Sunday, September 07, 2014

ResearchED conference: blast of fresh air

I’ve attended and spoken at literally hundreds of conferences around the world, but yesterday, on a Saturday morning, I talked to a grass-roots audience of teachers, in an east-end London school, had a school dinner for lunch (apple crumble and custard) and had an insightful time.
Run on a shoestring, by the affable Tom Bennett, it was packed with young teachers, eager to learn and eager to do better for the kids they teach. It wasn’t the usual quango-driven affair, but a genuine attempt to encourage new thinking and debate in the minds of the people that matter.  I liked the fact that I didn’t get a hideous black canvas bag, that marked me out on the tube as a twat. I liked the fact that the introductory speech was by a dedicated headmaster, talking about the very school we were in. I like the fact that Tom was walking the floor, shaking hands and finding time to speak to everyone. I liked the fact that it was all a bit messy and crazy. I liked the fact that Gove wasn’t there as planned (sacked) and that his replacement was too scared to attend after her first tussle (wings clipped on setting).
For those who attended my session on ‘The Good, the Bad and the downright Ugly: 2500 years of learning theory” thanks. For those who didn’t attend, thanks also, because I spoke to tons of you around the place. If you want to find out more on learning theory (30 mins for 2500 years was a tough call) then look here.
What did I learn? These are a bit random but that’s what I liked about the day…
1.     INSET days are a bad way to deliver CPD
2.     Alternative: more ResearchED days
3.     Alternative: more online sharing (Twitter feed was fab)
4.     Forget quangos, let’s talk
5.     Young teachers are mustard keen to learn
6.     Then again, don’t get too precious about ‘teaching’
7.     Shadow Minister for Education is anodyne

This is the sort of event that moves things on. Most of the people attended in their own time, not on the ‘payroll’. I assume that most of the speakers, if not all, did it for free.

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