Trial service: UL books delivered to you!


The Education Faculty Library team are delighted to be involved in the new Futurelib ‘Intraloan’ project in conjunction with Cambridge University Library (UL) which will run for a trial period from Monday 6th February to Friday 3rd March.

Have you ever wanted to read a book held at the UL but not had the time to make your way across Cambridge to borrow it?  For a limited time only (4 weeks) you will be able to request books from the UL to be delivered to the Education Faculty Library!

Who can borrow?

  • Current education students and staff members who have registered with the Education Faculty Library

What can you request?

  • Any ‘borrowable’ items held at the UL – exceptions are described as ‘Not borrowable’
  • Requests will not be placed for titles that are already available as ebooks*
  • Please note that if we decide to purchase your request for the Education Library, we will not request it from the UL*

How do you request books ?

When will the book be available for collection?

  • Monday to Friday from 12pm the day after placing the request
  • Books requested on a Friday will not be available until the following Tuesday
  • Once the book is available for collection, the Education Library Team will notify you by text and/or e-mail

Where do I return UL books?

  • Books can be returned to either the Education Faculty Library or the UL up until the end  of the trial on 3rd March
  • After 3rd March, books will need to be returned directly to the UL

What happens if a book is recalled?

  • UL books can be recalled at any point during the loan period. You will receive an email from Rose Giles at the UL giving you seven days notice to return the item

What about fines?

  • Any books borrowed will be subject to the regulations of the University Library and unlike the Education Faculty Library, you will be fined for the late return of material (25p per day per overdue item)
  • If a recalled item is not returned to the UL within the seven day notice period the fine will be double the usual rate (50p per day per overdue item)

We hope that you will find having easier access to over 2 million borrowable treasures of the UL helpful during this 4 week period. If you have any further questions about the trial please don’t hesitate to contact the Education Library Team at library@educ.cam.ac.uk

We are looking forward to working with our colleagues at the UL on this collaborative project and hope that through it we will gain further insights into the information needs of our users.

What is Futurelib?

“The Futurelib innovation programme researches the current and future roles of libraries at the University of Cambridge. The programme seeks to improve awareness and usage of Cambridge library services by employing ethnographic and user-centred design techniques to undertake detailed exploration of the current user experience of our libraries. Futurelib typically undertakes a number of simultaneous projects and draws on the time and expertise of library staff from across the institution to iteratively test and pilot new service models and concepts.”

* Policy introduced 13th February due to workload involved


ebooks, iDiscover, Library Information, Uncategorized

When is an ebook not an ebook?

The new iDiscover catalogue lists two different types of ebooks – those that are e-legal deposit titles which can only be accessed from computers within certain Cambridge Libraries and those titles that can be accessed from anywhere.  To distinguish between the two, follow our guide below.

The wording in grey in the image below indicates that the book can only be accessed from specific computers in certain libraries in Cambridge:


The Education Faculty Library has one of these computers on Lily Pad 2, and from here you are able to either read the material online or print up to a chapter/10%.


We realise that using e-legal deposit titles in the Education Library is not going to be possible or convenient for many of our students, especially those studying at a distance from Cambridge.

However, if you let us know what it is you would like to read, we can probably help as we often have access to the material another way, either in print or as a ‘proper’ ebook that can be accessed away from Cambridge.  If we don’t, we are happy to consider purchasing it.

Ebooks that can be accessed from anywhere look like this on the catalogue and you’ll just need your Raven password to access them via the green wording below:


Remember that all Education ebooks can be accessed via the database on the Faculty Library Moodle site and all of these are ‘proper’ ebooks which you can consult anywhere.

Guest blog posts

Stories from a camp

This guest blog post was written by Elena Natale, one of our Undergraduate students studying education with modern and medieval languages.

30th May 2016 to 9th June 2016



By Elena Natale
It is hard to describe my days in the Dunkirk Camp both because of their intensity and because feelings and experiences are hard to explain in words. However, I feel that telling about my adventure is a necessary step for it to be continued by other inspired people who care about humanity. One of the first messages I want to communicate is that what we hear on the news or read in papers about the refugee crisis and about refugees themselves is just a small part of the picture, often badly painted with lots of misconceptions. This is because the focus is on the politics of immigration and the effects of this on society, rather than on the individuals and their stories. I do not intend to get involved with the politics at all, but rather bring a human touch to the matter. With this in mind, I left my safe, comfortable student life in Cambridge and went to volunteer in the Dunkirk La Linière Camp, spending most of my time in the classroom and the children’s centre.



