Discussing education at Wellington College
22 October 2016
Following the success of the first event in October 2015, Wellington College Festival of Education opened its doors on Friday to over 500 attendees from the Shanghai community. The Festival of Education provides opportunity for debate about education and the place it has in a rapidly changing world. Education’s disciplines and expectations can no longer be taken for granted and are being revisited, revised and renewed. Shanghai is a crossroads for many things and it is becoming a crucible for education. The significance that Chinese culture places on learning means that the city is likely to become pivotal in the reshaping of world education in the twenty-first century. Much has been made in the recent past about the impact of globalisation, especially concerning the extended reach of business, the inter-connection of cultures, and the influence of consumerism. Education, once very localised, is now so influenced by globalisation, and not merely because learning has become business. Educational philosophies from China are compared with those in the UK; German pedagogical practice is contrasted with that in Finland; higher education in Latvia is scrutinised by American universities and colleges. During the opening ceremony, The Director of the Wellington College Festival of Education commented “This is why an international school in cosmopolitan Shanghai is an ideal location for a forum about education. Wellington College is privileged to accommodate the debate and even feels it has a responsibility to develop it and, perhaps in a humble way, shape its progress. Now in its second year, the aim is for this and future festivals to become more inclusive, more investigative, and even more dynamic.” This year’s four strands - the relationship between UK and Chinese education, pupils’ wellbeing, Early Years education and improving teaching practice - asked interesting questions about wide-ranging and increasingly relevant educational topics. Speakers like David Didau, the Self-Esteem Team and Jun Yang-Williams reflected ideas about what schools teach, how they teach it, and how they might teach it in the future. At the same time, Sue Carpenter, Clair Watson and Michelle Stone delivered sessions exploring the importance of building character and identity, use of singing to promote rapid language acquisition and cultivating creativity. During the two-day Festival, attendees had the opportunity to explore, celebrate, learn, debate and connect about education. At the end of the Festival, Gerard MacMahon, Master of Wellington College International Shanghai said “I hope we have given educators and parents fascinating questions rather than simple answers. The conversations that result will continue and involve many more than the 500 who attended the festival.” The objective of Wellington College’s Festival of Education is to provide a unique opportunity to engage with fresh and different ideas. The debate will continue in October 2017.