2022 Symposium

Our 2022 symposium took place on the 21st of May. Thirty participants discussed in three sessions topics related to the concept of child-centredness.

It will most likely take some time to let the brain input settle and sort thoughts (and afterthoughts). But whatever comes out of this process, the impression of a great gathering will remain.

This would have been impossible without the contributions of each and everyone, no matter how big or small.

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After everyone had left, we found a pair of small children’s shoes in the Chill Room. After checking with the owner the shoes have now found a new home in the dress-up box at SSP. Thanks for that.

We are now in the process to collect feedback from participants so that the discussions can be continued in other contexts also. This can take a while, but please do come back and check here – we will upload the material once it is compiled.

Here also the original invitation:

Sligo School Project Symposium

Saturday, 21st of May, 2022

As a first impression you may enjoy a brief video-clip on the symposium created by Sarah Waters, to be found here. After watching, or if you wish to read on straight away, you will find the essential information about the symposium on this page here.

For teachers and parents alike, caught up in the thralls of everyday busy-ness it is often difficult to allow for thought to go beyond solving the sheer practical day-to-day issues. For the day of the Symposium we grant ourselves the freedom to pause and think together a bit deeper.

Educational practice in school or at home is always linked to guiding ideas and certain visions of what is “right and wrong.” Such ideas and basic assumptions are often expressed in terms that seem to explain everything in just a few words. But they are rarely looked at for their substance and their essential relationship to daily practices.

The multi-denominational schools in Ireland are usually guided by a number of shared ethical principles. This is also the case for Sligo School Project. One of these principles is the idea of child-centredness. This idea is included in the Educate Together Charter, and it also forms part of the ethos of Sligo School Project. But the ethos of a school is a living thing. It needs monitoring and regular review. Life circumstances change according to social developments, and educational principles need to be set in relation to the ever changing social environment.

In our Symposium 2022 we want to look at concepts of child-centredness. We have invited guest speakers to share and discuss with us their opinions on child-centredness from different perspectives. There are three sessions planned:

ThomasWalsh        Carl Anders Säfström - Professor of Educational Research - Maynooth University

Leah O'TooleThomas Walsh, Carl Anders Säfström and Leah O’Toole have done historical research on developments of the national curriculum since the establishment of the Republic of Ireland in a joint project between Maynooth University and Stranmillis University College, Belfast. They will give an overview on the struggle around the incorporation of ideas of child-centredness in the curriculum for schools in Ireland. Against the background of the ongoing discussions about a revision of the current primary school curriculum such a historical perspective can help to gain a better understanding of present day practices in their ambiguity.

gayle nagleGayle Nagle is one of the founders of Sligo Sudbury School, a school without a set curriculum where children are free to choose their own learning goals and pursue them at their own pace. She will present the guiding ideas of their school with particular focus on the key factors of trust and choice.  Trusting in children’s innate capacity for learning and in their competence to make choices is at the heart of this child-centred model.  She will refer to the impact of external assessment on child-centredness and how it can interfere with the learning process.  In this way the discussions about our own practices can extend beyond the threshold of traditional mainstream education.

amelia hempel jörgensenAmelia Hempel-Jorgensen will look at implications of ideas about “ideal children” and “ideal learners” that are underlying educational practices in child-centred pedagogy. She has done research on the effects of such ideas on children from working class backgrounds. She will focus particularly on the positioning of working class girls in child-centred pedagogy, the development of pupils’ (self-)perceptions in terms of assumed “misbehaviour” and discipline, and the effects of such (self-)perceptions on their educational motivation and aspirations. Given the mix of social backgrounds of children in Sligo School Project this perspective is of great interest to us.

The symposium will take place on Saturday, 21st of May, in the time from 11:00 – 17:00 h at Sligo School Project, Abbeyquarter, Sligo (F91XF51). In the three sessions the invited guest speakers will provide an introductory presentation of approx. 30 minutes, followed by an open discussion of 60 minutes.

Home-made food will be provided during breaks, and child-minding is available on request. Participation in the symposium is open to anyone with an interest in the topic of the day. Participation is free of charge, but prior registration is necessary.