Figure 1: The Edlumino classroom on the left and the children’s centre on the right.

My time at the classroom run by Edlumino Education Aid, a collaboration of teachers and people interested in education, was very enriching; especially given my interest in becoming a teacher. The classroom is very well resourced and it is beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. This is extremely important given that the camp in itself is unattractive in terms of aesthetics and architecture. Children from about 7+ of different abilities and with different previous experiences of schooling go to learn when they want all throughout the week. Depending on the number of teachers and volunteers present the children are taught in small groups or one-to-one tuition and the content of learning and teaching is mainly English and maths. Many children go to school for just a short period of time, most of them manage to stay for an hour. This is facilitated by the ‘bracelet method’, in other words after an hour of learning children receive a paper bracelet as a form of reward and as an entry-pass to the play centre just opposite the classroom.


Figure 2: The classroom

It was an amazing experience to help out in the classroom because many of the children arrive and are eager to learn, it is just about finding the right way for them to do so. This therefore requires a lot of flexibility and the ability to use existing teaching skills in completely new ways. The greatest challenge is to find ways to motivate the children and engage them in learning. This is especially the case because many of them are tired as they have been awake during the night trying to get on trucks, or alternatively they are influenced by their environment and by the other children. However it is not an unachievable goal: I myself experimented teaching using different techniques such as flash cards, visual and sensory objects, alternating some learning games with more structured learning.

Elena 3

Figure 3: The children’s centre activity area.

Elena 4

Figure 4: The play area.

Teaching in the camp is a stimulating experience for anyone interested in education and it encourages all those involved to share different teaching and learning approaches. All of these approaches seem to work as children return to school and their improvements are easily noticeable. I would hazard a guess that this is because everyone teaching is interested in the children as individuals and as learners. Added to this there is a shared recognition of the wider role of education: in other words education not just about the teaching of skills and knowledge but also about the development of feelings, behaviours and attitudes towards oneself, the environment and others.

I had a wonderful time at the children’s centre, opposite the classroom, as I had the opportunity not only to become a child again but also to organise entertaining and educative activities for children of all ages. In particular the centre is the camp’s safe space for children: from the small babies to the more exuberant older ones. There they can play and be themselves and rediscover their innocence and their abilities to dream. In it the children have the opportunities to explore and learn using different toys, art materials, sports equipment, books. The presence of teachers and volunteers means that each one can focus and spend time with smaller groups of children and organise games and activities. Having said this it is almost impossible to continue one activity for long because there is so much going on around. Consequently it is always important to have one eye in the game and the other on what is going on everywhere else; this is both to avoid brutal fights or stone throwing and also to make sure that none of the children are left alone or unsupervised.

A typical day at the centre starts around 10.30/11am when the children who are too small to go to the classroom are brought by their parents or by their older siblings. In the morning usually a creative activity, like playing music or some art work, is organised and then the children have a small snack time followed by free play. The centre closes for a lunch break around 1.30pm and the children then come back from 3pm to 5pm. In the afternoon, depending on the weather, the children either do some sports, physical activities or simply play outdoors. During my time at the centre a group of volunteers had just planted lots of flowers and plants so the children took over the responsibility to water them, something that they greatly enjoyed. I also attempted to do some dance routines and simple yoga/fitness exercises with the children. At first it was hard but then I realised it is all about consistency and about adapting the activity so as to suit the interests and needs of the children. It was wonderful to see a group of 10/15 children, who after many attempts, managed to sit together in a circle, do some stretching, make coordinated noises and take part in group interactions. The smallest satisfactions of volunteering with children derive from the simplest things: for example when a child says please, thank you, sorry or comes to give you a hug. All of these small gestures make you feel like you have achieved something great and unforgettable.

I spent most of my time moving in between the classroom and the children’s centre and it was interesting to notice how they both operate differently with different objectives. However despite this they both successfully achieve the goal of providing children with a safe space just for them where they can come and let out their energies, learn, spend time with other children and with adults who care about them. All the teachers and volunteers that I met are inspiring people and it is fascinating to listen to their stories. In particular the long-term volunteers who have been in the camp since it was first opened explained how they have seen the changes from children learning and playing in very small improvised tents, to larger ones to the complete, inviting and well-furnished buildings in which they are now.

