All passengers aboard! A final journey of the PHERECLOS crew.
The “Lay of the Land” – this was the motto of the closing conference in Bucharest within the PHERECLOS Open Schooling Horizon 2020 project. You might ask yourself why we chose this idiom and what is the meaning? Well, in PHERECLOS we played a lot with analogies from the nautical world, because of the project acronym. Phereclos is a ship builder from Greek mythology and we used this reference to create not only the logo but to play with words and generally make the sometimes quite monotonous language of EU-projects a little more mellow and fun. It creates a nice touch of community spirit if you consider yourself as part of a ship crew. There are many other examples of how we used this in the project, e.g. the PHERECLOS Badges, or the LEC-Logbook in the White Book, which provides nine reference points for Open Schooling projects. However, with the final project meeting – our closing conference in Romania – we made landfall. It was time to “lay the land”, to go ashore and explore the land. Actually, with the addition of the little word “of” in the idiom “lay of the land” the meaning changes “to find out the details of a situation or problem” (source: Collins Dictionary). Quite fitting for a conference where we wanted to present the results and outcomes of the PHERECLOS project to a greater public on one side. On the other hand, we wanted to learn from other experts and newcomers to the topic about their ideas, their practical experiences and even their view on opportunities we might have missed during the previous three years.
What happened at the conference?
In the face of the still difficult situation because of the Covid-19 pandemic still more than 150 participants from 15 countries gathered in total at the premises of the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Bucharest. According to the expertise of the co-organising European Children’s Universities Network (eucu.net) from their conferences with a focus on practical experiences rather than scientific reports, the “Lay of the Land” was designed to be very collaborative and participatory. Claudia Aguirre Rios from Association TRACES – Les Atomes Crochus in Paris opened the thematic part of the conference with her exploration of the idea of Open Schooling in a more general way with the intention to lay a foundation for the following discussions and workshops. Her intervention with the title “Another brick leaves the wall: open schooling for a new education” explored the need to turn schools as a community into active agents of society. Peter Grey, who worked on collaborative international projects in science education, teacher education and educational democracy and recently retired from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, concluded the program with a similar provocative talk and discussion. Under the title: “Precise, but vague: the European Commission and its educational interventions, 2007-2022” he examined the evolution of EU programs that have addressed the science/society interface with varying degrees of success and understanding combining a mixture of idealism and bureaucracy.
In-between these two inspiring talks, many interactive workshops and an Open Space dedicated to the participants’ questions took place. To get a glimpse of the buzzing atmosphere of learning it is probably best to look at the photo gallery and the videos of the conference, which are already online.
A full conference report with annexed presentations is also available at the PHERECLOS website. Finally, you will find there the digital copy of the White Book on Open Schooling, that was presented at the conference and that constitutes a new reference guide to start or optimize Open Schooling programs.
Many thanks to the invited guests of honor: Mr. Florin Stănică, Vice-Rector of the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine, Mr. Ciprian Ciucu, Mayor of the 6th District of Bucharest, and Mr. Radu Szekely, adviser at the Romanian Ministry of Education, on behalf of Prof. Univ. Dr Sorin Mihai Cîmpeanu, the Romanian Minister of Education, who was not able to attend because of unforeseen obligations. Also a big thank you to the enthusiastic facilitators and contributors of the workshop program. And finally yet importantly to the fantastic volunteers and the team of Universitatea Copiilor – the Children’s University of Romania for organizing and running the conference and the University of Agronomic Science and Veterinary Medicine for hosting us.