Odd: feeling different in the world of education

New research project developed with a local primary school explores the concept of 'oddness'

 Image by Prof Rachel Holmes

The concept of oddness explored. Image by Prof Rachel Holmes

Researchers from Manchester Metropolitan University will be interrogating the idea of oddness in a new project developed with a local primary school.

The three-year interdisciplinary project, Odd: feeling different in the world of education, will be exploring oddness: what it means; what its value is and why this matters, and what it reveals about ordinary, everyday encounters between people, places and things inside school and beyond.

Funded by the Arts Humanities Research Council, this new project involves the whole primary school community in the research, engaging children from all year groups (aged 3-11), parents, teachers and non-teaching staff using new alternative methods.

A creative journey

Rachel Holmes, Professor of Cultural Studies of Childhood at Manchester Metropolitan University and the project’s Principal Investigator, said: “The whole school community are taking a creative journey into the concept of ‘odd-ness’. We needed an interdisciplinary approach to break out of conventional educational thinking about difference and conformity.

“The project brings together perspectives from art, anthropology and education to ask pressing and often difficult questions – questions of policy rhetoric and practices in school, by focusing on the concept of ‘odd-ness’.”

Professor Amanda Ravetz from the Manchester School of Art and project co-investigator said: “This is not about labelling people but about how we all as human beings have to navigate surprising and sometimes unsettling things and experiences that seem or feel out of place, or different.”

Professor Holmes and Professor Kate Pahl in Manchester Metropolitan University’s Faculty of Education, Professor Ravetz in the Manchester School of Art, Dr Becky Shaw in the Art and Design Research Centre at Sheffield Hallam University and freelance artist Steve Pool will be working with a local primary school in an area of Manchester selected for its diverse local communities.

This is not about labelling people but about how we all as human beings have to navigate surprising and sometimes unsettling things and experiences that seem or feel out of place, or different.

Prof Holmes added: “Our timely research aims to provide knowledge about oddness and its effects, as a way of engaging with and informing policy and contributing to the training of healthcare and education professionals.”

“The project will also contribute new knowledge to the anti-bullying and inclusion agendas in school.”

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