This week the 2019 Warwick Education Conference took place in the Ramphal building on campus, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend the conference and enjoy some of the incredible sessions running throughout the day.
The Warwick Education Conference runs every year and is an entire day dedicated to exploring the ins and outs of everything ‘education’. The conference explores aspects of teaching, learning, assessment and the future of education both in the country and further afield. It’s a fantastic opportunity for students, staff and guests alike to come together and share their research, opinions and experiences on what education means at Warwick and beyond. The outcome of the day is a new take on education and the chance to critically reflect on the experience of education at Warwick, including its achievements and shortfalls, in order to take action for the future generations of students.
‘Forming inclusive and transformative educational cultures through university-community partnership: a case study’
The session that I attended during the conference was both interesting and diverse in its content. The first speaker, Abdullah Sahin, focused on his research around the difficulties faced by those without formal qualifications during their journey into higher education. His work focuses mainly on UK Islamic seminaries and their educational exclusion, despite their achievements as expert religious scholars. This session was particularly interesting as it allowed us to critically reflect on the restrictions some cultures can face when attempting to get involved with higher education; a reflection which I believe is so vital for our modern and diverse campus.
‘Beyond the binary of “town and gown”: creating spaces for creative collaboration in higher education’
The second piece by Rachel Turner-King was completely different, but by no means any less interesting than the opening discussion. Like many other scholars within the field of creative engagement, Rachel focused her research on the opportunity theatre provides for allowing a safe space in which young people (and those in higher education) can experience the collision and integration of their own experiences and beliefs. It was so enjoyable to hear her research had a focus on creative collaboration within education, rather than the features of the formalised education system we are all so familiar with.
‘Should creativity and the creative arts inform all aspects of education?’
“Finally I am free”: the opening lines to what was an incredible and, in parts, emotional spoken word poetry to the final session. Run by Nia-Cerise Conteh – a final year student from the School of Theatre & Performance Studies and Cultural & Media Policy Studies – this session brought both of the previous discussions together and, in my opinion, stole the show. It was so refreshing to experience a conference session run by a fellow student in such a professional and engaging way. Nia-Cerise’s performance pinpointed firstly the issues of the formalised education system, explaining that classroom knowledge shouldn’t be abandoned at the door: it should equip you for everything life throws at you. Secondly, she explained that education should be an embodied narrative, experienced differently (but still successfully) by everyone who is involved. And finally, she affirmed that each and every student should never let themselves count their grades as their ultimate worth – a bold statement which – as a final year student at Warwick – I loved to hear. It was an engaging performance with plenty of points for reflection. To finish with one of Nia-Cerise’s statements: only once we embrace creativity will we be able to truly embrace diversity.
The Warwick Education Conference runs every year on campus, so keep an eye out for opportunities to attend next year!