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. 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 Read More …

Ready to Learn – Taking the First Step

‘Oh I was just wondering have you got a moment, I just want to ask you about something‘ she had arrived at NCI reception and they suggested I might meet with her. ‘No problem at all‘ I assured her while thinking how much I had to do that afternoon. Five minutes later she sat in my office. She was very nervous and I thought I noticed a slight trembling in her voice. Her name was Susan. ‘It’s like this‘ she said ‘I was thinking of doing a course here but I am not sure if I’d be able for it‘. She went on to tell me her story. She left school at sixteen without a Leaving Cert. She worked in the retail sector for the last twenty five years and now she is a manager. She is married with three kids and two of them are in college. She reads a lot and is well liked by her colleagues. Generally, she’s happy. But there’s always been a niggle. An unease and sense of being often left out, ignored and taken-for-granted. ‘Sure what would Susan know‘ she once overheard a younger colleague remark. Susan explained that she has been thinking about Read More …

Problem Based Learning

     Students from the Post Graduate Diploma and Masters in Learning and Teaching participating in a Problem Based Learning Workshop in the Centre for Research and Innovation in Learning and Teaching at National College of Ireland This year we are running a new course at National College of Ireland – the Post-Graduate Diploma and MA in Learning and Teaching.  I am course director for this course and I present a module on Theories of Learning and Cognition. We have a core of sixteen students with some additional attendees from the PhD course and faculty development.  The students come from a wide variety of backgrounds with one thing in common – a passion and commitment for learning and education. We used an instructional approach know as Problem-Based Learning (PBL) as a means of integrating the three semester one modules on Theories of Learning, Research Methods and Philosophy of Education. PBL was structured around a series of workshops on Tuesday evenings and Saturdays.  My colleague Rachel Doherty from the School of Business organised the students in groups to complete a series of authentic tasks. In the first exercise the group tasks were to compose and present a series of student induction presentations Read More …

Seminar on the Pedagogy of Messy Play

Each Friday during term we hold professional development seminars for faculty and staff at NCI. These events focus on learning, teaching and research and we always have interesting and engaging topics. Today, our colleague Catriona Flood from the Early Learning Initiative at NCI presented a seminar on the pedagogy of messy play. During the summer a number of messy play sessions were organised by the ELC and children and parents from our hinterland attended.  The kids got stuck in so to speak and often when we looked out our windows into the enclosed garden at the college we were treated to the sight of a multitude of little ones splashing, banging, playing with sand, glup, paint and ‘coloured stuff’.  Yes generally making a mess! One might ask – is this really learning?  Yes it is and it is in its purest form.  The natural instincts for inquiry, socialising and ‘messing’ with the environment are fundamental for development and growth of thinking skills.  Catriona’s presentation focused on the principles of early school education and the thinking behind each of the play activities.  Participants at the seminar were also treated to some messy play objects which they duly played with. Subsequently the Read More …

Ian Paisley Comes to NCI

Dr Ian Paisley arrived at National College of Ireland as part of the Legends in Your Lunchtime series. The idea is a series radio interviews with famous people recorded in front of an audience at the college. Newstalk and Metro partner with NCI for these events. Paisley can still attract a crowd. I have to say I have very mixed feelings about Paisley. Like many people who lived in the Republic throughout the troubles I regarded Paisley as the epitome of unionist intransigence. No one can say for certain but fixed and extreme views on both sides meant that a resolution came about only after many, many more years than necessary. Paisley must shoulder his share of responsibility for this. Still, as I sat near the front of the lecture theatre, I could not help but be taken in by the warm, affable manner of the 82 year old Paisley. George Hook as the interviewer is old enough to remember how in the bad old days Paisley used to storm out of TV studios if he did not like the question or the tone of the interviewer. George sat stern faced in the lead up and I wondered if he’d Read More …