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Just a Process

Views on the Relations between Research, Practice and Politics in the Sector of VET- Festschrift for Anja Heikkinen- Edited by Philipp Gonon, Lorenz Lassnigg and Manfred Wahle

Edited By Philipp Gonon, Lorenz Lassnig and Manfred Wahle

This book is dedicated as a Festschrift to Anja Heikkinen by her friends and colleagues from the VET & Culture Network hosted at Tampere University ( The chapters describe and reflect various aspects of this big endeavour in the field of European and international research in vocational education and training (VET), and shows the many facets of developing a wide and diverse research community that spans national borders. Renowned researchers discuss important issues of the history and future of VET, dealing with politics and institutions, gender and vocationalism, history and comparisons, and transitions. Very much can be read between the lines about how this community of research in VET has evolved during the decades, and how it struggles to proceed.


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Never despise humble beginnings - Liv Mjelde and Manfred Wahle


17 Never despise humble beginnings Liv Mjelde and Manfred Wahle 1. On the beginnings of the VET & Culture Network (Liv Mjelde) Years ago, I received an invitation from Anja Heikkinen. This was in late Octo- ber, 1993. She asked me if I would attend a workshop on Vocational Education at the University of Tampere from the 16 to the 20 of November 1993. I had de- fended my doctoral dissertation called “Apprenticeship. From Practice to Theory and Back Again” on October 8th of that year at the University of Joensuu in Eastern Finland. I remember that the University of Joensuu did not have money to pay their employees that year. The Finnish state was deeply mired in debt and their loans from Germany were sky high. In the middle of this crisis, some- one by the name of Anja Heikkinen had miraculously managed to find money to invite scholars to discuss the problems of vocational and technical education. The venue was Hämeenlinna. There were not many of us who gathered in Tampere during those dark No- vember days. We were a handful of scholars from Germany, England, Finland and Norway. I remember very well the small classroom where we met. “But never despise humble beginnings” said one of the Nobel Prize Winners, Leymah Gbowee from Liberia in 2011. She had mobilized and organized women to end the civil war being conducted by power-hungry men in Liberia. The women had started with 10 dollars in cash and they made miracles,...

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