Academic conferences are not like education conferences. At least that’s what I thought. I even posted about that just the other day…
On reflection though, I think they might have some authentic overlaps. The first and foremost is a genuine commitment to student learning. The Association for Academic Language and Learning (AALL) Conference brings together a group of higher educationalists biennially to share research and understandings about international student cohorts. They come together to network and put faces to names seen only in journal articles and books. This year, in Fremantle, W.A., there were representatives from many universities and colleges who work with international students. The types of research I had the pleasure of hearing about over three full days are mind blowing to say the least. To have had the opportunity to present some of our research from our teaching experience in Suzhou, China earlier this year was a highlight.
Going through my copious notes recorded throughout the conference I have lifted out some of the things I heard that really resonated with me. I would love to hear your thoughts, please post below once you’ve had a chance to digest.
“Interculturalism is a mindset. We need to be thinking about it all the time.” (Dr Janette Ryan)
“We all benefit from teaching international students.” (Athanassia Iosifidou)
“We become who we are by our interactions with others.” (Dr Maggie McAlinden)
Am I hallucinating my level of English?” (International doctoral student – ECU)
“Students don’t come with a deficit of language but a richness of language which we need to develop.” (Dr Jo McFarlane)
“We pay insufficient attention to their individualism. They all come from different countries but we bundle them in together as international students.” (Dr Pam Delly)
English is a language not a measure of intelligence.
“Champions of students” (Janette Ryan)
In her final address at the conference, Janette, described us as ‘Champions of students.’ For me this is not simply an uplifting comment but a call to action for all educators and parents. In fact it should be a moral obligation for everyone to be a champion to students – ALL students. Sure, teachers make a difference, we certainly do, but without students we are nothing. Be a champion to students – I dare you.
Thanks for reading 🙂
Bourdieu, P. and Passeron, J-C. (1994). Introduction: Language and the relationship to language in the teaching situation. In Bourdieu, P., Passeron, J-C. and de Saint Martin, M. (Eds) Academic Discourse (pp. 1-34). Cambridge: Polity Press.