Far East Educational Experience

In the ‘Education in Literature Collection’ there are several novels which portray different aspects of the educational experience in Japan.

Botchan by Natsume Soseki (1906). Translated by Joel Cohn 2005. The first-person narrator is proud of growing up in Tokyo where he graduates from the Tokyo Academy of Physics. He takes a job teaching mathematics in Matsuyam on the island of Shikohu. There he runs into difficulties which are mainly the result of his own personality. Ultimately he tries to do the right thing.

Natsume Soseki (1867-1916)was a Japanese novelist of the Meiji Period (1868-1912). He was also a scholar of British Literature and a composer of haiku, kenshi and fairy tales. In 1900 the Japanese government sent him to study in England as ‘Japan’s first Japanese English literary scholar.’ He spent two years at UCL.

A Rabbit’s Eyes (Usagi no me (1974)) by  Kenjuro Haitani (1934-2006), translated by Paul Sminkey (2005). A touching novel about a first-year elementary school teacher and her tough class of outcasts, and the eventual reward for her belief in them. Set in the city of Kobe.

The Housekeeper and the Professor (2003) by Yoko Ogawa (1962- ),translated by Stephen Snyder (2008). A famous professor of mathematics develops a relationship with his housekeeper and her son. Difficulties arise because he only has eighty minutes of memory after suffering brain damage as a result of a car accident. Filmed as ‘The Professor’s Beloved Equation’ (2006),directed by Takashi Koizumi.

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Read Aloud in the UCL IOE Library for World Book Day 2015

WBN1      WBN2

On Thursday 23 April a group of staff from across the Institute (along with a colleague from UCL) came together in the Library to mark World Book Night with a celebration of ‘Reading aloud and listening to others read’.

This event encompassed huge distances in both time and space, with readings from the 12th to 21st centuries, in English, Afrikaans and Gaelic, and by authors from Rabindranath Tagore to Roger McGough to Peter Ackroyd.

The session was introduced by Sam Duncan (UCL IOE Department of Lifelong and Comparative Education). Sam referred to her study of reading aloud in adult life, and the many different purposes and circumstances related to it, and raised the question of how voice interplays with text. (For more on Sam’s research see Duncan 2015 ‘Reading aloud in Lewisham: an exploration of adult reading-aloud practices’ Literacy Vol 49 (2) pp84-90.

The evening was about being read to as well as reading and it was delightful to see colleagues sit back in anticipation of a rich and varied story time, with many of the readings enhanced by a brief description of why the text had been chosen.

The Library had in fact been celebrating World Book Night since the morning, with a book swap outside the library entrance and a reading spa in the library teaching room during the afternoon, where library users were invited to take a break with a cup of tea and a peaceful read. A selection of books from the Curriculum Resources and Education in Literature collections were on display with reviews for anyone looking for reading suggeWBN3stions.

World Book Night, run by The Reading Agency, aims to connect more adults with reading (to find out more go to http://www.worldbooknight.org/about) and our Read Aloud event gave us an opportunity to reflect on the many ways reading, being read to and having access to a wealth of reading material enhances our lives. It’s something we don’t do often enough, even – or perhaps especially – in a Library.

More images of the reading spa are available here and of the read aloud event  here



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‘A photograph album rather than a snapshot’: the CLS Wellcome project

The Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) at the UCL Institute of Education is home to the national birth cohort studies, three of the oldest, largest and most important longitudinal studies in the world. Beginning in 1958, the studies have followed some 53,000 individuals throughout their lives and collected data that shows how an individual’s health, wealth, family, parenting, education, employment and social attitudes are linked and how these aspects affect outcomes and achievements in later life. Findings from the studies have contributed to debates and enquiries in a number of policy areas over the last half-century including: education and equality of opportunity; poverty and social exclusion; gender differences in pay and employment; social class differences in health; changing family structures; and anti-social behaviour. Their work has been described as ‘a photograph album rather than a snapshot’ and is fundamental to social science and policy research.

While the research data collected by these three studies has been preserved, digitised and reused by thousands of researchers, there has been little focus on how the datasets were created, managed and developed. The administrative archive of the three studies, which began in the 1950s, contains fascinating and important records that show how the studies were planned, the decisions made by the teams involved and how they grew and developed over time.

In January 2015, the IOE Archive began a Wellcome-funded project to sort, catalogue and preserve those rich administrative records and provide a fuller historical analysis of the studies for researchers in medical and social science. Over the next 18 months, the 2 archivsts working on the project, Kathryn Hannan and Kathryn Meldrum, will be working hard to repackage and preserve over 75 metres of material and create an on-line catalogue of the CLS archive. The project will also include outreach activities such as seminars, exhibitions and articles.

