Teacher, trainer and writer Dave Tuckers tells us about his experience at the Image Conference in Lisbon.
- What did you enjoy about The Image Conference?
The Image Conference was remarkable, not only due to the breadth of experience and expertise of the speakers, but also the variety and range of topics and techniques where people are led by the inspiration of images. We watched videos, made drawings, used Venn diagrams, played (at least I played!) with Cuisenaire rods and projected ourselves into the minds and essence of people, animals and even verb tenses (thank you, Jade!). Each of these varied and stimulating teaching approaches gave us direct insights into how we can use images as a springboard to make our lessons more effective and thoughtful.
- How was The Image Conference different from other conferences you’ve been to?
While the range of topics was, as mentioned above, wide and eclectic, at the same time there was a more concentrated and cohesive feel to the conference and less guesswork involved in choosing sessions! Knowing that each session was centred around images gave an anchor and easier access to the core of the talk. It enabled speakers to spend more time on what was important and participants to take away more from the sessions.
- Sum up your talk briefly.
My session focused on ways of using ‘sensations’ which happen entirely inside our head to create a rich environment around what we learn and thus encode and embed it more deeply. This nearly always starts with a mental image and branches into other senses, where we can actually use parts of the brain usually used to decode outside stimuli to imagine and actually experience sights, smells, feelings, tastes and sounds. We looked at four different ways each and every student can use this ‘inner sensory world’ to personalise language and individualise it to make it more memorable.
- What were the main discussion points to arise in The Image Conference?
One of the main topics that reoccurred throughout the conference was how images are a strong force for raising awareness of moral and humanistic issues: empathy, values, human rights, climate change, substance abuse. Balancing this was the discussion of whether we should use images for this purpose. While most people seemed to agree that we should be encouraging students to exercise empathy and that it is good to transmit values in the classroom, there was also a counter-current of opinion that teachers should not push student discussion of images into areas that reflect the teacher’s personal or political views and beliefs, no matter how humanistically grounded.
My own view is that hot topics are very much a part of students’ day-to-day lives and that they feel the need to be able to express themselves or compare opinions on them and that we as teachers should try to facilitate this. Images provide a powerful and immediate entry point for discussion which text or description may not achieve.