I left writing this post until now as there were so many inspirational aspects to the fantastic conference held at UWE Exhibition Centre on Tuesday that I felt I needed to take stock, assimilate and then think about implementation.
The keynote speaker @ewanmcintosh opened the conference by immediately sewing seeds designed to challenge our thinking. He said that children should be ‘problem finders’ and not ‘problem solvers’ (a subtle change with hugely beneficial consequences). Children can only become ‘problem solvers’ by usas educators releasing the reins and allowing them to lead their own learning. ‘Capturing the learning as it happens’ was another theme that he linked to the general practice of EYFS teachers.
Ewan then went on to talking about ‘spaces’, 7 in particular:
– watching spaces
– secret spaces
– performing spaces
– group spaces
– data spaces
– participation spaces
– publishing spaces
It is in these spaces where learning can be celebrated and extended. I was particularly interested in the final two as both myself and my class are relativley new to the world of blogging. Our blogs are where I hope to capture the children’s learning and share photos, videos and their work to all who wish to visit to either blog.
I have recently completed an online ASD course and the idea of a secret place fits perfectly with the recommended environment for an autistic child. A place that is safe, quiet, unstimulating and away from the crowds. Although this is difficult to facilitate in a classroom, I want to try nonetheless.
While listening to Ewan speak, I intended to tweet what he was saying but instead I found myself captivated by the content and not wanting to lose focus on the fantastic ideas. Later in the day I found Ewan behind me in a queue for coffee and we got chatting. Provoking thought and challenging stale ideas were his motives and he certainly achieved that!
The closing speaker was Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at Newcastle University. I had heard previously about the brilliance of his “Hole in the Wall” project which clearly showed that children can lead their own learning when their own curiosity is stimulated. He has replicated his projects in different parts of the world with strikingly similar results. I later learnt that his work inspired the book ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ that was made into a film.
Sugata demonstrated his dry wit when discussing how he approached the children with an idea to research. He would give them the statement to learn about and then when the children asked “How, do we do that?” He would respond by saying “I have no idea and anyway I am leaving!”
I was struck by his view that only three or four should collaborate as a group using just a single computer. The groups could swap around but the number of children to a pc should remain the same. This made me think because I am keen for each child to have a pc each when researching, etc but Sugata believes that immersion, collaboration, talk, discussion and peer mentoring can only happen in groups which cannot be achieved when working independently. Food for thought indeed!