Exciting Teachers’ Minds
30 Nov 2006
The first Exciting Minds Conference offered teachers the chance to find out more about creativity and adventure in the classroom. Martha Hammond went to find out more.
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The Exciting Minds Conference promised to be an event with a difference. However, even knowing this I was surprised upon entering the Central Hall of Manchester’s GMEX centre. A bright yellow carpet was covered with 50 inflatable igloo pods, each of which changed colour every few seconds, making me think I had stepped into a children’s adventure area, not an education conference. Each containing staff from a different creative organisation, these pods hummed with life. Together they formed the Arena’, a creative expo where teachers could meet organisations already working with schools and find out more about the possibilities for creative learning.
This dynamic marketplace of opportunities was the first of its kind in the world; set up to show teachers how limitless the possibilities for learning are. It was organised by the Government’s Creative Partnership’s scheme, as part of their first national conference– a two day gathering which offered teachers a chance to find out more about the importance of creative learning and get ideas and resources to help them make their classrooms’ more adventurous.
Speakers at the conference included Chief Inspector for Ofsted, Christine Gilbert and Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport– who opened the conference by announcing a new major government investment into two education programmes run by The Royal Shakespeare Company and The Sage, Gateshead. There was plenty of opportunity for discussion, with themed panels on a wide range of topics as well as sharing sessions where conference-goers could talk about the creative methods their already using. “I’m glad that I’m not alone in wanting to make lessons more adventurous and less didactic.” Commented one participant, ” I feel reinvigorated now to go back and really try to make changes.”
Children and young people also played a big part in making the conference a success. Pupils from primary and secondary schools in Manchester and Salford developed their journalistic and photographic skills in preparation for their work at Exciting Minds. At the conference one group of pupils interviewed the key speakers– including Tessa Jowell, building their confidence in interviewing and public speaking. Another group drew inspiration from the theme Home Life, Our Local Area, School and Manchester City Centre’, taking photographs of their surrounding which were then made into postcards for the conference delegates.
Speaking about these young peoples’ contribution Claire Morris, Creative Programmer at Creative Partnerships said; Their images vary hugely in terms of subject and technique– from photos of brightly coloured toilet seats to pictures of family pets and melting’ stairways! Hundreds of teachers and conference delegates will see their diverse photographs and the young people have a right to be very proud of themselves for creating and selecting their very own exhibition which gives insight into their daily lives from their own perspectives.’
To find out more contact: www.creative-partnerships.com
Photo ©: Barry Lewis/Andy Aitchison
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