I know what you did this summer

Although lots of our lovely students have now either finished their courses or won’t be coming to the Faculty for teaching sessions for a little while, there’s still plenty to be done in the Education Library!

Here’s an insight into some of the work we will be undertaking over the next couple of months ready for when the PGCE term starts in September.

Reading lists

hp lib 6

There are over 100 session reading lists on the Library Moodle Site and they all, yes, that’s right, ALL need updating. The lists are interactive with links to online resources (ebooks & ejournals) as well as the catalogue and so provide our students with quick and easy access to readings for their teaching sessions (vital for all of our part-time and distance learning students).  It is no small task but is well worth the effort as one of our undergrads tells us: “They are such a lifeline both before and during term, and I don’t know of any other faculties that are so thorough and helpful with the resources put on Moodle.”


Teaching sessions


These all need planning and there are a lot!  As a team, we run approximately 72 general induction and online research skills sessions which are embedded across all seven Faculty programmes (Undergraduate, Primary PGCE, Secondary PGCE, Practitioner Professional Development, Masters, PhD and EdD) enabling us to build strong relationships with our students from day one and (hopefully) have a positive impact on their learning.  Most of us have either attended conferences or workshops on teaching skills recently so now’s the time to reflect on last year’s teaching and see how we can improve (because there’s always room for improvement, right?)


Library Moodle Site


It just wouldn’t be summer in the Education Library without a revamp of the Moodle Site!  For our continuing students, we will be updating you about any changes when we see you in Michaelmas Term but in the meantime, if you cannot find the information you need, remember to get in touch with us (library@educ.cam.ac.uk).


Library Guides


We will be analysing the content of our four great Library guides (Referencing, Literature Searching, Research Methods and Social Media), improving and updating them wherever necessary.

Look out for new resources on the Research Methods Guide and a whole new Education Ebooks guide!!


Shelf tidying


We know how frustrating it can be if you can’t find a book on the shelves, so every summer all the team do a thorough tidy of the shelves to make sure all items are in the correct place, ready for the first group of students in September.

Supporting our students!

Not all of our students have finished their courses yet and so we’re on hand throughout the summer to help with their queries from Accessing articles to Zotero and referencing support.  We’re open throughout the summer, Monday-Friday 9.30am-5pm.

Photo for one to one slide July 2017

So now you know what the Education Library Team will be doing this summer!



Wellbeing Wednesday and beyond…

Your Library Team are here to help – your Library is more than a room full of books!

Stress soothing spaces
There are plenty of varied study spaces for you to choose from to cater for every mood –  whether it be wrapped up in a blanket on a bean bag, using an adjustable desk, sitting at grass level at one of the study desks or indeed up high on the Lily Pads, the sky’s the limit!

Take a break – recharge – refocus
Lots of you have been joining us for our Mad Hatter’s Cake Parties in the Library Living Room at 4pm on Wednesdays, so take a break and pick up a homemade cake!

Save the date, our last Cake Party is on the 30th May


If you want a break but still want to keep the brain active, we’ve got puzzles and colouring books to divert you.  And if your phone or laptop needs recharging, don’t forget we have chargers and power adaptors on hand – ask at the Welcome Desk if you can’t find what you need.

1-2-1 sessions to help with anything you need from Articles to Zotero
Please don’t struggle along alone, book a 1-2-1 with the Library Team today.

Suggestions and feedback
The Library Team are always looking for new ways to improve our services and support you, so please do help us to help you by filling in our comments book either online or at one of our cake parties.

“Help will always be given [at #EduLibraryLand] to those who ask for it” and in Dumbledore’s footsteps, we always have a sherbert lemon to hand!




Teaching and learning with refugee children and teenagers on the island of Chios

This guest blog post was written by Elena Natale, one of our past Primary PGCE Trainees.

Elena volunteered in Chios from 17th September – 17th December  2017



“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience.” – Paulo Coelho

The difficulty of putting my experience in Chios into words is overcome by the urge I feel to speak up. Volunteering for three months for Refugee Education Chios, I had the pleasure of meeting many individuals and hearing their stories. I now feel a duty to generate curiosity and interest in these stories and share what I have learned.
During the first few days of my time in Chios, I was flooded with contradictory feelings; excitement to get to know the children and fear at how to overcome the barriers between us. I worried about settling into a new place, and adjusting to this new life. All these feelings quickly took a backseat as I started sharing my days with the children.

“Choose connection over perfection.” – Julie Hanks

At first, my focus was to try to get through the day as smoothly as possible. I would try to keep the children engaged and prevent outbursts of negative energy in the form of panic attacks, violence, withdrawal, and other manifestations I had not yet come across.

