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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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Call out to all educators and creative practitioners interested in transformational change!

Is there an issue you would like to address in order to make a change that will improve outcomes for learners? 
Are you interested in working creatively with educators to improve outcomes for learners? 
For those in an education setting -Scotland's Creative Learning Partnership is offering you a unique opportunity to help you address a challenging issue and make a transformative change. Issues and changes can be at any scale – from classroom-based to whole establishment/learning community. This invitation is open to individuals from all education sectors so there is potential for cross-sectoral partnership working. 
We will help you explore your issue by matching you up with a creative catalyst who will work with you, using creative approaches and coaching techniques, to help you plan and implement your change. 
You are invited to register your interest with us by answering these questions:
  • What is the issue you would like to address?
  • What is the change you would like to make?
  • What is the impact you would like this change to have on learners? 
On receipt of expressions of interest, we will select a number of projects to go forwards to the next stage. If selected, you will be invited to attend an event in Glasgow on 22nd January at which you will be asked to share your issue with a range of creative practitioners (see below) who will, in turn, have the opportunity to present examples of their experiences of working in educational settings to you. 
This pilot project will run from January through to June 2015, with the engagement element taking place from February to May in the form of tailor-made support whereby creative practitioners will be matched with education challenges at and following the January event. You will be expected to document your learning and experiences as your project progresses using film, voice recordings, visuals, etc. and you will be invited to participate in a final event to share your learning as part of the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, June 2015. 
Please register your interest by Wednesday 14 Januaryby emailing your response to the three questions above to:
Karen Lawson, Advisor, College Development Network: 

Creative catalysts/coaches - Do you have experience of working in educational settings to apply coaching style creative approaches to solve problems or challenges?

Selected creative practitioners and educators will be invited to come together to attend an event in Edinburgh On 22nd January. At this ‘marketplace’ event educators will be asked to present their issue and creative practitioners will be invited to share examples of their experiences of working in educational settings in order to identify good matches.

As the Creative Change challenges will each require a tailor made response, funding for creative catalysts’ input will be awarded on a project by project basis.
 Please register your interest by Wednesday 14 January, by emailing your response to the questions above, to Stephen Bullock, Development Officer - Creativity, Education Scotland:

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Creativity and Empowerment - do teams benefit from disruption?

It’s great to see The Disruption Innovation Festival curated by the Ellen McArthur Foundation taking off.  Colin Webster  facilitated some great workshops as part of the first Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, and really helped shape thinking around the circular economy.   Good luck for the coming three weeks.
It was quite by co-incidence that I came across the festival on the same day as I was reading a wonderful paper on  'Value Creation:  Disruption and Empowerment  to support Creativity in-the-Wild', sent to me by one of the authors, Alison Williams. The title alone contains many of my favourite words!  I was particularly struck by the issue around the role of disruption in teams and how the team’s creative response can be predicated to some extent by the level of empowerment experienced by the team: “when the team perceives itself to be empowered – either by its manager or by itself – then the opportunities afforded by the disruption are perceived and can acted upon. This leads to flow and increased levels of creativity an performance:.. a creative cycle.”  The opposite would appear to be true in that a team that is not regarded by itself or a manager as empowered," the affordances of disruption are disregarded or unseen, leading to stasis with decreased levels of creativity and performance: a degenerative cycle”.
At a time of great upheaval in the college sector, and the public services in general I wonder how much teams are supported to use the prevailing disruptions as a purposeful means of generating creative ideas?  Is there a tendency to avoid or suppress disruption resulting in ‘groupthink’ and where “politeness [driven by fear] seems to reinforce rule-following behaviour.”
Trust would seem to be a key factor in determining how a team responds to disruption, along with the ability to have open, honest conversations and a shared vision.

I’m interested in your experiences in teams and whether the idea of the disruptive and empowering space is one we should be exploring next year’s Emporium. If so, how could we do that?

