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The Early Years Listening and Talking Project
The project took place 1988-9. It grew from the experience of working with a teacher based research group initiated by John Schostak who at that time was a lecturer in education at the university of East Anglia. The principles underlying the project were democratic. Its outcomes for the schools were dramatic.
Since that time the school climate in the UK changed and made such teacher led experiments difficult if not impossible. Just as the UK was turning the clocks back to notions of 'learning the basics', standardisation and testing as the basis for 'schooling efficiency', other countries such as Finland were moving away from regimented forms of learning. It was ironic. The country that had led the way in teacher led curriculum development and child centred forms of education abandoned the experiment before it could be fully developed and explored.
However, as always, times change. There is an increasing need to reconsider 'democracy' and where better to start than in educational terms? We may ask how can we expect people to learn democracy when so may key institutions are organised undemocratically? to what extent are schools, businesses, local government and health, welfare and social services orgtanised demoncratically for the needs of people? How can people express their concerns, their interests, their needs democratically in all areas of personal, social, cultural, economic and political life? This project was an early response to such questions within the confines of a school. The debate must continue.
As a contribution to that debate see Schostak 2009 Radical Research and the creation of public space and Schostak 2006 'Researching and representing wrongs, injuries and disagreements: exploring strategies for radical research'.