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Decolonizing Teacher Education

Re-thinking the Educational Relationship

An Expert Seminar hosted by the Centre for Creativity, Sustainability and Educational Futures Graduate School of Education.

Event details


The focus of the seminar has grown out of collaborative work between the University of Regina, Canada, and the University of Exeter, UK. We believe that ‘conventional’ understandings of education are, for the most part, colonising. It is based on a model that wishes to replace perceived ‘incorrect’ or ‘lesser’ knowledge with ‘correct’ or ‘better’ knowledge, and correct knowledge is determined by the mainstream and people with power. As such, difference is seen as something to be removed, the subaltern (perceived incorrect/lesser) position is replaced by the dominant (perceived correct/better) position. It is this colonising educational relationship we want to challenge.

Health and social care Family School
Crisis Social media Economy
HE The Future The Arts
Sustainability Environment Digital

Above we have identified a number of contexts for different forms of educational relationships. The crises emerging in each context cannot be understood as something to be overcome through current structures and practices which we see as colonizing (to colonize is to enforce the past on the present, rather than to engage with the challenge of the present in its radical alterity). Crises therefore demand that we engage with them in their difference, in order for something to creatively emerge from our interaction with them. It is this creative emergence that, for us, defines an educational event, and that we wish to explore in the seminar.

Tentative programme (subject to change)

Friday 10 March 2017

11.00 - 11.30 Arrival and registration
11.30 - 12.00 Opening ceremony
12.00 - 13.00 Speaker 1 and provocations
13.00 - 14.00 Buffet lunch
14.00 - 15.00 Speaker 2 and provocations
15.00 - 16.00 Workshops, discussion groups
16.00 - 16.30 Tea
16.30 - 17.30 Workshops and discussion groups
17.30 - 18.00 Plenary
18.00 - 18.30 Book launch

Saturday 11 March 2017

08.30 - 09.00 Arrival
09.00 - 10.00 Speaker 3 and provocations
10.00 - 11.00 Workshops and discussion groups
11.00 - 11.30 Refreshments
11.30 - 12.30 Workshops and discussion groups
12.30 - 13.15 Lunch
13.15 - 14.30 Plenary

Confirmed speakers

Vanessa Andreotti, University of British Columbia

Mere Berryman, University of Waikato - further information

George Sefa Dei, University of Toronto

Tariq Modood, University of Bristol

Purpose of the seminar

Living in an age of heightened instability

Our present historical moment is at an unstable ‘tipping point’ where everything we know and trust is in danger of irreparably falling apart.

There are a number of crises challenging stability: the refugee crisis, the economic crisis, the energy crisis, the climate change crisis; these can be summed up as crises of uncertainty motivated by the speed of technological change, the rise of distributed power, which represent a threat to the mainstream and those in power resulting in a retreat into the safety of the known and the rise of traditionalism and xenophobia. In considering how to respond to these crises we argue that there is an absence of an ethics adequate for the long term future.

Crisis points are not in themselves negative. When perceived as negative this can result in a retreat to previous forms of stability (safety); when negativity is suspended, crisis points can offer opportunities to create something radically different.

We think that the crises mentioned above, collectively call for a radically creative research invention. The invention we have in mind relates to the educational relationship which can be conceived a crisis in itself (a meeting between entities that are radically different).

Evidence of radical difference can be found in the work of scholars such as Paulo Freire, Ivan Illich, Walter Mignolo and Linda Tuhiwai Smith, and in movements such as Democratic Education, Human Scale Education, Folk Education, Krishnamurti Schools.

You can download a copy of the flyer for this seminar at the bottom of the page.

For further details please contact Fatima Pirbhai-Illich, Fran Martin or Deborah Osberg.

Book launch

For further information relating to the book launch, please see the separate event page.


Please register for the seminar using the Exeter Online Store. Places are limited, so early registration is recommended.

decolonizing_teacher_education_conference_program_2017_final_mincompressed.pdfDecolonizing Teacher Education (900K)

Exeter Forest School specialises in outdoor learning; engaging students in forest school activities, providing alternative education, adult courses and team building activities.

Oak Grove School of the Krishnamurti Foundation of America.

This activity is supported by the Canada-UK Foundation


Reed Hall