Introduction

    Join me with “Working & Learning”

    November 9th, 2007 by Dirk Stieglitz

    I am Pekka Kämäräinen from Finland. From 2005 on I work as a senior researcher at Institut Technik & Bildung (ITB), University of Bremen.  With my blog I want discuss European innovations in vocational education and training (VET) and in workplace learning.

    Working & Learning

    Ten years blogging – five years active blogging

    November 12th, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

    Today (11.11.2017)  I noticed by chance that I had started my career as a Pontydysgu blogger exactly ten years ago. The start was not great and there were periods of hibernation. Although I renamed my blog I didn’t quite get the swing immediately. But then, about exactly five years ago (16.11.2012) I started blogging on the Learning Layers (LL) project – and became a regular blogger. Now, almost one year after completing LL project I have kept myself busy with reporting on the follow-up activities. And indeed – during these active years – I have also learned to write on other topics alongside the work-related blogs. These anniversaries call for a brief reflection on my ideas during the earlier phases and during the active project-related blogging and in the follow-up phase.

    I-Europe – The difficult beginning

    I first named my blog as “I-Europe”. This needs an explanation. In the ECER conference in 2003 in Hamburg there was a special session of the VETNET network under the heading “Open meeting”. Alan Brown had initiated it to discuss different options for European cooperation (independently of EU-funding). He was at that time working part time as a programme director for a national research programme and had the opportunity create networking among similar research councils. Alan presented a preliminary framework “Learning in Knowledge Society (LinKS)”. I came up with a parallel initiative “I-Europe” – to promote knowledge development on international, innovative, integrative and inclusive developments in European vocational education and training cultures. Obviously, I didn’t have institutional backing or resources for supporting any practical measures based on such framework (I had just recently ceased to work as Cedefop project manager). However, my initiative had some positive feedback, but there was very little that we could have done.

    Four years later I thought that I could start a new round of discussions. I had got settled to ITB in Bremen and started working on transnational projects that included fieldwork. At that time the European policy processes were geared to the framework processes – the Bologna process promoting the European Higher Education Area and the Copenhagen process pushing forward the European Qualification Framework (EQF). A working group in ITB had prepared a critical discussion paper on the EQF. I wanted to take the discussion further – to positive ideas on thematic knowledge development at the European level. But once again I had to observe that I was floating high up – and couldn’t get my ideas properly grounded.

    Working & Learning – a new start (but shaky)

    After some time and some self-critical reflections I decided to try a new start with a renamed blog. “Working & Learning” seemed to me an appropriate title because it referred to my research context and to the way I wanted get my blogging grounded. I was hoping that I could rely strongly on the projects of that time – Consultation seminars (on teachers and trainers in VET) and the network ‘Trainers in Europe”. However, the blogs for the Consultation seminars had to published exclusively on the project website, whilst the Trainers in Europe network allowed publishing on multiple websites. That already caused a split in the project landscape and made it difficult to reflect on the work in parallel activities. Two further projects of that time – the Politics project and Coop-PBL in VET – required content creation on the respective project websites. At that time I didn’t see any added value in posting on multiple websites. Therefore, I ended up with another period of hibernation with my blog.

    Working & Learning gets a new start with the Learning Layers project

    The start of our major EU-funded research & development project Learning Layers (LL) changed the situation radically. We (ITB) had joined in the consortium at the late phase of preparations and we had the responsibility to coordinate the work with application partners in the Construction pilot in Germany. So, we had to work ourselves in and position ourselves as a research partner with genuine research contribution. And the project schedules pushed us into a rapid start (the initial interviews, the Application Partner Days, the preparation of the User Stories, the Helsinki Design Conference …). All this brought me back to blogging – and I got accustomed of regular blogging.

    In the beginning this was just quick documentation on activities and events. But gradually there was more in it – reflection on lessons learned in the fieldwork, discussion on working issues, reorientation in the co-design work, introduction of training activities … In addition to this we redefined some aspects of the work as ‘development projects’, had a consortium-wide “Theory Camp” and prepared sustainability plans. The ‘hot’ phases of the work started when the idea of Learning Tool started to take shape, when the multimedia training was expanded to the “Theme Room” campaign and when the Learning Toolbox was piloted in the field. Furthermore, much of the discussion on the final reporting was supported by numerous blogs posts. At the end of the day, the annual logbooks of LL-related blogs were rather massive documents.

