Tuesday was a semi-structured trip around the conference. I started by watching opening speaker Adrian Underhill's brilliant session (CLICK HERE OR SCROLL DOWN FOR FULL PLENARY SESSION), on 'difficulties and mess', bookended by the two 'songs'. 'Difficulties' are problems which are essentially solvable while messes are more complex, ambiguous and uncertain (see slide on right). They are subsequently harder to resolve. He interconnected three areas: systems thinking, post-historic leadership and learning at the organistion and individual level. He noted at the beginning that the conference was going from 'Sting to Fish with us inbetween', so it was appropriate that he bookended his speech with two 'songs' - one was a poem by Portia Nelson - Autobiography in 5 short chapters and the other was the brilliant 'Reflective Practice Blues' (see below). This was an amusing and timely contribution to my current thinking considering my upcoming essay on that very topic.
I stayed in the Clyde Auditorium, a.k.a. The Armadillo, for the chronically undersupported Hornby Scholars presentation, faciltated by Martin Wedell (Leeds University). It was a shame that the venue 's size made it seem like no-one was interested to hear the experiences of ELT work in very different contexts across the globe. My fellow Warwick MA students, Mala Palani Palanichamy (India - see video below), Yohana Gratiana (Indonesia) and Getachew Melaku Yitbarek (Ethiopia) all spoke very eloquently and I recorded the whole presentation. Scott Thornbury attended the session, however, and here is Scott being interviewed in the SECC, by Seth Dickens, in which he says the best thing he had seen to that point was the Hornby Scholar presentation:
Here is Mala Palani Palanichamy, the first of the Hornby Scholars to speak in the Clyde Auditorium. In the presentation she makes reference to 'servant leadership', comparing this with something that Adrian Underhill talked about in his plenary session:
Getachew and Awgichew Arega Adebe, also from Ethiopia also presented. Click below for this video:
They were later interviewed by Andi White for the British Council Online Sessions. Link below:
Interview with Hornby scholars: Awgichew Arega and Getachew Melaku Yitbarek (Ethiopia) | Glasgow Online
After leaving 'The Armadillo', I grabbed a coffee in the exhibition hall, now fully set up with publishers and employers. I ventured into the Jobs Market stall to see what was on offer and made some notes about potential employers, such as Zayed University, with a view to return with my CV.
I bumped into some familiar faces at NILE and, directly opposite, Bell International. At the former a promotional video for a new building purchase in Upper St Giles, Norwich, was being shown. I met up with Maria Heron and Carole Robinson, who was one of my Celta trainers. At the latter, Sarah Blackburn was busy dishing out sweets as an incentive to sign up for young learner summer placement of closed courses in the winter. I also met Chris Warren of online teaching resource company Teachitworld and brother of my Warwick tutor, Tilly Harrison.
Over in Lomond, I went to see Jim Scrivener, milking sympathy for an arm injury which didn't seem to affect his performance much. He gave a very coherent argument for active intervention and 'demand-high teaching' - a concept he is working on with Adrian Underhill. Jim feels that teachers have misunderstood or lost their way with the humanistic message which he explains in the British Council Glasgow Online interview with Nik Peachey and Kirsteen Donaghy. He went over some techniques, such as being a 'devil's advocate' in the class, a technique I, for one, already employ. I agreed a lot with what he had to say and promised myself to get to his post-session chat in the Crowne Plaza hotel with Adrian Underhill about the topic - which I did on Thursday evening albeit for 20 minutes only. As a very experienced writer and observer of the ELT classroom teacher, he has unquestionable knowledge. I would later catch up with him in person for a follow-up and to declare an interest - he works with Bell - I have seen him at Bedgebury, Kent. Nik Peachey also works for Bell on a freelance trainer basis. Nik was employed predominantly to be an interviewer on the fabulous British Council Glasgow Online website.
|Jim Scrivener on 'Demand High Teaching'|
I was already riding high on the rush of meeting some famous names - authors whose books I read and been inspired by in the last few years - and feeling very stimulated at this conference. This feeling continued when I met another NILE employee, Jamie Keddie, of Lessonstream.org, for the first time. I ended up filming his session on the story of Debbie and Cara, using his video camera.
I spent the evening at the Hunterian Museum, the oldest public museum in Scotland, courtesy of Collins publishing. Although a full page advert at the back of the conference had advertised a 'shindig' it was more of a gathering. Still, can't knock free wine or 14 year old boys playing with their pipes. There I met up with Maria Heron and Carole Robinson from NILE, where I completed my Celta qualification three years ago this week.
|with Maria Heron and Carole 'Anne' Robinson|
ADRIAN UNDERHILL'S PLENARY SESSION IN FULL*
(*MINUS THE LAST SONG WHICH WAS CUT):