Oppi Festival of Learning
In a globalised world, public discussions around Education so often end up firmly national in focus. When internationalisation does come into the picture it can often be framed around competition. Calls to change national education systems are justified by the need to increase economic competitiveness- the 'global citizens' our educational institutions are producing framed as being prepared to fight for their place in international job markets.
What is talked about less is international cooperation and collaboration. Yet as the politicians talk about preparing our students to compete, on the ground teachers and learners are collaborating and exploring what it means to construct learning together rather than in competition. This can be seen informally in the number of teachers and students connecting through online platforms such as twitter and projects like 'Skype in the classroom' and 'Quadblogging'. More formally, the European Commission has funded, and continues to fund, scores of projects exploring international collaborations in education.
There is so much that teachers and learners can gain from international conversations, and this weekend the 'Oppi' festival sees them gathering in Helsinki, Finland, to celebrate and explore the learning they can develop when they come together. The festival features some key international voices on education, but significantly a programme of sessions designed to foster conversations and collaborations between those attending rather than just hearing from the voices on stage.
Finland has been seen to be top of the international league tables in recent years, but in my recent visits there it wasn't systems that stood out to me, but the ethos of collaboration and bottom up approaches to education. Such an ethos makes this an interesting location to explore international conversations on this topic. As Pasi Sahlberg puts it in his book on the Finnish education system, it is about people learning from and with those in successful education systems rather than just replicating what they do.
Nesta are supporting this festival, and joining in the conversations. Whilst our charitable remit is firmly focused on the UK, our eyes are wide open to ways in which we can learn from and with innovators across the world. We have supported some of the groups and organisations we work with and have supported to share their stories, and collaborate with those at the festival.
Kirsty Grieg from 'Technology will save us' is running practical hands on workshops with their DIY kits and Arduino.
Craig Steele from 'CoderDojo' will be sharing tried and tested techniques for getting young people involved in digital making from their clubs across Scotland.
Clare Sutcliffe from 'Code Club' will be running and hands on workshop on programming with Scratch, and speaking on a panel exploring what we can learn from Finland's thriving startup scene.
Oliver Quinlan from Nesta will be leading a discussion session with Gavin Dykes on tha place of collaboration in global education development with speakers Sarah Brown, Erin Lynch and a group of students. He will also be facilitating a 'TeachMeet' session to share stories from classrooms across the world with Tim Walker, author of the insightful 'Taught by Finland' blog.
I'm looking forward to discussions of the different approaches to learning that different countries are taking, to exploring some of the themes around when video games and learning collide, and to seeing what benefits an event bringing together educators and learners from across the world can bring.
More, no doubt, on my return...