What I have learned through this experience is that teaching in the sorts of conditions present in the camp requires a different approach to education: it requires people who are enthusiastic, sensitive and who are able to connect to individuals by catering for their needs of love and affection. The children and their families should be the core centre around which everything is done. Only when the connections between human beings are encouraged and safeguarded can true and meaningful changes of the individuals’ psychological and emotional conditions be made. To conclude, volunteering in the camp is for me about trying to reach the hearts of people and allowing everyone to reclaim their identity.


ebooks, Information for Students, LibrarySearch, Uncategorized

When is an ebook not an ebook?

If you haven’t already seen this image on the LibrarySearch catalogue, be sure that it will be appearing on a list of search results near you soon!

But what does it actually mean?


Any material with the ‘Conditions of use’ label refers to books and journals that have been deposited at the University Library by publishers in a digital format, rather than in print.  Unfortunately, these titles can only be used on specific computers in certain libraries in Cambridge.

We have one of these ‘E-Legal Deposit’ computers in the Education Library on Lily Pad 2 but you can only read the material online – it’s not possible to print, download, copy and paste or photograph the material you access from here.


We realise that using e-legal deposit titles on this computer in the Education Library is not going to be possible or convenient for many of our students, especially those studying at a distance from Cambridge.

However, if you let us know which title you would like to read we can probably help you as we often have access to the material another way, either in print or as a less restrictive ebook/ejournal through the resources subscribed to by the University.

If we don’t, we will consider purchasing it either as a print book or as an ebook which can be accessed outside of Cambridge Libraries.



From crowded solitude to re-contextualizing the field

The following guest blog post was written by John Finney, Faculty of Education teacher-researcher, co-editor (with Felicity Laurence) of MasterClass in music education and author of Music education in England 1950-2010.

You can find John on Twitter and his blog, Music Education Now.

From crowded solitude to re-contextualizing the field

It was about 2010 over a drink in the Rock that I quizzed Phil Kirkman and Jennie Francis as I tried to make sense of the recent growth in use of social media through twitter and texting. It was both a mystery and a concern that such short bursts of just 140 characters in the case of twitter could constitute a meaningful manner of communication. I was mindful of sociologist Zygmunt Bauman’s writing on the subject.

I have greatly enjoyed Bauman’s writing and have you read his 44 Letters from the Liquid Modern World? Letter 2 is titled ‘Crowded Solitude’. He tells of a teenage girl who sent 3,000 text messages in one month, an average of 100 messages a day.

Bauman writes: ‘what follows is that she’s hardly ever been alone for more than ten minutes; that means she has never been with herself – with her thoughts, her dreams, her worries and hopes.’ (2010: 6)

Bauman concludes:

‘Running away from loneliness, you drop your chance of solitude on the way: of that sublime condition in which one can ‘gather thoughts’, ponder, reflect, create – and so in the last account, give meaning and substance to communication. But then, having never savoured the taste, you may never know what you have forfeited, dropped and lost.’ (Ibid: 9)

However, I was shortly to realise that twitter and the emerging blogosphere were becoming places of professional discourse. And in the relatively small field of music education where I reside, here was a meeting place and a global one at that.john finney 1

Beyond music education there was a growing world of teacher twitterers and bloggers who were commanding the attention of government and whose voices were seen as both allies and minor arbiters in policy, its communication and dissemination. Michael Gove flirted with lead blogger ‘Old Andrew’, now an influential blog gatekeeper, while Tom Bennett emerged as government advisor, teachers’ champion and debunker of educational myths, and with over 20,000 followers.

I also noted that with practice it was possible to conduct a debate through twitter and that twitter was a source of information flow that could be valuable. Thus, I became a convert, understanding how all this is part of the time-space contraction that is global modernity.

After a little twittering I entered the blogosphere in 2012 and quickly fell into a pattern of writing a weekly blog rather like a regular newspaper column or Radio 4s Thought for the Day. Each blog takes five to seven minutes to read and above all else is intended to provoke thought. Topics vary from week to week and are often prompted by something recently encountered, some trend or silly idea gaining attention and credence that I feel would benefit from challenge or clarification. Then there are matters close to music teacher’s professional lives: assessment without levels (see blog post here), for example. Blogs on assessment and school audit cultures are big hits.

Sometimes I create a sequence. ‘Sitting by Lake Geneva’ was a four-part retrospective on Jean Piaget and recently I have written a five-part consideration of the purposes of music education.

