Helen E. Lees

helen 2013 small size imageFaculty Member and lecturer, Dept. of Education and Professional Studies, Newman University

Hi. It’s really great to be profiled here as it is a chance for Other Education to become better known. We think we have something to share that might be of interest to readers of the contemplative education website. The work profiled in Other Education is either about difference in and of education or is different itself. A look at our archive and current issue will give you a flavour of what is on offer.

The journal values greatly the notion of contemplative education, seeing it as a vital portal into the realm of otherness which we want to and can explore in the work we publish. So there is much cross-over. As founding editor of Other Education I started with this work initially back in 2009 as a PhD student. It struck me that really there was nowhere for me to belong as a voice in education. I didn’t fit in. So it occurred then: why not make my own space? So I did. It turns out that my sense of not having a home for my writing and for finding and reading work I could value on my terms of what mattered educationally was a sense shared by many, many people. There was, you might say, a gap in the education scholarship and outputs. Other Education seems to be filling that gap. We are not the only journal featuring work on democratic education, contemplative education, strange education, street, tree, woods, city or home education and so on. But we are, in my view, the only one that is a ‘full service’ journal epistemologically. What do I mean by that? Well, I think it’s that we are prepared to think differently not just about what education is but also about how it can be communicated and presented. We seek a holistic offering, not one tragically compromised by a forced, institutionalised epistemology . That is why we have published and will feature art works or poems or plays, spoken voice, papers written in unconventional formats, off the wall possibilities. Anything really that can get through a rigorous but friendly and iterative peer review process with merit to appear as an academic article. Alternatively we also have our Other Contributions or book reviews sections. These two sections are for non-peer reviewed reports, reflections, contemplations, ideas (which can also feature work by those without academic background or interests) and for book reviews of books speaking our language. Indeed the work of Other Education is slowly contributing to new forms of educational scholarship language being possible, I would say. This is important! If we have no words to describe the difference we want to discover, debate, find, use, what then do we do? We need our own language, not one borrowed from mainstream schooling and traditional authoritarian, desk based, hierarchical, classroom stuck education practices.

We are all on a journey with each issue of Other Education. As we go we are picking up new vocabulary, new vistas and perspectives. Thank God! I was drowning in standardisation myself: of what was expected in education studies and of my voice, the voice of those I respected. Other Education is a little island retreat where contemplative rethinking and new thinking of education can and does occur. It’s a very interesting project to be involved in and people seem to appreciate its existence. Our outputs are widely read.

What I like perhaps most myself as Editor is that those who choose to engage with us and publish with us have heart and courage: they want to say important things and have the guts to do this in ways commensurate with their vision but which might elsewhere be summarily rejected for being unconventional or insufficiently mainstream/traditional. It’s a collection of insider-outsiders perhaps: those who dare. To be in touch with people like that – our authors but also our reading audience – who, for me, frankly matter a lot, is a real privilege. I’m increasingly in awe of the talent in educational studies and more widely in places where education matters. Other Education is a platform for this socially engaged talent due to our open access status, thereby reaching so many people for free. Will you come and see what we do? We are having a conversation and you are really warmly welcomed to join it.


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