Professor James Arthur discusses his work into the education of young people within The School of Education at The University of Birmingham
Title: Professor James Arthur - Education
Duration: 3.43 mins
Speaker Names (if given):
S1 Professor James Arthur – Chair in Education and Civic Engagement
S1 My research involves a whole range of students, children and young people. In fact it goes from the age of three to twenty-five and we’ve looked at 70,000 young people across the United Kingdom. The research itself involves a look at how young people participate in society, how they participate in their communities and how, in particular, they form values. I’m particularly concerned about character education in Britain today and how young people get involved in their communities and in society to do with their character. The outcomes of the research will revolve around the idea of young people telling us what their influences are on their lives. For example, did their parents influence them or do their siblings or their friends? Do schools influence them? Is it local community organisations, youth clubs or the local judge? So we’re doing a mapping exercise of the various influences on young people and how we can sort of see which ones are important than others. So we’re basically assessing what are the key influences on young people and what are the essential influences as well.
The impact of my particular research is more to do with the national policy scene. Many politicians are very interested in this research and have contacted me and I’ve been to see them. I’ve also been to see many businessmen and many people who are from voluntary organisations, charities. I think it’s a topic that many organisations will be interested in. Demos for example, the influential thinktank in London have commissioned a big enquiry into character, directly as a result of the research that I’ve been involved in. So it’s moving up the agenda but in terms of young people in Birmingham we work with young people in East Birmingham and we’ve also worked with them in terms of producing materials, resources, for them to be involved in character and values and citizenship education and many of these young people express great interest in this. They actually wanted to see more of this in the curriculum in schools. Birmingham is very important because it’s such a diverse city. It has communities from various parts of the world and they come from various religious and ethnic backgrounds and this variety has allowed us to look into other aspects of the research that wouldn’t be available to us in other parts of the UK; so in other words the ethnic background of the children has actually been rather important.
I think the research that I do has a big impact on many of the students that come to study here and it has an impact first of all in volunteering. We’ve done a big project with the Guild of Students for example on volunteering; so we’ve been studying how students here go through the process of volunteering and how they impact with the local community. So we’ve been developing a model for maximising student impact in the local community and there are many hundreds of students that come here every year who want to get involved in their local communities and gain a great deal of experience themselves of being involved in society. So the character theme doesn’t stop at school, it doesn’t stop after you’ve left your family to come to the University; we want to encourage it here as well.
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