Ideas & projects

What if…people with learning disabilities could change the world by telling stories… policy makers understood that kids need to be able to talk and listen in order to learn effectively…. researchers didn’t exclude people with learning disabilities from the realm of ideas….


On this page you’ll find projects that are in progress… researching legends…oracy seminars… simple theory …


Telling Differences

This is a project I’ve been developing since 2008, visiting different countries to find out how people with learning disabilities are represented in traditional legends. Why do we need this? Because stories show that people with disabilities have always been with us, and that although there is evidence of terrible scapegoating and abuse there is also evidence of respect, care and value….Currently working with Gus Garside to develop a series of workshops on the topic.  click here for more information (link)


Talk for Living and Learning

In 2013, the UK government decided that 50 years of valuing talk in education – where children express themselves orally in drama, English and across the curriculum – should be ignored because an emphasis on oracy “encourages idle chatter in the classroom” (schools minister). We now have recommendations but no distinct curriculum. In some ways this could be an advantage as the previous programme of study was so incoherent.  But there are real worries about how teachers will be trained effectively…

In December a small group of English teachers, special needs professionals, reading specialists and speech and language therapists came together to share their ideas about oracy with the aim of building a new integrated campaign for its reinstatement. You can read the papers here (link)


Simple Theory

People with learning disabilities are increasingly getting involved in research to identify priorities and to carry out some of the tasks – like interviewing and running focus groups. But as far as I can see, they don’t often get to take part in the conceptual side – building the ideas and relating to ongoing communities where radical ideas are shared and developed. The original work came through discussions with Liz Ellis, Michael Glennon and Sam Grove at a disability studies conference.   So this year, with the support of Sam Grove, (http://www.alborada.net/samuelgrove) Oliver Koenig from the University of Vienna and  Andy Minnion from the Rix Centre, Gertraud Kremsner and I and a group of self advocates developed a workshop to explore ideas that have proved really powerful in disability equality research, from critical theorists  Foucault, Deleuze and Spivak.  We had a great response – people were really able to take the ideas on board and apply them to their own lives and to understand how research could be generated.  You can read the powerpoint here and to contribute to the simple theory website, here


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