The Learning and Teaching Bookclub

Alison McCandlish and Colin Mack
Urban Studies, University of Glasgow

Table of Content

a jigsaw shaped image which contains words which represent the topics discussed at the L+T Bookclub. Topics include policy, classroom management, assessment, silence, co-creation, racism, neoliberalism and student perspectives

This year Colin (CM) and I (AM) have the privilege of continuing the L+T bookclub which was set up by our esteemed colleague Professor Susan Deeley, and for this blog we decided to reflect on how this is helping us and our colleagues via the lens of the four pillars of SoTL ​(Stinson, 2023)​.

Pillar 1 (What brings us scholarship joy? This is a shared one..)

The joy of reading something that makes a problem comprehensible or understood for you as a problem, expressed best in Brookfield’s Becoming A Critically Reflective Teacher: “Yet reading theory can feel like coming home. You stumble upon a piece of work that puts into cogent words something you’ve felt unable to articulate. Finding a theorist who makes explicit something you’ve been sensing or who states publicly what you’ve suspected privately but felt unable to express…” ​(2017, p. 73)​ (CM)

I’d add to this with a body of literature I recently discovered referring to the synchronicity of different strands of ones life coming together and complementing each other, in my case artistic and creative aspects, together with research and teaching around the topic of place- a/r/t/ography; the “/” is deliberate, creative practice informs research and this informs teaching and they all overlap. It sounds really complicated but reading Irwin ​(2013)​ and Hannigan ​(2012)​ gave me an “aha” moment in the same way as Colin cites the effect of the Brookfield quote.(AM)

Pillar 2 (People)

The L+T Bookclub is all about people- we support each other!

I enjoy the sense of camaraderie around the bookclub. Reading and critiquing theory certainly informs teaching practice, and leads to new ideas for scholarship (AM)

As a fairly recently finished solitary PhD student who tends not to ask for help anyway, I have found a lot of support in my teaching primarily by stumbling upon a few course convenors who have taken innovative and student-focused approaches and been happy to give extra time to support me. I tend to look for people who are doing something different or whose engaged approach is apparent.(CM)

Pillar 3 (Place)

The bookclub takes place on campus, but our scholarship can take us anywhere.

I enjoy reading papers about different educational systems, and contrasting ways of teaching the same subject. When I did my PGCAP I found that colleagues in dentistry used a similar problem based learning technique with students for a completely different topic (AM)

Since I have found that teachers with a variety of experience across diverse subjects deal with some of the same pedagogical issues regardless, having a common place to share those issues, discuss approaches and learn new methods is important, whether that locus is geographical or virtual. And having a unique place to discuss both the theoretical (Bookclub) and practical aspects (Forum) of these issues, drawing on our department’s collective experience, is a unique opportunity to have as an early career academic making his initial steps into academia. (CM)

Pillar 4 (Plans)

This year our plan is to have some co-authored bookclub publications (so look out for very long “Team UofG Urban Studies” authorships!) and also we both have plans for SoTL.

I am planning to publish two initial papers from my PhD (on school choice within comprehensive secondary school systems and the role of the housing market; and on residualisation of comprehensive secondary schools and how the concept of residualisation of council housing can be understood in relation to local schools and the education system more widely). I have not published before, however (CM)

I am focusing on developing a sustainable writing habit, so I can write more regularly- I love writing, and teaching, and research.. I published a few SoTL related works last year, and have updated my publication plan. I find writing retreats help a lot, as do linking with initiatives like last month’s #SoTLWriMo (AM)


Brookfield, S. (2017), “Becoming a critically reflective teacher“, Jossey-Bass ​Hannigan, S. (2012), “A/r/tography and Place Ontology”, Visual Arts Research, University of Illinois Press, Vol. 38 No. 2, pp. 85–96, doi: 10.5406/visuartsrese.38.2.0085.

​Irwin, R.L. (2013), “Becoming A/r/tography”, Studies in Art Education, Informa UK Limited, Vol. 54 No. 3, pp. 198–215, doi: 10.1080/00393541.2013.11518894.

​Stinson, L. (2023), “The Four Pillars of SoTL”, doi: 10.25416/NTR.24260260.v1. ​


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *