Work in Progress - 4th International teachers conference

‘Good Influences: the Essence of Education’

This was the theme of the ERT’s fourth international conference for teachers, held in Lucca, Italy, in July. 64 delegates took part, from South Africa, Australia, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, New Zealand, Trinidad and the UK. The event was led by Paul Moss, the ERT’s adviser on teacher training.

The week-long conference included meditation, quiet time and reflection, study of the principles of education, and study of subject. Specialist tutors led groups studying Sanskrit, Sacred Geometry, History, Classical Studies and Art. The delegates included the heads of most of the St James family of schools, as well as a St James (London) governor and a trustee of the ERT. We were pleased that 3 teachers from India were particularly interested in the St James approach to teaching children Sanskrit.

The beauty of the Villa Boccella worked its magic. Visits to Florence and Lucca helped, and the Villa’s splendid swimming pool played its part. A teacher from Hungary commented ‘Quiet time is so fantastic!’ A teacher from the UK noted the ‘total generosity in academic studies, food, drink, comfort, beauty and friendship.’

Teacher development is at the heart of the ERT’s mission. The St James philosophy of education has so much to offer, but it depends on teachers who have been immersed in it. These conferences are part of the immersion!

Lucca: An ERT Trustee’s view...

Laura Woodhead jointed in ERT’s teachers’ conference in Lucca. She is a trustee of the ERT, and these are her impressions...

“Sitting within the stunning grounds of an early 18th century Tuscan villa, complete with vineyards and olive groves producing its own wine and olive oil, with the sun beating down and two beautiful swimming pools at our disposal, this really was the setting for the 4th International Teachers’ Conference!

I was very pleased to join head teachers and teachers from all over the world to study, reflect, explore my chosen subject, discuss a wide range of issues with the delegates, meet old friends, make new ones and generally to have a really lovely holiday.

The event is advertised as ‘a course to refresh teachers’ and this is just what it did. There was a chance to delve deeply into a beloved subject or an opportunity to develop another skill.

We also studied principles of education, we had a quiet hour, we sang every evening and each afternoon in the heat of the day, there was time to relax, swim, walk, visit nearby Lucca or even study further (or sleep!)

It was very useful to meet and speak to people at the conference to gain a greater understanding of the needs of their schools and communities and to hear first-hand the excellent work they are doing, often in difficult circumstances.

It was also delightful to get to know some teachers outside the family of St James schools who responded to the invitation to join the conference.

Their contributions were highly valued and it would be lovely to see more delegates from other schools to share in the quality, peace and harmony of the occasion.” 

...And an ecstatic view from India!

Radhika Mohan and Pavithra Ramani Sankar teach at the Buds & Blossoms School in Cuddalore, South India. They emailed Paul Moss after the conference. Our visit to Lucca could indeed be hailed as one ofthe most cherished episodes ofour lives. The air was replete, in vibrant sheaths of joy, happiness, peace and bliss, leading one to inward reflection.

The warm welcome and the hospitality were special delights, all amidst the sprawling, breath-taking and farm fresh ambience. The site ofthe conference and the insight ofthe organizing body seem to have worked hand in glove to lend a brilliant outcome in energising our body, mind and soul. The sessions held by each ofour subject heads have reflected the painstaking effort put in by them in carving a niche for our learning experience. The Quiet Time, designed to happen in the morning hours, took our souls on a rejuvenating spree, especially for those of us who wished to take up a quiet trail, spiralling up and down, the green landscapes, treading in eager anticipation, of a 'Burly Man's Hug’, from Nature!

Thank you, Sir, for all of this.