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#TM5 – TeachMeet Beyond
Feb 25th, 2011 by H-Blog

You may be familiar with the TeachMeet concept, but did you know it was coming up for its fifth birthday? To celebrate, Ewan McIntosh has issued the #tm5 challenge –  Ian Guest (@ianinsheffield) has a good post on it here: http://ianinsheffield.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/tm5/ .

This challenge kind of merged with some thoughts I had had during the TeachMeet research I undertook last year – and during the #tmfuture discussion – about trying to extend the reach of TeachMeets beyond the predominantly  ‘niche’ market of technophiles it had. I had heard people talking about how TeachMeets were just for those heavily into ICT, and whilst at the TeachMeets I have attended or heard of  this is to a certain extent true, I felt that if  this was allowed to continue it could become a hindrance.  At the same time, I would not have wanted to risk upsetting anyone in the TeachMeet community – especially those who created the concept – and did not feel I could go ‘trampling’ over the conventions and guidelines they had set down for TeachMeets. However, when the opportunity presented itself to interview Ewan McIntosh about TeachMeet, it became clear that there was a recognition that TeachMeet had to change to evolve, and that far from discouraging this the TeachMeet community were ready and willing to engage with it.

A number of changes began to show in various TeachMeets, including my own non-techie presentation at TMSEG10 (for which I was branded a ‘rebel’ by David Muir!) and slowly the idea of trying to organise a TeachMeet themed around outdoor learning started to grow legs and dance around my head. When the #tm5 challenge was thrown down by Ewan, and chatter started again about widening the TeachMeet ‘audience’, it seemed like an opportune moment to try it.

So here we are!

I approached four colleagues to moot the idea, and was so encouraged by their positive responses I got to work on a wiki to help plan the event, which by this time had been christened ‘TeachMeet Beyond’ as it is about learning beyond the classroom. The wiki is a bit short on concrete details at the moment, but it has a number of suggestions and space to discuss them.

So is this do-able? If it is to work, as with any TeachMeet, this event will need to be crowdsourced. Do you have something to offer? Could you get involved? Do you have any other ideas for venues/speakers/dates/sponsors(?), or any suggestions at all? Please head over to the wiki and join in the discussion.

Overprotected?
Jul 27th, 2009 by H-Blog

Although I am still a fairly new teacher, when you take into account my scouting experience and my work as a classroom assistant, I have been working with children for about 20 years now in a variety of settings and roles; this has given me an interesting insight into how children’s lives have changed over this period.

I have found myself experiencing a growing unease about the lives many young people live today. As well as spending the majority of their leisure time in (often solitary) indoor pursuits like computer games or surfing the internet (not that there is anything wrong with these activities per se you understand :-p) and little time engaging in outdoor pursuits  like we did “when I were a lad”, I also feel that many children are ‘overregulated’; that is to say they seem to spend far less time outwith the supervision of adults now than they ever did. I find myself thinking that perhaps today’s children are missing out on the huge informal learning experiences that we took for granted when we were allowed a far greater freedom than today’s children seem to be offered.

Okay, sometimes we got ourselves into scrapes, or picked up the odd injury or twelve, and perhaps we got up to some mischief, but on the other hand we learned to evaluate risks, to formulate plans, to debate and to negotiate and of course a multitude of social skills. In short, we learnt what it was to be independent. Are today’s young people offered the same opportunities? It doesn’t seem so.

Whilst it may once have been the norm for children to be away playing with their friends all day only to reappear at mealtimes and dusk, a similar attitude today would find you being targeted as a bad parent. As a result, children are rarely allowed ‘off the leash’ as it were, and even if they are there is usually a mobile phone allowing communication but also location tagging should the parent desire. But is it necessarily the case that we are just ‘looking out’ for children, or have they become what Britney would call ‘overprotected’?

It was from this mindset that I came across the following article in yesterday’s Sunday Mail today (don’t ask!). I found it fascinating, and thoroughly applaud the philosophy behind it. Outdoors in all weathers – when did that become a revolutionary idea? The quote from Adam Ingram on the website is fantastic: ” There is a cotton-wool culture that has developed in Scotland and encouraging young people to get out and reconnect with the natural world can only enrich their lives”.

I hope it is a real success, and am also hopeful that being in the south side of Glasgow I might be able to swing a wee day-visit to see exactly what goes on after the holidays are over.

Have a read and see what you think.

Sunday Mail article 26th July

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