Running through the over 200 blogs now written there are repetitions, recurrences, nagging issues that I keep returning to and through which my thinking becomes a little clearer. While the first fifty blogs have been published as an eBook there remains much scope for developing material into a more substantial account of ‘Music Education Now’, the blogs title.

john finney 2

Overall, my aim is to bring together teacher thought and thought circulating beyond the classroom. It is a great medium through which to contribute to the re-contextualization the field and to use another Bernstein notion, to open up those vitalising discursive gaps. (See Bernstein, 2000)

Of course, a blog does need promoting, and links through twitter help with this. I am left wondering just who is the weekly reader in Mongolia and why the recent interest from Thailand?

I am grateful to the ongoing tutelage from the Faculty Library Team on matters of blog presentation. I haven’t yet managed to import a Venn diagram and a good many other things that would improve matters.

The Library Team are at hand.


Bauman, Z. (2010) 44 Letters from the Liquid Modern World. Cambridge: Polity.

Bernstein, B. (2000) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity. Oxford: Roman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.


Michael Armstrong

The following is a guest blog post written by Mary Jane Drummond, a former lecturer at the Faculty of Education and renowned writer and researcher in the field of Early Childhood Education.

The death has been announced of Michael Armstrong, the author of two exceptional books Closely observed children 1about learning: Closely Observed Children (1989), and Children Writing Stories (2006). In the first, Michael Armstrong sets out, in his own words, ‘to describe the intellectual life of a class of eight and nine-year olds in a primary school in rural Leicestershire’; it is a book that has touched the working lives of countless teachers, and many others who shared Michael’s passionate interest in children’s learning.


In the second book, long-awaited by enthusiastic readers children writing storiesof the first, Michael brilliantly analyses a selection of children’s stories, some documented by Tolstoy in the peasant school he set up on his estate, some collected by the incomparable Vivian Gussin Paley, and many more from the primary school in Oxfordshire where he had been headteacher for 19 years.


Michael also wrote countless essays for the campaigning journal FORUM, many of them available online at www.wwwords.co.uk/FORUM. See, for example, a sparkling article about the importance of play in children’s thought and language: ‘Playful Words: the educational significance of children’s linguistic and literacy play’ in Volume 51, No.2, 2009, pp165-183. Readers who would like to be reminded of the cataclysmic events in English educational history in 1988 could turn back to Michael’s article in Volume 30, No.3, 1998 ‘Popular Education and the National Curriculum’. This is a fierce and cogent denunciation of the dysfunctional effects of the 1988 Education Reform Act, and, as it turns out, prophetically acute in its diagnosis of the long-term outcomes of the Act for children and teachers, for curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. When will we ever learn?

Forum photo 1

But Michael never gave up hope. His most recent and – tragically – final piece for FORUM is the text of his address to the Brian Simon Centenary Conference, held in March 2015 (Vol.57, No.3 2015 pp317-24, not yet on open access. See the FORUM website for more details). In this passionate speech, ‘Humanism in Education’, Michael robustly restates his abiding belief in Brian Simon’s educational vision, and his insistence ‘on the teacher meeting her students as human beings…with education as the meeting of minds within a common school in which all children are educable, and all have something to say.’ Michael concludes: ‘It is a vision that we have lost sight of. It finds no settled place in contemporary educational discourse. All the more reason to reclaim it.’ That work of reclamation must go on…

Infomation for Masters, Information for Students

Reflections from a MPhil Student

While still studying for his MPhil at the Faculty of Education, Emerson Csorba reflected about his time in Cambridge, with this guest blog post which some of our new students may find interesting and insightful.

“Never write about a place until you’re away from it, for only then do you have perspective.”

– Ernest Hemingway


Photo by dr. shordzi  (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/)

In early January 2014, I received an email I will never forget. After several weeks spent refreshing the Cambridge graduate application platform dozens of times per day, I noticed the application status had switched: what once read ‘application made’ was suddenly ‘board of directors confirming approval.’ Several days later, the official confirmation email arrived in my inbox. An unexpected scholarship in May sealed the deal: I would be going to Cambridge for a M.Phil in Politics, Development and Democratic Education.

When I first arrived in Cambridge, colleagues from across the city remarked that the year would pass quickly. At the time, having yet to meet classmates and having only just been introduced to the traditions and events on campus, there was much to learn – and many opportunities awaiting for getting lost while making my way from college to college! As I write this, only one month is left in the programme, and it has been an experience that has left a significant impact on my life, one that words cannot do justice. In this brief reflection, I will speak to the way in which the Cambridge experience – but more specifically, studying in the Faculty of Education – has provided immense benefit in my growth as a scholar and person. In particular, I will emphasize the roles that the Library, PDDE route and several key faculty members have played in making these last nine months some of the most transformative of my life.