Please click on the link below to read Alison Williams’ full article.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Power to create – the power to act

 All human being can be the creators of their own lives?
Matthew Taylor, CEO of the RSA  give a powerful and convincing overview of the RSA’s vision last night as the  annual conference in Scotland.  What was particularly striking was the synergy between the RSA’s aspirations and those of both the Scottish Creative Learning Partnership and The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas

Matthew concisely drew attention to a number of reasons that creativity is vital, now more than ever, but he also focused on some of the barriers (some will be  familiar).

He argued that everyone has a right to live a creative life:

  1. People have a desire to be creative, and many make sacrifices in order to be involved in work that is focused more on self-actualisation, social good,  than economic security.
  2. With technology, particularly the social web we are able to develop our capacity: creating, collaborating, sharing.
  3. There is a growing demand for creativity e.g.  limited resources in public services demand we create different solutions; environmental challenges need different solutions.


  1. Continued type of elitism, with only certain people regarded as ‘creative’, causing divisions between people in education and work etc.
  2. Institutions have remained largely hierarchical with little opportunities for creativity.  There is little openness, trust and a firm belief that those at the top have the highest value ideas.  Need a different type of leadership.
  3. Policy is made by technocrats, rather than civic engagement that informs policy.  Policy only works when people are involved and see themselves as change makers.

Matthew was clear that creativity needs to be at the heart of all policy, and in particular education.

The RSA Scotland is keen to take part in next year’s Emporium.  How do we make the most of their willingness to engage with us?   

Click on the link below to watch a five minute RSA short describing the ’ Power To Create’ in more detail.  There is also a longer version of Matthew’s speech on the RSA website.


Monday, 6 October 2014

Emancipatory Education?

The real guardians of progress are the not the politicians at Westminster, or even at Holyrood, but the energised activism of tens of thousands of people who I predict will refuse meekly to go back into the political shadow.” Alex Salmond, Friday 19th September, 2014, Sunday Herald

Whether you voted yes or no, arguably we have moved into a new era in Scotland, where people have demonstrated their willingness and ability to become educated on the matters that they feel passionate about. Whether this is by traditional media, social media, lectures, books, papers vast numbers of people took ownership of their learning and made a choice about what was important to them. 

But did they all?  Were there some who lacked the skills to find appropriate information, the skills to decipher and critically assess that information?   What was the role of the educators?

Are we moving into a reshaping of the education system where there is an emphasis on self-directed learning , with educators taking on a more facilitative role?  Is there an emphasis on skills for work, without skills for active participation for life? 
Will learners go back meekly into the classroom and become receivers of education or take an energised active role shaping their education, and what does this mean for educators from across the board?

Where does learning really occur and how can we make more creative use of the public and virtual spaces we  inhabit?

What is your dangerous idea for education? Get in touch if you would like to create an event for the Emporium.

Join us for the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, where we will be discussing these questions and more (June 9th-19th).  
Launch: Govanhill Baths , Glasgow (TBC), 9th June

Speakers for the Emporium so far include: David Price, author of Open: how we will work, live and learn in the future and Colin Jones, University of Tasmania and advocate of emancipatory education.

Monday, 8 September 2014

You teach who you are?

Education conferences can be a bit of a mixed bag, but invariably you learn something. Rather than just adding to the range of teaching methodologies, the best speakers question the nature and purpose of education, including the role of the teacher/lecturer. I recently attended an education conference in Newcastle, and two speakers stood out, ultimately because they challenged the orthodoxy of educational institutions as the disseminators of knowledge,and their genuine interest in the promotion of authentic learning experiences for young people.

Both David Price, author of 'Open', championed by Ken Robinson, and Colin Jones, from the Innovation Research Dept. in the University of Tasmania, argued that the nature of technology and changing work patterns mean that learners have different needs for social and borderless learning where there is a predominance of challenge, fun and collegiality. No longer will the lecturer be the director of learning, the holder of knowledge, based in a static institution. For both these speakers there has been a shift from pedagogy to andragogy to heutagogy.  

