How the symposium is organised?

This symposium is organised in a different way than usual. It is organised as a practice-driven conference.

Practice-driven

As we see it, education is first and foremost an event, that takes place on a specific moment as an interaction between specific people, with a specific purpose. Teachers continuously make decisions, big and small, and those decisions have by definition moral consequences. By starting from a practice example, we start from the ‘educational event’ as a whole. All aspects and dimensions of what constitutes ‘good education’ are there in a real-life situation, and with that, they offer the most fruitful and meaningful starting point for our explorations.

Dialogue

Because of the nature of the central theme, it is crucial that the conversation during the symposium takes place as a dialogue. An important assumption for the symposium is, that there are no final, all-encompassing answers to what constitutes good education. Consequently, to make the symposium a success, we need to avoid convincing each other of our personal opinions. What is needed, is a dialogue. Dialogue is not about critiquing each other’s viewpoints, but about asking questions, and opening up our minds and hearts to understand the ideas of others, constantly looking for ‘free space’ in the conversation from which new insights can emerge.

In order for us, all participants included, to arrive at new insights and/or new existential questions we would like to encourage participants to participate with an open mindset. And to pay attention to, to be aware of, how one pays attention to others and to what one will experience. We strongly recommend participants to watch the 8 minute clip of Otto Scharmer in which he connects leadership to four levels of listening.

Another important assumption for this symposium, is, that a dialogue starts from real-life examples. This is why each session starts with an example of education practice. We have thoroughly prepared a few cases, by making a short film for three of the four chapters of the symposium.

Chapters of the symposium

The symposium program is divided into four chapters of 2,5 hours each, with the following themes:

1) The (true) nature of teacher-student interaction

2) The (true) nature of teacher education

3) The (true) nature of pedagogical leadership and school development;

4) The (true) nature of enabling educational research (towards a new scientific ethos).

In our discussion of the ‘true nature’ of interaction, teacher training and leadership, we aim for an exploration. ‘True nature’ might suggest that there is a ‘final answer’ to our questions–which we think is not the case. ‘True nature’ is meant to be used here more as a challenge, a metaphor, rather than as a given blueprint.

The first three chapters are each organised in the same way:

  • A short clip and interview on-stage of a specific education practice
  • Dialogue at the tables, each led by a table host
  • Break, during which table hosts and academic experts come together to exchange what has been discussed
  • Reflections by two academic experts with specific expertise
  • End of the day: reflections by three general academic experts and dialogue with all participants

The fourth chapter takes the form of a panel discussion and subsequent dialogue with all participants. Here, each of three invited academic experts will share their views on what has been brought forward during the days, and reflect on what this means for the way research in education could be conducted. Where possible, concrete examples of existing research projects are brought forward.

Role of interviewers and conference host

The general discussion for each chapter is led by two interviewers (Luis Pinto and Hartger Wassink). They introduce the theme of the chapter, interview the practice representatives, lead the discussion of table hosts and experts during the break, and ask questions (if needed) to guide the reflections of the academic experts.

The conference host (Shanti George) leads the general discussion, and takes over from the chapter interviewers for the concluding reflections of the day, when the general academic experts give their reflections and where there is some room for broad dialogue with all participants.