The family get together for education geographers

15th November 2018
PGRG Blog #14
Lili Xiang

Attending the Third International Conference on Geographies of Education (GoE III) was really a memorable and inspiring experience for me. I am a final year PhD student from the School of Geography, University of Leeds. Before starting my PhD, I worked as a geography teacher and form tutor in high school in China for three years. The experience of working as a form tutor allows me to meet and contact with pupils’ parents, and thus I learned a lot about the difficulties some pupils faced with receiving high school education, especially for some migrant children. Education is really a key process that shapes the life chance of individuals and the development trajectories of areas. My work experience inspired me and offered me great motivation to research into education inequality in China. Therefore, my PhD research is trying to understand education inequalities in China at different geographical scales, assess current implemented education policies and provide corresponding measures, the topic on which I presented at GoE III.

Since I began my PhD three years ago, I always hoped to meet and discuss my research with scholars of education geography. This was not realised until I received the conference notice forwarded by my supervisor, Dr Luke Burns. It was a very exciting experience to attend this conference, which is the most relevant conference I have attended so far. Huge thanks to the conference organiser, Geography & Environment, School of Social Sciences, Loughborough University, who provided us with the excellent chance to meet the family of education geography. New geographies of education and learning have become a vibrant intra- and interdisciplinary as well as international field of research. This conference gathered researchers working in different fields which are related to education geography, including cultural and radical geographies and socio-political geographies. This conference improved my understanding of education geography by discussing performances, practices and processes that shape education and learning from geographical perspectives and offered me a chance to learn more about other scholars’ brilliant works, like informal and formal education, A-level reform and its implications, outdoor educations and special educational needs in schooling.

From chatting during breaks with other scholars, I realize that there is still a limited number of quantitative studies in this field, which is probably because of the tradition of using qualitative research methods in the field of child study in Anglophone geography. I think there should be more scholars with quantitative research background involved in this field. On the other hand, as a PhD student who is conducting quantitative research, this conference provided a lot of helpful feedbacks from some new perspectives for me to extend my research.  Many thanks again to Heike Jons, Sarah Holloway and all the other organisers of this event, who provided us with a cosy and intellectual environment. I have started to look forward to the fourth one!

Lili Xiang, University of Leeds,

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