Freedom To Learn Project | ESRC Seminar series
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ESRC logoThinking the ‘yet to be thought’: an international cross-sector seminar series exploring socially just education and inequalities in education

A new Seminar Series has been funded by the ESRC, to run from October 2014 until September 2016. This is an exciting opportunity to bring together academics, practitioners, teachers, educators, campaigners, parents and students. All events will be organised to be democratic and participative.

This seminar series, entitled ‘Thinking the ‘yet to be thought’ is underpinned by the principle that in order to be able to envisage different ways of doing things, we need to step outside our usual frames of reference. Instead of looking inside existing systems for answers, developing transformative and socially just educational systems requires more radical approaches or ‘totally different ways of envisioning education’ (Reay, 2012). This reflects Bernstein’s (1996) work on the pedagogic device, in which he describes the place between the known and the unknown as ‘the crucial site of the yet to be thought.’ This place, he argues, is often regulated by those who have the power to control what is thought and who it is thought by; in essence, those with power can reproduce inequalities in education by ensuring that they control the curriculum, pedagogy and assessment strategy. By inviting speakers who undertake research or operate as practitioners in counter-hegemonic structures, this seminar series seeks to challenge these distributive rules about ‘knowledge’.

This seminar series brings together academics and practitioners who have expertise in socially just education systems and who have adopted or researched alternative and radical ways of working and thinking. There is an inherent international focus, as within the field of education, many of the best examples of alternative and counter-hegemonic systems operate outside of the UK: for example, in Denmark, Australia and the USA. The speakers and audience include: a) academics with expertise in exploring inequalities in education; b) academics with expertise in counter-hegemonic educational practice in terms of pedagogy and curriculum, assessment, democratic structures and systems; c) practitioners with experience in these counter-hegemonic schools and universities which strive for ‘totally different ways of envisioning education’; d) trade unions; e) policy makers; f) parents and students.

The face-to-face events will take place as follows:

Launch Seminar
Socially just education and inequalities: outlining the challenge
Oct 2014, London

Mini-conference 1
Pedagogy and curriculum: The Danish Case
Video and pictures can be seen here: March 2015, Oxford

Mini-conference 2
Assessment: the embodiment of power
Video and pictures can be seen here: July 2015, Newcastle

Mini-conference 3
Systems, structures and governance
Oct 2015, Edinburgh

Mini-conference 4
Freedom, Autonomy and Democracy
March 2016, Hull

Mini-conference 5
Education of the Future
July 2016, Cardiff

Future Directions Seminar
The way forward
Sept 2016, London

Each event will have a keynote speaker and will also include numerous opportunities for everyone to share their ideas, practices and visions for the future. More details on how to get involved will be available through this website.

There will also be opportunities to engage with a growing online community. Please join the mailing list (through this website) to make sure that you get up-to-date information about events, bookings, and online activities.

All events are FREE but places are limited.

There are some BURSARIES to support PhD students to attend events and share their work. Contact Clare McKinlay for a bursary application form (

For further details, contact or