On Academia, Critical Pedagogy and ‘Coming Out’ as a Third Space Practitioner


  • Eileen Pollard Manchester Metropolitan University




Chester Retold, community learning, critical pedagogy, experiential learning, learning development


This opinion piece situates the practice of an experimental module I taught as an academic – Chester Retold: Unspoken Stories, Put into Words – within some theories of ‘community learning’.[1] Community learning is understood here to articulate and enact a combination of concepts taken from critical pedagogy (Freire, 2018; hooks, 1994), experiential learning (Kolb, 2015; Gibbs, 1988) and learning development (Webster, 2017). It is also informed, like all teaching, by the author’s own personal life and learning experiences within and without ‘communities’. The practice of Chester Retold made a contribution to all these theoretical fields, but in particular perhaps a conscious intervention into critical pedagogy and an unconscious one into the third space (Whitchurch, 2013; Lisewski, 2021), beginning with learning development.


[1] As its creator and module leader, I ran Chester Retold twice at the University of Chester (2018-2019).



Author Biography

Eileen Pollard, Manchester Metropolitan University

Eileen Pollard is a Senior Lecturer in Academic Development in the University Teaching Academy at Manchester Metropolitan University. She previously taught English Literature at the University of Chester before working as a learning developer. She has published on pedagogy and her TEDx on Chester Retold has received over 10,000 views.


Bovill, C. (2020) Co-creating learning and teaching: towards relational pedagogy in higher education. St Albans: Critical Publishing.

Brookfield, S. (1998) ‘Against naïve romanticism: from celebration to the critical analysis of experience’, Studies in Continuing Education, 20(2) pp.127-142. https://doi.org/10.1080/0158037980200202.

Dearing, R. (1997) ‘Higher education in the learning society’, The National Committee of Enquiry into Higher Education. Available at: http://www.educationengland.org.uk/documents/dearing1997/dearing1997.html (Accessed: 20 December 2022).

Department of English, University of Chester (nd) Chester Retold Project. Available at: https://www1.chester.ac.uk/english/study/why-study-us/chester-retold-project (Accessed: 26 August 2022).

Friere, P. (2018) Pedagogy of the oppressed. Trans. M. B. Ramos. New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Gibbs, G. (1988) Learning by doing: a guide to teaching and learning methods. London: Further Education Unit.

hooks, b. (1994) Teaching to transgress. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.

Kolb, D. A. (2015) Experiential learning: experience as the source of learning and development. 2nd edn. New Jersey: Pearson Education.

Lisewski, B. (2021) ‘Teaching and learning regimes: an educational developer’s perspective within a university’s top-down education policy and its practice architectures’, International Journal for Academic Development, 26(2) pp.176-189. https://doi.org/10.1080/1360144X.2020.1831505.

Millwood, R. (2013) Learning theory. Holistic approach to technology enhanced learning. Available at: https://blog.richardmillwood.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Learning-Theory.pdf (Accessed: 26 August 2022).

Pollard, E. (2018) ‘Building compassion capacity: Chester Retold and Storyhouse, a case study’, Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice, 6(3), pp.75-82. Available at: https://jpaap.ac.uk/JPAAP/article/view/369/522 (Accessed: 26 August 2022).

Pollard, E. (2020) Teaching English using compassion. TED. Available at: https://www.ted.com/talks/eileen_pollard_teaching_english_using_compassion

(Accessed: 26 August 2022).

Pollard, E. (2021) ‘Critical Pedagogy’, A critical thought. Learner Development, Manchester Metropolitan University [Online audio]. Available at: https://soundcloud.com/user-349121495/critical-pedagogy-with-dr-eileen-pollard (Accessed: 26 August 2022).

Webster, H. (2017) ‘Losing control: student-led sessions’, rattus scholasticus. Available at: https://rattusscholasticus.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/losing-control-student-led-sessions/ (Accessed: 26 August 2022).

Wenger, E. (2000) ‘Communities of practice and social learning systems’, Organization, 7(2), pp.225-246.

Whitchurch, C. (2013) Reconstructing identities in higher education: the rise of third space professionals. New York: Routledge.




How to Cite

Pollard, E. (2023) “On Academia, Critical Pedagogy and ‘Coming Out’ as a Third Space Practitioner”, Journal of Learning Development in Higher Education, (27). doi: 10.47408/jldhe.vi27.927.



Opinion Pieces