The 2015 Kids’ Conference held at ACU showcased innovative projects relating to history and technologies to foster creativity.
Sir Ken Robinson provided the energy and inspiration for the 2015 ACU-HTAV Kids’ Conference held at Australian Catholic University (ACU) in Melbourne last month.
Regarded as one of the world’s most influential voices in education, Sir Ken’s keynote presentation via pre-recorded video from his home in California emphasised the importance of a creative approach to problem solving, and the importance of the Kids’ Conference in fostering this.
“To have Sir Ken involved was a great privilege and inspiration for the students, teachers and conference supporters who participated,” said conference founder, ACU Faculty of Education and Arts lecturer Stephen Spain.
The conference, which Mr Spain instigated and co-developed with Jo Clyne from the History Teachers Association of Victoria (HTAV), provides a platform for students – some as young as seven years of age – to present innovative projects relating to history and technologies, fostering creativity in a supportive and encouraging environment.
“Sir Ken has been a fundamental inspiration for me as an educator and we feel his philosophy has been embedded in the Kids’ Conference since its inception,” Mr Spain said.
“His outlook and advocacy on student agency, engagement in the classroom and the idea of students finding their ‘element’ and being given the chance to express their passion all resonate with what the Kids’ Conference is about.”
A highly sought-after speaker and commentator on education, Sir Ken has long promoted the importance of creative freedom in classrooms, and the unique collaboration of history and technology of Kids’ Conference drew his interest.
Mr Spain said many of the messages Sir Ken has been speaking about for decades were reflected in the vision for the Kids’ Conference.
“Alongside Sir Ken’s philosophy and my own observations as an educator and learner, it was clear from the way my own children were interacting online and co-educating others through gaming and other tools that there was a fundamental change in potential for student agency, which I felt should be brought to the front of the classroom and indeed onto the conference podium,” Mr Spain said.
In introducing the conference delegates to ACU, Associate Vice Chancellor Dr John Ballard reinforced the approach of its founders. The Kids’ Conference brings together students from across Victoria with two schools from the UK also contributing online presentations this year. Students have a voice and demonstrate their perspective in a way that not only recognises students as authors of knowledge, but which has potential to “filter upward” to inform theory, practice and policy.
Since the first edition in 2012, the Kids’ Conference has become a cornerstone event on the calendar for students and teachers, with ACU and HTAV the driving force.