ResearchED and the bigger picture

“I’ll need to buzz you up to the seventeenth floor,” explained the dapper security guard on reception at the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria.

“Thanks,” I replied, “but I have all this bird poo on my tripod case which I could do with cleaning off.”

The guard fetched some tissues.

I had arrived in Melbourne a few moments earlier courtesy of a lift from my wife’s cousin. I was loaded up with various bits and pieces and, as I piled them up on the pavement, I didn’t notice the big dollop of bird muck and inevitably splashed the tripod case right in it.

I was carrying a tripod case for the same reason I had a video camera; to film some of the sessions at the researchED-meets-Australian-College-of-Educators event that took place in the city today. So when I arrived at the seventeenth floor, I was surprised to learn that ACE had already arranged professional filming of all sessions. 

I was mildly annoyed that my battles with the birds had been in vain but relieved that I had one less thing to worry about. I finished Saturday’s researchED event in Brighton shattered after having to concentrate on both filming and preparing for my talk.

Today, I was slated for one talk but stepped up to also reprise Saturday’s talk when one of the other speakers called in sick. I saw Stephen Dinham speak about a project to improve STEM education, John Bush and a colleague discuss his organisation, Evidence for Learning and Catherine Scott tackle psychology for educators.

All provided plenty of food for thought. I liked Dinham’s suggestion that we need more specialist science and maths teachers in primary but was a little concerned about his assumption that inquiry learning was part of the solution. I was taken with Bush’s distinction between a transformation agenda versus an improvement agenda – two terms I’ve been searching for for some time. And Scott provided a crystal clear overview of some complex ideas. I particularly enjoyed her distinction between learning for recognition versus learning for recall.

There were also the keynotes. Stephen Norton started the day with an excellent argument about maths education that sidestepped the usual maths war rhetoric in a disarming way. And, of course, I had been looking forward to John Sweller who did not disappoint. He took us through biologically primary and biologically secondary information and its implications for instruction.

I managed to catch Sweller at lunch and discuss my recent experiment. I also introduced him to Tom Bennett who explained, to Sweller’s obvious bemusement, that there are plenty of people in the U.K. who would be keen to view his talk.

And so I’m pleased that all of this was recorded. Not only can I view the sessions I missed but so can people all over the world. I am happy to be involved in researchED and I finish the 2017 Australian leg of the world tour more optimistic than ever about the power of grassroots teacher-led movements. 

Some people are not so happy. I get that. In this social media driven world they no longer get to be the gatekeepers and so they lose some of their institutional power. It’s an indignity, like putting your tripod case in a load of bird poop is an indignity. But hopefully, like me, they will eventually come to see value in the bigger picture.


5 thoughts on “ResearchED and the bigger picture

  1. And that is one of the ground-breaking parts.This has never happened before and I am sure there will be discomfort and growing pains.

    A million thanks.

  2. “transformation agenda versus an improvement agenda”

    How about considering a “responsiveness agenda”? Surely the field of education should be more in responsiveness mode rather than constantly reinventing itself through transformations and improvements.

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