To learn more about learning – what it is and how it works – it is necessary to look inside education. Inside Education takes the reader on a journey of four ‘live’ education projects: the first all-Irish speaking, mixed-gendered, multi-faith primary school in the Republic of Ireland ideally suited to exploring learning identity; an alternative post-primary school for those who leave (or are left behind by) the formal education system also based in the Republic of Ireland and ideally suited to exploring personal learning; an early college school that enables students to simultaneously sit their high-school diploma and college exams based in Queens, New York and ideally suited to exploring learning success; and an adult education training centre that works with ‘landless’ movement members based in Brazil and ideally suited to exploring learning power.
Using a critical ethnography approach, each research narrative naturally unfolds/enfolds to tell a more complete learning story. All those interested in education are primed readers. By (re-)viewing their own learning outlook, they may begin to advance deeper critical ideas and debates in education. They may come to (re-)represent education, reminding public consciousness of its human stories, as well as its curious, intricate and powerful qualities. And they may (re-)discover ‘other’ roads to raise a scholar. Teachers, educational researchers, parents and guardians will be particularly interested readers.
‘Inside Education is a thought-provoking, challenging and revealing journey inside the world of education and learning. Its exploration of school and classroom practices in a range of different settings provides important insights into how we learn ‒ a central aspect of our education system which remains overlooked and understudied. In doing so, it lays down a challenge to policy-makers and educators everywhere to think differently about the way we learn and, ultimately, help students fulfil their real potential.’
-Carl O’Brien, Chief Reporter for The Irish Times
‘Inside Education is a stunning example of passionate scholarship that nonetheless refuses a redemptionist stance. The ethnography captures people and contexts and draws the reader into the four sites of learning in fluent and lyrical prose. This is facilitated by the extensive use of research notes deploying historical, comparative, literary, artistic and scholarly sources."
-Denis O’Sullivan, Emeritus Professor of Education, University College Cork, Ireland
Steve O’Brien’s work is characterised by a fascinated social curiosity and a strong sense of moral purpose. In these changing economic times it is important that his work should be read widely.
This is a thought-provoking, challenging and revealing journey inside the world of education and learning. Its exploration of school and classroom practices in a range of different settings provides important insights into how we learn - a central aspect of our education system which remains overlooked and understudied. In doing so, it lays down a challenge to policy-makers and educators everywhere to think differently about the way we learn and, ultimately, help students fulfil their real potential.
Inside Education is a stunning example of passionate scholarship that nonetheless refuses a redemptionist stance. The ethnography captures people and contexts and draws the reader into the four sites of learning in fluent and lyrical prose. This is facilitated by the extensive use of research notes deploying historical, comparative, literary, artistic and scholarly sources.
Using a critical lens to document learning stories, O'Brien weaves a web of ideas, history, experience around each narrative, giving breadth and depth to the learning stories of children and adults in Ireland, New York City, and Brazil… Rich narratives encapsulate details of learning in each setting within significant theoretical and historical underpinnings that illuminate the inconsistencies and intricacies of the learning process.
… the micro-macro ethnographic educational journey narrated here is at once refreshing, engaging, challenging and thought provoking. While the story teller’s art is much in evidence, its subtle yet subversive flow belies its more critical edge that makes its message and meaning all the more apposite and rewarding. The cumulative impact of the book’s trans-cultural cases provides a most timely read for those seriously engaged with the significance of learning in our lives beyond the performative agenda.
"This book provides a voice for the vulnerable and hard-working people within educational settings, it creates a context within society, and it provides some useful insights for developing more inclusive and optimal processes to enhance existing educational processes."
"Inside Education takes the reader on a fascinating ethnographic journey… Readers will experience an accessible but rich narrative… In conclusion, this publication unfolds significant questiobs for: teachers, teacher educators, researchers, sociologists, and policy makers."
"This was a very insightful and thought-provoking book that had a very clear sense of purpose and a strong sense of what is needed to engage readers with the complexity of the issues explored."
Gerry Mac Ruairc, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
"In his impressive analysis, Stephen O’Brien brings the reader ‘Inside Education’ to focus on a range of issues and practices that both reflect and shape learning. Through four ethnographic case studies, the author takes us on an intriguing journey to educational institutions located in Ireland, the United States and Brazil. While we come away with keen insight into life lived by the particular study participants, the book manages also to question the purpose and meaning of education and schooling in a more universal way. (…) Overall, this well-researched and carefully written book offers keen insight into four contrasting learning environments and in so doing facilitates and challenges the reader to critique extant educational policy and practice."
Damian Murchan, Trinity College Dublin
"Inside Education is the culmination of the challenges that all of us in the field of education (be it art or be it science) both revere and despise in our struggle to uncover and name the sources of our oppression. But this book does more than this: it explores a realm of possibilities for transforming our perspective towards learning… The contribution of this book goes far beyond what the innocent reader may glimpse. It is a treatise on contemporary education that depicts some of its truths and many of its fallacies."
George K. Zarifis, London Review of Education
"Inside education: Exploring the art of good learning is a regular well-written book which is interesting, intriguing and useful. It is interesting because it documents, analyses and reports on authentic experiences of real educators who understand the aims of education; intriguing because it tells thought-provoking stories that were successful against all odds; and useful because it provides educators and students alike with a well-researched and well-written document that could be presented as a model for existing and future educational researchers."
Saouma BouJaoude, International Review of Education
Table of contents
Chapter 1 – Learning Identity
Chapter 2 – Personal Learning
Chapter 3 – Learning Success
Chapter 4 – Learning Power