Thematic Fields

Jon White, The University of Derby, UK

Thematic Fields: where are we now?


Having been warmly welcomed in Hengelo for the steering group meeting in November, we have had some time to reflect on the Thematic Fields and how Voices is going to work. Some of you know each other already from FACE IT and ET Size. I have met many of you and look forward to the next three years of working on this project. I have found it quite useful to refresh my thinking by reviewing the products from these two projects: for me it “sets the context” of our starting point.

It is an honour to be asked to lead the Thematic Field group and I greatly appreciate the faith that Henny has placed in me. It is a little troubling to be the sole representative of the UK Higher Education system in the project. I will do my best to offer support and encouragement. Where I can help with English, please ask – although I know that you are all near-native speakers – far better than me when it comes to “communication”!

The thematic fields appear to be a core of the project and where the “work” will be done. They are key to the success of the project. They are driven by the material generated by the National Group meetings. These will bring their thinking to the conferences and then we will use this to stimulate our thinking. For me, this development including the Voices of students, teachers Early Years Practitioners and academic staff is what makes this project so special. We are all going to have to listen to the Voices – making sure that those quiet voices are heard too.

I see from the project materials that we have the mission to expand the thinking of the previous two projects. This means to both broaden and deepen our remit. This takes us into areas of controversy and debate where contested ideas can be addressed. How this relates to each Thematic Field is the concern of the group – but I really feel that we need to be bold here. This is not the time to be timid in the content of our investigations.

We are also identified by the project materials as researchers, although not in the traditional positivist sense. We are investigating new territory and the theoretical underpinnings that support the evolution of practice. This is a critically reflective cycle and presents a fabulous opportunity to explore development of links between theory and practice. But as researchers we are going to need to operate in a systematic way, to enable the processes of the project to generate material that has a commonality about it.

Over the coming months I look forward to working with you all. As we try develop an understanding of the issues we are going to address, both students and teachers can learn from each other and so move on to a better place.
Best wishes,
Jon White
The University of Derby, UK


Written Mention

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein (other languages). 

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