'Learning Together' conference attracts over 1,500 IB delegates

Posted on 17th Oct 2016 in International Baccalaureate

More than 1,500 International Baccalaureate (IB) educators, decision makers and practitioners from schools, universities and governments from across Africa, Europe and the Middle East (AEM) gathered at the 2016 IB AEM Regional Conference to discuss international education and exchange best practice in pedagogy, under the theme of Learning Together.

Dr Siva Kumari, IB Director General said: “We are all a collective of educators, who believe that the ‘why’ of education is as important as the ‘what’ and the ‘how’. We come from extraordinarily different backgrounds and yet together, we honour the IB’s philosophy that speaks to an inter-connectedness across borders. The IB is necessary in today’s world because it is an exemplar of a high level of inspirational education supported by its’ vast community of educators. That community is as important as the organization for it is only the ‘collective together’ that can attempt such a powerful mission.”

Delegates left the conference inspired by a range of thought-provoking plenaries from high profile speakers including Dame Ellen MacArthur. She discussed the work of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and its partnership with the IB to ‘inspire a generation’ to think in new and different ways, opening their minds to redesigning the way people live and the products they use as “restorative and regenerative”.

Dr Kumari said: “We completely reject the notion that the student is merely a test-taker – one who yields a number by which the adults in the system evaluate the effectiveness of the teacher, the school, the system or the country. Assessment is hugely important of course, but we must go far beyond the ordinary need to prepare for exams. Because, as Dame Ellen has said, ‘exams are temporary valuations that may miss vast hidden potential’. I believe that every single minute of a students’ education is a moment to ignite learning.”

The IB community also heard from Dr Margaret Heffernan, formerly chief executive of several media organisations and now renowned business author and TED speaker, who talked about how ‘creativity must lie at the heart of the education system’. She said that 42 percent of jobs will be automated in the next 20-30 years and that children need to have an appetite and aptitude for learning, re-learning, re-training, so curiosity, generosity and the ability to collaborate are important skills for students to develop.

Sarah Lewis, Assistant Professor in the Departments of History of Art and Architecture and African and African American Studies at Harvard University, addressed delegates on what drives iconic, transformational change on a personal and organisational level. Drawing on figures such as Frederick Douglass and Ben Sanders, Lewis revealed to the audience the importance of resilience, grit and private domains in the search for mastery.

As well as hearing from the key note speakers, delegates participated in a full programme of professional development workshops on a range of topics, from international-mindedness in the African and Middle Eastern context, to using augmented reality in the classroom, and five levels of leadership in education.

Photo shows IB alumna Brian Kimarthy addressing the conference, discussing his experience of the IB programmes.