“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
There are good people in all walks of life. In education there are some really good people, who have committed their lives to nurturing future generations to enjoy learning and continue with learning throughout their lives. As a nation, we celebrate sporting achievements and attend a range of musical festivals but rarely do we come together to celebrate education.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
This weekend was the inaugural “London Festival of Education” at the Institute of Education. Over 1500 people attended this event, with both participants and speakers giving freely of their time and money. Spending time in the company of like-minded folk is rewarding in itself. Being able to share ideas without repercussions is always enabling and allows people to diversify their thoughts and ultimately their practice.
“Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to another.”
The dictionary defines “festival” as a celebration, often religious in its nature, and whilst education is indeed secular, there was definitely a collective belief in the need to ensure quality education for all amongst those attending this event.
With this “celebration” definition in mind it did seem somewhat incongruous to open the event with the Secretary of State for Education, who appears to have little in common with the audience as to what constitutes quality education and therefore what we should be celebrating.
“The plain man knows not where to turn for truth.”
Percy Nunn – First Director of the London Institute of Education
Mr Gove has a clear idea of what he wants for education in the 21st century but when confronted with the question as to what an educated person looks like he described someone who was ready for a world of bureaucracy and an ability to complete an insurance form! Not quite what the CBI have claimed that industry needs from education, i.e. young people who can collaborate, innovate, create and communicate as well as show competencies in written and spoken English.
Mr Gove was unrepentant in his drive for academies, in his insistence that rote learning and examinations were the means to drive “standards” and finally, he stated categorically in front of a horrified audience that “education without examinations is just play”.
We could write an entire blog about play in education, and probably will. In fact we have already made it clear that learning through play is a vital component of organised education, so we thank Mr Gove for reminding us of this and look forward to “celebrating” this in the very near future.
“It is possible to store the mind with a million facts and still be entirely uneducated.”
But Mr Gove was just one speaker in the day. A plethora of workshops, speakers and activities were to be had. The only difficulty was choosing between clashing events that we wished to attend. Thank goodness for Twitter so that we could be kept informed by this incredible social networking site of what was being said in other sessions.
It would be foolhardy to summarise all of the events and sessions that we attended but if you do want to get a flavour of the day in 140 characters, it might be worth looking on twitter – #LFE2012.
“The great aim of education is not knowledge but action.”
However, we did attend an interesting discussion on what it means to be educated. Among the speakers were Tim Brighouse and Vic Goddard. There was an interesting debate on values, and on what makes a great teacher. Guest speakers from Australia (John Hattie) and Finland (Pasi Sahlberg) added considerably to the debate.
We also attended an excellent presentation from Slow Education (see our previous blog) and a lengthy discussion on “How we can stop killing the love of reading” with the eminent voices of Michael Rosen and Anthony Horowitz ringing loud and clear through the Logan Hall, expressing the need to ensure that children, and indeed adults, are given time to develop a love of reading – for reading’s sake, and not to pass an exam.
“Children have to be educated, but they have also to be left to educate themselves.”
(Here’s a tweet that we noticed which is a real indictment on “schooling”
“I’m counting the days until I finish my degree so I have time to read fiction again!”
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
Here are some further quotes from the day.
“High impact teachers have the same time as the rest of you” – John Hattie
“Are we going to treat children as they are, or how they might to be?” – Tim Brighouse
“Parental engagement in learning raises achievement and develops more confident and socially adjusted children” – Bill Lucas
“If you want teachers to be kind to the children the management has to be kind to teachers” – Camila Batmanghelidjh
“Having books in a house adds three years to a child’s education” – Michael Rosen
“A well-sourced library is a beating heart of a school” – Anthony Horowitz
“Trust teachers in what they do” –Pasi Sahlberg
“Collective professional memory is needed in education policy”
“Literacy and love of learning are not the same” – Anthony Horowitz
“Teachers should be engaged with their own research into teaching strategies” – Michael Rosen
“School leaders must not create a culture of fear” – Chris Husbands
“Lack of trust and fear permeates and weakens a schools” – Anthony Seldon
“15% of Oxbridge students will see counselling because their schools haven’t taught them resilience” – Guy Claxton
“The Singapore that Michael Gove refers to is the Singapore of 15 years ago” – Guy Claxton
Our day concluded with a panel of experts; Michael Rosen, Bridget Minamore, Anthony Seldon, Celia Hughes and Camila Batmanghelidjh talking about the qualities of a good teacher.
“Change is the end result of all true learning.”
And this leads to some additional questions that we would like to leave you with.
There are times in life when we are asked to consider what makes a good teacher, or which teachers leave a lasting impact in our lives, and what was it about those teachers that made them so effective.
We now ask you this.
What makes a good learner? How do we enable our children to be good learners and is the schooling currently on offer to our young people encouraging learning?