    Working & Learning continues with follow-up activities of the Learning Layers project

    When the Learning Layers project had reached the stage of final review and completed the final-final reporting duties, this could have been the end of the story – both for the project and for the project-related blogging. But it was not the case. Instead, the main actors in the Construction pilot – ITB, the application partners and the developers of the Learning Toolbox were keen to move on to follow-up activities. Although it was not easy to find appropriate ways to continue the development work and to find suitable funding opportunities, several smaller follow-up initiatives emerged. In this way the work with Learning Toolbox was linked to shaping of new ecosystems for coordinating work processes and/or supporting integrative training and learning arrangements. Moreover, the challenge to support the multimedia training for trainers and instructors has become actual time and again. All this makes me confident that there is work to be done in the follow-up activities.

    – – –

    I guess this is enough as a quick review and reflection on lessons learned. I may not have achieved a record number of blog posts during the ten years (and definitely not during the first five years). But that doesn’t matter to me. I have gone through quite a learning journey and found my way of blogging during the last five years. And with that I can be happy to continue.

    More blogs to come …

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    Remembering Emma and her life-work

    November 2nd, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

    This week we got the sad news that our former colleague and Bremen-based friend Emma had passed away. She was never a person for great publicity or to make a great show of herself. On the contrary – she wanted to stay at the backstage without making fuss of herself, but always ready to help the others. Therefore, I just call her by her first name – to respect her privacy also now after she is gone. (The ones who knew her, are aware of whom I am writing – others will get a picture of a respectable person, even if they didn’t learn to know her.)

    I firstly learned to know Emma when she joined ITB to support the Europrof project in the mid-1990s. The project was an ambitious transnational project that sought to reform the training of VET professionals with emphasis on ‘social shaping’ of work, technology and work environment. In this context the partners sought points of intervention and supporting ideas, how to bring innovations into move. Then, after this project Emma worked for the Forum network to bring together different thematic sub-nets (on changing institutions, changing labour markets, changing organisations, changing vocational identities etc.) to common work processes. Later on, she was also supporting some other ITB projects of which I have less information.

    Emma had a degree from her home country but having entered Germany as an expatriate she was very modest about it. So, she preferred to work as an administrative assistant rather than looking for a a more visible role. Yet, her presence as a colleague was sensed when she was involved – and missed when she was not there.

    Later on Emma chose to take another perspective for her life and withdraw from the work in our projects. This was a very private matter and therefore I will not go further with this topic. All I need to say is that in the new role that Emma opted for herself she was 100% present and even more.

    Every now and then we managed to meet with friends of old from the European projects and it was always a pleasure to me and to others. Sometimes we also had the chance to experience, what kind of great cook she was.

    Recently, when great numbers of refugees came to Germany – and also to Bremen – Emma engaged herself in teaching German language to refugees. As an expatriate who had learned the language fluently, she was in a good position to assess what kind of difficulties the newcomers were facing.

    Emma was still young and active when she was hit by the disease that took her life. We all feel sorry for the loss of such a person and express our condolences to her beloved ones. I hope that the musical greetings of the grande mama Mercedes Sosa and her fellow artists (see the links below) pass a message to them! (And I hope that the videos are not littered by inappropriate commercials.)

    Mercedes Sosa – Razón De Vivir

    Mercedes Sosa – O Que Será

    Mercedes Sosa – Jamás Te Olvidaré

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    Remembering David Raffe and his life-work – a special issue of Journal of Education and Work

    November 2nd, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

    In February 2015 we received the sad news that professor David Raffe, a prominent educational sociologist and key actor in European vocational education and training (VET) research had passed away. At that time I wrote a blog in which I remembered his contribution to European projects and to the VETNET network of the European Educational Research Association (EERA). Shortly afterwards David’s closest colleagues contacted my with the idea to prepare a special issue of a journal to highlight David’s work and the legacy he has left.

    Now, after some time has passed since that communication, our work has been completed and the results have been published as

     Journal of Education and Work, 2017 VOL . 30, NO . 7

    The special issue provides insights into David’s fields of work and into his contributions to the research communities as well as to dialogue between researchers and policy makers. And the very special way in which David engaged himself in these activities is reflected in the headings of the articles, such as the following:

    Bridging divides – social science, educational policy and the improvement of education and training systems: an appreciation the contribution of David Raffe (1950–2015) by Cathy Howieson, Ken Spours and Michael Young

    To know ourselves? Research, data and policy-making in the Scottish education system by Cathy Howieson and Linda Croxford

    English exceptionalism re-visited: divergent skill strategies across England and Scotland by Ewart Keep

    What does it mean to conduct research into qualifications frameworks? by Stephanie Allais

    This was not a complete table of contents but a sample of articles with headings that remind me of David’s way to tackle issues and problems very deeply – not accepting simple interpretations and seemingly obvious solutions.

