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Nigel Rayment (London, UK)

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The Theory and Practice of Development Education: A pedagogy for global social justice
The Theory and Practice of Development Education: A pedagogy for global social justice
by Douglas Bourn
Edition: Paperback
Price: £26.99

5.0 out of 5 stars DE or not DE: that is the question, 29 April 2015
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Within Development Education [DE] Doug Bourn’s contributions to policy and thinking are widely known and respected. This rich and readable volume has its roots in Bourn’s background in the voluntary youth sector and his experience over the last twenty-odd years, as, first, director of the DEA and subsequently of the Development Education Research Centre at the Institute of Education.

His ambition here is to “give a rationale for [DE’s] existence, to set out its strengths and weaknesses, and to outline a new pedagogical framework.” Bourn is candid about some of the perceived weaknesses, devoting a chapter to impact and evaluation and touching on D.E.’s susceptibility to de-radicalising dilution.

To arrive at his pedagogical framework Bourn marshals his material into four parts. Parts one to three guide us through his version of the history, developing terminology and structures of DE; DE theory; and DE practice. Part four seeks to distil what has gone before into a coherent, distinctive pedagogy for “global learning.” Along the way, Bourn invites us to consider complementary and contending approaches to DE, including Richardson’s World Studies, the critical pedagogies of Freire and Giroux, the campaign oriented NGO model, Andreotti’s post-colonial inflection and Scheunpflug’s global competencies formulation. For DE this diversity is both a strength and a challenge, sowing seeds for the fertile discourse and critical reflection central to its method, while laying potential thickets of confusion for those attempting to look in. Several times Bourn alludes to DE’s struggle to talk to and impress itself on education theory and practice more widely. If occasionally his narrative seems reluctant to hack through to a definitive DE pedagogy, perhaps it’s because he senses the paradox of nailing a pedagogy so invested in provisionality, ambiguity and contestability, and so resistant to the universalising impulse. Notwithstanding Chapter 12’s prescription of themes, topic, skills and values, this is, fittingly, a book that asks more questions than it answers.

It’s a familiar risk that in striving for distinctiveness we tend to overstate otherness. There’s a hint of this in Bourn’s handling of ESD. Scott and Vare’s contribution surley warrants more than being circumscribed as having “regard to the environment”; the influential Sterling and Huckle get space, but not much. ESD can and sometimes does share a critical concern with power, as we see, for instance, in the critical social theory application of U.S. theorist and practitioner Tina Lynn Evans, and the work of Ros Wade and colleagues on LSBU’s Education for Sustainability programme. These people all share DE’s faith in critical thinking, participative approaches, values and social justice. Theirs too are pedagogies for global social justice.

If, then, DE has a unique rationale it can be located in Bourn’s misgiving that the term “global learning” finds favour over “DE” in schools is. He might have added that this renaming can be read as part of the de-radicalisation, a means of detracting from the problematisation of development and of shifting the focus to something with a less controversial ring. In the final analysis, it’s DE’s critical gaze on development and aid and the structural causes of poverty that distinguish it. The Theory and Practice of Development Education: a pedagogy for global social justice is a title well chosen.


SPSS Step by Step: Essentials for Social and Political Science
SPSS Step by Step: Essentials for Social and Political Science
by Cole Davis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £17.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A sound and engaging introduction to SPSS., 1 May 2013
In writing this book Davis has turned what could be a rather grey topic into an engaging process of discovery. Much of this is down to his tone, which is affable and resolutely avoids any taint of the dry `expertism' sometimes associated with manuals of this kind. In fact, it is a book readily digested in one sitting, something marking it out against other introductions to research methods. This speed of reading is assisted by the lucidity of Davis' prose and the rarity with which the reader needs to re-read any of his sentences to gain their full sense.,The structure, too, works well. Davis has organised the book into clearly demarcated sections. The first, `background knowledge', provides a simple, effective introduction to data and the type of statistics involved in SPSS. The second, `statistic testing', guides the reader through each statistical test effectively and economically, with instructions that are easy to follow. Throughout, the text is supported by clear and well-chosen illustrations.,,Additionally, the book contains practical exercises, with answers provided at the rear. This, of course, encourages the reader to practise and test their learning as they progress.,,A very worthwhile introduction, to my mind.


Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter
Otter Country: In Search of the Wild Otter
by Miriam Darlington
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £6.45

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical, 17 Nov. 2012
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Otter Country: In Search of the Wild OtterYep, I also read loads of nature writing na dhave been doing so for the last 35 years. This is a wonderful book, appealing to all of the senses. I also really like the way Darlington has structured her sections around prvious otter writings. The Dartmoor bits are a fantastic blend of place-specific writing and species-specific natural history. Superb really.


The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism
The Lost Art of Walking: The History, Science, Philosophy, and Literature of Pedestrianism
by Geoff Nicholson
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Lost Art of Walking, 20 July 2012
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If, like me, you are looking for a serious work on walking, don't be taken in by Nicholson's sub title: "The history, science, philospohy, literature, theory and practice of pedestrianism." This book is mainly an uninspiring regurgitation of stuff to be found elsewhere. Exceptions include a rather snidey and graceless account of a meeting with Iain Sinclair, a trip to view J.G. Ballard's old neighbourhood, and the reproduction of some unilluminating email correspondence with Will Self. I'd love to learn the words that exploded in Self's brain when Nicholson got back in touch with him. Despite its sub-title, then, you have to hope that this does not imagine itself to be in any way an academic endeavour. I guess if you enjoy writers like Bill Bryson and Ian Marchant you might like it. You might not, though, because, although Nicholson aspires to their brand of laddish humour, he fails to deliver a punch line. In fact it is so jejune in places that I was taken aback to discover the author is in his latter 50s and has a string of books to his name. One final observation: if I were writing around the topic of walking and topography, and enjoyed taking potshots at authentic voices like Sinclair, I'd make sure I didn't commit schoolboy errors like advising folk to steer clear of the Isle of Dogs when Millwall are playing at home. Yes, Millwall Dock is on the Isle of Dogs, but Millwall FC has lived south of the river since 1910. My advice would be, if you see this book, walk away.
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