Monday, 12 November 2012

6th form Climate Change Conference on Food

Bradford Cathedral - conference on Food: Local and Global issues.

My response to the invitation:

Matt has passed me your letter with a request for someone interested in food and spirituality. I would be very happy to facilitate a workshop with 6th formers on these topics, and be on the panel.
I attended the meeting on food sovereignty held earlier this year in Lee Valley, and was instrumental in helping to create Horton Community Farm, and the Bradford Food plan which has been introduced by the local council. I am currently in London attending a week of seminars on the Commons, which of course includes food though most production is currently in the private sector.
My faith does not follow any particular religion but I see the necessity to come from the heart in all our activities, and live in profound gratitude for the gift of life - which I don't always achieve, but which leads to experiencing the preciousness of each moment and personal encounter, together with taking responsibility for the state of the planet for present and future generations. Sorry that was a bit of a mouthful, but it does express where I am coming from.

My suggestion for the conference structure:

I have been wondering what structure you are planning for the conference. In my experience people learn much better through participation in an atmosphere of collaboration, and I have a suggestion for organising the conference in a way which promotes this type of learning.

These 6th formers, on the verge of leaving school, are not children and my guess is that they all have access to the internet, where pretty well all 'expert' knowledge is available at  the touch of a button, and moreover is often updated daily.  What can be presented in a lecture or powerpoint as factual may already have been overtaken by new information.

What they probably lack is the opportunity to self organise and really listen to each other's different viewpoints, rather than focussing on which one is 'right'. Though the suggested 25 minutes may be a good length for a short powerpoint presentation followed by some questions, it is too short for the sort of 'collborative workshop' I am proposing.

My suggestion is that each 'expert' is asked to give 4 or 5 salient points from their topic to be printed on cards which are arranged on several tables. The 6th formers would be invited to breakout into small groups round a table; then using the information on the cards discuss among themselves the problems and /or solutions, making sure that each person in their group is heard, and taking notes of the discussion. After a certain length of time they could move to another table or change groups. Finally conclusions could be presented in a plenary.

The 'experts' could mingle with the 6th formers, listen to their discussions, and interject where they feel to.  But essentially they would be on a level with them, not talking down to them as in a lecture. Their expertise would be available as needed, but not seen as superior. Mutual respect would be the ethos.

If you like this idea I would be happy to explore it more with you and would be willing to contribute in any way I could help.

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