Next year's conference: 29-31 March 2019
REFLECTIONS ON THE PESGB CONFERENCE
TEACHER SCHOLARSHIP ATTENDEE 2018 - George Duoblys
My first PESGB conference came at the end of a long winter term. I was knackered. March can be a fraught month in schools and any sense of a long-term vision is lost amidst the panic of interventions and exam practice. It's the perfect time then to step outside of the day to day, to think more broadly about education and how your own teaching lives up to the engagement. This year’s conference provided countless opportunities for such reflection, and I'm very grateful to everyone at the PESGB for welcoming me so warmly into the fold.
Highlights included: a talk on transformation by Douglas Yacek, who captivated a Red Room late on Friday evening with his wit and various thought experiments. The following day, Judith Suissa and Drew Chambers delivered impressive back to back talks on republican notions of freedom and the directiveness of Freire’s pedagogy respectively. On Sunday morning, Michael Hand stood up to a barrage of questions on his new book on Moral Education, in the manner of Alistair Cook facing down the Australian attack (fortunately there was no ball tampering on this occasion). This was followed by the third excellent keynote session of the weekend, on inclusion and exclusion in education around the world.
As always with events like these, the conversations outside of the programmed talks were often as enlightening as the talks themselves. Special mention goes to Ed, Ursula, Mehdi and Magdalena, whose discussion (and dancing) enhanced my weekend enormously. Thanks to Jan and Kate with whom I put the world to rights on Friday night and to Dan who told me about his fascinating doctoral thesis over lunch on Sunday. Thanks also to New College for their marvellous hospitality; to Mary for organising an excellent run (which one delegate was so excited about he turned up to in his boxer shorts); and to Janet, Steph and Jo who welcomed me to the conference like an old friend.
Travelling back from Oxford on the Sunday afternoon, I pondered what I’d learned over the weekend. My primary feeling was one of clarity. It had been refreshing to spend a weekend amongst others who see education as more than ‘what works’ teaching strategies, but who are not content to waft around half-baked ideas they mistakenly think will change the world. Morten Korsgaard’s point during the final session - that education isn’t about changing the world - cleared the day to day fog and reminded me of what the engagement is really all about. I’d recommend that any teachers prone to intervention-induced irritation apply for the teacher scholarship next year; I certainly hope I’ll find myself in Oxford again next March.
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