ResearchED Birmingham - We built it, they came

5th April 2014 at 21:03

Godzuki to the Godzilla of last year's researchED 2013, the rough beast slouched towards Birmingham to be reborn. What started as a spit bubble on Twitter became... well, the word was made flesh, and we ended up last September with 600+ people getting together on a Saturday to preach the gospel of research-based education. After months of preparation, our kite flew higher and faster than I had dared to believe possible. And that, I assured myself, was that.


But the universe had other plans. This time, Old Andrew suggested a more northern gig, ostensibly to meet the needs of people who were understandably tired of London being the centre of the solar system, but in reality probably more to do with his desire to travel no further than three stops on a bus. Daniel Harvey of John Henry Newman College gave us somewhere to play, and once again, a stellar array of edunames lined up to speak, give their time and help. We built it, they came, in another astonishing display of largesse.


I'd love to say I saw everyone. I'd love to say I saw anyone, but the reality of working the pedals and keys of a day like this means an endless circuit of keeping a dozen eggs on one spoon while monkeys bang on the bridge of your brow with a toffee hammer. But I made merry in other ways, mainly meeting the speakers and guests. I must have shaken more hands than a senator, and I spent a whole day putting names to faces. For such a small conference, we were heavy with the aristocracy: The Tough Young Teachers, Richard Churches, Phillipa Cordingley, Katherine Birbalsingh, David Weston, Stuart Mathers, Daisy Christodoulou, Lee Elliot Major, and on and on, and like Bill and Ted, we were not worthy.


There will, I hope, be many better blogs than this; ones that carefully record their experience of the day, and relate with the requisite precision what people said, beyond the snapshots I grabbed jumping in and out. But, as I do some slouching of my own on the way back to my London pile, I can report – with a whisper of pride and, I hope, not undeserved pleasure – that I am content, and everyone who took part has earned a nose bag of karma, I least of all.


Next month, we see researchED York take place, in collaboration with the Teacher Development Trust. In September, the national conference in London, a tenth of the tickets gone in under a week, despite no speakers having yet been announced. This year sees the launch of the researchED website, with big plans and hopes for its utility.


Teachers, it seems, are keen to drive their own development, given the opportunity. And many people involved in educational research are equally keen to work with teachers. Wouldn't it be splendid if we worked together instead of behind tall walls? Wouldn't it be wonderful if, instead of research being a top-down deluge of avian guano, received and prescribed in the nativity of our careers, we were active and responsive participants in its inception, investigation and execution? Research isn't the answer to every problem in teaching, and great oceans of the role rests on craft as much as compass. But distinguishing those spheres is our job as educators. Our jobs, not someone else's. Our jobs.


Let the good times roll.