On Wednesday 13th November, BrainCanDo in partnership with Eton College hosted the Character Education: Theories, Practices, Processes Conference at Dorney Lake at Eton College. The day was well attended with 130 teachers, educational leaders, and character education researchers taking part in different discussions and panels that covered a myriad of topics related to character. The aim of the day was to consider character education and its application in the educational setting, by examining current psychological and neuroscientific research evidence, to help inform teaching and pastoral techniques. Throughout the conference, attendees were able to listen to multiple speakers and interact with each other during valuable discussion prompts.
To begin the conference, Julia Harrington (CEO BrainCanDo and Headmistress of Queen Anne’s School) and Jonnie Noakes (Director of the Tony Little Centre and Head of Teaching and Learning at Eton College) introduced the topic of character education and the importance of considering it in today’s curriculum and development of student’s for current and future pupils. Keynote speakers Bill Lucas gave an overview of the existing frameworks of character education and their usefulness in schools, as Patricia Riddell then spoke about emotional and motivational contagion in the classroom. The first panel of the day looked into teaching character and fostering well-roundedness in the classroom, with Dr Kathy Weston discussing resilience and Jonnie Noakes and Dr Iro Konstantinou examining their findings from a character research project they conducted at Eton College. Following these interesting topics, students from Eton College and the London Academy of Excellence spoke about their first-hand experience in the Leadership programme led by the Oxford Character Project.
Afternoon sessions saw keynote speaker Dr Tom Harrison discuss flourishing in the digital age and the impact that technology is having on students. Concluding his remarks, a panel was held to discuss school and community wide approaches to character development and education, with input from Lisa Kerr, Dominic Randolph, Peter Hyman, and Rebecca Tigue. To finish the day, a panel of Queen Anne’s students discussed their experiences in the BrainCanDo student leadership course over the past year and how to create and implement an environment of student leadership in schools.
While character education practical applications in the school environment still need further attention and research backed evidence, the discussions and insight into current findings and interventions were a valuable endeavour for all that attended the conference. With many ideas, practical applications, and personal experiences shared, the 2019 Character Conference fostered the continued commitment of BrainCanDo to bringing practical solutions, based on scientific research, to the classroom and larger community to help our students achieve success in and out of school.