Aims of the Festival

The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas aims to re-establish the importance of dangerous ideas as agents of change in education – to shift the axis of what is possible! It is for everyone who is passionate about education including college, university, school staff and students as well as those engaged in education throughout the creative communities.

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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Emporium of Dangerous Ideas

And so the finale to the 'festival' arrived with the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas. This event was about sharing the initial discoveries of the festival and an opportunity for merchants to persuade participants with their dangerous ideas.

David Cameron introduced the event and reminded participants that this was an opportunity to challenge ourselves, and our way of  regarding education. 

Karen Lawson gave an overview of the festival achievements so far 30 events, almost half delivered by partner orgnaisations. over 1000 people attending from Thurso to Ayr and 3 college regions deliver events as part of their merger strategy.  Karen also gave an overview of some of the major themes arising from festival events so far:

1. Without Walls: both metaphorical and physical walls that constrain how we provide learning opportunities.  This could be outdoor learning, gaming and also the walls we create that restrict our thinking and ability to be creative in practice.
2. The focus on employability and essential skills - should we now be focussing on the skills young people need to be employers, to be able to create, innovate and manage  their lives.
3. The need for youth work skills training for all teachers and lecturers - how to engage with young people and keep the passion for young people's potential alive.
4. What success and failure mean, and an assessment system and assessment criteria that limit learning.
5. Our own personal and professional power to take risks, try out new ideas - not waiting for permission, but also the type of leadership that builds on peoples capacity to innovate.

 Gillian Hunt from  City of Edinburgh Council and Diarmuid McAuliffe for UWS gave overviews of their events and why they had become involved in the festival.  Gillian talked openly about the taboo subject of touching children and the interest that the event had created, while Diarnuid discussed the intervention of walking, drawing and extending sites of learning as necessary to counteract learning in isolation and in silos.

We had two rounds of dynamic trading from a very mixed group of merchants (see Merchant's Guide) and photos who persuaded and exchanged ideas for dangerous dollars.

The winners from the Merchants were Sense over Sectarinism, Rownbank Environment Education
and Angus College.

One of the highlights of this year's festival was A Walk On the Wildside and Creative leaders for the walk, Paul Gorman gave a challenging account of what was dangerous about the walk and challenged us as participants to think differently and creatively., while Matthew Sowerby shared  his first attempts at making a film about the walk  - See Walk On the Wildside  blog for further Information.

The finale to the day at the Emporium came with the auction of dangerous ideas:

1.    I'm no doing nothin for nothin - student volunteers. 39/42 volunteered. If you perform so well doing something for nothing imagine how good you'll be when you're paid
2.    People can get stuck in their old ways - put into action in self-directed support
3.    Ideas go - platform for your ideas and place to ask for resources. Can put ideas in by categories, use a map.  Could be a collaborative process. Flexible tool.
4.    F... the Timetable Friday (FTTF)- children enter primary as the most excited and creative beings. By time they leave school/college we've kicked that out if them. We're still preparing children for the 18th century.  Trust lecturers, don't give schedule, give time and space.
5.    Inter generational change - we're headed for an inter generational conflict. Middle generation hold the power - it should be the young and old who make the decisions together, take the risks.
6.    College? - free app called strava (?)  Record a journey as you're on it. Physical and internal journey.
7.    Imagination gyms - a workout for the mind. Look for innovation and enterprise but we don't work our imagination to enable us to do it.  15 minute workouts built in to the curriculum.
8.    Pilot your own spaceship - you've got to believe in young people for them to believe in themselves. Imagine and pilot the spaceship. Imagine outside of the ordinary. A spaceship designed for what you are about. Creative skills, imagination.   
9.    Coursemaster - we currently have hugely difficult system to get people into college. Like ticketmaster
10. Gardening - invite retired people to work with children on allotments. Young and old.
11. The answer to good experiences - he has the answer but he needs the dollars to reveal it.

The winners were FTTF and using the Strava App. 

The Emporium was an excellent event for rounding off what had been a dynamic festival, where not only had there been plenty of ideas generated, but also a willingness and energy for putting ideas into practice.

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