The ‘perfectionist’ teacher in me was determined to engage the children, without too much disruption, in learning through the super creative lessons I had planned out. This goal soon disappeared as I realised that the children’s needs could not be met through traditional educational practices. Instead, I saw that through their occasional ‘shocking’ behaviours the children were calling out for recognition and support. They needed a safe space where they could be themselves and build spontaneous relationships, which they maybe lacked in their daily life in the camp.

“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.” Martin Luther King Jr.

fish 1

Recognising this changed my whole approach to the experience. My own personal goal became that of trying to transform my classrooms into small communities for, and of, children. I took the time to observe the children, their interactions with each other and with us volunteers, and get to know them through play. I started to introduce some routines and structures that challenged the children to work together, to listen to each other, to share something about themselves, and to take responsibility of their own learning.

This was a challenge for all of us, children and teachers alike, that did not come without difficulties, but the feeling of trust in each other became the connecting force that we relied on to welcome and address the days with open arms.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.” – Pooh

As the days passed, we would take steps forwards and backwards in relation to our daily achievements, but there was never a single day I did not feel personally satisfied with what we had accomplished. There was never a day we did not end with a smile and our hands raised in the air, like strong teams do, in recognition that the experiences we had lived had been common to all of us.
Some days, the achievement was keeping all the children in a class, or receiving an excited hug from a child on the way into school or after a long day. Other days, it was seeing children express their needs and communicate through drawing or some form of language. I was delighted by the children’s landmarks of growth: saying please and thank you not just to teachers but to each other; offering to clean up the classroom to the sound of Despacito; a group made up of all different nationalities playing UNO together; a class holding hands together; a whole class dancing salsa together, irrespective of gender, race or any other category; a whole class agreeing both verbally and with their actions that differences between individuals are good and make us strong.
The list of what I call GOLDEN MOMENTS is neverending. The point is that, with the right support and guidance, so many of the students were able to unleash their inherent force and energy that derives simply from being the children they are.

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can choose to change the world.” Nelson Mandela

Sometimes, my feelings of satisfaction were shattered when we arrived in Vial camp and the crude reality that the children lived in emerged right in front of our eyes. This had a profound effect on the volunteers, but clearly had the greatest impact on the children who would quickly change their behaviour and attitudes. It felt as though suddenly everything that had been built up in the classroom crumbled as the children prepared to go into ‘survival mode’.

classroom display

Seeing this from the outside definitely gave me a clearer understanding of the startling behaviour that some children manifested in school, and helped me to become aware of the nature of the big beast we were trying to fight against everyday. Though I never imagined I could fix the situation completely, seeing it made me more determined to continue my work with the children in a spirit of flexibility, open-mindedness and sensitivity.

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” – Malala

The children themselves were a huge source of inspiration to me, and they fueled my determination. I came across this quote, which immediately made sense to me: “Our children can be our greatest teachers if we are humble enough to receive their lessons” – B. McGill.

The children I was working with had been through so much in their lives and had so much to teach us. There wasn’t one day I didn’t learn something from them. Each child had something to teach me about resilience, or how to adapt to new situations and people, or how to express oneself non-verbally. They showed me how to learn from the simplest and smallest of things, and how to be creative whatever the circumstance.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Another key part of my experience was the team of volunteers and co-workers. Each of us had arrived in Chios for a different reason. We’d lived quite diverse experiences and therefore brought with us a different repertoire of skills and knowledge. However, we were all linked by one feeling: a love for humanity which manifested itself in a passion for education in its many forms. This helped create a community of enthusiastic and reflective individuals, ready to share knowledge, skills, experiences, and emotions with each other and with the students. Though I arrived worrying about being with people I didn’t know, I quickly saw that living and sharing everything with the team was key to feeling energised, supported, and understood. They encouraged me to not be afraid to be myself, and to channel my energy into the work we were so invested in.

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” Mother Teresa

If you asked me which part of the experience I loved the most, I would struggle to give an answer that would do justice to all the people I had met. I had the honour to work with and learn from so many individuals, be they volunteers, children, teenagers or other young adults. However, I can confidently say that I take with me a plethora of golden moments: moments that are more valuable than anything tangible; moments filled with human emotion, and with deep connection to others.

If you asked me what I learned from this experience, I would say this: no situation or hardship can rob someone of their smile or feeling, especially not a child’s. Therefore, connecting to others through shared human emotion is the key to unlocking relationships with people from all backgrounds.

