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Day 2004 | Past
Thinking 'out of the box'
By Ann Claypole, ELTAS - Germany
The Conference in Brighton was heralded by the arrival of the
Associates' representatives on Easter Monday. As usual, the first
opportunity to network was presented at the Associates' Dinner,
although there was no formal program this year. The day preceding
the conference proper was then devoted to Associates' Day.
The Day was slightly overshadowed by recent political events
and some would-be visitors from Asia were unable to attend due
to travel restrictions. As a result, fewer Associations were
represented than usual. Nonetheless, the day turned out to be
very successful. This was largely due to the involvement of the
British Council, who organised the morning's events. The theme
of the day was 'Best Practice in ELT' and this topic was introduced
by Jeremy Jacobson of the British Council ELT Group. Jeremy emphasised
the importance of networks and networking and the pointed out
the similarities in the objectives of ELTECS and other teachers'
associations. He stressed the importance of thinking laterally
and opening up to the challenges of new ideas and new technology.
This idea of thinking "out
of the box" was developed by Dilek Hancioglu from Turkey and
Marina Tevzaia from Georgia , who described the work and regional
networking of local teacher's associations. Some aspects of their
work go well beyond the field of ELT into the field of civic
education. The presentations took the form of springboard discussions
which stimulated a variety of lively contributions and led to
an exchange of ideas among representatives from around the world.
The ideas shared ranged from cultural discussion groups in Macedonia
and Japan through drama in Slovakia and Scotland to the use of
mentor systems for guiding new teachers both in schools and in
teachers' associations. One idea which could be of interest to
other Associations is the concept of Open House Activities as
practised by GELI in Cuba . Here events are hosted by the companies
or institutions in which the members themselves work. In addition
to being very economical to the association concerned, this provides
a platform for promoting and disseminating information about
the host organisation and facilitates networking among teachers.
Part of the afternoon was devoted to IATEFL organisational matters
affecting the Associates, including the Wider Membership Scheme,
which supports members from less affluent countries, and to the
question of how links between the Associates and the IATEFL office
and Committee can be improved. In recent years the relationship
between the Associates and IATEFL has been on the wane and several
members used the occasion to air their grievances. The Associates
are now represented through a member of the Committee of Management,
Margit Szesztay of Hungary , who is organising a think tank to
get things moving again. The afternoon ended with five smaller
discussion groups who wanted to go into more detail on some of
the topics raised in the morning session.
All in all, it was agreed that the British Council contribution
was extremely fruitful, that there is a lot of common ground,
and that this type of collaboration should be continued. Thanks
are due to Paula Jullian of Chile for guiding the proceedings
smoothly through the day.