Professor Emeritus, The University of Reading
As the sole “founding mother” here I want to focus on the present and the future. To do this I will pick out some personal highlights. First, the Postgraduate Conference. This was an important event which the postgraduates valued and in the future it would be helpful if some experienced members of ISATT were to attend this event and give constructive feedback. I had interesting conversations with young members from, Canada, Germany Hong Kong, Iceland Israel and Mexico. Many said that they were enjoying the challenge of many ideas discussed in so short a time.
Story telling was apparent in many sessions. Maryann Brown’s session Welcome to the real world told of the difficulty of being accepted back in school after some time in academia. The situation was resolved by bringing the university to the school in the form of a professional training course. In the same session Freema Elbaz-Luwisch and colleagues gave a poignant account of the development of a multicultural community of educators. Men were excluded from this group which led me to think could male educators also benefit and develop their own multicultural community to resolve differences and celebrate similarities?
Jeanne Kentel in her session gave a full account of Bullying in an academic playground and included in the presentation a dance which demonstrated the power of non verbal communication. She raised the importance of sympathetic, generous scholarship which can assist those who feel bullied to move forward. It would seem that bullying in academia might be more common than we like to believe.
Klaas van Deen in asking What is a professional? drew attention to lack of time for educational development and teacher “burn out”. These seem to be recurrent and global phenomena. Michael Kompf and Gerald Fulton discussed Inside out views of teacher’s lives and careers. I particularly liked Gerald’s metaphor of “emotional rosary” and his emphasis on the cathartic nature of story telling.
Hafdis Invarsdöttir talked about professional development in Iceland where collaboration amongst teachers is not the norm. She introduced the concept of alliance where teachers are encouraged to see themselves as allies in the process. This is having some success. Finally Chris Day demonstrated a link between emotional stability and effectiveness in teaching. He emphasised the importance of the energy of the heart in teaching.
This was a theme of Keiran Egan’s keynote speech Emotion and imagination in teaching. As a grandparent I empathised with his examples of what children learn from fairy stories. My three-year-old grand daughter learned about fear from Black Beauty. Imaginative Education may prove a fruitful framework. It certainly caused a buzz after his talk which is what one hopes for in a Key Note Speech!
Pam Denicolo and I were still buzzing when we came across the following quotation by Stacia Tauscher: “We worry about what a child will become tomorrow. Yet we forget that the child is someone today.” Maybe this takes me full circle to what our first Keynote speaker Joel Spring was implying by his notion of education for happiness.
Thank you to Daniela who has been so helpful to so many during her years as ISATT administrator and to Michael , Nicola and the Conference Committee for letting us have some space for conversation as part of our own professional development.
As a Founder of ISATT I am pleased to see that the future of ISATT is assured by a new wave of postgraduates and new members who will take our work forward. Good Luck.