We will be keeping you up-to-date with progress over the next year and showing you some of the fascinating items to be found in this archive collecion.

The cohort studies and their outputs are described on the CLS webpage.

The project has been funded by the Wellcome Trust.




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Hesse’s romantic and sinister tale of boarding school life

Merciless cramming according to an obsolete curriculum… constant fighting and bullying at a boys’ boarding school… pressure from peers and pressure from parents… vast social differences and social mobility through achievement… ardent friendship and careless betrayal… overpowering desire and fear of falling in love for the first time…

Sounds familiar? It’s not from one of the academic works on adolescence at the Newsam Library, or one of the contemporary novels for young people in our collection of children’s fiction: it is a rather ancient novel from our Education in Literature Collection. Hermann Hesse published this early masterpiece in 1906. I shall read from it on World Book Night on 23 April.

The coming-of-age story Unterm Rad (Under the Wheels) has been translated as The Prodigy. Hans Giebenrath is not really a prodigy, just a gifted and ambitious boy, pushed ever harder to perform, by father, teachers and pastors in unison. In fact, Hans thoroughly enjoys outdoor sports, relishes nature around his quaint old hometown, and excels at constructing things; yet, gradually all pleasures are wrestled from him, and his life feels drained of life by fifteen.

Maulbronn Monastery, site of the college in the book. Photograph by Harro52 from Wikipedia.

Maulbronn Monastery, site of the college in the book. Photograph by Harro52 from Wikipedia.

The college is located in a mediaeval monastery, which offers Hesse a marvellous backdrop for the central part of his plot, as romantic as it is sinister. In portraying Hans and his best friend Hermann – the model child and the rebel, the hardworking student and the high-flying poet – Hesse worked through his his experience at the same boarding school in Maulbronn, which was supposed to prepare him for a career in the established Protestant church. He did not last long.

Hesse’s story-telling is still chronological and realistic here, his language sustained and accomplished, thoroughly nineteenth-century. The boys’ given names, from August to Emil, have fallen out of fashion now, and the habitual address with their family names seems even more bemusing. Hermann’s revelation: “I say, I have a sweetheart” rings in your ears weeks after, for the language as much as for the message. Yet the world of the past which Hesse conjures up before your eyes can be adequately described in the terms that I used in the first paragraph: the parallels are astonishing.

In German-speaking countries, Hermann Hesse (1877-1962) is still a cult author over half a century after his passing. He is regularly honoured as a philosopher as well as a novelist, although he expressed his concepts by way of fiction rather than essays; he is also famous as a lyrical poet and expressionist painter. There is an idea that you should reread his novels, which you would know from your youth, at different stages of your life. As I have just experienced once again, this idea is a good one.

Calw in the Black Forest, the model for the town in the book. Photograph by Softeis from Wikipedia.

Calw in the Black Forest, the model for the town in the book. Photograph by Softeis from Wikipedia.

You are invited to mark World Book Night with a celebration of reading in the UCL IOE library on 23 April 2015.

From 17:00-18:00: Celebrating Reading Aloud and the Joys of Listening to Others Read in the Library Teaching Room.

For more information, please contact Sally Perry at s.perry@ioe.ac.uk



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‘Troublesome knowledge’

‘Troublesome knowledge’ and threshold concepts were two of the topics covered by keynote speakers at the Information Literacy conference in Newcastle (LILAC 8-10 April 2015). The first keynote speaker to catch my imagination was Ray Land, a Durham educationalist (you can check his education publications on the library catalogue).

I was very intrigued but not entirely clear about the library slant on these concepts until Barbara Fister, an academic librarian from the US and final keynote speaker, filled in the blanks in her talk: ‘The liminal library: making our libraries sites of transformative learning.’ She stressed that knowledge is not only troublesome, but it is transformative, integrative and irreversible.  Fister argued that scholarship is a not a linear process but should be a conversation with library sources which are basically people talking to other people. As  result, students may have to wait for the eureka moment in the liminal space — the  library — the space where they can explore and experiment with sources.

I quite like the idea of the library and information literacy skills helping to deal with this uncomfortable knowledge through finding, using and evaluating information. I really want to throw out the idea of the library as a one-stop shop for a quick answer while at university, but rather, the library is a real and virtual place for exploring and searching for knowledge beyond a degree — for lifelong learning.

Newcastle LILAC was a fantastic conference full of innovations, information and troublesome knowledge which posed more questions for future thought.










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Where to find the Eskimos

Well, the Eskimos live in the Arctic… but how do you find books and films about them in your library and online? Some librarian has to put the word in the right place for you so that it pops up when you look for it! This is the job of a cataloguer, and it is more difficult when the resources are older, perhaps obscure, not available online, or not even mentioned online.

