Saturday, 7 May 2011

cefpi - working together

This weekend I am in New York meeting with representatives of the senior leadership in the cepfi organisation (Council of Education Facility Planners International). This is on behalf of a group of people in the UK. I know some of the cefpi team quite well having attended their World Conferences over the past three years, but haven't really had time to meet, work, socialise and just laugh with them before - normally they are all too busy doing conference 'stuff'.

It is truly fab to meet up with people in the US who are determined to improve learning opportunities and environments for students, bring people together whilst sharing their work and research. This group work relentlessly through the year round and have activities happening all round the US. Their work and findings has relevance to other countries and organisations. Equally, we have learnt loads in the UK (and continue to learn) over recent years about approaches to pedagogy, future thinking, impact of environment on attainment and so much more. In some schools, the now stopped BSF programme, encouraged the most professional conversations about the future of learning that teachers and other staff have had for years.
One question is; how often do we share our education research, ideas, good practice and 'lessons learnt' with other countries? Claiming that education systems are different, many plod on working in silos doing what they know or replicating what they did. There is increasing amounts of research - if people have the time to look. There are a range of voices (often individuals) working extremely hard spreading a variety of messages about the future of education. Interesting photographs are shared at conferences, (often the same photos!), but with reducing budgets in the UK, fewer people will be able to attend them, and when they do, even fewer effectively share any key points. It frequently becomes personal knowledge rather than shared. It would be just brilliant if there was much more of a global 'joined up' approach and centralised network of information. Doesn't it make sense?
Our conversations this weekend have been wide ranging, covering environments, sharing good practice, lessons learnt, the use of technology, team working, networking but also ways of engaging with more people.
I think this is really important, as I know do many others. Learning will never stop, approaches to teaching will continue to develop, and education facilities will always be needed around the world. People and communities have different expertise and experiences - but when they want to find out more on a specific aspect why don't we work and learn from each other, no matter where they are. A global rather than parochial approach. I am NOT advocating a single approach to learning or facilities, every community and culture is different. However different aspects of research, pedagogy, 'lessons learnt' and thinking would be of interest to different people. It seems quite obvious.
There will be more news arising from this meeting with a followup meeting planned soon. As they say: 'Watch this space!"
(Gareth will be speaking during this years cefpi Annual World Conference in Nashville in September 2011 in a joint presentation with Alison Watson of 'Class of your Own').

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