Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Notes from the 7th Ed Leadership International Roundtable, Lucknow 2014

I walk out of the Charbagh Station in Lucknow after a 30 hour train journey from Mumbai. I am excited. I am back in Lucknow to attend the 7th Ed Leadership Roundtable, 2014 that is being organized at the City Montessori School, Lucknow. The school has an enrollment of 45,000 pupils, and was even awarded the UNESCO Prize for Peace Education. This post includes some of the notes I had taken down during the event. Event Website.

The Description and objective of the event went like this on their personal website,

'Ed Leadership International Roundtables creates conversations that lead to change. It serves as a catalyst for change at the same time as provides an umbrella for the sharing of research and good work in education everywhere. 

Education is the most complex issue of our times and it requires great deliberation. It is a multi-year effort involving all concerned about the future of education and thereby our collective future. We invite you to join hands in any capacity and become a part of this great mission. The first Ed Leadership International Roundtable took place in January 2008. Since then, five conferences have taken place to date 

Leadership has three goals

  1. Share Best and Next Practices by bringing worldwide expertise to share their processes, methods and techniques that bring out the best in every child in both academic and human terms 
  2. Create a platform to bring about widespread reform through encouraging the implementation of any and all new and innovative ideas 
  3. Influence Policy to create an enabling environment for a more meaningful, broader and bolder education that nurtures the self-confidence of every child and treats every child as special.'    
After the inaugural session and a beautiful musical performance by the students of the school, the conference started, with Mrs Sunita Gandhi, the convenor addressing the gathering.
  1. Make Education the number 1 priority of the country.
  2. She then briefly introduced the speakers and the innovations implemented by them
  3. Assessment - You should rather compete with yourself and not others
  4. Singapore - Has setup up an innovative system where teachers are allowed to innovate
Ms Pirjo Koivula, Counsellor of Education, Finnish National Board of Education
Documentary on Finnish Education

  1. As an ambassador of the Finnish Education system, Mrs Pirjo presented a background history of Finland.
  2. She mentioned how Finland had no literature of its own and no written language in the past.
  3. It also had one of the highest set or number of refugees in the world.
  4. There were days growing up for her, when food was scarce and there was not enough running water. She would have to walk 4km to get to the nearest school.
  5. System of administration in Finland - There is the Parliament or National Government at the highest stage. At the second stage comes the Ministry of Education and Culture. Finally at the third stage comes the National Board of Education.
  6. There is equal education for all irrespective of age, domicile, sex or economic situation. All Education is free till the doctoral level. Study material and warm meals provided for students.
  7. Societal Support - Everyone including the business and social community supports and encourages teaching and learning
  8. No Nationwide Testing and No Ranking List
  9. At the National Board of Education, each representative is working on a very small specific research project of their own. Mrs Pirjo was working on the problem of School Attendance and Learning.
  10. Don't strain students - Help them to become good learners and human beings.
  11. Curriculum is constantly discussed and modified.
  12. School Clubs on arts, health and home science encourages and the focus is not only on Academics.
  13. Don't teach for tests only. It is okay if we don't come first all the time.
  14. Teachers are respected - Best graduates of the country become teachers. Only under 10% of the applicants are selected. Thus parents say that we can trust teachers because they have high level of accountability, training and personal responsibility.
  15. Also working on a new national curriculum based on 2 years of research that will be implemented across the country
Dr Manu Kapoor - Head of the Learning Science Lab, National Institute of Education, Singapore.  Productive Failure Lecture Online

  1. From the website - 'Learning Sciences Lab aims to empower learners in schools and beyond, through design research, centered on meaning making, enabling tools and participating cultures. As the first such lab in Asia we focus on transforming learning through an inter disciplinary approach that cuts across methodologies and scales of educational theory and practice.'
  2. Dr Manu started his presentation with a statment, 'Why not design teaching based on what we know from scientific research.'
  3. Productive Failure - His insight that learning environments can be designed to encourage students to look at failure as a productive learning step.
  4. Things are changing fast - Earlier whatever we learned was useful for a long time, now it has changed
  5. Difference between Application and Design - Application means to apply only what you know. Design means to find solutions to problems without having sufficient knowledge
  6. Research - There are initiatives that encourage teachers to take up research projects of their own based on their personal experience
  7. Exercise with Audience - He presented some statistical data and asked the audience how they thought students would respond to particular questions.
  8. Not Tests, But Conceptual Knowledge - If we bring up children, in a test driven culture they will respond to life's big problems in a similar manner. Playing with conceptual knowledge is what 21st century learning is all about
  9. Use All Functions - Don't just get the cognitive functions working, but encourage the child to use the social and emotional functions as well.
  10. Give students an experience to work with insufficient knowledge and see where they go from there.
  11. Initial Learning - Important to know your subject, 'THE STUDENT'. The way you teach the subject to the student the first time is very important. Your introduction develops an impression on the student's mind about whether they must take the subject seriously or not in the time to come.
  12. Expertise Paradox - Teachers very often just cover syllabus and do not really teach. Thus an EXPERT teacher is someone who can develop an emotional connect with the student and curiosity for the subject as well.
Louka Parry - Principal - Mimili Anangu School, Australia. Blog  - The Outback Educator

