Big Society Education is all around us – notes from RSA Whole Education conference

Whole Education Conference “What Are Schools For?”
Monday dec 6th 2010

Morning exercise: 
What brought me into education : 
My own love of learning, curiosity with the world, love of sharing knowledge, love of museums and art galleries, learning about the people behind the artefacts. How the world works and who made it. My parents teaching me that I can learn anything, myself, I don’t have to wait for anyone to teach me.

At school I loved: 
physics, art, all the possibilities, all the people. Project-based learning. The opportunity to try things out, to get it wrong, to get it right. To shine, but also to hide or be quiet, at times.

What our school is about :
‘me’, we, I can, We Can. Can I? How can I? Why? And Why Not? What if? What is this stuff?

Key ideas retained:
“the new definition of engagement should be commitment, not compliance” David Price
“a four-year old teaching a six-year old how to use a smartphone, and ending up skyping their grandma”
“I, we, the planet” – the need for environmental and social sustainability. championed initially by Third sector, then the public sector, but since 2006 promoted far more by the private sector than public sector. Bizarrely. Eg it was Caroline Waters from BT who first raised it today. Public sector trying to look tougher, private sector playing cuddly?

How brilliant to be in a room with a hundred others, working successfully in the innovative fringes of mainstream education. Big Society Ed’, if you like.  Not so marginal if you add them all together.  Immense successes, many backed up by independent assessment eg Cambridge University.  I wonder, is this a curiously British phenomenon?  And, does it matter that it isn’t recognised as ‘mainstream education?’    

There are hundreds of organisations, thousands of individuals and schools, millions of children involved in these programmes. This is no longer ‘fringe’, ‘alternative’ or ‘marginal’. Nor is it a ‘movement’. It just is. And it is good.

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One Response to Big Society Education is all around us – notes from RSA Whole Education conference

  1. Sounds like a great conference – did you manage to get to the RSA Opening Minds conference too? It struck me during the event that it was great to be in the same place as a couple of hundred teachers who were at least thinking about innovating education from the inside.

    As I was leaving the conference a young chap asked me if I knew where a spritual leader was speaking in the London Institute for Education building. Unfortunately I couldn’t help but I could point to Sir Ken Robinson who I had just had a brief chat with and say – well there is the spiritual leader of an education revolution!

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