Work in Progress - Study to be quiet

By all accounts the fifth ERT International Teachers Conference, held in July at the Villa Boccella in Lucca, Italy, was a great success. 63 delegates came, from eight countries. There was a strong contingent from St James Junior School in London, head teachers and staff from other members of the worldwide family of St James Schools, and teachers from schools and countries not previously represented.

Paul Moss, ERT’s adviser on teacher training and development, led the conference. Here are his personal reflections on the event.

“There is a very poignant point when the conference actually begins. In the late afternoon of the first day the sound of the tyres of a coach crushing the pebbles on the drive of the villa heralds the arrival of the delegates. People tumble off the coaches having started their travels in England, Hungary, India, Pakistan, USA, Trinidad and Australia.

A group of teachers swiftly forms and the conference takes off. This year it leapt into life with considerable energy and power. There seemed to be no need to orientate but just a need to participate, meet and engage.

As always the beauty and order of the villa opened hearts and minds and we rested in the delightful atmosphere.

The title of the conference 'Study to be Quiet' somehow informed and motivated the whole event. One delegate who was not a teacher commented on the passion of the teachers for their study and their desire to acquire inspiration and knowledge to give to the children in their care.

The diversity of the group brought its own energy. People were astonished and amazed to hear of the challenges faced by the headmistress of a Catholic school in Pakistan and also the head of a junior school serving an informal settlement outside Johannesburg.

Day by day real progress was made, the study deepened, the quiet became quieter, the simple joy of meeting colleagues in education enlivened conversation.

On the final night the study groups presented their work, with the traditional outrageous and perceptive play from the Sanskrit Department! And a cultured and intelligent recitation from the Classical Literature group and an exquisite exhibition of Art and Geometry.

Many thanks to all the delegates for their enthusiasm, the tutors for their direction and care, the head teachers for their company and companionship and to the spirit of teaching that brought us all together."