The educational magic carpet hasn’t left the ground for quite some time now because of lockdown but in some cases that hasn’t been a bad thing.
CPD conferences used to be held here, there and everywhere covering this, that and the other.
Pre-covid, the CPD scene was a healthy one with something for everyone. The catholicity of education has ensured that teachers have been spolied for choice.
But no one flies the magic carpet these days as CPD is now done virtually online and it’s a far cry from the real thing.
It would be far too easy to denigrate CPD events and lump them together and say that they are just echo-chambers of Twitter.
For many teachers, attending a gathering of like-minded souls has been a valuable opportunity to mix and socialise as well as see and hear the great edu-celebs that tour the circuit repeating their PowerPoints.
If you consider yourself an edu-celeb (and many do) then the magic carpet of education may have wafted you beyond the UK to another country.
This is where we see CPD at it’s worst.
In these over-priced CPD events egos strut their stuff within stuffy hotels as their paying audience sit in groups of 8 around table cloths drinking from expensive glass bottles of water and squirreling away the pencils and notepads.
People at these events are made to feel grateful they are there.
Although a lot of CPD is free, many paid for events happen on home turf too. These are driven by external consultants, self-appointed experts who normally are selling their latest book. The tactic they use now is to include a free copy when you attend which of course you pay for in the fee it costs to attend.
The grounding of the magic carpet has stopped all of this and has exposed some CPD events for what they are: rip-offs.
But we miss flying on the CPD magic carpet and attending these events. We miss them not because of the content but the people. The content is easily forgotten but the people aren’t.
The magic carpet carries three types of passenger across the educational universe:
There are the tyros, eager but nervous teachers who are just getting the scent of teaching in their nostrils. They go along sniffing the ground like excited cockapoos attending pretty much everything they can. They travel to listen and learn.
There are then the congressionalists. These are frequent flyers who are in the thick of their teaching careers and have plenty to say. They have submitted articles to websites, done some small-scale action research and are never off social media telling the world what they are up to. Many will have their own blogs and greet each other as long lost friends.
The third category are the edu-celebs. These are the people travel far and wide to see, be near and have selfies with. They are the honoured guests who are invited to do keynotes and all of their expenses are paid, generously. Although edu-celebs can pick and choose, they are seldom off the magic carpet because they have to be seen everywhere.
But all of these people are now looking at each other on a screen from their untidy offices at home. CPD is now a silo activity and edu-celebs have had to change their tune.
Lockdown will at some point end and the magic carpet will start to twitch again when real-life face to face CPD can take place once more.
Then again, the magic carpet might just stay where it is as we all realise that online CPD can be done without all the faff, fluff and fanfare.