Reconstructing Education: what matters?
7-8 April 2022 | Marino Institute of Education, Dublin
During the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and educators at all levels responded to the exceptional challenge of continuing education in new and creative ways. The quality of the student experience was the main driver of practice, and children and students continued to learn on-line, at home, on the street. Educators recognised the value of creating shared learning environments, and were innovative in seeking the means to “build human connection at a time of distancing and isolation” (Soskil, 2021, introduction). Nonetheless, when educational settings closed there was a sense of loss in our communities, in our families and in our lives. For schools and colleges are more than spaces for learning, they are places where teachers and pupils/students can connect fully and concretely with everyday experiences, they are places that enable encounter, places that are connected with and part of our communities.
The period of not being able to attend schools and campuses has very much awakened in us the value and purpose of education itself. Howard et al argue that ‘pedagogy is not merely an instructional strategy, but an embodied practice of being oriented to the life of the child and young person in a thoughtful sensitivity for what is in their best interest’ (2021, p.2). It is the sense of interconnectedness, the encounter between the teacher and the child or young person, which is the greatest purpose of education. When Gert Biesta (2017, p.1) argues ‘that teaching matters’, he calls us to value and reassess the nature of teaching, the complexity of the role of the teacher, who provides opportunities for children and young people to ‘be’. It is an appreciation of teachers as thinking, caring, acting, judging, and feeling professionals who can look with the ‘eye of a teacher’ and can see beyond the evident.
As we return to our schools and campuses, we have an opportunity to critically reflect on what matters in education and what we wish to carry forward in rebuilding our education system. While it is recognised that the on-line engagement with learning did not match the nature of the face-to-face encounter, embedding digital technology into teaching and learning is now an essential feature of education. As we reflect on the artistry of teaching (Stenhouse 1988), and the essence of the relational encounter, perennial questions remain: What now matters in education? What is educationally desirable here and now?
The Educational Studies Association of Ireland invites scholars, practitioners, policymakers, emerging researchers and interested others from Ireland and beyond to come together at our face-to-face (public health guidelines permitting) conference on 7-9 April 2022, and to reflect upon, debate and discuss the possibilities in education. The conference theme, ‘Reconstructing Education: what matters?’ welcomes broad interpretation and interrogation, and we invite papers that consider the concept through a variety of lenses which include (but are not limited to) sociological, pedagogical, historical, religious, ethical, technological, philosophical, political and economic. Hosted by Marino Institute of Education, Dublin, the ESAI annual Conference 2022 will continue our strong tradition of providing a forum for the dissemination of research that considers past, present and potential contributions and influences at local, national and international levels.
- Biesta, G.J.J. 2017. The Rediscovery of Teaching. New York and London: Routledge.
- Howard, P., Saevi, T., Foran, A., Biesta, G.J.J. (eds) 2021. Phenomenology and Educational Theory in Conversation: Back to Education itself. London & New York: Routledge.
- Soskil, M. 2021. Flip the system: How teachers can transform education and save democracy’. New York: Routledge.
- Stenhouse, L. 1988. ‘Artistry and Teaching: The teacher as focus of research and development’ in Journal of Curriculum and Supervision, Vol 4, no 1, pp43-51.
Call for Proposals
All abstracts should be submitted via our online abstract submission system. The system will close on Monday 10 January, 2022. Please note information about (1) Structure of Abstracts, (2) Presentation Formats, and (3) Abstract Review, when preparing your abstract.
(1) Structure of Abstracts
Abstracts should make reference to:
(b) research aim/objectives
(c) methods and data sources, or equivalent for theoretical/conceptual papers
(d) key findings/takeaway points
Abstracts must be between 200 and 400 words in length
(2) Presentation Formats
- Paper: Individual papers will be timed for 20 minutes: 15 minutes presentation and 5 minutes for Q&A.
- Poster Presentations: Posters will be exhibited during the conference and presentation time will be scheduled in the conference programme. The topic should lend itself to presentation in poster format. Final poster versions should be A0 (118.9 cm x 84.1 cm).
- Concise On-Demand Paper: Concise papers will be pre-recorded papers timed for 5-7minutes. They will be recorded and submitted in .mp4 format and will be available on-demand.
- Symposium: Symposia will typically contain 3 papers based around a central theme and will usually be timed for 60 minutes. This should include at least 10 minutes for discussion after the papers have been presented. To submit a symposium proposal, please use the form below to enter the symposium title, all author details, and the abstract for the overall symposium, then upload the Symposium Proposal form (which can be downloaded at this link) to provide the remaining details about symposia papers, etc.
- Early Career Researcher: ECR papers will be timed for 15 minutes: 10 minutes presentation plus 5 minutes feedback from an experienced mentor, plus a brief open discussion at the end of the session. The ECR strand is intended for current research students or those who have recently completed a research degree.
