Literacy Conference

24 March 2021

Last week, Donna Hazzard, Literacy coordinator at St Mary’s University College, presented a paper at the Educational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI) conference entitled ‘Possibilities in Education: Connections with People, Purpose and Place’

The paper that Donna presented was Inclinations of habitus and the challenge of changing dispositions: critical literacy as an educational imperative.

Of the 110 presentations, only two were from Northern Ireland: one is a collaborative paper from several people at Stranmillis University College, and the second is the one above from St Mary's.

The conference theme was based on the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching. As a result of the remote learning, we have gained a new appreciation of the importance of people, place and the context of education. We know that learning together, with and from one another, is key: that the social aspects—the fun and happiness in community and the connection with others in stimulating and live encounters—enrich our teaching and learning. We realise that schools, colleges and universities are valuable sites of engagement, and that they play a pivotal role in the education, welfare and wellbeing of a nation.

The conference challenge is to discern how the pandemic has provided us with an unanticipated and exceptional opportunity: we can decide to return to the pre-Covid normal, or we can use the pandemic as an opportunity for renewal and the re-imagining of education. Are we now ready to embrace a renaissance in education and to grasp the opportunity to refashion and re-envision education?

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