The Guardian Open Weekend: Initial Reflections from 3Di Associates

How often do we get the opportunity to indulge in two whole days of stimulation, reflection, debate, challenge and discussion? How often do we allow ourselves the time to consider our views, our values and the fundamental aims and objectives of our beliefs and aspirations – for ourselves and society?

Such opportunities don’t arise that often. Alain de Botton on Sunday morning said as much in his comments on religious institutions. They have an impact on the lives of so many because of their organised system of beliefs, their regular structure of weekly sermons, and the quality of the buildings in which people of similar mind and belief can meet.

So what about the person who does not have a belief in God but has an absolute belief in making the world a better place, and a desire for sharing their views with other like-minded folk to develop a collective responsibility from which we can all function – intelligently and equally?

The Guardian provided that this weekend.

Not all Guardian readers are the same. They come from different backgrounds and different age groups but there are undoubtedly some similarities in their way of thinking.

It was an absolute delight to feel a genuine and inclusive part of an organisation that has been so respected, revered and adored; a very humbling experience.

Madeleine Bunting, director of the Guardian Open Weekend, stated that “Curiosity and conviviality, the two Cs, were our watchwords”.

I could add more: congeniality, compassion, connectivity, creativity, collegiality, courage, confidence, collectiveness………. and that’s to name but a few, without going on to other letters of the alphabet which could describe even more of the flavour of the weekend.

If all of this appears over-effusive, then I make no apologies whatsoever. The mind-blow was extensive. I felt more energised and enthusiastic in a conference/festival environment than I have ever done before. It has inspired me to think more, create more, and has given me a determination to ensure that the voices of progressives are heard and acted upon, and I humbly count myself as one of them.

Our world is distorted. The majority of our children and young people have been bombarded with the wrong education for decades now. Listening to the ills of the world, and the possible solutions, has only reinforced my views about the fundamental necessity for an intelligent and holistic education for our children.

I want children from all over the country to want to be involved in the Guardian Open Weekends of the future. If their thoughtfulness and creative thinking is stymied by a rigid curriculum with no time, space or encouragement to develop independent thought, then how are we ever going to maintain the innovative and thoughtful media like the Guardian that our society so desperately needs?

Over the next few weeks, 3Di Associates will share some of the insights we gained from attending this magnificent weekend.

As we said in our recent twitter, this was like a Woodstock for the mind, body and spirit – through the type of discussion and dialogue that the ancient Greek philosophers advocated.

Everyone should be entitled to participate in democratic debate, and be passionate about their beliefs.

We need collective responsibility as well as personal creativity more than ever.

It really is time to act.

Clare Blackhall

About 3D Eye

Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall are educationalists, writers and consultants. We work with schools and other organisations who share our vision of how schools, businesses, etc should work in the 21st Century. We also run courses and contribute to conferences - speaking about our three dimensional model of intelligences and how schools, colleges and universities can develop the full potential of all their staff and students. We also offer consultancy for businesses and public sector organisations to support staff training and organisational change and development. For more detailed information read our blog at or see our website at
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