(3) Abstract Review
All abstracts will be double-blind reviewed (reviewers of abstracts won’t see the identity of the author(s), and the author(s) won’t see the identity of reviewers).
(4) Closing Data for Submissions
The closing date for proposal submissions is 10 January, 2022 at 5pm. Submissions are now closed.
(5) Conference Registration
ESAI Conference 2022 will be online. Registration for ESAI Conference 2022 will be available from 2 February 2022.
Book of Abstracts
The book of abstracts and full Conference Programme for Conference 2022 is available at the links below:
Keynote Speaker: Prof Kari Smith
Kari Smith is a Professor (Ph.D.) of Education at the Department of Teacher Education, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). She has a long experience as a school teacher, teacher educator, and head of teacher education programmes. Her main research interests are teacher education, professional development, mentoring and supervision, and assessment for and of learning. Currently she is the Head of the Norwegian National Research School in Teacher Education (NAFOL). She was one of the founders and the project leader of the International Forum for Teacher Educator Development (InFo-TED) from 2013-2019. The title of Prof. Smith’s keynote address is: ‘Revisiting the art of teaching: asking old questions in new ways’.
ESAI 2022 Agenda for Annual General Meeting
The ESAI AGM 2022 takes place on Thursday, 7 April 2022 (online) at 4. 00 pm. The Agenda for the AGM is available to download here.
There are three places on the ESAI Executive to be filled by election at the forthcoming AGM on 7 April 2022.
If you are interested in becoming a member of this vibrant team and have an appetite to contribute to the future growth and development of the ESAI, please put your name forward for election. Please complete this nomination form and return no later than 12.00 on Friday, 1 April 2022.
The Nominee, Proposer and Seconder must hold current membership of ESAI, or have held such membership within the last 12 months. Please submit nominations by email, noting ‘ESAI Nominations’ in the subject line, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Lifetime Achievement Award 2022: Elizabeth Oldham
ESAI is delighted to present the Lifetime Achievement Award 2022 to Elizabeth Oldham for her contribution to the Association and the wider field of research in education.
Elizabeth Oldham was brought up in England by Irish parents. After completing her A-Levels in Nottingham High School for Girls, she attended Trinity College Dublin and in 1965 completed her BA in Mathematics. Her next move was to the University of London, where she gained an MSc in mathematics in 1967. She remained in London for two more years, working as a research student on mathematical logic and the foundations of mathematics, topics that enhanced her interest in mathematics curriculum and mathematics education. After returning to Trinity in 1969, she took her Higher Diploma in Education while teaching at Alexandra College Dublin. Her association with Trinity was continued; she completed an M.Ed. in 1974, by which time she had joined the staff of the School of Education. Her career was based there until her “retirement” – which she claims to have failed – in 2010. Since then, she has taught (and still teaches) on a part-time basis in the School of Mathematics, providing a module on Mathematics Education for mathematics undergraduates. Elizabeth also retains strong links with Alexandra College; she served on the school’s Council for over thirty years.
Elizabeth’s main work is in the field of mathematics education, and she has a long association with cross-national studies of curriculum and attainment. She was a member of the international Curriculum Analysis Group for the Second International Mathematics Study in the 1980s; she worked with the Educational Research Centre in Dublin with regard to curriculum aspects of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study in the 1990s; she was a member of the National Advisory Committee for the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and remains on the National TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) PostPrimary Advisory Group. She served as an Education Officer (Mathematics) for the Irish National Council for Curriculum and Assessment while the school mathematics courses were being revised in the 1990s. Much of her current research still focuses on curriculum. She also engages with aspects of teaching and learning mathematics, particularly with regard to teachers’ and prospective teachers’ philosophies of mathematics and mathematical identities and with prospective teachers’ understanding of concepts.
Her other main field of interest is the use of ICTs in education. She served on the ICT Steering Committee of the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, and benefits from working with colleagues in the Trinity College Centre for Research in IT in Education. With the revival of interest in computer programming in schools, she is again contributing to research in this area. Elizabeth has been a member of the Educational Studies Association of Ireland since 1977 and was President of the Association from 2000 to 2002. Until recently she was co-chair of a Research and Development Community (“Science and Mathematics Education”) of the Association for Teacher Education in Europe. She is currently Treasurer of the Dublin Branch of the Irish Mathematics Teachers’ Association and has chaired the Dublin Branch of the Computers in Education Society of Ireland; she serves on the national executives of both bodies. On a lighter note, Elizabeth’s collegiality and good humour are legendary, and she is especially happy when Irish Rugby teams are winning Triple Crowns, Championships, and even the occasional Grand Slam! Elizabeth’s commitment to education and to her discipline over the last six decades is both impressive and inspiring. Elizabeth has always set the highest standards for herself and has generously mentored and supported colleagues and postgraduate students alike, enriching the lives of many generations of scholars. Elizabeth’s continued engagement with ESAI and other associations is testament to her enduring passion for all aspects of education. The ESAI is delighted to recognise and to honour Elizabeth’s outstanding contribution to Irish education.
