Scottish Learning Festival

Included in the the sesions I attended was the keynote speech by Fiona Hyslop MSP Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning in which she outlined the central role of learning in supporting the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives. Of particular interest was that of a mention of Information Literacy skills and Dundee Librarians creating a community of Information Literacy skills in her speach in reference to examples of joined up working and GLOW.

She spoke quite a bit about GLOW (a national digital network for Scottish Schools) and referred to it as a truely innovative service on a national basis, recognised by George Lucas who was calling on US Congress to do the same. (Laurie O’Donnell, director of learning and technology at Learning and Teaching Scotland, was named as one of the George Lucas Educational Foundation’s “global six”. Each year, the film-maker’s foundation honours six educationalists who it believes are “reshaping education”. O’Donnell was honoured for his use of information technology.)

With reference to the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) she said it was skills for learning, skills for life, beyond curricular into life and that there was still much to do: assessments; skills development; professional development for teachers.

In the afternoon I attended a thought provoking session by Ruth Sutton entitled “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it…that’s what gets results” she talked about ‘not the what but the how of teaching’ and that there was ‘not enough focus on the how’ and that there was an ‘enourmous gap between vision and reality’. She also talked about initiatives and spining or weaving plates and that from a personal perspective ‘nothing that we identify as best practice is entirely new’.

With reference to research and practitioners – she talked about ‘how do we get the water to the end of the furrow’ which I though was a good analogy for getting research out into practice something which the library and information profession research community has looked at. On Assessments – Assesment for Learning (AfL) was more like Assessment for Teachers however teachers that support Assessment for Learning would not go back. Also there needed to be a move from ‘plan for coverage to planning for learning’.

She talked a little about Limbic Learning (a new term for me) which is all about using the part of the brain which deals with emotion, experiences and habits – helps the telling into habits from knowing into doing. According to Sutton Limbic Learning is the key to challenge traditional approach to teachers’ professional development. Returning to the how not the what she said that Curriculum for Excellence needs to be defined as the how not the what.

The afternoon’s keynote Reforming the High School Curriculum: Tools for Raising Quality of Learning and Improving Equity, Richard Teese, Professor of Post Compulsory Education Training and Director of the Centre for Post Compulsory Education and Lifelong Learning, University of Melbourne. He sees CfE as far sighted and ambitious and that it will tax Scottish schools on two major fronts: how to raise the quality of learning of many students and how to ensure that all young people build well on a succesful experience of school. He says progress on both these fronts will require strong incentives. His keynote included identifying some of the key challenges for Scotland in the context of CfE.

My final session of the day was Real and Relevant – Information Literacy Skills for the 21st century Learner Louise Ballantyne, Development Officer, Literacy, Learning and Teaching Scotland. According to her biography ‘Louise has a broad experience of teaching at different stages throughout the primary school. Most recently at LTS she has played a key role in the writing of Literacy and English outcomes for CfE, and has engaged with authorities across Scotland as to how to take the framework forward.’ I was particulalry interested in hearing what Louise had to say about information literacy as the Seminar Description refered to ‘the Curriculum for Excellence experiences and outcomes direct practitioners to help learners find and use information effectively, to use information ethically and with a critical eye.’ Whilst what Louise was saying with reference to information literacy was not new to school librarians and those professionals involved in information literacy it was interesting and good to hear a teacher talk about information literacy. Once finished her material will I understand be available on the CfE website. I also understand that one of the school librarian GLOW mentors approached her about the material being included in GLOW. I hope to meet up with her at a later date and discuss as the seminar describes ‘one of the more challenging areas of Curriculum for Excellence.’ This is the part I like about attending events sharing information with other people.

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