'Another Learning Is Possible: an end to test-driven schooling' Education Conference

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Learning has disappeared from the politicians' lexicon and the political agenda and whilst the headlines are preoccupied with structures and funding, it has recently been left to radial ‘voices off’, from both state (http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/apr/07/alternative-manifestos-aim-influence-politicians-school-plans) and independent sectors to raise questions of pedagogy and ethics in the press. Giving voice to and addressing these concerns a weekend education conference in June has been organised jointly by the University of Winchester and Brockwood Park School.

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"This is a rare opportunity to explore the meaning of real learning with a British audience inundated, as is the USA, by talk of 'standards' rather than understanding" Dr. Eleanor Duckworth

An education conference in the ancient capital of England during the post-election period aims to put learning back on the map. For this June event, the University of Winchester has teamed up with Brockwood Park School to bring to the audience radically different visions of the way our education system could look. Called 'Another Learning is Possible', the conference seeks to expose the damage done by the test-driven schooling promoted by all the major parties in the UK, and by successive governments in their search for international pre-eminence in controversial and recently challenged international league tables and to discuss alternatives. Some of the foremost educational critics from the USA and UK will come together to speak about how policy makers, curriculum planners and above all teachers might redirect educational priorities towards learners who are creative, integrated, thoughtful and motivated.

Forty years and more ago, Britain used to lead the way in progressive school innovation. Now, world-leader Finland plans a learning revolution as it scraps subjects in favour of "phenomenon teachings".Given the success of the Scandinavian powerhouse, has the time come to dust off the progressive 'classics' and explore anew 'enquiry-based learning'?

Among those presenting and leading workshops over the two day conference will be the renowned author, cognitive psychologist and educator (colleague and leading translator of Piaget) Dr. Eleanor Duckworth. She says, "This is a rare opportunity to explore the meaning of real learning with a British audience inundated, as is the USA, by talk of 'standards' rather than understanding". Former senior lecturer in Early Childhood at Winchester, Dr Richard House, said: “Pretty much everyone – except party politicians – knows that the existing schooling system is broken, and the learning paradigm underpinning it totally discredited. This conference is clearly not just about critique but also viable alternatives – and I am personally prepared to pay the conference fee of the new Education Secretary, if s/he will just show up (so costing the tax-payer nothing!). I can think of no better way of spending £?”

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Gopal Krishnamurthy
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