Colin Jones, in explaining his emancipatory approach to education pedagogy asks us educators about the following:
Who decides?
  1. Learning outcomes
  2. Content
  3. Learning activities
  4. Nature and application of assessment
  5. Timing of all learning processes
Colin inspired us by asking great questions. 
How engaged are your students? What type of emancipatory behaviours should educators use?
I particularly liked this question from jeans and tee-shirt clad Colin "Do you need to dress up to look as if you have authority, and you also need to stand at the front of the class?" 

He also asked us questions he asks of his learners. What is your purpose? If you can't figure out your purpose, figure out your passion, for your passion will lead you directly to your purpose. Always start with your passion. His emphasis was on developing and encouraging curiosity in students, and supporting them to be more self-directed.

What does this mean for educators? For me, it means teaching from the side, helping students and staff to create challenging and authentic learning experiences, encouraging them to learn what they are passionate about and engaging with them in different places, at different times and through different means.

Many of the lecturers present at the conference were less than happy about this vision of the future preferring the institutionally based learning and a traditional pedagogical approach.One asked Colin about the work/life balance which could be in jeopardy from emailing students at different times of the day and evening. His reply was "you teach who you are" - it suited him but individual lecturers would have to find their own style. 

Do you know what you are passionate about, do you teach who you are?

Both David and Colin have been asked to participate in next year's Emporium of Dangerous Ideas.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Could The Emporium Be a Micro-brewery?

The Emporium will shortly reopen as we start to plan next year’s extravaganza.  Though it’s a loose sort of plan, never really knowing what will happen and what key themes will emerge.   At the moment all we know is that it will happen in June, and we need to keep it dangerous. Please use this forum to highlight the issues and ideas that matter to you, as this keeps the events relevant and meaningful.
We are still working on both the evaluations and creating a virtual tour where you will be able to access some of the videos and materials  that were produced over the two weeks. Already we have a sense of how important the concept of the Emporium is and some of the comments are outlined below: 

·         The concept captures the imagination, making you feel empowered, liberated and that anything is possible.
·         Great concept, brilliant to keep pushing forward with education and to keep encouraging creativity, also great to offer inspiration and motivation for people working in the sector
·         It gives you ‘permission’ to try things in a new way, and the guts to talk about things that are often taboo – it’s unique, refreshing and vital for the sector
·         It’s a much needed concept which should enable the education sector and beyond to challenge their understanding of current and planned practice

This is at the heart of the Emporium; the need to challenge orthodoxy, whether this is in practice or in policy.  However, the Emporium is only open in June and we need to ensure that this ethos or spirit exists throughout the year, particularly in light of the national frenzy around employability and the development of initiatives that will embed the employability skills into all areas of the school and college curriculum.  At the same time we also have a national agenda for developing the creativity skills of all young people.  So we now have to evidence how we are promoting and embedding the development and value of creative skills​ within the context of the employability.
This has an impact on the professional development (CPD) offered in schools and colleges and on those who manage it. A concern highlighted in numerous conversations is that a managerialist and reductionist approach could become prevalent resulting in a series of limited CPD offerings, with traditional pedagogical approaches on  how to embed creativity and employability into the curriculum, paradoxically further diminishing the creativity of teachers/lecturers and the innate creativity and passions of learners.  Much could also be said about the dominance of a discourse that infers that the reasons young people are not in employment is due to their lack of ‘employability skills’ rather than focussing on  the economic system, and the privileging of a   curriculum which prioritises subjects that are deemed to be relevant to the current employment , but that will be for a future debate.
As someone, whose  raison d’etre  is to lead and support professional development, with a particular focus on creativity I’m been reflecting on my own learning and development , and what this means for the coming academic year, and more particularly for the Emporium.  Last week I met up with Paul Gorman from Hidden Giants, ostensibly to reflect on some of the Emporium events and also consider some changes to another leadership programme we work on together. As with all good, enriching conversations we meandered from one subject to another, until Paul told me about his current interest in micro-breweries. He knew little more than I did (though he had a book), but was both curious and intrigued by micro-brewers’ ability to create a range of diverse, specialist beers that appealed to an equally diverse and discerning customer.   Perhaps we both just liked the quote from the book 'I always saw CAMRA (campaign for real ales) as political, as a radical movement, challenging entrenched and powerful interests' ( Christopher Hutt, 2013). This sparked off the most wonderful of conversations about teaching/lecturing as a micro-brewery activity.  It was fantastical, imaginative and challenging.  It made me reassess all the recent creativity workshops I had delivered, with a consideration that all I had been offering was a Tennents Special approach (apologies to Tennents).   Was I focusing my teaching on fixed notions of creativity, and whose interests were being served? Could I have  supported each individual to develop their own sense of creativity in how they approached their teaching practice.  I could tell you more, but it’s Paul’s idea, his creativity and his exploration – I’m just nicking a bit.

