For the first time, International Baccalaureate (IB) Organization hosted its annual Global Africa/Europe/Middle East (Global AEM) Conference in the Middle East, October 24th–26th. Attending Senior Associates Gez Hayden and Dr. Barry Drake report that the venue, Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, is outstanding. Located on the outskirts of the city, the spacious purpose-designed facility provides the ideal location for large conferences of this sort to be undertaken simultaneously—there were at least three other conferences convening at the same time. A variety of hotels right next door to the center made access to and from the conference a delight!
Consistent with the theme, Generation IB, the first keynote session by two alumni from the first IB Diploma Programme (DP) graduate cohort of the first IB school in the U.A.E. Both now in their 30’s with families—one now a successful airline executive and the other a respected university academic—both explained how being IB educated changed their ways of thinking, after having transferred from content-based educational systems. The IB’s inquiry approach to learning influenced career and life decisions: they were more inclined to take risks and explore the possible rather than exploit the familiar.
The opening keynote speaker, Sir Clive Woodward, was the former coach of the England Rugby World Cup winning team of 2003 (which Barry hopes is good omen for English rugby fans!!) Sir Clive described the app he created that adapts his coaching methods to help “improve the quality of learning in business and sport.”
Barry also sat in on a very interesting session on how one school was applying the methodology of design thinking to the process of problem-solving at all levels of the school, including the desire to make improvements to the school’s report card system.
In addition to chatting with candidates, current and prospective, at the Search Associates (SEARCH) table in Exhibitors Hall, both Barry and Gez were pleased to make some personal re-connections from their pre-SEARCH past. Barry was particularly delighted to be seated next to the table of his former PhD advisors, Professors Mary Hayden and Jeff Thompson, from the University of Bath’s Centre for the Study of Education in an International Context. Amongst the topics of conversation was the new Postgraduate Certificate of International Education being offered as part-time course by the Centre. This course will provide UK teaching certification / qualifications within an international education dimension.
A number of candidates visited the SEARCH table to express their gratitude for all the work we do on their behalf. During the conference, Barry sent a message to Chief Executive Officer Jessica Magagna:
“Stephanie Williams, dropped by our desk this afternoon to let us know just how much she appreciated all that we do for candidates. She felt we don’t get told enough how much we help people like her. She has had a very successful career in international education so far as a result of our assistance.”
This fall alone, Search Associates will be a supportive presence at 15 or more regional and global educational conferences like IB Global AEM. Bring your news. Bring your greetings. Bring your questions and concerns. And we promise to bring our personal touch.