my, what a lot of talks I’m going to at the moment. Last night I attended the launch of the latest report from the Institute of Education’s Centre for the Wider Benefits of Learning. It’s a very interesting centre that’s been around for the last nine years or so, banging the drum about the important relationships between learning and a whole range of other positive outcomes, ranging from health to parenting to crime and social cohesion.
I’ve known it mainly because of the work of Leon Feinstein, which I’ve always found fascinating. The slides he uses to introduce people to his work are attached here. There are two things that his work highlights: first, the fact that how very young kids learn is an incredibly strong predictor of future outcomes – whether someone will commit crime, whether someone will be homeless and so on; and second, that learning takes place in many places well beyond the classroom. It may not seem controversial now, but that’s partly to the credit of Feinstein and his team in highlighting issues like the impact parenting can have on the degree to which a child learns.
I always liked how the Centre went about its work, as well as the content of their research. They were firmly committed to a multidisciplinary approach, using loads of longitudinal quant data as well as some pretty cutting edge qual stuff. And they situated themselves as a bridge between academic research and social policy work. Hats off to them on both counts.
I gather from the launch last night that Leon has become a civil servant (boo!) at the Ministry of Justice. However the Centre will continue its work, and its new director outlined three key areas for them in the coming years: informal learning, learning through life stages, and wellbeing and its relationship to learning. People to stay in touch with.