Mediated Pedagogies: Educating Yorkshire

Authors: Readman

Conference: MeCCSA

Dates: 8-10 January 2014



This paper examines the representation of learning in a recent Channel 4 TV series, Educating Yorkshire.

Television has always been a place where learning is supposed to place: on-screen through the narrative arcs of particular characters and off-screen in the audience, and it continues to function as a public sphere in which our fears, fantasies and anxieties are played out in fictional and non-fictional forms. This is a particularly potent period for such representations, with standards, curriculum reform and ‘NEETs’ all being adduced as evidence of a crisis in education. There is, in addition, clearly a political appetite for ‘solutions’ – Jamie’s Dream School, for example, prompted a parliamentary committee to be convened in order to assess the efficacy of the project’s strategies.

Educating Yorkshire is one of a recent spate of programmes that are explicitly or implicitly concerned with learning, and in which particular pedagogic models are mobilised in more or less experimental ways. It provides an illuminating example of how a central tension is negotiated, a tension articulated by Biressi and Nunn (2013) as “…the paradox that individual freedom…is thought to be attained via the ‘submission to education’.”

I ask, then: How are particular pedagogic models and principles represented in Educating Yorkshire? What is at stake in these representations? In what ways do they engage with/respond to recent government ‘reforms’? What characterises the discursive responses to the programme? What is implied for pedagogy in the future? In an era of “post-political bio-politics” (Zizek, 2008), to what extent does pedagogy become ‘self-management’ on TV?

Source: Manual

Preferred by: Mark Readman