Some weeks ago, I was invited to deliver a speech at the ‘Wicked Problems in Children’s Rights in Education’ conference organised by the European Educational Research Association. Whilst preparing my talking points, I was reflecting on the fact that a ‘wicked problem’ is one that is difficult to resolve. There is no simple solution to a wicked problem and it creates tensions, depending on the lens used to analyse the issue. Within this context, I decided to throw some light on one of the more radical rights outlined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC): children and young people’s right to participate and its intersection with the right to education.
The Research on Children’s Rights in Education Network (Network 25) recently held our annual event, as part of the European Educational Research Association (EERA) #ReconnectingECER programme.
This was an exceptional event in several respects. Due to COVID and the cancellation of our annual ‘face to face’ European Conference on Educational Research (ECER), we transformed our EERA Network Development funded project into a virtual open event.
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The theme of the ECER 2020 conference was Educational Research: (Re)connecting Communities. This focus was initially prompted by the concerns about the potential effects of Brexit and other fractures in communities in Europe. The conference aimed to interrogate the capacity of educational research to address the complexity of the challenges that are encountered in connecting and reconnecting communities in contemporary Europe. The effects of Covid-19 and the consequent lockdowns that swept across Europe and the world led to further, more extensive, fractures and disconnects across Europe. Schools, universities and workplaces were closed.
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Life and learning rarely go forward in straight lines. The most stimulating and creative experiences often arise from unexpected and unintended interactions. It’s the same with professional learning. We need to master new knowledge and skills, but education is more than knowing and doing. That way lies repetition, comfort learning and stagnation as the future overtakes us. As professionals, we need to question our own contexts; explore and investigate outside our normal routines; look for opportunities to observe and experience different cultures of learning; then re-assess our own practice with fresh eyes.
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