We’re all back from Berlin, in spite of the BA strikes over the weekend. Once again we had a great week – I always wish that every teacher I work with could accompany us to these Innovative Education Forums. The speakers this year were particularly inspiring, there were some useful workshops for teachers, and we even had the opportunity to tour some German schools.
The highlight for me this year was a keynote by Professor Sugata Mitra, of Newcastle. His “Hole in the Wall” project described 10 years of his research
that shows the capacity of kids in the slums of India (or indeed, kids anywhere) to teach themselves. He started with one computer, put literally into a hole in the wall in an Indian slum. He left the computer and came back months later, only to see that the kids had not only organised a system for sharing use of the computer (actually, the girls had organised this), but they had taught themselves how to use the computer and how to read the English user interface and English web sites. And they wanted more.
This was one of the most inspirational talks I’ve seen in years. You can catch a version of it on TED here. Our teachers all left the talk thinking about how Professor Mitra’s talk would impact their teaching immediately.
All four of our UK teachers (whose projects are described in blog posts HERE and HERE), impressed us with the time and effort they put into their stands and presentations in Berlin. We saw some great work from other teachers around Europe as well – Sweden, Belgium and Northern Ireland all brought virtual classroom tours that particularly impressed us – and the judges.
At our gala dinner, we were extremely proud to have two of our teachers honoured with prizes. Jan Webb (below, right) received first prize in the Innovation in Collaboration category, and Simon Horleston (below, left) won third prize in the Innovation in Community category. As such, both will be accompanying us to the Worldwide Innovative Education Forum in Capetown, South Africa in October!
We’re extremely proud of all of the teachers we brought to Berlin, and we’re excited to meet a new group of teachers at our next Innovative Education Forum in the UK this autumn. Stay tuned for more information about your chance to attend that event, as we’ve already started planning it. It will be the lead-in to our next European Forum, in Moscow, this time next year!