Grassroots and All

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Where does the energy and enthusiasm that characterise pioneers come from? I’ve been wondering about this over the past couple of days, having attended the researchEd Sydney conference on Saturday and seeing Tom Bennett in action.

Inspired and driven by Tom, the conference saw educators from around Australia gather to explore what works in education and the practical application of educational research. This was not your ‘usual’ conference – big hotel, expensive registration, highly paid keynote speakers, variable workshops, the afternoon sessions denuded of ‘Sorry, I have to catch my bus/train/plane’ participants.

Tom has initiated what is rapidly turning into a worldwide ‘movement’; grassroots gatherings of educators focussed on supporting each other, sharing their work and collaborating – altruistically. All for the sake of learning from and with each other. What an intriguing development – a research project in itself!

The concept guiding the conference seemed to me to promote a particular climate. Because we were all there freely giving of our time and interest, there was an openness and a supportive spirit, certainly in all the sessions I attended. I don’t mean there was an uncritical acceptance of ideas, rather, a willing exploration of them.

As Tom will admit, and as with all good revolutions, this one has its origins on the back of a beer coaster, pretty much. Thank goodness for pubs – and for the extraordinary innovators like Tom.

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