Friday, 7 October 2016

Newcastle University School of Education Communication and Language Sciences - Centre for Learning and Teaching Showcase 2016

Organised by Newcastle University's Centre for Learning and Teaching, this showcase event addressed themes of: Social justice; Innovative research methodologies; Professional development, leadership & learning; Innovative pedagogy and curriculum; Learning spaces; Teaching and learning in HE.

The event was split into 4 parts, with a choice of 3 different sessions in the first 3 parts, followed by the entire group coming together to join in the final part, a 'Moot' (a term meaning an assembly held for debate).

Attendees ranged from students from the department to Academics, teachers, educational psychologists and others involved in education in some form.

The first session dealt with Communication Aware Teaching and how labels may discriminate people. I was interested to hear about the Pygmalion effect, the term given to the phenomenon in which the greater the expectation placed upon people (such as children, students, or employees) the better they perform. Tajfel's findings are also of interest to me: "Whenever we are confronted with a situation to which sort form of intergroup categorisation appears directly relevant, we are likely to act in a manner that discriminates against the outgroup and favours the ingroup."

The second session I went to was an 'Art and SOLE' workshop. SOLE is about learning in groups, with minimal facilitation and often using the internet.

It has affinities with the artistic process in the following ways
- they are cognitive activities (as opposed to craft which is purely about making with the hands)
- they encourage us to think for ourselves
- they are an enquiry
- they are creative
- questions the role of the artist/facilitator
- art is a form of free expression

We did an exercise in groups whereby we had to make some form of sculpture that represented what our learning looks like. This is the outcome!

The third part featured 2 presentations, one by Sam Shields who is researching assessment in the UK and the Netherlands. She analysed the methodological traditions of these two countries.

The other presentation was by Lydia Wysocki who discussed words and pictures and learning: comics as a method of reflecting on learning, facilitating collaboration and working with narratives. For a comic novice like me, her talk gave an excellent insight into the value of comics and how to read them.

To end the evening, we all gathered for a Moot. A 'Moot' is a medieval word meaning an assembly held for debate. Three colleagues were given 5 minutes to share their views in relation to the question: How can we ensure all children achieve?

Here is a summary of some of the suggestions made:

- the importance of ensuring the wellbeing of both children and teachers
- not letting results be the most important thing
- every child matters

- eliminating categories and labels in order to limit the Pygmalion effect

- Parents occupation and socioeconomic background has been linked to the choice of GCSE and A-Level subjects made by children
- Lower socio economic background = less children choosing STEM subjects
- Better education about what different subjects could entail and be used for

The event ended with another question being posed:

How do we ensure all teachers achieve?

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