Announcing: The 1st TouchPaper Problem Solving Party


Back in September, the ResearchEd conference hosted a vast range of speakers suggesting how research might be more effectively used in education. My own contribution was a presentation of 7 problems which, if answered, would help teachers understand important things about their job. (See the full talk here)

The list was called the “TouchPaper Problems” – a reference to the blue paper with which one lights fireworks. I created each problem because I felt it would give information useful in classrooms. They are difficult questions though. Each one will require several layers of theory-testing and consideration before they can be considered ‘solved’. This sort of public problem-solving approach in the past motivated mathematicians and engineers to solve some of the most fundamental problems in their sector. My theory is simple: we should do the same in education.

To move things forward the brilliant Becky Allen suggested it would be interesting to see if it  really is possible to answer these questions. She threw open a challenge: Why not get curious people together, provide some coffee and facilities, and over a few hours see if they can work together to start solving the problems?  It was a genius idea. And so….

You Are Invited to the 1st TouchPaper Problem Solving Day!

On Saturday 18th January 2014, between 11am and 4pm, Becky and I are inviting you to join a day of problem-solving at The Institute of Education in London.

There are 50 total spaces available, with the group split into 7 teams that will look closely at a specific TouchPaper Problem and use the session time to start pulling it apart, finding out what research is already available and considering next steps for solving the problem.

On the day the teams will be led by our amazing group of facilitators including Katharine Vincent, Michael Slavinsky, Helene Galdin-O’Shea, David Weston, Harry Fletcher-Wood and Kris Boulton. Together we have planned a way of ensuring that throughout the day the teams will begin breaking down the question and moving towards answer.

Why take part? Because it is education nerding at its finest!

We have no idea if the questions are possible to solve in one day or not. [Though It seems unlikely]. What we are excited about is seeing what happens when people who are really interested in finding answers to these questions start working together to achieve them. Hence, we can’t promise you will go away with a particular skill or  set of knowledge. But you will get a whole day of looking at a difficult education problem and learning lots of materials around it. There’s also the added prestige of being a person trying to answer some of the hardest problems we face in our profession.

Sounds fun? Here’s how you sign up….

The initial 50 places will be assigned on a first-come, first-served basis. To register complete this SurveyGizmo link.

Two notetable things:

  1. We have asked you to select the questions you are most interested to work on during the event. Please fill in so we can assign you to a group. We guarantee everyone in the first 50 will get a place on a preferred question.
  2. We have asked for some information about your background. This is just so we can balance groups. You don’t have to be a teacher (or have been one!) to take part.

Once the first 50 spaces are gone, we will close registration and assign groups. If there are still spaces in some groups we will then open an additional, more specific registration for the questions that still have spaces left.

We hope to see you there!

TouchPaper Problems

Categories: #TouchPaper Problems, Teaching

5 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Rebecca Allen and commented:
    An invitation from Laura McInerney to our TouchPaper Problem Solving Party…


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