Cathie Broocks spent a week during the summer in England meeting educators from around the world.
The Charlotte Christian School director of admissions was one of 24 people invited to the 2015 Oxford Round Table, a forum at the Harris Manchester College in the University of Oxford. Participants led discussions and gave presentations on their work.
As with all participants, Broocks was anonymously nominated. She facilitated a discussion called “Global Initiatives for Early Childhood Education.”
Broocks has been involved in education for more than 30 years. She said she came back to Charlotte with a wealth of perspectives on education.
“I learned that there are a number of really bright people who care about what’s happening to young children,” she said.
She has integrated what she learned at the conference into a workshop called “The Baby and the Bathwater,” which she will lead in the Charlotte area and beyond.
Presenters at the 2015 Oxford Round Table came from countries such as Namibia, Australia and Singapore, and each talked about his or her professional focus.
Topics ranged from how assessments of young children don’t always predict success to balancing the use of technology with young students.
Broocks said a presenter from Las Vegas talked about issues with successfully integrating refugee children into her school, while an African presenter discussed the disparity in academic performance between boys and girls in his country.
Broocks said many presenters, regardless of their home country, touched on issues that were relevant to local education, such as the importance of including parents as partners in a child’s education. Another talked about how children in poverty learn best if they see what they are learning, such as visiting a zoo to learn about animals, rather than being told the information.
Each presentation was followed by a discussion, and each night, the conference attendees met for dinner and talked for another two hours, Broocks said.
“The Baby and the Bathwater” presentation will offer research-based evidence for what new methods of instruction to embrace, what developmental practices to preserve and what, in either area, to shelve.
Broocks said she will offer suggestions such as making classrooms less visually stimulating and not pushing academics down into preschool.
Broocks, who also has attended the Learning and Brain conference for eight years with top researchers looking at education’s relations to science and brain function, believes that play is the highest form of learning for a young child.
“A child’s first five years of learning should be discovery-based, providing hands-on, concrete experiences,” she said.
Her work, which includes working with local preschool leaders, also extends to working with parents of young children as they apply to Charlotte Christian School.
“Charlotte Christian has been phenomenal about supporting professional development across the board,” she said.
For more information about Broocks' workshops, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer: email@example.com.