There have been more thorough and immediate posts than this conveying brilliant perspectives on ResearchEd2014 held at Raines Foundation School on Saturday 6th September.
But what were my perspectives and why did Dan Roberts and I head out from Plymouth at dawn to attend?
Dan is a renowned Tweep and belonged there.
And I must confess to being motivated partially by seeing respected bloggers and thinkers in the flesh – the theatre of Twitter. For example, Andrew Old’s interview with Ofsted Generals Cladingbowl and Harford was crackling with tension and cold bonhomie.
Rival Gurus were in the same building and that was the point.
In fact, the ambience was unlike any other conference I’ve attended. It was as professionally presented and handled as Tom Bennett and Hélène Galdin-O’Shea could have dreamt and the attendance was extraordinary bearing in mind this was the first weekend of term and everyone had planning to do.
But if it was slick it was also “wholesome”. It fitted the Bethnal Green vibe – slightly hip and unobtainably cool. As a headteacher, at times I felt like someone’s dad crashing a sixth form party.
It was also real. Research into the hypothesis that out of class activity has a positive impact on academic outcomes (a view that I instinctively share) laid open the challenges of Research in Education. Each of the three factors being researched (Child related, Activity related and Social Context theories) had four separate research frameworks. The variables behind causal links in education are overwhelming and mutable.
But we still need to engage with it.
Benjamin Evans felt that the day lacked material to take away and deploy and that he could have learnt more at the Festival of Education at Wellington College. Indeed, my impressions on departure were that I knew less than when I had arrived so I understand the sentiment – but I got it in the end.
ResearchEd was Woodstock not Wembley.
1000 yard stare. Mid-frame and looking a little lost…
- Avoid bad research;
- Question everything – without confirmation bias;
- Trust your subject knowledge and experience;
- Gain more experience by trying new approaches;
- Work hard;
- We are free to make up our own minds and we must continue to improve – even though we’re already doing a great job;
- Don’t feel bad about the past – “strategies” were needed for the profession when it wasn’t good enough. It’s much better now.
Some have expressed concerns that ResearchEd is in the ironic position of becoming its own orthodoxy. That its popularity and capture of zeitgeist might blunt its edge – make it too main-stream.
This reminds me of when I sullenly accepted the steepling popularity of Dire Straits having discovered them from their first album (Yes, I’m that old and sad).
I don’t think anyone should be concerned about the “bigger boat” Tom Bennett needs. It’s just going to get better and this message needs to be out there.