Reflecting on the weekend's superb Links into Languages ICT/MFL conference at Southampton University led me to some conclusions.
- if the 130 plus delegates can disseminate the buzz and the brilliance of the ideas shared, then the future of language teaching in this country is assured
- the messages from the weekend about pedagogy and blended and connected learning are seminal and must be communicated to those in the DfE and above all to the members of the curriculum review panel. Another important consituency is parents - if we can find a way to mobilise parents we might experience the sort of row-back seen over Bookstart and School Sports Partnerships
- the views and ideas expressed during the weekend are diametrically opposed to the views of Michael Gove. The emphasis in the White Paper is squarely on teaching, and there is little mention of learning. What Gove doesn't realise is that pupils can learn reams of facts, but there is little point in doing so if they can't make connections or understand what the facts are telling them. This is where the skills agenda comes into play - pupils need to be able to hypothesise, synthesise, evaluate, apply, transfer and evolve creatively. Only then will the facts have any significance. It's one thing to know that the Gunpowder Plot took place on 5 November 1605, but its significance is lost without an understanding of the position of English Catholics under James I. And what might have happened if the plot had succeeded?
- my only regret about the weekend is that the people who really needed it probably weren't there - we must evangelise and spread the immensely positive "vibe" that was present throughout the weekend
Below you can view Chris Harte's excellent and thought-provoking presentation on the SOLO taxonomy. These views were echoed in other presentations throughout the weekend, notably Isabelle Jones' brilliant session on PLTS and Dale Hardy's thoughts on providing for gifted and talented students. There was a significant amount of "joined up thinking" as a result, and a deeper reflection on how ICT can contribute to a much more sophisticated pedagogy than that of simply memorising strings of facts to regurgitate in an examination. It's not just about flashy gimmicks, and despite what think tanks like Civitas think, ICT is not a "distraction from real learning".
The weekend brought home to me two quotes from recent weeks. The first, from Kevin Brennan MP during the debate on the Education Bill, when he accused Michael Gove of introducing "an analogue curriculum for a digital age". The second from a teacher who responded to the ALL consultation: "We are the people we have been waiting for." How true it was this weekend.
Finally, a vote of thanks to Joe Dale and Zena Hilton for putting the conference together. A wonderful job, and the ripples have yet to hit the shoreline. You built it and we came - keep building and we'll keep coming!