Conversations like this are vital, to not only  the development of creativity in learning, but also the personal and professional development of  practitioners. They are born out of trust, a willingness to be challenged, to take risks, to consider that we can all learn from one another.  There is a joy in sharing ideas, building on those ideas, watching them flourish, whilst also knowing they may not actually go anywhere.   Even if Paul doesn't take forward his micro-brewery approach to creative learning, my ideas have changed, my understanding of my practice has developed and I feel that I have been part of a creative process.  Was this a nationally, validated and certificated CDP session organised by my HR department? No. Could the Emporium become a micro-brewery of creative learning next year?  Let me know what you think, while I nip off to visit Leith’s micro-brewery, all in the name of research. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

Starcatchers at the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas - Short Film

Starcatchers was invited to take part in the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas 2014, hosting an event Beyond Hand Painting on 12 June at Platform exploring the idea that not all arts activities are created equal.

The day was spent playing and learning and the afternoon feeding back to the group about the morning session. It was great fun, and more importantly evoked an enthusiastic response from everyone that attended!

View here for Stracatchers short film of the day. Thank you to Starcatchers for providing us with the footage.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Emporium Photographs Now Available

Photographs from the two week Emporium are now available and can be viewed on the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas facebook page.


Thursday, 19 June 2014

Emporium Finale

The last day of the Emporium took place today at The Kelpies.  Some of the photos below:

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance"

That was perhaps the best quote from a day packed with creating ideas that will ensure that education is not going to kill creativity and enterprise. It’s a challenge to sum up the energy and vitality of  the day, but here are some of the highlights!

Jamie Cooke from RSA provided an eloquent and thought-provoking account of the RSA’s tradition of funding enterprise and innovation through a focus on disruption and creativity, giving the resurgence of the premium (a public prize for innovation) as one it’s recent endeavours.  He gave a clear context for the RSA’s interest in creativity – 53,000 young people not in work or education – we need to encourage ‘the power to create’ as creativity is without a doubt our most important resource. For Jamie it was clearly a move from employability to enterprise.
Brian Humphrey, Innovation Manager, Skills Development Scotland
 provided with us a fascinating overview of what is happening elsewhere in Europe, where unemployment figures for young people have not hit the dizzying heights of the UK. He focussed on comparisons with Switzerland, Germany and Norway where there is a greater emphasis on vocation education and being able to make greater choices of where you study at an earlier age.  There appears to be greater fluidity in the other European models and more parity of esteem between academic and vocational routes with employers  much more engaged in the curriculum design as well as delivery. 
Brian also talked about the focus on STEM subjects and of course made reference to the Wood Report and the Government’s focus on encouraging growth in the sciences.  There was a sense that we need to consider what jobs there are going to be for young people on leaving education, and perhaps guide young people earlier into potential growth areas.  However, this immediately raises a conflict with encouraging young people to ‘find their passion’ and develop their creativity.  One participant wrote “STEM is important but it is not the only growth sector. To write off the creative industries is to wrote off £54 billion into the economy. How about  expending energy into linking STEM with the creative industries?”
If Jamie and Brian provided a wider context for the day, perhaps illustrating the struggle between agendas on creativity, enterprise and employability, the next two speakers illustrated incredible enterprising and creative approaches to education that would certainly result in learners becoming both employable and with the ability to start and maintain their own business.
Alison Fletcher and the Teampreneurs  from Team Academy Bristol really challenged what we mean by an enterprising curriculum. The four teampreneurs exemplified learner centred learning assisted by no formal classes and a team coaching approach.  They had all set up businesses, made loads of mistakes, reflected on the learning and used theory and knowledge to support their endeavours. It seems an ideal model, and not one that should be restricted to higher education.  They engaged us completely with a well-focused  activity, turning our varied table of participants into entrepreneurs. Is this the way forward.  Don’t wait to be employed, use your passions and built your skills and knowledge to support your ventures.  Certainly some of the teampreneurs saw themselves as being self-emplyed but two wanted to work in an organisation,  putting  their varied skills and knowledge into an established practice for a few years.
Working in an enterprising way with established micros and SMEs was at the heart of Dundee and Angus College’s Fiona Mushin and  Dawn Ritchie’s  presentation.  Fiona described how she had gone from lecturer in a classroom to project manager, ripping up the timetable along the way.  She described a changing role for lecturers, again with more emphasis on coaching, and teaching through webinars designed around learners’ needs.  All of this was fascinating, providing models for what can be done if we approach the curriculum creatively, enter into dialogue with awarding bodies like SQA and engage businesses in the design of the curriculum.  Moreover, from learner Dawn’s perspective it’s engaged her in real, challenging work, where  she has had to think for herself, use the lecturer as a resource, and view herself in a business relationship.
By the end of the day, participants from across the educational landscape were willing to commit to taking many of the ideas generated and shared from the day forward. Small networks sprung up keen to take forward both Fiona’s model and team Academy’s approach.  Jamie Cooke from RSA was also committing to providing a space for further dialogue bringing the silos of education, employers, enterprise and creativity together.  
This wasn’t an event for just sharing dangerous ideas, this was definitely the springboard for action that ensures that education does not kill creativity and enterprise.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

