The third and final instalment of this series is about EduFest at Institut Le Rosey in Switzerland, which debuted in 2019 and was back in 2022 after a COVID-enforced hiatus. It’s a start-up which has huge potential, bringing together educators from across Europe every two years. From what I saw, it has a bright future.
If you want to find a venue for an education festival, then the vicinity of Lake Geneva is not a bad place to look. Le Rosey is one of the leading Swiss boarding schools and has made a strategic decision to move into thought leadership by running their own education festival. The ambition to make this a major European event is clear, though persuading local teachers to attend seems to be a harder task than attracting those from Germany, France, and the UK.
The line-up was incredible, with Dylan Wiliam headlining and providing further sessions. Strands were curated by researchED and WomenED, and there was a good range of speakers presenting in French for the local audience. Content Director Kim Kovacevic and his team deserve a lot of credit for that, as do the logistics team run by Philippa Barton. It certainly had a festival atmosphere, helped by spectacular weather. The campus is a mixture of the traditional and the ultra-modern, and the main performing arts centre provides a stunning and perfectly-equipped venue for a range of sessions.
Keynote – Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam): How Do We Prepare Young People For A World We Cannot Imagine?
The first thing to say is that if you haven’t seen Dylan speak, you really need to add that to your bucket list. He is very, very good. It’s a bit like watching a magician who pauses every so often to let you in on the trick. Dylan walked us through many aspects of educational and societal change, challenging orthodoxy and busting myths with ease. For example, we frequently hear that the increasing application of AI will destroy jobs, but the advent of the cash machine (which should have made many bank tellers redundant) actually increased jobs in the US over the long term because it allowed bank workers to focus on things that mattered more. This is why the only 21st century skill that matters is metacognition.
The one really competitive skill is the skill of being able to learn… We need to produce people who know how to act when they’re faced with situations for which they were not specifically prepared.– Papert, 1998
Dylan then went through the many new ideas that we’ve seen in education over the past couple of decades, and his take on growth mindset is worth sharing widely. Essentially, there is no evidence yet to suggest that GM interventions have provided any meaningful impact in pupil learning. Here’s the evidence base he cited.
Dylan then called on us to be critical consumers of research. This slide is a very succinct and helpful steer on how we do that, by asking questions of research.
Overall, a tour de force from an educator who remains at the forefront of international thinking, and at the top of his game.
@robin_macp: Paradigm Shifts in Professional Learning
I ran back to back sessions on my book The Teaching Life, which was co-authored with Kate Jones (@KateJones_teach). You can read a review by Zoe Enser (@greeborunner) in Schools Week about it here. The talk crunched down some of the major arguments we make, such as taking control of your professional learning can enhance career planning, agency, and wellbeing. So much has changed in the world of professional learning, and not all of that due to COVID, but it has been an accelerator of sorts. We expand on Carl Hendrick’s argument that this is a golden age of professional learning, and pose challenge questions to the reader to get them to consider their own learning and career progression.
One of my favourite riffs is about low cost/high impact professional learning. Here’s one of my slides which has ten such methods, so see how many of them you’ve done in the past year.
After both of my sessions we had a lively Q&A and interestingly the same difficult question was asked after each one: how do we evaluate professional learning effectively? That’s tough, and I spoke about grappling with this with the Teacher Development Trust a few years ago. This post has a little more about how they do that.
Dylan Wiliam (@dylanwiliam): Teacher Learning
Back for more, and this time the focus was on how we can develop as teachers to become better at what we do. There were four questions Dylan posed at the outset:
- What makes effective teacher learning?
- How should teacher meetings be organised?
- What doesn’t get done?
- How will we know if it’s working?
He spoke about the ‘Knowing-Doing Gap’ (Pfeffer, 2000) and I was particularly interested in Nonaka and Takeuchi’s model of knowledge creation and conversion (1995). We lose so much tacit knowledge in schools through experienced staff moving on, that we are always struggling to replace that.
Never one to just identify a problem and leave it hanging, Dylan set out his model for teacher learning and communities (see the sides below), as well as the responsibility of senior leaders. He said that his wife, a headteacher of 20 years’ experience, describes herself as a ‘deflective leader’, meaning that she spends a lot of time deflecting nonsense away from her staff that comes from outside the school. I know what that feels like…
Carl Hendrick (@C_Hendrick): How Learning Happens
Carl has been busy since we co-authored ‘What Does It Look Like In The Classroom?’ in 2017, having written ‘How Learning Happens’ with Paul Kirschner (@P_A_Kirschner). He went through many of the key aspects of the book, challenging poor practice like ‘just Googling it’ and highlighting solutions, like the Dunlosky et al (2013) study which shows the gap between what students actually do, and what they should do. Cognitive Load Theory was a core aspect of the talk, as well as the interesting work on engagement. If you want an excellent guide to how learning really happens, then look no further than this book.
Tom Bennett (@tombennett71): How To Get Anyone To Do Anything – The Parent And Teacher Guide To Managing Children
I last saw Tom speak at researchED Scotland in Glasgow in February 2020 and since then he’s published Running The Room, which I strongly recommend. In his usual irrepressible form on stage, Tom set out the nature of the behaviour that we see in children, and the essential contention that behaviour is something that is learned, ergo it requires a curriculum. The mantra of ‘don’t just tell children how to behave, teach them’ is key; there is a pedagogy to this. He cited the document he produced for the DofE, Creating A Culture (2017), and his list of takeaways is very helpful indeed.
Behaviour is one of the toughest areas that teachers grapple with, but keeping it simple and consistent is a good way to improve things. This was a talk that gives you the confidence that this can, and will happen.
The one downside to speaking twice is that you can’t get to as many sessions as you like, and it was a real shame to miss Adam Boxer, Becky Allen, Pedro de Bruyckere and Carli Ochs in particular, but I did get to finally meet Twitter pal Parm Plummer. It was also a pleasure to have another head from a Scottish school in tow, as Simon Brian from St Leonard’s in Fife came along and he also took the chance to visit some other Swiss schools for IBO experience. The chance to speak to educators from across Europe was a valuable opportunity, allowing us to compare notes about our respective systems. I hope this event grows and reaches a wider audience, and do check out the website for news about the next iteration in 2024. There’s a lot more to come.