Speakers included former Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, as well as educational leaders from around the world.
This year's event took a strategic look at the future of education, global trends and developments, the Australian curriculum and how to lead a 21st century school. While every new educational IT gadget was on display, from VR goggles to drones, and robots to coding apps, all speakers espoused the need for good pedagogy before technology.
Carly Whitbread, Michael Deed, Kate Sullivan and I (staff at St Paul’s Primary School, Gateshead) attended the recent EduTECH Conference in Sydney where participants, among other things, explored how to promote innovation in schools. This to enable students to take more ownership of their learning in order to reach their full potential.
One speaker, Prof Guy Claxton, emeritus Professor of the Learning Sciences at the University of Winchester, talked about the importance of 'soft' skills, including resilience, creativity, empathy and critical thinking, that enable students to progress through the education system.
Another speaker, Prakash Nair, an internationally recognized American consultant in the areas of innovative schools and educational technology, put forward the notion that we should educate like gardeners, not carpenters. Gardeners cultivate the environment to allow a lot of different plants to reach their full potential, whereas a carpenter builds with only one intention, the polished final product. 'Gardeners' personalise and empower with love. 'Carpenters' standardise and control. As teachers we strive to be gardeners, not carpenters.
The teachers left the conference with many ideas including thoughts on how we can better embed STEM into the classroom, how we can better engage students to construct their own learning and ways to utilise more inquiry-based learning.
The whole conference was certainly affirming for us that at St Paul's we are heading in the right direction.