seems to be a feeling that we need to move from ‘classroom 1.0’ to ‘classroom 2.0’. I shall focus the majority of my attention on journal articles and other works published by traditional means, but I shall include also those published by ‘new media’ outlets such as blogs, wikis and podcasts. This, I hope, will serve to show something of the new nature of knowledge – or at least our changing conceptions of it.

Preliminary bibliography

Apple, M.W., et al. (eds.), Globalizing Education: policies, pedagogies, and politics (New York, 2005)
Blake, N., et al. (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Education (Oxford, 2003)
Broadfoot, P., ‘Comparative Education for the 21st Century: retrospect and prospect’ (Comparative Education, 36(3), 2000)
Cahen, D., ‘Derrida and the question of education: a new space for philosophy’ (in Biesta, G.J.J. & Eg?a-Kuehne, D. (eds.), Derrida & Education, London, 2001)
Carr, D., Making Sense of Education: an introduction to the philosophy and theory of education and teaching (London, 2003)
Cormier, D., Dave’s Educational Blog (
Dicken, P., Global Shift: reshaping the global economic map in the 21st century (London, 2003)
Fryer, W., Moving at the Speed of Creativity (
Journal of Knowledge Management (numerous articles)
Labbo, L.D., et al., ‘Technology and Literacy Education in the Next Century: Exploring the Connection between Work and Schooling’ (Peabody Journal of Education, 73(3/4), 1998)
Morgan, G., Images of Organization (San Francisco, 1998)
DfES/NGfL, Transforming the Way we Learn: a vision for the future of ICT in schools (HMSO, 2002)
Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures & Commerce, For Life: a vision for learning in the 21st century (1996)
Schoenfeld, A.H., ‘Looking toward the 21st Century: Challenges of Educational Theory and Practice’ (Educational Researcher, 28(7), 1999)
Sessums, C., Chrisopher D. Sessums: Weblog (
Siemens, G., elearnspace (
Siemens, G., Knowing Knowledge (forthcoming, 2006)
Smith, M. Cecil, et al., ‘RRQ Snippet: What Will Be the Demands of Literacy in the Workplace in the Next Millennium?’ (Reading Research Quarterly, 35(3), 2000)
UNESCO, Learning: the treasure within (1996)
UNESCO, Learning Throughout Life: challenges for the twenty-first century (2002)
??? Wells, G. & Claxton, G. (eds.), Learning for life in the 21st Century: sociocultural perspectives on the future of education (Oxford, 2002)
Warlick, D., 2 Cents Worth (
Young, M., ‘A Curriculum for the 21st Century? Towards a new basis for overcoming academic/vocational divisions’ (British Journal of Educational Studies, 41(3), 1993)

The difference between groups and networks

George Siemens sums up Stephen Downes’ distinction between groups and networks in Groups vs. Networks:

‘Groups require unity, networks require diversity. Groups require coherence, networks require autonomy. Groups require privacy or segregation, networks require openness. Groups require focus of voice, networks require interaction.’

This will be relevant in terms of thinking about the nature of knowledge in a networked environment with a collection of people which make up ‘expertise’.?

Some great quotations about education in the 21st century (and in general)

I came across this site, which has lots and lots of great quotations to do with education. Here are some of my favourite and those that should be relevant to my thesis!

‘We need a metamorphosis of education – from the cocoon a butterfly should emerge. Improvement does not give us a butterfly only a faster caterpillar.’ (

‘The world by and large has to be reinvented.’ (Charles Handy, Beyond Certainty)

‘How has the world of the child changed in the last 150 years?’ … the answer is. ‘It’s hard to imagine any way in which it hasn’t changed….they’re immersed in all kinds of stuff that was unheard of 150years ago, and yet if you look at schools today versus 100 years ago, they are more similar than dissimilar.’ (Peter Senge)

‘The map is not the territory.’ (Alfred Korzybski)

‘Some people think you are strong when you hold on. Others think it is when you let go.’ (Sylvia Robinson)

‘You can’t jump a chasm in two bounds.’ (Chinese saying)

‘If a torrent sweeps a man against a boulder, you must expect him to scream, and you need not be surprised if the scream is sometimes a new theory.’ (R.L. Stevenson)

‘It is our belief that schools in the main are entering the twenty-first century with structures and more importantly, underlying assumptions which are nineteenth century in origins, or relating to the world of the 1950 or 1960s.’ (C. Bowring-Carr & J. Burnham West)

‘I have a feeling we are not in Kansas anymore.’ (Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz)

‘Remember a dead fish can float downstream but it takes a live one to swim upstream.’ (W.C. Fields)

‘Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time.’ (Hebrew Proverb)

‘To be a teacher you must be a prophet – because you are trying to prepare people for a world thirty to fifty years into the future.’ (Gordon Brown, MIT)

‘There is something about the Procrustean bed about schools; some children are left disabled by being hacked about to fit the curriculum; some are stretched to take up the available space, others less malleable are labeled as having special educational needs.’ (C. Bowring-Carr and J. Burnham West)

‘What we want to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.’ (G.B. Shaw)

‘We must not entrust the future of our children to habit.’ (Judy Yero)

‘The curriculum is to be thought of in terms activity and experience rather than knowledge to be acquired and facts to be stored.’ (Haddow Report UK 1931)

‘Destiny is not a matter of chance it is a matter of choice.’ (Anon.)