Prof Teresa O’Doherty, ESAI President 2020-2022
A number of colleagues have shared their memories of Elizabeth:
It is a privilege to write about Elizabeth Oldham and an even greater privilege to have known her as a dear colleague, friend and educator. It would be hard to measure Elizabeth’s contribution to Irish (and international) education over many years. However, a number of areas stand out. She is and always has been an expert and advocate for mathematics education, computers in education and teacher education. She continues to publish and present papers in these three essential areas. Her involvement with the ESAI goes back to 1977. In the period 1998-2000 when I was President of ESAI she was a fantastic colleague as Vice-President and incoming President 2000-2002. She was wonderful and refreshing to work with and was indefatigable in her efforts to develop the ESAI. During her own time as President of the ESAI she continued to work in a collegial and dedicated manner. One of the most difficult times during that tenure was the outbreak of Foot and Mouth (FMD) in the U.K. As most of our colleagues will remember, the country practically closed down in order to protect agriculture. The result for the ESAI was that the Annual Conference had to be postponed from Spring to September, entailing significant logistical issues. However, as Elizabeth herself put it, she and the ESAI became FMD (Focused, Motivated and Determined) and a very successful conference was held in the Autumn. Elizabeth remains dedicated to the ESAI – and to her other great love: Irish rugby.
Prof Sheelagh Drudy, ESAI President 1998-2000
Hearty congratulations Liz on being presented the lifetime achievement award. Your support for ESAI and its work has been ceaseless since its foundation, as has your encouragement of successive generations of graduate students in Maths education and in educational research more widely. Your admirable research record has done the country proud, both at home and abroad, and your continuing generosity in serving on consultative bodies offers a shining example of faithfulness to the best ideals of higher education.
Dr Pádraig Hogan ESAI President 1994-1996
I am absolutely delighted to hear that ESAI has decided to honour Elizabeth Oldham with their prestigious ‘lifetime achievement award’. Elizabeth embodies the best of ESAI. Scholarly, supportive, rigorous and committed she played a pivotal role in developing ESAI into the welcoming community of researchers that it now is. Above all Elizabeth helped create the culture of welcome that I think sets ESAI apart from many of its contemporaries. Recognising that a paper at ESAI can be the first experience many of us had of engaging with the wider academic community Elizabeth has always gone out her way to mentor, advise and support those taking their first, hesitant steps along this at times scary road. She also ensured that the structures and ways of thinking within ESAI were focused on creating community as well as ensuring academic excellence.
In addition to her work in the development ESAI as a community of researchers, Elizabeth also modelled what it means to be an excellent scholar. Her own research work is widely recognised for its innovation and rigour and through her sharing of this at conferences and through the Journal, Elizabeth demonstrated to those of us lucky enough to engage with her work what it meant to be a proper educational researcher.
Of course, it is impossible to pay tribute to Elizabeth without acknowledging what extraordinarily good company she is. The antithesis of the stuffy, pompous academic she is inclusive, funny, and a wonderful conversationalist. I have to admit that have learned nearly as much about the vagaries and intricacies of modern Irish rugby as I have about the educational research from these conversations and I know I am not the only one.
I am genuinely thrilled that ESAI has decided to recognise the work of Elizabeth Oldham. The award is a timely recognition of a life of service and excellence in the field of educational research and I join with all my past Presidential colleagues in congratulating her on this wonderful achievement.
Prof Joe O’Hara, ESAI President 2010-2012
I have often said that you can tell a great deal about a person’s character by the way they treat those who may not appear to matter in the great scheme of things, those who may be seen as being of lesser value or status in a particular institution. It is easy (and politically sensible) to be pleasant to those we may see as significant. It is equally easy, especially when we are busy, to make less of an effort with those who may not appear to matter. In fairness to ESAI, it has always had an admirable culture of valuing all its members, but that culture only exists because the members themselves make the effort to include, to value and to get to know people.
Elizabeth Oldham embodies the inclusivity that ESAI espouses. I remember the first conference where I got to know her. I am taking you quite a long way back to the annual ESAI conference which was held in Stranmillis in Belfast in 1998, in the week prior to a very historic event on this island – the signing of the Good Friday / Belfast Agreement. Many of us delegates travelled to and from the conference by train, though this did include being bussed from Belfast Central via the Mourne Mountains across the border to meet the train in Dundalk on the way home. Not brilliant when some of us might have had minor hangovers!
