By Maureen McTaggart
Scottish teachers and visitors to the 11th Scottish Learning Festival at Glasgow’s SECC will be treated to radical and inspiring research from Professor Sugata Mitra who has been helping 8 to 12-year-olds at schools across Tyneside develop “self-activated learning” in the classroom.
In one of the keynote presentations at this year’s two-day event (September 22-23), he will explain how his Hole in The Wall Indian education project convinced him that a “self organising system for education” using digital technology is perhaps the only way forward for children worldwide, especially the 750 million who have inadequate resources for learning.
“Having watched hundreds of Indian children learning without teachers at the Hole in The Wall computers, it became obvious that all children can work by themselves,” says the professor in educational technology at Newcastle University.
"If the teacher is sitting there wishing they were somewhere else, children sense these things and it has a knock-on effect on how they learn. So I look at how technology can improve primary children's education, particularly through independent learning. I'm encouraging kids to use computers at their own pace to build aspirations,”
Other high-level inspirational speakers on the festival timetable include: Richard Gerver, author of Creating Tomorrow's Schools Today and Eric Booth an award-winning author, entrepreneur who thinks Scottish education “can be the envy of the world, if the challenge of 'creativity across the curriculum' is embraced as the catalyst.”
On the opening day cabinet secretary for education and lifelong learning Michael Russell is expected to outline the progress of the adoption of the Curriculum for Excellence in schools across the country and how it will deliver its outcomes. "I am very much looking forward to attending my first Scottish Learning Festival,” he says. “This year's festival comes during a crucial phase in the implementation of CfE, therefore it will offer an excellent platform for the exchanging of creative ideas and approaches by everyone with an interest in driving forward the improvements to Scottish education that we all want to see."
The SLF is free to attend and, with more than 7,000 visitors expected, organisers have prepared an event that will again raise the benchmark for teacher support and development in the UK.
Through the theme of Curriculum for Excellence: Enhancing Experiences, Raising Standards, as well as the keynotes, SLF 2010’s ambitious conference programme features 160 seminars and a 200-strand exhibition of leading school suppliers spread across a number of exhibition zones – the Scottish Education Village, Innovation Alley, Our Futures, Health and Wellbeing, discussion (conference) and Learning in Practice. There is even a fringe festival and “Spotlight speakers” such as Professor Stephen Heppell who will discuss a range of topics from science and climate change to “why young people embrace technology to engage in learning”.
For those who, like agent4change, are finding it difficult to wade through the jam-packed 26-page online show guide there is good news. Teachable, the teacher-contributed resource website has produced a one page version, with a list of its top-rated exhibitors and recommended seminars. And those who can’t get to Glasgow can catch up on a series of video blogs at the same website.