Last weekend Mr Fothergill and I abandoned our knowledge-thirsty students in favour of attending one of this year’s most anticipated and talked about festivals. However this was a festival with a difference. No glow sticks, whistles or bikini-clad ladies crushing their poor boyfriend’s shoulders whilst listening to their favourite bands. Instead, The Festival of Education is a collection of tweed-loving educationalists who just want to talk about improving teaching (however, when Mr F rocked up twenty minutes late to my house wearing shorts, a straw cowboy hat and cradling a can of Carling at 6:40 am, I suddenly got the feel that he was hoping to see McBusted).
Furthermore, to add to the overall geekiness of this so-called festival, instead of being located in a quagmire in the middle of nowhere, we were in fact in Hogwarts – this is not hyperbolic at all. Google ‘Wellington College’ and prepare to be amazed by images of whomping willows and half the England U18 rugby team playing quidditch in CCF uniforms on Wednesday afternoons.
Throughout the festival, many teachers and academics offered exceptional ideas and enlightened perspectives on how to improve education. From futuristic 3D printers to using The Simpsons to teach simultaneous equations, wherever you looked there was someone talking about something very interesting who had done it and bought the T-shirt, offering sage and helpful advice.
One particular highlight of the weekend was our final workshop. Mr F and I sat in a cramped tent on space-hopper chairs and discussed the purpose of education with some very intelligent and pleasant people. However, what was extremely interesting was that no one could really formulate and express with clarity what our opinion was. Was it to inspire a love of learning? Was it to ensure that students are fully prepared for the challenges ahead when they leave school? Was it to make people cleverer? Was it to enjoy mocking Hobbit-like teachers?
Therefore, I ask of you dear students to offer your own thoughts on the purpose of education and explain the important reasons you come to school. In your opinion, is it just to acquire new knowledge and skills? Or is there an additional function to schooling? Your responses in the ‘comments’ section below would be very much appreciated and I look forward to hearing them.
(Actual scenes from the Festival of Education when teachers and academics were discussing exam reforms)