On that rather convoluted journey, Elizabeth sat with a bunch of us young researchers and postgraduate students. She was interested in everyone, personally and professionally. She listened to us all, she shared jokes. She offered advice and was genuinely interested in the work we were doing. She did not stand on ceremony as a highly respected academic of long-standing. She was simply herself with us, as she is with everyone. Anytime she met me and the rest of the young research contingent, she always had time for us and was consistently friendly and kind. She rejoiced with us as we got jobs in academia over the years. She supported us in our engagement with ESAI and was always keen to encourage new members on to the ESAI executive and other education committees.
It was my very particular pleasure to serve on the ESAI Executive when she served her two-year term as President. She brought with her a genuine friendliness and decency to that role. She continued to treat all equally and with great respect. But there is also a steely side to her – Elizabeth is no push-over but has that wonderful capacity to be determined and persuasive in the most gentle of ways. I suspect that is a skill long honed in the committees of her Church of Ireland parish and Alexandra College. This is one of the many, many gifts she has brought to ESAI, an organisation to which she remained loyal and committed long after she stepped off the Executive. We continue to be lucky to have her with us at ESAI each year, sharing expertise and friendliness in equal measure and long may she continue to do so.
Rev. Prof. Anne Lodge, ESAI President 2006-2008
Congratulations to Elizabeth on being nominated for the ESAI lifetime achievement award. Elizabeth is assiduous, painstaking and capable in her work yet always retains her good humour. Her knowledge and scholarship are immense and she is very generous in sharing her learning with others.
Dr Kevin Williams, ESAI President 1996-1998
Reflections from Elizabeth on being nominated for the ESAI Lifetime Achievement Award
I joined ESAI over forty years ago, in its early days, and have been involved fairly continuously ever since. Membership and participation have brought great benefits, and great enjoyment, as I met and worked with remarkable people: people from whom I learnt so much. As a result, I have rarely been as startled as I was on being offered a lifetime achievement award; surely it is I who should be giving an award to the Association for all that it has offered!
So – what has ESAI been for me over the years? A community of educators; a powerhouse of research; a channel for initiating new members into the community and enabling them to contribute to that research; and of course, especially at the Annual Conferences, a gathering of friends. In what follows, I aim to offer some thoughts and vignettes about each of these characteristics.
As regards the community of educators, the visionaries who founded ESAI in 1976 had identified a gap. There was no structure that brought together people working in different educational disciplines, at different levels (primary, post-primary, tertiary, and so forth), and in both parts of the island of Ireland. I could expand on each aspect, but here I focus just on the cross-disciplinary one. Outside ESAI, I often met colleagues in my specialist academic fields of mathematics education and what we then called computers in education, and at Annual Conferences of course I attended – and I hope will continue to attend – papers in these areas. However, as I think of conference papers over the years, the first pictures in my mind’s eye are of myself enjoying contributions from other disciplines: for example, history and religious education. ESAI offers a most enjoyable antidote to overmuch specialisation!
The powerhouse of research – a phrase that I always associate with Professor Val Rice, who was instrumental in starting many of us on our academic careers back in the day – is encapsulated especially in Irish Educational Studies. During the Covid lockdown, when reorganising old files, I found correspondence about the first papers that I submitted to IES. Oh, the thrill when the contributions were accepted! Those were the days in which IES provided selected conference proceedings; it was during my presidency that the decision was made to move to the current model of a more traditional journal. I can still “see” the Executive Committee members sitting round a table in Trinity’s Arts Building and discussing the pros and cons of the change. Perhaps there were some initial losses with regard to rewarding work done at the conferences, but these have been more than compensated for by the journal’s increasing success.
One can argue that any organisation should nurture its members, but, for a body dealing with education, the need is particularly compelling. I believe that ESAI has done well in this respect, especially in initiating new members into the community; I like to think that we have shown special concern for young (or even not-so-young) researchers giving their very first papers. The mental pictures here are of more experienced members encouraging the first-timers – making coffee, chairing protectively (no, in general not necessary) – and then sharing celebrations of the excellent papers that the newcomers had given. If ESAI were to stop being a caring community, then I would no longer want to be part of it; but that will not happen.
And then there are gatherings of friends. I recall us being together in the evenings (and indeed into the wee small hours) after busy conference days; presentations over, people could relax, discuss informally, reminisce, and enjoy the general conversation. Sometimes in days gone by, there would be singing: ceol as well as craic. Times and traditions change, but who knows: maybe that tradition can be reinstated! In accepting the lifetime achievement award with gratitude, I offer my very best wishes to the Association for all its work in the future.
Conference Fee Donation
The ESAI Executive Committee is delighted to announce that it will donate proceeds from ESAI Conference 2022 to the Irish Red Cross.
The Irish Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. They are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters, and individual emergencies. Red Cross teams are on the ground now in Ukraine and will continue their work to repair vital infrastructure, support health facilities, and help families with life-saving food, medicine, shelter and water. The Red Cross also assists those displaced by the conflict.