The purpose of the conference is to bring together some of the most innovative and creative educators from across the globe to discuss and become immersed in provocations regarding the current state of education across the globe. The conference is structured around four provocations and provides ample opportunity for personalised learning, as participants choose their own breakout sessions through the weekend. Our keynote speakers included Valerie Hannon, Sandra Milligan, Peter Senge, Jan Owen and Hayley McQuire. Each of our keynotes are well known globally as thought-leaders in education, and provided the audience with significant provocations to invoke thoughts about what education currently is for young people and what it could be.
Possibly the most important speakers and presenters on the weekend were our students. When we speak about what education could be for students the people who can help inform our future direction and the direction of education globally. Our students think differently from us as they have grown up in a completely technology-rich and environmentally aware culture. They are also aware that they need the skills and competencies to think regeneratively in the future.
Our conference started with the voices of two Woodleigh students, Nia Charlesworth and Char Palmer. They set out the expectations for educators as to what they need from modern and progressive education. They need to feel heard and respected. The want to hear diverse voices and perspectives in their education. They want an education that is inclusive and strives for equality. They want to have the skills required to look after themselves and to be able to thrive in the world, and they want their learning to be relevant and ‘real world’ focussed. To quote Peter Senge, what our students don’t want is the Euro-centric western invention that our education system currently provides. A system that is based on the memorisation of facts and figures for regurgitation in outdated assessment processes. How do we build an education that recognises the profound interconnectedness of our world and builds our capacity to understand the interdependence of the many systems, both manmade and natural, in which we live and learn. This will require a renaissance in education that intimately links families with communites and educators and helps our students understand who they are, how to connect with others, and what part they play in any system of which they are a part. This will build resilience, confidence and socio-emotional understanding. As a school, we aim to challenge a traditional education and build capacity within individuals and communities to enable and support practice around a more holistic education. This has always been at the heart of a Woodleigh education; however, now we have the science and the research to be more deliberate and purposeful in the manner in which we develop the young people in our care. This is the leadership challenge of our generation and the main goal of education in the future.
I would like to thank Dr Richard Owens (Director of the Woodleigh Institute) for convening the conference and bringing together some of the most influential thought leaders from across the globe. Richard stands with these thought leaders as a leader of innovation and practice and we are very fortunate to have him leading our school vision and our strategic actions. The Woodleigh Institute is designed to build capacity within our community and through its current location at ‘The Springs’ at Penbank Campus, it provides a place a learning for our staff, our Board, our students and we are aiming to offer opportunities for our parents in the future.
Thank you also to our amazing Community Team and IT Team for working tirelessly over the weekend to meet the needs of the 200-plus delegates that attended.
From a personal perspective, I loved the look of awe on our guests' faces when they moved around the Senior Campus and learned in our magnificent homestead spaces. For many of them, they couldn’t believe a school like ours exists. I was very proud of our school throughout and I feel very privileged to be leading this community.
For those interested in the future of education, a 5-minute ReImaginED highlight reel, put together by our Community Team, can be viewed below.