Once again I was fortunate to attend Edutech 2014 in Brisbane this year. After attending and being blown away last year I pushed for our school to send a team of teachers this year so that we could hopefully create a wave of enthusiasm around the topic and share our learning with all staff at our school. Our Principal agreed so myself, our Principal and two teachers made the journey to Brisbane. Little did I realise the Tsunami that I was unleashing!!
What a line up of presenters to inspire, question and challenge – Sugata Mitra, Ewan Mcinstosh, Ian Jukes, Suan Yeo, Gary Stager, Tom Barrett, Jenny Luca and the legendary Sir Ken Robinson! It was an educators’ rock concert!
Over the course of the two days I decided to tweet as much as possible and also to use a new app I was playing with ‘Flipboard’ to collect tweets, websites and links that I liked. Here is the link for my flipboard http://flip.it/EVgAJ
So, what did I take away?
1. Creativity is the key of the Future
The two key note speakers that really challenged me and made me question what I do and want to change what I am currently doing were Sir Ken Robinson and Ian Jukes. Both of these speakers were passionate and enthusiastic speakers who fired up the crowd. Sir Ken entertained us with jokes about George Bush Snr, Miley Sirus and his renewal of his marriage vows in Las Vegas. But he also spoke about the organic food industry and how the key to this is the soil and the foundations. He related this to students and how we need to get it right from the bottom up. We need to allow kids to be creative, to ask challenging questions, to experience getting things wrong and not limit their answers by portraying a ‘right’ answer. We need to give them more ‘them’ time and less ‘teacher’ time. He also discussed the need for these things to happen now! He continued to talk about the need in the future for people to be able to think creatively in order to get the jobs that the ‘computers’ can’t do.
Ian Jukes also stressed the urgency of getting change into our schools. He spoke about “innovation disruption” and how companies and factory workers are being replaced by computers. He spoke about how traditional jobs in Industry and Agriculture are declining around the world and how jobs in services and creativity have increased. He called it “A Hunger Games Economy” – everyone for themselves. He questioned if education would be the next company to face the big companies of Amazon and Itunes.
He asked the audience
“are we preparing students for their futures or are we preparing them for our pasts.”
He was asked a question about how we can make change and his reply was
“take baby steps. Change one thing at a time. Do not try to go back and change it all in one day. Do one thing differently.”
This is what we are hoping to do at my school. Small steps to create students that are more resilient, creative and questioning.
2. Content is not the key!
I now realise that this is something that I have been struggling with for a number of years. I have been to numerous PD sessions that have discussed the need to not focus on the content of the Australian Curriculum but that we should be focussing more on the skills and understandings. I have struggled with this because the content tells me what I need to teach and so that is what the students in my class should cover. During Professor Sugata Mitra’s presentation I finally had a light bulb moment when he asked the question
“Is knowing obsolete?”
Have I been teaching y students too much content and not enough about how to find the answers and more importantly – how to ask the right questions. I like the idea of just telling kids that I don’t know the answer and letting them find out.
If you have not heard any of Professor Sugata Mirta’s talks I would recommend watching this TED talk.
3. Twitter allows for learning and collaboration
Twitter is a social media tool that allows us to connect with other educators, reinforce our thoughts, collect ideas and ask questions
This was an added bonus of the conference. I really only started to use twitter two years ago and I find that it functions at its best when I am at a conference. By tweeting I was able to:
- keep a record of the key things that speakers were saying during their talks and go back to them later.
- Share in other peoples’ learning and reviews.
- Follow other peoples’ tweets and reflect on what speakers had said and look at how other people had interpreted presentations.
- Engage in discussions with colleagues attending the conference and colleagues still at our work site.
- And I was able to read this great blog post from a person who didn’t even attend Edutech but was able to learn from their own home via twitter feeds!
So what now…
Well, this year was different to last year because we took at team over from our school; myself, our school Principal and two other teachers. This will allow us to work together on some of the key pieces from the conference. Already we are in the process of planning to share our enthusiasm with our staff on our student free day.
I am keen to start implementing more activities that require my students to think creatively, develop collaborative skills and questioning skills.
As a team we are all keen to look at our learning spaces and see how we can redesign them to encourage collaboration, learning and creativity. My colleagues attended a session with the Principal of Margaret River Primary School. During this presentation they talked about the transformation that their school has had over the past few years towards this goal. We are hoping to talk to this school more about how they have achieved this and what they have learnt along the way. As a group we are keen to create a similar culture of creativity at Port Elliot.
Exciting times ahead! I will keep you posted!