Every single one of the 22 leaders who gathered at the Wisehub Pre-Summit in Cape Town over the last weekend of June spoke with an affirming positive tone upon the value of their experiences as they interacted with national and Italian collaborators in preparation for their own summit in October, 2015.
It is most probably the first time that a group of school principals, teachers and leaders of learning organizations gathered to jointly prepare for the voice they desire to be in South African education. These men and women, as it became abundantly clear, while bravely frank about the deep concerns they have for South Africa and its vast needs within education, carved out precious time to source knowledge and skills in order to bring crisp clarity to the powerful ideas that they harbour for this land.
Their contemplations and reflections, dubbed 'unconferencing', fueled by interactions with collaborators from South Africa and Italy, provided a basis for powerful concepts to be refined where, during the Wisehub Innovation Summit in Education scheduled for 16-18 October in Bloemfontein, they will be pitched to a captive audience in order to propel them into practical and realistic projects for 2016. The three major areas that were selected, Fiscal Management, Special Needs Education and Leading as Mentors represent a set of categories based on concerns that these leaders have talked about emerging from the Innovation in Education conferences and the March-April 2015 search campaign conducted by Learning Academy Worldwide founder, Theophilus van Rensburg Lindzter.
On the first day of the conference, Paolo Russo, fiscal strategist from Rome Italy, helped Wisehubbers to think about the needs related to understanding investors, maximizing management and propelling projects for learning. In his Skype communication from Rome, he zoomed in on the need to be aware of financial paradoxes, highlighted the complexities of measuring progress and made a case for aiming at specific achievements within project-based initiatives.
Mrs Odette Swift, Director of Deaf Education South Africa and Developmental Neuropsychologist, Dr Giovanni Masciarelli from Italy, communicated with the Wisehub delegation during the second session of the first day. They aimed to gain an improved understanding of the extent to which students with special needs are being served in South African schools.
Terrence Martin, Deputy Principal of Allen Glen High School in Weltevereden Park, Gauteng, guided the Leading by Mentoring session on the 2nd day of the summit sourcing insights from interviews and unconferenced interaction from participants that pointed at the importance of trust relations over the ebb and flow of life experiences within learning and life. Injecting powerful probes that speaks at legacy, he provided a workable foundation to help Principals and Managers identify and snipe for the next generation of leaders.
This unique melting pot, called 'Wisehub', not only warmed the icy days of a Cape Town winter, but also accounted for the sweet aroma that is possible from diverse ingredients. Coming from 4 different provinces, representing Primary and Senior Secondary Schools, some of whom are Principals and others HODs, men and women and leaders from NGOs, they talked, thought, probed, disagreed, challenged and laughed together in a marvelous symphony of distinct voices for a revolution in education.
It is not the first time that they met each other. A good number of them have over a two year period of time connected at Innovation in Education conferences in Durban (2013) and Bloemfontein (2014). Also, since 2008, some of them have found common connections through the educational development work of the Swedish-based non-profit, Learning Academy Worldwide and its US partner, SPRINT, wherein they share in literacy improvement and professional teacher development initiatives through the M-Ubuntu Mobile Learning project.
Sponsorship from South African businesses for the event came from engineering and consultancy giant, Royal Haskoning DHV and Communications Management Support. All pictures courtesy Darren Stewart.