Considering how the thesis deadline is fast approaching, and for the sake of time and simplicity, I will present these reflections in the form of a list:

  1. The M.Phil in PDDE route and the students within it challenge each other to broaden their thinking

Students in Education – and specifically, the M.Phil in Politics, Development and Democratic Education route I’m a part of – have challenged me to think in ways that at first were uncomfortable, but that over time have been of immense value. From the first seminars of the year, my PDDE classmates were deeply engaged in the subject matter, both inside and outside of class. Coming from Canada, where the education system is more or less egalitarian, and where divisions between class are less pronounced than in Britain and the United States, it took time to feel at ease in a new culture where the debates on education differ so markedly. (In so doing, I have also learned a lot more about Canadian culture, which I’ve found has its positives and negatives!) Within PDDE alone, students come from Germany, the United States, Britain, Colombia, Peru, Australia and Canada. Whether I agree or not with viewpoints raised in seminar discussions, they have opened my mind to ways of thinking for which I’m grateful.

  1. There is space to step back and think

One of the most common phrases I’ve heard throughout my time at Cambridge is “Why don’t you go have a think?” Activities such as introspection are valued, and there is no shortage of beautiful scenery for taking long walks – on one’s own or with friends – around the city. On top of this, there are few assessments. Students are truly provided with the space to think through important questions on their own, an opportunity that unfortunately exists less and less these days in higher education.

The seminar and supervision approach to learning is also one that I wish more students could experience in higher education. I’ve taken a lot away from the many philosophical discussions on topics such as autonomy, freedom, democracy, liberalism and the good life, which I view as being valuable both intrinsically as well as for the work I’ll do later on in life across education, politics and business. Indeed, philosophy and critical examination are taken seriously in the Faculty of Education. And we can never have enough of this in the world!

  1. Social entrepreneurship is taken seriously: faculty and staff welcome this

The Faculty is remarkably open to social entrepreneurship. One unique aspect of my Cambridge experience is that I co-run a business based in Canada called Gen Y Inc., a company that helps organisations develop multigenerational engagement internally, attracting and retaining the next generation of leaders and managers. In no small part to Cambridge, we’re now entering Britain, establishing what I feel is a promising practice here. While in undergraduate studies in Canada, I was never sure whether professors were open to the idea of profit-making enterprises. At Cambridge, however, it has been much the opposite: the city is one of the most entrepreneurial and innovative in Europe, home to the “Cambridge Phenomenon.” (In the last 15 years, for instance, Cambridge University Entrepreneurs has generated more than 100M GBP worth of investment in companies. Not bad for a student society!)

Most recently, for instance, I was asked to speak at a Faculty of Education event entitled Education and Entrepreneurship. David Carter, Hilary Cremin, Nidhi Singal and Ian Frowe have all been champions in this regard, all providing support in very meaningful ways. The openness to ideas and support from the Faculty of Education has been a breath of fresh air.

  1. Learning is valued in itself, and the Library team ensures this is the most pleasant experience possible

Finally, I’ve benefited significantly from the rich collection of books in the Faculty of Education, most specifically with ones on the capabilities approach by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum. There is such a terrific culture of learning for the sake of learning with students here. Supporting this is a Library team where every interaction is engaging, and where staff members always manage to have a smile on their face.

As another (and more positive) example about the culture of learning, I remember distinctly bumping into Abraham (a fellow PDDE student) on December 5, as I walked home from the Donald MacIntyre building. I had just handed in the Michaelmas term essay, having of course successfully hole-punched it. Hilariously, Abraham was on his way to the Faculty – with just two hours to spare before the essay deadline – leisurely reading a book on higher education innovation well outside his area of focus for Essay One! At the time, he mentioned there were “several edits left” on the paper. I remain both perplexed and impressed by his calm as the 4 pm essay deadline approached.

Studying in the Faculty of Education has been a nourishing experience, intellectually, spiritually and socially. I have never been in a place where students care so deeply about learning, and where staff are equal facilitators in this journey. Part of this is the Cambridge experience, but the culture in the Faculty of Education deepens this. I will forever have warm memories of studying in the Faculty of Education Library, with Oakeshott, Sen, Nussbaum and others by my side. This last year has, in short, served as a gateway into the wider world, while also helping me make sense of my life growing up in Canada. And more importantly, the memories and friendships developed here, with both classmates and faculty, will last a lifetime.