Theories of potential and the creation of inequality (and education)

11 June 2015, 5.30 PM - 11 June 2015, 7.00 PM

Professor Danny Dorling

Tiered Lecture Theatre, 12A Priory Road, Clifton, Bristol BS8 1TU

This event is part of the Festival of Education series from 3 - 15 June 2015 and is being run in association with the Bristol Festival of Ideas.

When it comes to people, the word potential has come to mean very different things to different readers. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that educational establishments should be well funded and governments should take all necessary steps to create an environment where all children can grow and reach their full potential. A familiar reaction to such progressive rhetoric is to cast doubt on the idea that many children have much potential and to then suggest that just a few need to be sought out and specially nurtured. This drives growing inequality. Inequality is created, maintained and defended by the theory that different people are of greatly different worth; that their children have hugely varying potentials; that inequality is inevitable; and that all is roughly for the best in the best of all possible world’s.

However, more compelling evidence suggests that we have the potential to think, dream and become better than this. But that potential is collective, not individualistic, and will not be fully realized while we are so diverted by the search for the ‘golden child’ - the mythical individual with the greatest inherent potential of all. Or as Prime Minster David Cameron saw his role, to: 'give families peace of mind that their kids can realise their full potential’. How many families lose sleep at night over whether their children have reached some ‘full’ potential imaged by Dave and his advisors?”

Biography: Danny Dorling has lived all his life in England. To try to counter his myopic world view, in 2006, Danny started working with a group of researchers on a project to remap the world. He has published more than a dozen books on issues related to social inequalities in Britain with many colleagues; and several hundred journal papers. Much of this work is available open access and available via his website.

His work concerns issues of housing, health, employment, education and poverty. Danny was employed as a play-worker in children’s summer play-schemes. He learnt the ethos of pre-school education where the underlying rationale was that playing is learning for living. He tries not to forget this. He is Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography and Fellow of St Peter's College, Oxford; an Academician of the Academy of Social Sciences; Honorary President of the Society of Cartographers and a patron of Roadpeace, the national charity for road crash victims.

Time: 5:30 - 7pm

Chaired by: Professor Susan Robertson

This event will be followed by a drinks reception in the Social Sciences Complex foyer.

Copies of Danny's latest book 'Injustice' will be available to purchase from Waterstones at the event.

Eventbrite - Theories of potential and the creation of inequality (and education)

Contact information

ed-events@bristol.ac.uk or 0117 331 4291

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