Category Archives: festival of education

My Grown Up Weekend part 3 – Festival of Education Bob Geldof

Besides the fabulous weather and the chance to chill out in the sunshine in beautiful surroundings, the highlight of the festival was Bob Geldof’s Speech.

He was relaxed, engaging, funny and above all passionate. He used a rich intelligent vocabulary, peppered with a few swear words and held the audience in the palm of his hand.  The speech began with recollections of his own experience of education which he described as ‘ a horror’. The 2 saving graces were radio and poetry.  Radio helped him to see other possibilities – the possibility of change.

He talked of a key message that he had learned from Africa

Only the educated are free.

Inequality is a signature feature of today’s society and in an asymmetric world instability is inherent.  42 million children went to school for the first time as a result of the G8 cancelling national debt, these children have an entrepreneurial spirit far greater than children in our own culture. Similarly in China 400 million  people have been pulled out of poverty enabling them to become world market leaders. In the UK education has become a given right and therefore children derive little inspiration from it – perhaps then it is time for a shift in the purpose of education.

Bob Geldof talked of the role of education in this country.  He described values as shaping our future.  Britain is the most tolerant of all countries and we will only keep to that through education.  The cliché is that children are our future, but how do they become our future? The UK is full of creativity, it has fostered many creative geniuses from musicians to poets and the creative arts was the 6th greatest industry in this country for many years.  Of course creativity is not only about the arts but also about creating new technologies and inventions and recognising genius early on.  He encourages the importance of spreading these values throughout the world ‘or black darkness faces us’.

Boldness has genius, power and magic in it

The talk ended with a story of a time in the Congo when he rested from the heat and was fanning himself under a tree.  A Bicycle came by and rang a bell and a multitude of people came from their huts clutching laptops and plugged in to download email.  The world’s ideas will change as a consequence of such people.

all progress depends on the unreasonable man – George Bernard Shaw.

In my opinion the most important skills we can teach children is to ask questions, think for themselves and believe that they can make a difference.  Bob Geldof was so passionate and articulate about what he believes in, that you can clearly see why he has been able to make a difference and will continue to do so.

If you ever get a chance to see/hear him speak don’t hesitate his talk was truly enthralling.

My Grown Up Weekend part 2 – Festival of Education : Technology and Education

As regular readers will be aware I am very interested in the use of new technology in early years classrooms.  I was pleased to see therefore that the Festival of Education at Wellington College Crowthorne had a number of sessions relating to education and technology.  As usual at these events most of the content was aimed at working with older children but I found a number of ideas/materials that could be adapted for use with younger children.

Jan Webb (  from Microsoft gave an interesting talk outlining many of the free resources available to teachers and the ways in which she had used them in the classroom.  Many of the resources were used to link up with schools in other countries to add another dimension to project based learning.  This could be used really successfully in an early years classroom, using video chat to talk about and demonstrate concepts such as snow to young children who may not have seen it before.

Jan explained that the Partners in Learning Network provides free downloadable software for use in the classroom.  I got up and showed off my singing talents to demonstrate Songsmith – for creating music (ok it was only Happy Birthday). 

Shireland  Collegiate academy demonstrated  their learning gateway .  Though this is a secondary school and would be used very differently in an early years setting, I saw merits in the way that staff could share planning and assessments, as a means of getting parents involved in their children’s learning and making learning visible to them.

There was an interesting discussion at the end of the day about what we could teach the Facebook generation.  There were some interesting points regarding worries about the ever growing use of technology and social media.  On the positive side was the idea that worries about technology are similar  to worries about the novel in the eighteenth century and that whatever children are interested in will become the dubious thing.  I think that is an interesting view and that we should be using children’s interests to stimulate meaningful learning , rather than threatening to ban things. Another point made was that in this generation the most important skill we can teach children is to take charge of their own destiny. Some felt that this generation were in danger of losing social skills and that technology should be limited to allow children to spend time reading.  A straw poll was taken as to the preference between physical books and reading them electronically.  Personally for me I would much rather have a kindle with hundreds of books in one place than have to find or carry real books.  I suppose there is still some sentimentality about having books on a shelf, but is that because they are precious or because we want to show others what we have read?

I have many links and inspirational practice to look up as a follow up to the festival, these will appear on the blog in due course.