Finding the right sand pit, but do I want to play with others?

AARE 2017 is done and it was so good I’ve actually joined the organisation. Again, like APSA and APIRA and the Colloquiums, I’m not sure the people are my people but the content is certainly my content. Although I think it’s not that the people of these disciplines aren’t my people I think it’s more that academics aren’t my people. The reason I’ve come to this point is because I met some incredible people at this conference and even two I’m really keen to collaborate with, but on the whole I found myself at breaks talking to people thinking, “Why are you so focussed on the achievement and not engaged with the ideas?”.

See, my people are not the people who want the academic position, the high reputation journal, or dropping the right name into conversation (I can’t remember names so no use for me there!). My people are the ones who want to change the world. Who can see the value in research for the advancement of education and society as a whole. These are the people I want to hang out with.

What was fascinating was every session I went to I could directly link to my practice as a teacher or my research. This meant there was not one session I attended where I felt disappointed. For regular conference goers you will know just how unusual this is. You usually land one session where you politely exit yourself half way through because it’s just that bad. Not this time! And that includes finding myself in sessions I didn’t plan to be in because a) I met someone in the break and went to see what they were saying and found all the other presenters were great too or b) changes in the conference schedule were so common you’d turn up for one session to find yourself in another.

The fact this occurred and I still feel as though not a session was wasted is a testament to how the content of AARE is totally a sand pit I can play in. I still might not want to play with others, but at least I’ve found my sand pit.

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