By Alexander Higgins, March 20th 2006
- 1. Background
- 2. Links and Issues
- 3. Conclusion and moving forward
A motion was put forward to investigate the possibility of the NPC becoming involved, in some guise, with the GHFP part organised international conference Rethinking Educational Change. I was elected project officer to carry out such an investigation, or so I thought. It seems the actual motion may have become worded differently to how I intended and this might appear in the minutes. It does not very much matter now.
Due to the rushed nature of my election to project officer and to the unexpected bringing to the table of the conference by my self I thought it better to give the NPC more of an understanding of the organisations involved and the focus of the conference. This investigation was thus suggested with the NPCs reputation and remit in mind, especially due to my relative newness as a member of the NPC.
There had been a suggestion that rather than carrying out an investigation and certainly to avoid any monetary commitment, which I was not asking for at all, that an email could just be sent out on various lists to publicise the event. This was not an option I felt comfortable with as the proposer due to the lack of information that had been provided about the event and organisations involved1. This was for me the whole point of investigating the conference and the possible role the NPC might have in it, i.e. to ensure the NPCs reputation and remit was maintained (though I was hopeful that this conference might actually enhance the NPC).
Time moved on and though the report had not begun systematically the process of my own involvement in the conference and the GHFP was gradually forming a picture of how an international think tank organising and international conference on education might somehow relate to a National Postgraduate Committee concerned with some of the very same issues.
These issues for me are people, structures, and how to attain excellence, however this is construed, through each other and the structures that exist. Thus people sharing stories and experiences about each other, and the education system, and channelling this information back into structures (education system, administrative bodies, organisations, government policy, law) in order to make them closer relate to peoples goals and needs became a prevalent topic in my mind. Though this might appear a fairly abstract way of putting it this is perhaps the strongest connection that the NPC could have had with the conference.
I will personally take my experiences, including with the NPC, to the international conference to share with others from around the world so that when they encounter similar issues they might be more successful/able to understand and channel them to positive outcomes. I will of course do this as an individual rather than as a proper representative of the NPC.
Distinct issues that have arisen in the very process of being a project officer are:
whether the NPC was being asked to become involved in an organisation or a conference,
what this involvement might be and entail,
what the role of a project officer, given a mandate to investigate an issue, is and how much sovereignty he or she has in exercising their mandate.
It is not necessary to enlarge upon the themes that were under development in email conversations. The NPC I am 95% sure wishes to have no involvement in the conference or the organisation and I therefore see no point in dragging the coals and creating an epic report into it. This would be a waste of time. I therefore attach some email links and issues as it is clear that my research mandate as project officer became so dilute so early that it is better for anyone interested in this to do there own investigating.
SUBUD - as a group concerned with the meditative techniques of Subud, Bapak Mhd. Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo [1901-1987]
GHFP - a foundation for Peace:
- many of the GHFP are involved in the Subud ideal who are in turn concerned with meditative techniques and how to be in touch with the self and the spiritual side of life,
- this link is not made explicit on the conference link, as by my understanding it is not a primary locus of the event,
- nonetheless the GHFP website states as an aim: "promoting interfaith understanding through dialogue, and the deepening of individual religious and spiritual experience (http://www.ghfp.org/approach.htm). It is thus possible that the conference, as it is interfaith, might involve the meditative technique. It is a shame that this isnt made explicit but I dont think it is a serious issue or should overshadow the conference/work that the GHFP does.
- the NPC appears to find it unpalatable that a) there is a pseudo-religious element, b) they have as a central goal asking How can we change our educational institutions so that they be come avenues for personal and societal transformation?, and c) the lack of explicit mention of Subud in relation to the conference.
These have at least been uncovered as issues by the suggestion that the NPC involvement with the conference should be investigated. An email of publicity for the event without knowing this would have been foolish.
3rd International Vittachi Conference on "Rethinking Educational Change." Ifrane, Morocco
- contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- Web site: http://www.transformedu.org
Question: What role might a project officer have post confusion:
This I believe is in the minutes from James:
"it was agreed that this not be specifically tied to the conference at this stage (as it had not yet been established whether the NPC should involve itself in this), but instead that Alex be elected to look more generally at transforming education and personal development - i.e. the issues promoted by the Conference."
It is not my recollection that this was the motion that was passed, perhaps it rather refers to the role of the project officer2, but I am happy to now go ahead and fulfil this mandate with a new proposal in the future should this be of interest to the NPC.
It might also be useful to amalgamate the email conversations from the members of the NPC on the conference. This would be done no longer in order to ascertain anything about involvement in the conference but rather to reflect on what different people think the NPC is for, how these ideas clash, and how to improve communication between members (especially new members). A self, non-monetary, audit if you like.
One of the reasons that I would like to do this is that the confusion as to the project officer role as well as to what actual motion was passed and what it meant led to the unnecessary wastes of time. It also led to accusations, alarmist discussions, questions of professionalism being raised, and other unpalatable performances. Perhaps the project officer should be made aware of these concerns when investigating the possibility of the NPC being involved in something and place them into the report/send a word document earlier than this outlining these concerns if necessary.