Monday, 24 August 2009

International Conferences

What a privilege it is to be the principal of Pinelands North Primary School! This has been the year of international conferences for me, and because of the Governing Body’s belief in growing our staff, and paying for it, they have sent me to two of these conferences this year.

The first was in February in Cape Town: The Art of Thinking conference run by the International Association for Cognitive Education in Southern Africa. Rose-Anne Reynolds and I attended this three day conference on behalf of the school. I don’t think I have ever been in such esteemed company! Only about 180 delegates attended but about a third of these were foreign, and most of the foreign delegates  were professors! Rose-Anne and I networked at every opportunity and so had the privilege of having indepth conversations with Professors from Israel, Singapore, United Kingdom, Norway and USA, and with several from South Africa.

The discussions revolved around thinking skills predominantly; how to teach these in schools, how to train teachers in the skills first and how to find out whether schools were in fact teaching thinking in their schools. The reason we attended was to increase our knowledge for our Creative and Talented programme. This programme is run for our talented and diverse thinkers in the school, and I came away inspired to continue our task of producing bright pupils who can solve world problems, and to research the subject further!

Two years ago, in 2007, the Governing Body sent me to Auckland, New Zealand, to an International Principals’ Conference where I first decided to start a programme for our brightest students. This year I again had the privilege of attending this international conference: this time in Singapore. I spent seventeen days away – the first in Singapore and then the final five in Thailand.

Wow! The conference was initially affected by the Novel N1H1 virus, but that didn’t deter the 1500 principals from getting excited about improving their schools back home. Interestingly enough, only 7 principals from Cape Town attended, but there were 200 from South Africa in total (the second largest group attending)! We visited schools, even though this was difficult in the health circumstances, and we networked with principals worldwide.

I returned renewed, and beaming, having again realized what a super school I belong to – our primary school in the small enclave of Pinelands, provides an exceptional world class education! Nothing I saw in Thailand or Singapore was unusual for me – we compare very favourably internationally.

Having had that reaffirmed, makes these two conferences worthwhile! Thank you, Pinelands North, for always being at the cutting edge of learning around the world, and for including me in this learning – I love it!