  1. Louka started by giving us a brief description of the local school context in Australia by sharing this thought with us that all education requires a context.
  2. Australia does focus on teacher quality and content knowledge
  3. The Teacher Standard Document is a very useful practice. India should develop one as well. It is very useful as it develops a high benchmark for every teacher.
  4. Focus not on teaching but also on learning because we can be teaching and nobody will be learning
  5. Equality in Education - If somebody wants to achieve great things and wants to work hard, they should be given a chance. It should be meritocratic in nature.
  6. School Choice has no impact on the performance of the students in most cases.
  7. DOUBLE POWER - I loved this idea mentioned by Mr Louka. When you can speak an international language and a local regional language, you have double power to communicate with and develop a connection with people from two very different cultures. 
  8. Point 1 - Relationships are the currency for change
  9. Point 2 - More powerful than ownership is authorship
  10. Point 3 - Self Concept on achievement that is developed over time is vital for students.
  11. Point 4 - Teacher training in areas that have been backed up by evidence. 
  12. Point 5 - Cognition and Emotion are not separate.
  13. Point 6 - You need more high expectation relationships
  14. Point 7 - Emotional Bank Account can be developed.
Mr Bob Barrata Loughton - President - Center of Innovation in Education, USA. 

I was also fortunate to spend some time with Bob at the dinner get together after the conference. he shared several interesting insights on how he taught and designed curriculum. I knew I was speaking to someone that had tremendous experience and expertise in teaching and curriculum design and thus highly recommend his work.
Website and Reading Material from Bob's Website.
  1. Bob started his keynote by giving the audience some background information on his work with the Center for Innovation in Education, USA. Over 500,000 individuals us the ideas from his book. They have 300 instructors who conduct workshops all around the world for them.
  2. He then described a few important experiences form his own life that lead him to this field. He spoke about his experience coaching a sports team, working in the military and working as a teacher in low income neighborhoods. He noticed that almost all individuals performed at different levels and how to manage this difference in performance was a challenge that needed to be solved.
  3. Most often in classrooms only the good students who score well answer all the questions. The bad students who did not do well academically normally do not get a chance.
  4. When you fail at the start let somebody guide you to push you to keep trying. Teachers needed here.
  5. He wanted to work with the student and give them trust and make them set their own standards for themselves. Figure out a win-win solution for both parties. Do not have to force it on the student everytime.
  6. If the student makes a mistake, go approach them personally, do not bring it up in a larger group. Explain and make them understand that you know they can do better than this. Be their friend, not a discipline enforcer.
  7. As a teacher when things are not going right, it was not that they were testing me. But it was the fact that I was not being CLEAR Enough with what I was teaching.
  8. Bob knew he was a smart student growing up and he would do well anyways. He also said he wished the school used him more to help other students move forward. Why not make children that did something well, guide other students to do the similar thing well as well.
Mrs Nurjahan Begum, head of the world renowned Grameen Shiksha group in Bangladesh, mentioned the following points in her opening address on Day 2. They are paraphrased here:-
  1.  We always think about the underprivileged as un intelligent or so. But what if they were intelligent in whole different way that we are not able to comprehend.
  2. Educated young people do not get jobs these days and most bachelor degree holders are unemployed.
  3. Over 53,000 students have received a loan from the Grameen Bank.
  4. We also educate them to become entrepreneurs so that they can create business for two or three others.
  5. Human kind did not thrive with only formal education. Our formal education system has made us captive. 
  6. When it determined by certain privileged sections it becomes counter productive.
  7. Some of the courses we offer students are reading, writing, numeracy skills, production of certain crops, family planning, entrepreneurship. Because all this is immediately relevant to them.
  8. Short term vocational training in solar engineering and electrical engineering and other careers also provided.
  9. Digital universities with basic content given from anywhere in the world can be used, while most class time can be used to teach more relevant life skills, with real people.
  10. Make knowledge available to all and remove constraints.

Mrs Marie Paulina who works with the Finnish National Board on Education in their Assessment department then presented her thoughts on her research study and work with the Finnish Government.
  1. Assessment happens at three level. At the system level, then at the school level and then at the student level.
  2. She also noticed that sometimes assessment in some schools are more lenient than assessment in other, creating a sort of imbalance.
  3. A long list of 40 different cognitive skills has been prepared to assess the students at the student level and different such parameters are in place at the school and systemic level too.
Dr Shawn Hawthorne presented research insights and findings from the Visible Learning International Study on Education by Professor John Hattie.  Find out more here - Study

Dr Geeta Gandhi Kingdon then presented her thoughts on why evidence based teaching and learning is vital. She presented data from all the major reports and research studies done on Education in India. Then she also told the audience to be critical when analyzing this data. It is vital to understand what data was used, how big the effect size was, was there any biased parties involved, and the big difference between causation and co relation.

I was fortunate to meet my dear friends and make some great new ones doing some very inspiring work. I will always cherish the conversations I had with educators from all over the world during the breaks at the event. Here are two special colleagues
a) Mr Farooq - Principal - Dolphin International School, Kashmir
b) Mr Vikramjeet Sinha  - Theatre Producer for Schools and Art Therapist for children in conflict areas
c) Mrs Pranavi Luthra - Inspiring educator and researcher and principal of a public school in New Delhi

The conference ended with a campaign launched by Mrs Sunita Gandhi and her team at CMS, with a mission to make teachers local leaders and to encourage them to educate the students in nearby areas that do not have access to a good education. A two month long project had already started before the conference and both students and teachers went into urban and rural communities and thought other students and parents why education, reading and writing is vital.

There was indeed a lot to take in over the three days of the conference and I look forward to being part of the gathering in the future.

Let us learn together
Tweet @AbhishekShetty_

No comments:

Post a Comment