Conference report

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The second TA Teachers Conference, Creativity and Thinking Skills in Learning, Teaching and Management took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Riga, Latvia, on 19-20 September, 2014. The conference was supported by Nordplus, the British Council, Riga City Council’s Education, Culture and Sports Department and by the European Parents’ Association and was attended by over 140 delegates from 25 countries. The three conference strands addressed by over 40 presentations and workshops were Innovations in the Classroom, Innovations in Educational Management and Innovations in Family Learning, which was co-organised with the European Parents’ Association. There were participants from all levels and areas of education.

Interested delegates were able to attend one of three pre-conference tutorials. Dr Alexander Sokol, from TA Group, Latvia, dealt with ‘Tools for a Systematic Approach to Educational Management’; Alan Edminston and Stuart Twiss from Let's Think Forum, UK, introduced ‘Let’s Think. Cognitive Acceleration’ and Dr Ingrīda Muraškovska from Latvia spoke about ‘Effective Approaches to the Development of Thinking and Transition towards Interdisciplinary Learning.’

The conference was officially opened by Baiba Baškere, vice-head of the Department of Education of the Ministry of Education and Science; Alise Lūse, Director of the Management and External Cooperation Department of the State Education Development Agency and Eszter Salomon, president of the European Parents’ Association. There were six plenary sessions. Dr Alexander Sokol spoke about Competences for Teaching Thinking, Susan Granlund and Kirsi Urmson from Finland described a Step Towards Implementing the Thinking Approach, where they shared and reflected on their experiences of bringing the Thinking Approach to a group of new teachers in the Nordplus STEP project . Dmitry Kucharavy from the Seecore Project in France discussed the importance of Prescient Knowledge in the field of education. Stuart Twiss and Linda Maple from the Let’s Think Forum, UK, introduced the Let’s Think Approach with a presentation entitled, ’Let’s Think: Cognitive Acceleration’. Prof. Bengt Lennartson from Linköping University in Sweden spoke about ‘Thinking-Based Footprints in Scandinavia from the 13th ICOT’ and Linda O’Toole from the Universal Education Foundation in Belgium and the USA, encouraged us to look at diversity through her talk, ‘Naturally Unique: Encouraging Creativity and Metacognitive Skills in Family Environments.’

The 40 talks and workshops given the following day were divided into the three strands, A, B and C, according to the three themes of the conference. Strand A, innovations in the classroom, included 21 presentations from 10 countries. Strand B, innovations in educational management, was addressed by 14 talks and workshops from 7 countries. Strand C, innovations in family learning, offered the participants two talks and two workshops by presenters from 3 countries.

Within these strands there were 14 talks and workshops related to the Thinking Approach to teaching and learning (TA) and the final session on Saturday was an open reflection session where teachers using the TA reflected on their experiences, as part of an attempt to establish common patterns of effective professional development activities for teaching thinking.

The conference was followed by the conference dinner in Riga Old Town, which was attended by over 60 delegates and gave plenty of opportunities for informal networking and establishing new contacts.

Delegates were satisfied with the breadth and quality of the talks and workshops and with the opportunity to meet and to exchange experiences and ideas with experts and others interested in the field of thinking in education. Many participants are planning to attend the next TA Teachers conference that is planned for September 2016. You can pre-register for the conference.


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