Dr Joseph Travers, Director of Special Education, St Patrick's College and designate Head of the School of Inclusive and Special Education, DCU Institute of Education gave the keynote address at the Irish Learning Support Association Conference (ILSA) in Kilkenny on March 11th.
The theme of the conference was "Learning yesterday, today and tomorrow." Dr Travers traced the development of learning support services in Ireland in terms of student learning, teacher learning and system learning and then focused on who is still not benefiting from learning in our schools. In this regard he highlighted, inter alia, the low learning outcomes and retention rates for Travellers. In relation to the future he outlined a vision for the future of learning without labels and limits- where educational programmes that are engaging, challenging and relevant can be built from profiles of learner strengths, needs and interests without the need to label and categorise
- A future where the economic, cultural and social barriers to learning are dismantled for all
- A future where your address, socio-economic status, ethnicity, gender, family composition, or home language has no negative impact on your learning
- A future where there is an inclusive community of provision with no artificial barriers between health and education services
- A future where learning is valued as an end in itself
- A future where practical and vocational learning is as valued as academic learning
- A future where early childhood learning is valued as much as third level learning
- A future where the benefits of learning are enjoyed by all
- A future where teacher and school learning are supported and developed
- A future where supports for learning are available for all who need them
- A future where learning is collaborative, interactive, intergenerational
- A future where we don’t assume that teaching leads to learning
- A future where learning is served by digital technology and not the other way round
- A future for learning where we can truly say, in the spirit of 1916, that we cherish all the children of the nation equally.