The Invisible Launch became visible..

The launch came and went in the blink of an eye.  Suddenly all was visible, but was it what participants (and speakers) expected and did it live up to our expectations of creating something that was challenging, unlike a traditional launch, and would it shift the axis in education?

Unlike a traditional format, speakers did not appear on a podium one after another to provoke or inspire.  They were hidden in the shops on The Street in the Riverside Museum - an Emporium of Dangerous Ideas. Each shop became a den of danger, with merchants selling their ideas, but more importantly engaging in conversations about enterprising education, public services, town centres, international cooperation,  the importance of failure and what the future for Scotland could be (regardless of the referendum).   In one den, only one person could enter at a time, and without even a merchant present, they were invited to enter a dream like state that will unfold throughout the rest of the Emporium.  It certainly wasn't a traditional launch.

The photography shop hosted some stunning images of Glasgow captured by students at City of Glasgow of students.  They could have sold many, but they didn't.  Why not?  Across the street Elinor Vettraino , from Fife College was inspiring every customer with her account of Team Academy and a whole, enterprising movement that using coaching instead of formal teaching and students set their businesses up from the beginning.  In talking to the art students the thought of making their art a business was far from their minds, but should it be this way? 

A man who certainly challenged our thoughts about the status quo and the role we all play in creating change was Nick Carter. More, more used to exploring the heights of mountains and polar icecaps Nick found himself in the 'subway', and played the nearest thing to the role of traditional speaker.  His tales of adventure and challenge, with equal doses of risk taking and failure were captivating and exhilarating.  He was also extremely challenging in his endeavour to make us take responsibility for our failures.  None of the "it wasn't me"," I told you this wasn't going to work"," it will all work out in the end"," well we did our best" , if circumstances were different". The point was - take ownership of your failure and learn from it! Don't allow yourself to remain in the blame culture that would be appear to be endemic in our culture, including our education. 

At the physical and metaphorical heart of the Emporium was the real David Cameron, holding court in the pub, as customers came and went.  As David himself said, never has he seemed so comfortable in a role. He played the part excellently, as if he was chatting to a bunch of regulars about every aspect of life: their thoughts; gripes; hopes; ideas; aspirations.  I am sure there were punters in there for the entire duration of the launch.  David's skill and ability to include everyone in a discussion, to remember people's names, jobs and ideas, and demonstrate interest in them goes unparalleled. He demonstrates what it means to be an excellent teacher. 

