Essential Questions for Educators Everywhere

Essential Questions for Educators Everywhere’ is a summer course over five days at National College of Ireland in association with Mercy College New York between the 26th – 30th  June 2017 .

As the title suggests, the goal is to interrogate essential ideas that underpin our understanding and practice of what it means to teach and learn in the world of today.

You can get further details at www.eqfee.org

The programme is designed for qualified and aspiring learning professionals in areas such as early childhood education, schools, further education, college, university and adult learning settings.eqfee-001

Through debate, discussion and critical dialogue, participants will explore issues such as the nature of learning, the purpose of schooling, the goals of lifelong learning, the qualities of teaching, and the relationship between democracy and education. These questions are relevant for teachers everywhere – regardless of country or context – all the more so for the changing times we live in. The history and evolution of Irish education, including the influence and involvement of religious institutions will also be explored. Participants will be encouraged to ask questions, compare systems and discuss alternatives throughout.

As teachers everywhere, we have much in common and it is natural to ask what makes us teachers. Participation in this summer school will consolidate our professional thinking and address core questions that concern us all.

These are challenging times for educators everywhere. Teachers, professors and learning professionals are more and more, being subjected to external forces and manipulative expectations. Every educator will understand the nature of learning. It is a complex, gradual, often challenging and always unique process. It is built on a framework of communication and support, it relies on natural empathy and it is rooted in the ideals of social justice and democratic participation.

At the heart of the student-teacher relationship is the intellectually intimate process of making learning happen. This is what educators do.

There are as many paths to learning as their are people. Great educators help others to find their path; this is true for early childhood educators, school teachers, college lecturers and learning professionals everywhere.

Learning has been such a potent force in society that it has always been politicised and protected by the powerful elite. We have seen this in the past when institutions of learning were set up as extensions of the state and when literacy and access to literature was confined to the privileged few.

The situation today is not much better. There is progress toward universal access to school, college and university education. However, there are also counter-educative forces at work: the dysfunctional view of education as a service that can only justified on the basis of the need to satisfy the labour market; the de-humanisation of education through micro-management of outcomes and ‘one size fits all’ approaches; the power to buy privilege and manipulate perceptions of quality through league tables and conformist media.

All the while, educators are tossed and turned. As a teacher I know describes: “It’s like being a bottle in the sea during a storm. Wave after wave of change and expectation coming from outside the classroom”.  It seems to never stop. We do not get a chance to take ‘time out’ and think about what it really beans to be an educator. This is why we have developed a summer course called ‘Essential Questions for Educators Everywhere‘.

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