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Finding the 'Sweet Spot' in Education

Internationally renowned scholar brings ideas to campus

When most of us think of school and schooling, we most likely don't spend much time considering the challenges most teachers face in finding the bridge between promoting the good for each student, the good for society, and the restrictions that are put upon them.

But Stephen Kemmis does. 

Kemmis, Professor of Education and Strategic Research Leader in the Research Institute for Professional Practice, Learning and Education (RIPPLE) at Charles Sturt University in New South Wales, Australia, has a reputation for developing the theory and practice of educational action research.  He is an advocate "emancipatory action research" as a participatory form of research and evaluation which embodies the aspirations of a critical science of education. 

"Although we ordinarily think of schooling as giving people an education, schools can be non-educational or even anti-educational," explains Kemmis.

Kemmis believes that often teachers get bogged down in the construction of education--the development and implementation of universal curricula, the manner in which teaching is conducted, in testing and assessment—that there is a tendency to overlook the real work to be done.  "We need to focus on the real educational work of schools and teachers," he says.

Kemmis gave a talk, "Contemporary Schooling and the Struggle for Education", on November 25, where he argued that teachers do make efforts to find the 'sweet spots' in  educational as they continually work to  meet the demands of schooling.  "In education, the sweet spot often occurs in moments of praxis – that is, when people engage in actions that are morally committed, or history-making".

"Stephen Kemmis' contributions include developing ways of working which helps teachers, students and communities to work individually and collectively in developing their practices, their understandings of their practices, and the situations in which they live and work – to transform the work, the worker and the workplace," says Sharon Friesen, vice dean of the Werklund School of Education.   "We appreciate the insights Dr. Kemmis provided, particularly this time in our province when all aspects of teaching are undergoing analysis and renewal."

Sharon Friesen

Introduction by Sharon Friesen

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Roger Schank

Stephen Kemmis talks about his work on Participatory Action Research

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