The University of Reading’s Institute of Education recently welcomed Professor Alis Oancea as a guest speaker in the Institute’s lunchtime research seminar series. Professor Oancea is Professor of Philosophy of Education and Research Policy and Director of Research at the University of Oxford’s Department of Education.

Photo by Hongqin Zhang and Yang Zhang

Her talk, titled ‘Educational research as a form of practice’, explored the ethos of contestation surrounding educational research and its relationship with teaching practice. She argued that the emphasis on “bridging the gap” between research and practice (and between researchers and practitioners) in many efforts to reform teacher education may be based on a set of problematic assumptions, including:

  • that theory and practice belong to two mutually exclusive ontological and conceptual categories
  • that practice and theory are bounded institutionally to schools vs universities
  • that theory is equivalent to research, and practice, to educational activities.

Professor Oancea argued instead that both research and education are inquisitive practices that meet at the synergy between theoria, praxis and poiesis. As such, she suggested that educational research practice consisted of an array of activities which combined: the systematic flexing of inquisitive thought; the reflective use of tools, and the considerate exercise of virtues.

Photo by Hongqin Zhang and Yang Zhang

The event was very well attended by both research staff and doctoral students at the Institute. Professor Oancea said: “I enjoyed very much meeting colleagues at Reading, from members of staff to doctoral students, and learning about their work. Thank you to Carol and Vince for hosting and to the audience for the excellent conversation following the talk.”

Details of the Institute’s future lunchtime research seminars can be found here.