The interdisciplinary course ‘Man: A Course of Study’ from the 60’s and 70’s is such material, exciting but laborious to file. If we wanted lots of people to give this programme, which once was all the rage in American schools, renewed attention, we had to develop an online presence for it: for the whole course and for every single item. (By the way, the creator, Professor Jerome S. Bruner, continues teaching at the age of 99.)

So we designed a LibGuide – and listed booklets and worksheets, photographs and film cartridges there as well as on the Library Catalogue. But how to describe them in detail?

First of all, we needed a reference to the whole scheme in each catalogue entry, so that you find it under ‘MACOS’ as well as ‘Man: A Course of Study’. Next, we inserted one for ‘Jerome S. Bruner’ (and ‘Bruner, Jerome S.’), the man who came up with the concept, although he did not produce all these things himself. Naturally, we also honoured our donor, ‘Mr. Barry D. Varley-Tipton’.


MACOS 1 Linking print to digital MACOS resources

Then the contents of the teaching resources… The quest, to which Bruner invited even young children, is: What is human about human beings? The main method is observation and comparison of people and animals in various parts of the world. Well, some items are about ‘Eskimos’ and ‘Tools’ and others about ‘Africa’ and ‘Animals’, but what about ‘Social anthropology’ or ‘Animal behaviour’? Does a certain book focus on science or on social science or both, like this one called, in fact, Salmon? We also decided to allocate ‘Spiral curriculum’ and ‘Interdisciplinary curriculum’ to everything.

But how do you get to our information in the first place? Through the Catalogue of the Newsam Library? Through the LibGuides? Through a search engine? (A Google search for ‘macos, bruner’ leads you directly to our Library guides and our Library blog!) And how do we lead you from one point to another efficiently? We have to put the time in so that you can save time later!

Nazlin Bhimani, our Special Collections Librarian, who dealt with the bequest of materials, had established links from the LibGuide to more information on Bruner’s work and to the MACOS Online Archive, where you can find digitised copy to download. I added links from each item on Nazlin’s list to our catalogue entry… and links from there to the digitised version of the book or film, if there is one… and also back to the LibGuide. Now you can click round… and read on the family life of the African elephant from Shanghai… or watch the Eskimos building an igloo from Dubai! (Yes, I even mentioned the ‘igloo’ so that it comes up in a catalogue search.)

Finally, we are posting requests for missing items on the LibGuides. For example, we have got a fold-out leaflet for the classroom on Making a bow, and the MACOS Online Archive has digitised a matching one on Building a skin sled: we should swap them and extend our collections online and in the original print!

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Focus on Special Collections: Jerome Bruner’s MACOS Curriculum Project

Christina Egan, cataloguing the MACOS materials

I consider myself very fortunate to be able to collaborate with some of the most wonderful people in the world – not just researchers who I work with regularly but also the librarians who I work with everyday. My most recent collaboration has been with our cataloguers, Christina Egan and Dianne Stacey.   Christina and Dianne have just finished cataloguing one of the most interesting of our Special Collections, Jerome Bruner’s MACOS or Man: A Course of Study Curriculum Project. The materials were donated to the library by Mr. Barry D.Varley-Tipton (see: http://newsamnews.ioe.ac.uk/2013/07/24/curriculum-project-macos-man-a-course-of-study/) in July 2013.

Man:  A Course of Study (commonly referred to by the acronym MACOS or M.A.C.O.S) is the brainchild of the American psychotherapist and Harvard academic Jerome Bruner.  Bruner believed that it was possible to teach children to be more humane and eliminate racism and ethnocentrism by studying another culture closely. He also believed that you can teach children complicated ideas using the ‘spiral curriculum’ method which introduces the same theme in increasing complexity over a period of time.

The successes of this collaborative Special Collections project have been partly due to the interest we all shared in the material but also because of the regular discussions Christina (who was tasked with managing the project) and I had over the course of several weeks. I am particularly indebted to Christina for masterminding the inclusion of additional terms which enhance the catalogued records and which will make it easier for the user to find additional relevant content. Not only did Christina and Dianne ensure that the catalogue records contain all the necessary bibliographic and descriptive information as is custom and practice – but they also included information about content that we have which the MACOS site lacks and vice versa. We hope this additional information will be useful to other researchers and librarians.

MACOS is an example of one of the many curriculum projects that were devised in what has been referred to as the ‘Golden Age of the Curriculum’ in the US and in England. Now that the collections is fully catalogued, I hope you will be able to explore these materials which demonstrate so clearly Bruner’s pedagogic theories. The accompanying LibGuide at http://libguides.ioe.ac.uk/macos has been updated to provide links to the catalogue records.

Christina Egan who was in charge of this project will write about how she decided on what information to include in the catalogue records to ensure users are able to find this wonderful resource in the next post.

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