    My contribution to this special issue had the following title

    Learning from Europe and for Europe with David Raffe – insights into early years of European cooperation in vocational education and training research

    I hope that this heading speaks for the content and for the memories of David as a fellow colleague and a fellow European in the exercise of learning from each other and contributing to knowledge development at the European level.

    I am pleased to see that this piece of work is now available and that we have managed to give insights into David as a person, into his work and into the legacy he has left.

    More blogs to come …

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    Reformationstag (500th anniversary) – Reformation quergedacht (radio program of DLF)

    October 31st, 2017 by Pekka Kamarainen

    Today the whole Germany (all Länder – the Federal States) celebrate “Reformationstag” the 500th anniversary of the date when Martin Luther published his 95 theses against selling of indulgences (Ablasshandel). And, as we know, this episode that was supposed to be a starting point for a dialogue within the Roman catholic church, then led to the divide between the catholic and protestant churches. Recently – in particular in Germany – we have seen that the relations between the two churches that were once bitter enemies have become friendly neighbourhood relations. This has become manifest in several events, joint campaigns and at the level of everyday life. This much of the general background.

    What strikes me now with this anniversary, is how it has been taken up in the German media. In particular I have been fascinated by the radio channel “Deutschlandfunk (DLF)” and its special program “Reformation quergedacht”. With this program the journalists of DLF have visited their regular programs with special inputs on the Lutheran reformation – in the past and in the present day life. Below I want to share insights into some episodes of this cross-cutting special program.

    Episode 1: Interview with Bodo Ramelow – left-wing politician and practicing Christian

    The first episode that I picked of this program was the interview with the prime minister of the Federal State of Thüringen, Bodo Ramelow. This electrified me, since Ramelow is the first )and so far the only) head of a regional government from the left-wing party Die Linke. His political biography is also interesting, since he is originally a West-German trade union official who moved to East-Germany after the reunification to help to set up the trade union structures. Politically he represented the breakaway left-wing alliance (WASG) of Oskar Lafontaine, who left the social democratic party (SPD). Later on WASG merged with the East-German party PDS (the successor of the old communist party). In this process Ramelow was one of the facilitators. Later on he became a very popular prime minister in his Federal State Thüringen. In this program he tells how his life and work as politician has been charcterised by the fact that he is an active member of the Lutheran church. Below you find the link to the full text of the recorded interview:

    Bodo Ramelow: “Der Glaube ist prägend für mein Leben”

    Episode 2: Insights into the past and present of the Evangelic Church in Transylvania (Romania)

    A very special story is presented in the episode that reports of the traditional Evangelic-Lutheran church in Transylvania, the area that has been for centuries inhabited (among others) by a German population  – the so-called “Siebenbürger Sachcsen”. As this episode tells, they joined the reformation quite early and it became dominant in their communities. Due to the conquest of that area (at that time part of Hungary) and the long rule by Turkey, these communities could maintain their cultural traditions, their language and their faith. There was no pressure to convert them to islam nor to catholicism. After the 1st World War this area became part of Romania and after the 2nd World War it was under the Communist rule. The program gives insights into these turns of history as well as into the life in post-revolution era in Romania. Below you find the link to this fascinating story – based on field visits and talks with German-speaking key actors of the local parishes:

    Der Islam beflügelte die Reformation

    Episode 3: And where are the women in the picture of the Lutheran reformation?

    Und wo bleiben die Frauen?

    Episode 4: The twofold Katharina

    Die doppelte Katharina

    The two last mentioned episodes are linked together since they focus on a common issue – the marginalisation of women in the traditional history of reformation. In order to give a better insight into the role of women in the reformation movement the Bonner Frauenmuseum (the special museum for highlighting women’s contribution to history) has set up a special exhibition to fill some gaps. Firstly the journalists discuss the general picture with a representative of the museum and with a female theologian (Episode 3) and then they continue with the special section on Katharina von Bora, the wife of Martin Luther (Episode 4). With these two episodes we get a lot of corrective information on the role of active women of that time.

    – – –

    I guess this is enough of this special day (Reformationstag) and on the very special radio program (Reformation quergedacht). I felt that these inputs were the appropriate way for me to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran reformation. I don’t think that my blog would be the best place to explore the religious disputes around this anniversary. Nor did I want to explore the impact of reformation on my home country Finland and its Scandinavian neighbours. This time I wanted to share the interesting insights provided by the program “Reformation quergedacht”.

    More blogs to come …

     

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