Initial thoughts on developing a research programme into the question:



Can we enhance our contributions to social evolution through learning research-based practices of inclusionality in creating, testing and pedagogising our living educational theories?


(8th January 2005 – from conversations between Alan Rayner and Jack Whitehead)




This proposal is based on the following assumptions concerning inclusionality, living educational theories, learning, pedagogy and social evolution. These assumptions are open to question in the developing research programme.


The research programme is developing on the assumption that contributions to social evolution can be enhanced by learning the research-based practices of inclusionality in creating, testing, pedagogising and communicating living educational theories.


By inclusionality we are meaning a relationally dynamic awareness of space and boundaries as connective, reflexive and co-creative. We are researching as complex selves by which we mean that we are developing, through the research programme, a fully contextualised understanding of self-identity that is formed with the reciprocal coupling of distinct but not discrete inner and outer spatial domains through intermediary self-boundaries.


By living educational theories we mean the explanations that individuals produce for educational influences in their own learning as they ask, research and answer questions of the kind, ‘How am I improving my well-being?’ ‘How can I enhance my contribution to the learning of others?’ How can we enhance our well-being?’ How can we enhance our educational influence in social evolution through the education of our social formations?’ 


Epistemological significance of inclusionality in the research programme


The research programme emerged out of a dissatisfaction with existing understandings of the knowledge-base of the theories and methodologies that defined the disciplines of biology and education[i] during the 1970s. Intuitions that something was mistaken in the application of a particular logic to forming these disciplines clarified into an awareness of the need for philosophical shifts from rationalistic to dialectical to inclusional logic in the reconstitution of these disciplines. We see this as a shift in logic that is in many ways both small and subtle. It involves a simple inversion from content-first assertion to context-first reception, and thereby from fixed boundaries that make entities discrete to relationally dynamic boundaries that make identities distinct. The epistemological implications of this inversion are being explored in the expression, clarification, and communication of  the living standards of judgement in relationally dynamic boundaries as these emerge in pedagogical contexts[ii].


The methodology of the research programme


The methodology of the research programme is that of a flow-form network[iii]  that is focused on the pedagogisation of living educational theories. In flow-form networks, communications do not take the form of discrete relationships, transactions or exchanges between nodes.  Rather, communication is a flow that may be directed, diverted, accelerated, impeded or allowed to escape.  The structure of a flow-form network is created by the flow itself, which is reciprocally coupled with a flow of contextual space that recedes and re-forms itself as material substance flows outwards.  So, the study of a flow-form network, involves both the flows within, and the dynamic flows of the space around it.


The flow-form methodology involves the construction of visual narratives from pedagogical contexts that explain educational influences in learning.  In these visual narratives embodied ontological values, that are being expressed in the educational relationships, are clarified and communicated. In the act of such communications the embodied values are transformed into living standards of judgement that flow in the relationally dynamic boundaries of co-created consciousnesses. The epistemological significance of this transformation is that living standards of judgement can be used to evaluate the validity of the knowledge being produced in the accounts of the educational influence in learning.


The methodology includes Popper’s insight that objectivity is grounded in intersubjective agreement. In this flow-form methodology an individual’s account of the educational influences in their own learning is subject to the mutual rational control of critical conversations about the validity of the account and liberated from inappropriate constraints by the creativity and imagined possibilities in aesthetically engaged and appreciative responses[iv]. Questions asked in these ‘validation conversations’ draw on the four criteria distinguished by Habermas[v] in his analysis of communication and the evolution of society; Is the communication comprehensible? Are the assertions justified? Is the normative background made explicit? Is the account authentic?


Using a flow-form methodology in researching the question:


Can we enhance our contributions to social evolution through learning research-based practices of inclusionality in creating, testing and pedagogising living educational theories?


The participants in the research programme are engaged in self-studies of their own higher education as they enquire into their own learning in a range of professional contexts. These include health, education, psychology, biology, commerce, industry, economics, politics, creative arts, information and communication technologies and the judiciary.  They are pedagogising their living educational theories within their research-based professional practices and studying their influence in the education of their social formations.




[i] In 1983, Paul Hirst, one of the proponents of the ‘disciplines’ approach to educational theory acknowledged the mistake that grounded this dissastifaction when he said that much understanding of educational theory will be developed:


"… in the context of immediate practical experience and will be co-terminous with everyday understanding. In particular, many of its operational principles, both explicit and implicit, will be of their nature generalisations from practical experience and have as their justification the results of individual activities and practices.


In many characterisations of educational theory, my own included, principles justified in this way have until recently been regarded as at best pragmatic maxims having a first crude and superficial justification in practice that in any rationally developed theory would be replaced by principles with more fundamental, theoretical justification. That now seems to me to be a mistake. Rationally defensible practical principles, I suggest, must of their nature stand up to such practical tests and without that are necessarily inadequate." (Hirst, 1983, p. 18)


Hirst, P. (Ed.) (1983) Educational Theory and its Foundation Disciplines. London;RKP


[ii] Pedagogy is a sustained process whereby somebody(s) acquires new forms or develops existing forms of conduct, knowledge, practice and criteria from somebody(s) or something deemed to be an appropriate provider and evaluator - appropriate either from the point of view of the acquirer or by some other body(s) or both (Bernstein, 2000, p.78).



When I talk about pedagogy, I am referring to pedagogic relations that shape pedagogic communications and their relevant contexts. Three basic forms of pedagogic relation may be distinguished, explicit, implicit and tacit. Explicit and implicit refer to a progressive in time pedagogic relation where there is a purposeful intention to initiative, modify, develop or change knowledge, conduct or practice by someone or something which already possesses, or has access to, the necessary resources and the means of evaluating the acquisition. The acquirer may or may not define the relation as legitimate, or accept as otherwise, what is to be acquired. Explicit or implicit refers to the visibility of the transmitter's intention as to what is to be acquired from the point of view of the acquirer. In the case of explicit pedagogy the intention is highly visible, whereas in the case of implicit pedagogy the intention from the point of view of the acquirer is invisible. The tacit is a pegadogic  relation where initiation, modification, development of change of knowledge, conduct or practice occurs, where neither of the members may be aware of it. Here the meanings are non-linguistic, condensed and context dependent;  a pure restricted code relay. An example would be modelling, perhaps the basic pedagogic mode; primary in the sense of time and primary in the sense of durability. The primary modelling where both transmitter and acquirer are unaware of a pedagogic relation must be distinguished from secondary modelling which is a deliberate and purpose relation only for the acquirer. (Bernstein, 2000, p.200)


Bernstein, B. (2000) Pedagogy, Symbolic Control and Identity: Theory, Research, Critique. Lanham, Boulder, NewYork, Oxford; Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc.



[iii] See Teeson (2005) Chapter 7 of Draft Ph.D, University of Bath

[iv] D’Arcy, P. (1998) The Whole Story…..  Ph.D. Thesis, University of Bath. Retrieved 7 January 2004 from

[v] Habermas, J. (1976) Communication and the evolution of society.