The Launch was demanding of its participants - they had to negotiate the Street, decide which emporia to visit, consider what this meant to their contexts and how they could take this further (if desired) into their future work. Some, I think we have preferred to be talked at, to be inspired from afar.  
However, that is not in the ethos of a Curriculum for Excellence, or a move towards developing a more creative and enterprising culture in education.  

In his final words for the day David Cameron  persuaded us to reconsider where learning  takes place: not only in the institutions set up for this purpose but also in the magnificent public buildings like the Riverside Museum.  How can we use public spaces differently? With a finale that ends inside the most iconic of  public art in Scotland: The kelpies,   he also reminded us that "while others talk about imagination, adventure, risk taking The Emporium of Dangerous Ideas, run by College Development Network, goes ahead and delivers all of that!"

Thursday, 5 June 2014

So what's it all about?

As the launch draws ever nearer ( only 14 hours to go) I have been reflecting on what the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas is really about.  The interest from various press agencies looking for examples of schools and children doing dangerous things, or developing a curriculum that encourages risk taking and failure, has
once again struck me that anything to do with education is automatically associated with children - perhaps not surprisingly so.

The Emporium is of course mainly about (but not exclusively)  about college education and how we can do things differently.  Colleges connect to all other sectors of education so essentially the Emporium taps into every area of learning, and if we consider this as a system, when we change one area it should/could bring changes to the whole system.

Increasing I've come to realise that the Emporium is about creativity in education: how we view the education system, how we lead it, they way we develop and deliver the curriculum.  The Emporium allows a genuine opportunity to play with possibilities, to share ideas, visions, take risks by modelling a different view or a different way to engage with learners.

The risk taking is difficult to manage in a climate that wants to know in advance what the outcomes will be.  In the run up to the Emporium there is a paradoxical motivation to provide events that will please the participants with a need to model creative approaches that fully engage the participants in their learning. That's not always comfortable.  Each year we do something we haven't done before and I think each year we take more risks - failure is never far from our minds.  And yet, isn't that one of our key aims - to model trying something different and not succeeding in order to learn and develop.

If we keep in mind that the purpose is to generate and share ideas, to play with possibilities, in order to shift the axis in education, we will learn from whatever happens.

Enjoy the Emporium and make sure you you take a risk in shaping the education of the future.


The Invisible Launch

Come and see the photography shop as you have never seen it before as City of Glasgow College students showcase their incredible work at the Riverside Museum.  View the photos on Facebook.

Book online for The Invisible Launch: 

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Emporium Finale

Thursday 19 June 2014 - Emporium Finale 

Helix Park, Falkirk – be one of the first to attend an event Inside The Kelpies.

For more information:

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Invisible Launch

The Invisible Launch will take place on Friday 06 June at Riverside Museum, Glasgow. The experience will launch the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas with a range of opportunities and emporium speakers. 

Why not join Nick Carter, the Real David Cameron, Guðrún Pétursdóttir from Iceland, Cherry Hopton and many more… at this excellent launch to the Emporium view further details of speakers and book online here

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Mindfully Being reveal that mindfulness training can help reduce teacher stress and burnout

Teachers who practice "mindfulness" are better able to reduce their own levels of stress and prevent burnout, according to a new study conducted by the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds (CIHM) at UW-Madison's Waisman Center. The results of the study, led by Assistant Scientist Lisa Flook, were recently published in the journal Mind, Brain and Education. Read more

Monday, 12 May 2014

Is Education Killing Creativity and Enterprise?

In his globally famous TED talk Ken Robinson accused schools of 'killing creativity' and asked for  a rethink of how we deliver the curriculum in a more meaningful way for 21st century learners.

Do we offer an enterprising and creative curriculum to all students?  What could be better?  Can we learn something from our European neighbours?

