Picture a group of like-minded folk, a state-of-the-art university and cupcakes and you have a recipe for a great afternoon of discussion and debate. That was the menu for the first Purpos/ed Summit for Instigators. Sounds rather dangerous and in a way it was. Giving people the chance to express opinions can be dangerous but when it comes to our education system and what happens to our children it is vital.
The event was the brainchild of Andy Stewart and Doug Belshaw who have begun ‘a conversation’ around the question of ‘What is the purpose of education?’ It is an exciting and challenging 3-year plan with various campaigns, newsletters and meetings to try to empower people to get  involved in education at local, area and national levels.
The first ‘real’ (as opposed to virtual)event happened in Sheffield at Hallam University and consisted of a series of short presentations and the chance to work together in smaller break-out groups looking at a further question of ‘How do we get the message out there?’ It is clear from the response to the campaign so far that there is a great deal of interest out there. However, it has really been limited to the education community (and mostly on-line)who, one would assume, would have an interest in the questions to start with anyway.
As usual, a gathering of the Summit type produces more questions than answers even when you are supposed to be answering questions! For me the question has to be what constructive action can be taken? If a conference / meeting / training is even reasonably good, you come away with ideas and enthusiasm. How many of us have let that energy drift away as the days pass. Without a specific task to do, much of the good will evaporates and potential is lost.
We need to get this conversation out to non-educational people. By that I mean people who are not specifically linked to education. We need to go where the people are so play groups, coffee mornings, mummy bloggers, even down the pub is where we need to move this discussion. When moving it – we need to be mindful of the language we use. Even the word ‘EDUCATION’ can scare people. It certainly has a definition that usually limits it to formal education and school.
As speakers mentioned, we have no idea of what the world will look like for our children. Who would have predicted the banking crisis and the huge waves that caused? We have no idea what skills and knowledge children will need so that makes it pretty difficult when designing a curriculum.
I think one point that most agree on is that change is needed. To make that change significant, we need to reach the parts that other educational discussions haven’t reached. We need to have a plan that moves from discussion to action and we need to communicate it to the widest audience.
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