I have come to think that trying to understand the experiences of refugees is like fighting a lost battle. Instead, it is more powerful to build connections through empathy, and commit to opening up a space for individuals to become storytellers of their lives. As Socrates famously said: “I know that I know nothing”; it is clear to me that there is always more to learn, and that, if one is open to accepting this, then this journey can become the most exciting and important one of our lives: “Education is a lifelong journey” – J.Dewey

world children's day

If you would like to know more about volunteering opportunities contact: nicholas@actionforeducation.co.uk or visit www.actionforeducation.co.uk

Presenting our Faculty Publications – Easter reads 2018

Put a ‘Spring’ into your step and treat yourself this Easter with our latest selection of publications from the Education Faculty, a children’s literature special issue!


Our first publication has chapters by one of our Professors, Maria Nikolajeva, and one of our PhD students, Sarah Hardstaff:

Ahlbeck, J., Lappalainen, P., Launis, K., & Tuohela, K. (2018). Childhood, literature and science : fragile subjects (Routledge advances in sociology). Abingdon : Routledge

Childhood lit and science. twitter jpg


Maria Nikolajeva
Chapter 7:  Visible, audible and sentient: cognitive-affective engagement with disability in contemporary young adult fiction

“This chapter develops central ideas from my recent book ‘Reading for learning: cognitive approaches to children’s literature‘, focusing on the ways fiction potentially enhances young readers’ Theory of Mind and empathy. Through a detailed discussion of three young adult novels featuring protagonists with disabilities, the chapter explores the discursive elements that stimulate readers to engage with the protagonists’ cognitively and emotionally, with the purpose of affecting prejudices and support tolerance and inclusion. Recent experimental research shows that fiction can indeed improve real readers’ empathic skills. This research is therefore relevant not only for scholars of literature, but a broader audience in psychology and inclusive education.” (Maria Nikolajeva)

Sarah Hardstaff
Chapter 10: ‘With special obligations’: constructions of young adulthood and caregiving in The Road to Memphis and Seventeen Against the Dealer

“My chapter in ‘Childhood, Literature and Science’ has come a long way from the original paper presented at the Fragile Subjects conference in Turku, Finland in the summer of 2015. I explore the representation of healthcare and caregivers in two novels for young people, both of which present episodes that raise questions about healthcare provision and discrimination in the United States. The title “with special obligations” comes from the Hippocratic Oath, and is a reminder that we all have a responsibility to help those who are disadvantaged.

I hope this piece of work will be particularly useful for students looking at social issues in children’s literature and of interest to anyone working in the medical humanities.” (Sarah Hardstaff)

Maria Nikolajeva has also edited and written a chapter in Beauvais, C., & Nikolajeva, M. (2017). The Edinburgh companion to children’s literature. Edinburgh : Edinburgh University Press

Edinburugh companion 2

Below is an introduction to Chapter 23: Evolutionary criticism and children’s literature

“This short chapter is included in the ‘Unmapped Territories’ section of the Companion that explore new and recent directions in children’s literature research. It is the first ever attempt to employ the theoretical framework of evolutionary, or Neo-Darwinist, literary criticism to literature marketed for young readers. As such, it goes radically against some of the conventional approaches, based on critical theory, that view representations of childhood as cultural constructions. Instead, evolutionary criticism claims that any study of arts should take biological and bio-psychological aspects of human nature into consideration. This chapter is my first venture into a new area that I am currently expanding into a larger research project.” (Maria Nikolajeva)



Finally, we would like to welcome Joe Sutliff Sanders who joins us as a University Lecturer in children’s literature.  We have two of Joe’s publications available in the Library:

Sanders, J. (2011). Disciplining girls : understanding the origins of the classic orphan girl story. Baltimore, Maryland : Johns Hopkins University Press

Disciplining girls twitter

“Women’s sentimental novels of the mid-nineteenth century were the first bestsellers. Under the surface of their tales of tearful orphan girls was a narrative of a then-new kind of discipline, in which mothers made girls behave by shaping them with love rather than punishment.  As this formula shifted from literature for women to literature for girls, the narrative of discipline also changed, alongside emerging theories of childhood, selfhood, capital, femininity, education, and even abuse.  By 1923, when the formula finally lost traction with Anglophone readers, the shape of feminine power had changed irrevocably, from girls imagined as the malleable objects of discipline to girls as the only responsible wielders of discipline.” (Joe Sutliff Sanders)

Sanders, J. (2018). A literature of questions : nonfiction for the critical child. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press

Lit of questions for twitter


“The traditional understanding of nonfiction for young people is that it is only as valuable as its information is perfectly accurate, a model that imagines adults as capable of writing perfect truths and children as irreparably damaged by imperfect information. A Literature of Questions argues that children’s nonfiction is better understood as a literature that prompts questions, that imagines children as part of the project of testing knowledge. It outlines tools for recognising where—and why—nonfiction invites children to critical engagement.” (Joe Sutliff Sanders)




Explore and discover more Faculty publications by following #EdFacPublications and keep up to date with all new additions to the Education Library collection by following our Pinterest boards.