What an incredible experience – 6 full days of learning, 20 separate meetings with policymakers and ed tech leaders in Dublin and Belfast, dialogues with the Minister of Education in Ireland and the Minister in North Ireland, in depth discussion with a Member of Parliament and two inspiring school visits. The difficult part will now be to distill all this learning into an informative and meaningful report for our colleagues in the US.
I’ve had a few days to think about our experiences – and want to leave you with a final reflection that occurred on our last day in Dublin. Cynthia Larsen and I had a few minutes of free time and we found ourselves entering the beautiful gates of Trinity College. Created by royal charter in 1592, the university is known for nurturing ground-breaking research, innovation, and creativity.
In the midst of the stone buildings and Victorian architecture we were surprised to see signs for a Maker Space taking place that evening. We spent time chatting with the groups setting up their exhibits and learning about their vision and commitment to provide new learning opportunities… and we watched as families arrived to visit the exhibits.
Here we were standing on the campus of the oldest university in Ireland – and witnessing first hand 21st century new models of learning. Seeing the Maker Space tent against the backdrop of Trinity College’s stone towers clearly symbolized that Ireland is forging new paths of innovation at the same time that it is honoring its tradition and history.