Keynotes and panel

Keynote day 1
Mary Macken-Horarik, Senior Research Fellow, Learning Sciences Institute, Australian Catholic University




Tracking and mentoring semogenesis in ‘boundary students’: A social semiotic perspective
This paper explores acts of meaning by students traditionally relegated to the dustbin in institutionally valorized assessment practices in school English. It takes up a social semiotic perspective on the spoken, written and multimodal responses of students whose texts often alienate teachers,  ‘making strange’ their attempts to produce successful students who are well-prepared for cultural demands of life beyond the school. In this paper, I look at the fate of students whose forms and processes of meaning making (semogenesis) often escape and certainly resist serious attention from educators and result in D or E-range grades and alienation from disciplinary learning. I then ask: what might educators (and indeed semioticians) be missing in this dismissal? What might it be to shift perspective (even if just in imagination) and attend closely to student texts that fall short of expectations? Could the work of our boundary students offer refreshment, even renewal, to habitual ways of thinking not just about ‘them’ but about disciplinary learning itself?

The paper begins with a look at student work samples regarded as failures by teachers and at my own (hasty and reductive) categorization of these as ‘tactical readings’ of narrative. Whilst these responses are often institutionally inadequate, it is possible to catch sight of the lively, dynamic and unrehearsed immediacy in their semogenesis.  The remaining sections of the paper consider students’ texts from the point of view of logico-semantic and textual meanings and then, from a pedagogic point of view, the influence on students’ responses to narrative of enthusiastic, semiotically-informed teachers. The paper concludes with reflections on the character of pedagogies likely to engage productively with boundary students.

Keynote day 2
Ola Erstad, professor, Professor, Department of Education, University of Oslo




Blending the Boundaries – trajectories of students across educational boundaries
Efforts to understand the dynamic processes of learning situated across space and time, beyond the here and now, are presently challenging traditional definitions of learning and education. Whereas most studies of learning explore intra-institutional experiences, my interest is to track individual learning trajectories across domains and contexts. The major challenge today, however, is to find ways of understanding the interconnections and networking between ‘in-and-out-of-school’(Hull & Schultz, 2002), as experienced by young people.

The paper will present relevant and evolving positions within this field. Some key issues will be around the following questions: How can we conceptualize learning in a way that is able to respond to and explain the increasing complexity, connectivity, and velocity of our times? And, how is the interrelationship between the content and methods in the subject domains of school and the interests and knowledge building of students in other contexts? I will draw on studies approaching ‘spatial literacy (Leander & Sheehy, 2004), ‘literacy in place’ (Comber, Nixon & Reid, 2007) and ‘relational agency’ (Edwards & Mackenzie, 2008).

In my own research I have used the term ‘learning lives’ (Erstad, 2013; Erstad & Sefton-Green, 2013) to unpack a focus on students in motion across contexts of learning, and how they connect different domains of knowledge. On an analytical level we have studied different knowledge practices and learning identities that young people are involved in, between school and everyday life. The paper will present empirical data about (dis-) continuities (Bronkhorst & Akkerman, 2015) of students and their boundary crossing activities with a specific focus on the subject domain of mother tongue in lower secondary school, using interactional data from classroom activities and production practices using different media.

These issues are important to study in themselves, but also in order to reflect on the broader sociocultural perspectives of ‘21st century skills’ and the future competence developments of lifelong learners, as well as the purpose of education in contemporary societies; education for whom and in what way?

Panel with short presentations and debate, day 2
How are boundary students investigated in current Danish research?

  • Mette Vedsgaard Christensen, associate professor, PhD, VIA University College: Boundary students in the research project READ – reading together
  • Christina Mathiesen, assistant professor, PhD, University of Aarhus: Writing workshops at a place for young homeless people – experiences and perspectives
  • Helle Rørbech, assistant professor, PhD, University of Aarhus: Boundaries and boundary students? A cultural perspective on the teaching of literature in school
Moderator for paneldebat: Tina Høegh

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