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 Prof. Miriam David

 Institute of Education
 Univeristy of London
 20 Bedford Way

Tel:+44(0)20 7612 6825


     Thematic Seminar Series

Social Diversity & Difference: Researching inequalities in teaching & learning

Prof. Miriam David (Institute of Education, University of London )


The TLRP has the aim of supporting knowledge development, and research and learning about teaching and learning across all levels of education. The aim of this thematic work is to synthesise research from across the TLRP and deepen our understanding of how the issues of social diversity and difference, broadly understood as about social inequalities, influence and affect:

  • the contexts and conditions for learning and teaching,
  • the processes, pedagogies and practices of teaching
  • the learning outcomes of learners and practitioners, teachers and trainers.

The conceptual framework developed by the Director’s team as part of the thematic strategy informs the working processes and practices of these seminars.

Notions of social diversity and difference are deeply embedded in political ideologies and derive from contested and challenging moral values about social justice, in relation to changing socio-political contexts and social transformations.
The seminar series will seek to draw together findings from across TLRP projects about social diversity and difference and educational inequalities, and especially about how these issues may affect access to and participation within all levels of education and lifelong learning. The aim is to tease out both conceptualizations and forms of analysis of teaching/pedagogy and learning/learning outcomes.

This will begin the process of trying to tease out from the TLRP projects how social diversity and difference have been conceptualized and analyzed in relation to teaching and learning and pedagogies and changing conceptions of equality of opportunity, equity and equal outcomes from diverse learning regimes. In addition, evidence will be drawn about the relations between diverse and different pedagogies and pedagogies for diversity and difference, as sustaining or questioning social and educational inequalities.

Since diversity is a term which has now become commonly used with reference to issues of race and/or ethnicity, especially internationally (and in North America) at very least there will be an attempt to cover topics and the intersections between these topics and issues such as:

  • ethnicity/race
  • gender and sexuality
  • social class
  • dis/abilities
  • age in relation to lifelong learning
  • regions
  • religions/faith

These will also be linked to conceptions of identities and subjectivities in relation to learning and teaching, and the work on changing forms of pedagogies. The Phase 1 school-based projects, for the most part, did not engage directly with these conceptions or methodological approaches whereas some of the continuing projects – Phases 2,3 and 4 and the extension projects and the thematic seminars, and including the work especially brought together about 14 – 19 and FE in relation to HE – have been more explicit about conceptualizations of social diversity and difference, as forms of inequalities.

Thus, in order to develop the methodological and conceptual understanding of how social diversity and difference are threaded through teaching and learning contexts, practices and processes we will draw from sociological theoretical and methodological perspectives, using in particular methodological critiques and critical perspectives developed by critical pedagogies, feminists, socialists and post-structuralists.

These diverse perspectives will inform how we will provide an evaluation and review of TLRP projects through:

  • self-reflections of the researchers involved in the various projects, across all levels and phases and especially Phases 1 and 2, that have already been completed and
  • self-reflections of the frameworks now being used in some of the ongoing projects in phases 3 and 4 projects, extension projects and seminars
  • critical perspectives by independent evaluations or evaluators, using critical reflexivity, critical and post-structural or post-colonial feminisms, to address and interrogate the findings from the TLRP projects and create a new knowledge-base.

The final outcomes will be a series of web-based commentaries on key issues that may also be housed with

At least 6 commentaries will be produced in various formats (Sage Handbook, HEA and TLRP website)

  • Social Diversity and Identities in relation to learning across the life course, including work based learning
  • Social Diversity and Widening Participation to and in HE (from the 7 Widening Participation in Higher Education projects and the other higher education projects, and including work from the 14–19 projects)
  • Research on teaching and learning versus Pedagogic research in HE
  • Issues around contexts and communities for learning and learning outcomes
  • Critical pedagogies and diverse teaching for learning outcomes.

There will be 2 two-day seminars over 2006-7 which will focus on:

  • conceptualizing social diversity and how it has been conceived across TLRP projects in relation to learning, learning outcomes and equal opportunities in relation to education and employment/work
  • analyzing issues of social diversity how this has been ‘operationalized’ in relation to the schools-based projects, and thematic seminars
  • analyzing issues of social diversity in relation to teaching and learning and diverse pedagogies in lifelong learning, FE/HE
  • understanding the impacts of social diversity on aspects of teaching and diverse forms of pedagogies for different subjects/disciplines

These seminars will build and draw upon what work has already been done on social diversity and difference (covering issues such as class, ethnicity/race, gender/sexuality) both conceptually and empirically in relation to teaching and learning or pedagogies within TLRP, viz

Secondly a number of external activities relate to developing an appropriate conceptual framework, viz

  • Centre for Equality and Human Rights in Education (CEHRE), IOE, directed by Professor Heidi Safia Mirza is commencing work on conceptualising and theorising the intersectionalities of race, gender and difference exploring the importance of employing black feminist and post-colonial perspectives within and across schools, higher education and lifelong learning
  • The ESRC's Gender and Lifelong Learning series at UWE, Birkbeck and Warwick Univ (now finished) but plans for the future at Birkbeck Institute for Lifelong Learning: I presented two papers and was on the final plenary panel talking about TLRP issues
  • London South Bank University Families and Social Capital ESRC group working on cultural diversity and social capital - conference on Sept  11th
  • Bob Blackburn's annual social stratification seminars at Cambridge at which I presented a paper in September
  • Paper with Sue Clegg in 21st century society (vol 1 no 2 pp 149-167) on pedagogies and the project of the personal in HE
  •  My fellowship in north America - 9th March - 15th April - to learn from USA/Canada and to disseminate TLRP work


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