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Members research spotlight: Strathclyde University leads project on New Northern Pedagogies

Having previously secured funding form the Scottish Government Arctic Connections fun, the Strathclyde University team, led by Dr Paul Adams, was successful in securing Royal Society of Edinburgh funding to build on their work on northern pedagogies. For this project Dr Adams collaborated with colleagues from the University of Aberdeen and University of Lapland, in Finland.

Dr Paul Adams

This project provided opportunities for 30 HEI-based teacher educators from across from nine Scottish ITE institutions to explore Arctic Pedagogy with individuals from the Arctic region. Through an in-person, three-day symposium the principles of Arctic Pedagogy were considered for how they might support teacher education provision. Findings and associated papers are to be published in Education in the North (EITN).

Participant feedback noted relevance of this work for Scottish ITE and for the work of ITE tutors. The initial keynote (Professor Paulgaard; UiT, Norway) demonstrated the importance of challenging metro-centricity and stagist views of child-development. Dr Vijayavarathan’s (University of the Faroe Islands) presentation highlighted the importance of voice, language, and the need for reconceptualising inclusion through culturally responsive teaching. Professor Gunnþórsdóttir’s (University of Akureyri, Iceland) presentation reinforced the need to work with community groups to understand how location is conceptualised and appreciated. Finally, Professor Turunen’s (University of Lapland, Finland) input highlighted that ‘the ‘centre’ always belongs to the individual’ and that national drives for scale and conformity have a tight grip on society and must be challenged. Socially and culturally, the work presented by the keynote speakers raised awareness of similarities and differences between peoples in ‘the Arctic’ and people who live and work in Scotland. The keynotes highlighted the challenges faced by those in rural and remote communities across ‘the North’ and how hitherto deficit conceptions of such areas can be challenged.

A significant outcome was a challenge to conceptions of community along with a deeper appreciation of how ITE might rupture deficit models of location. The idea of ‘presence’ rather than ‘absence’ was surfaced during the event and discussion surfaced as to how ITE might challenge current pedagogic orthodoxies through a deeper appreciation of this alternative. General thoughts highlighted the importance of education as not simply a response to market needs, but an approach to understanding and working with and through the intricacies of people, place, and time. Some noted how they had immediately begun to challenge prevailing orthodoxies in their thinking, and that they felt empowered to develop teacher education beyond simplistic ideas of methods and practices towards something quintessentially Scottish celebrating heritage and culture.

Future research/scholarship opportunities to enrich and extend the work of participants was also discussed. Here, challenging metrocentric conceptions of teacher education and child development proved particularly salient. Work on inclusion and redefining locality further challenged Western liberal thought and led to appreciation of the subjectivity of context and location. Suggestions for the future included linking events, work with colleagues in their own institutions, and challenging previous ways of working that paid little to no attention to people, place, and time. Participants were keen to extend the work to include policymakers and colleagues from institutions and organisations wider than just ITE and HEIs.

After this project, funding has been secured from the Royal Society of Edinburgh to extend membership of the steering group to colleagues from Greenland and Canada and further colleagues from Finland. This bid supports key staff to meet in Tromsø, Norway, to enrich steering group membership and to include insights from indigenous pedagogies. The steering group is also holding a one-day event prior to ECER in August 2023. Talks are also underway between the Arctic Pedagogies group and a smaller group discussing rural and remote issues. With the University of Calgary, discussions are underway concerning a bid for Canadian funding to extend this work, develop understanding of indigenous pedagogy and ways of knowing, and to embed ‘Northern Pedagogy’ into the work of teachers and teacher educators.



In the ‘Members research spotlight’ series, we are bringing you updates from research projects of ScAN members. If you have a publication/expedition report/exhibition/podcast/workshop or any other relevant news to share, please send it to with ‘ScAN Members research spotlight for website’ in the title.

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