Start the discussion here but also join us on the Tuesday 10 June 2014 at St. Mungo's museum in Glasgow. Book your place at:

Friday, 2 May 2014

Speakers at The Invisible Launch

Discover more about our Dangerous speakers at the Invisible Launch on Friday 06 June at Riverside Museum, Glasgow.

Full events listings and book online now available Emporium of Dangerous Ideas 2014

Friday, 25 April 2014

Want to participate in this year's Emporium of Dangerous Ideas?

Full events listing and book online now available Emporium of Dangerous Ideas Events 2014.

Dangerous events taking place around the country from 6 June to 19 June 2014.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

The Invisible Launch

 Iceland and Scotland – small countries working cooperatively

Dangerous Ideas will be discussed by Guðrún Pétursdóttir from Iceland and Cherry Hopton around the Metaphysics of Teaching – the unquantifiable motivator of friendship and respect’ 

It is often proposed that adherents of ‘target culture’ know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.  We propose that one of the key elements of teaching and learning is that which cannot be counted or measured empirically – the magical element of how relationships, respect, motivation can collide and improve the experience and efforts of both teacher and learner – and teacher as learner.

Using our own friendship as a template we will discuss how important it is to find like minded others to act as sounding board, support, fellow enthusiast and how the wider community of educationalists may provide such relationships.

The work that can grow from such partnerships is greater than the sum of its parts.  Tending to an idea or a project ceases to be work.  How can we grow such relationships within a culture that is focussed on targets, products and the production of evidence and how do we convince our organisational leaders to pay attention to the relationships between people in as much detail as they attend to the relationships between MIS systems.

Cherry and Gudrun first met 9 years ago when Cherry attended and ICI course on Co Operative Learning.  Since then they have worked on a range of projects and courses, shared ideas, exchanged friends and family members, travelled but most of all spoken about students, teaching and learning.  Cherry’s students are now all Icelandophile’s and Gudrun’s trainees watch Cherry’s students in action on film.  When in doubt we skype, email, text, phone or visit!

One of the key aims of our teaching is to explore the ideas of interculturalism – the proposition that it is interest, empathy, commonality of ideologies not ethnic background that binds us.  Historically we have been encouraged to view people outside our own ‘group’ as ‘other’ – even when attempts are made to acknowledge other groups it is often via ‘cultural events’  -  which often rely on stereotypes.......’Here are some Mexican students – look at their ponchos’.  Our experience and belief is that you are equally likely to find people on the same page as you outside your ‘group’ and the diversity of experience is a benefit rather than a problem.  

The principle of human connections which cannot be meaningfully quantified is equally applied to students/students and students/teachers.

Key ideas:
·        Co operative learning
·        Diversity as benefit
·        Inter culturalism
·        Human relationships
·        Critique of target culture

Cherry Hopton has been course leader for social science at Dundee and Angus College for 12 years.  She has lectured in Social Sciences for around 20 years in various locations including New College Nottingham, Leeds University and South East Essex College.   For the past 8 years she has been working closely with Gudrun Petirsdottir of Intercultural Iceland in the area of Co operative Learning and various educational research projects in addition to her role at D and A.  Cherry has provided training in co operative learning in Iceland, Belgium, Greece and the UK.  Co operative learning by its nature leads to creative and diverse outcomes or products hence her involvement with creative learning projects and diverse assessment methods.’  Ask her what her dangerous ideas are for education!
Guðrún Pétursdóttir finished Master degree in sociology from the Freie Universität Berlin in year 1990.  Beside sociology she also studied intercultural education at the Institut für interkulturelle Erziehung at the same university and later finished the teacher’s qualification at the University of Iceland.  For the last 15 years Guðrún has worked in different fields connected with migration issues and teachers training and has since 2003 ran the intercultural centre InterCultural Iceland (
She taught courses at the Teachers University during the years 2003-2005 and at the pedagogical department of the University of Iceland from 2006-2009.  She has run Grundtvig/Comenius In-service training courses for teachers and educators since 2004, developed cooperative teaching methods and materials and she is the author of two books: Intercultural education (1999) and  Everyone can do something nobody can do everything; a practical handbook for teachers (2003).  

Wednesday, 26 March 2014