Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Conference 2017 - Bring It On!

Our final keynote this morning was a follow on from the panel discussion on Monday, about obesity in schools, presented by the admirable Lisette Burrows. Lisette is a Professor at The University of Otago, and has been researching and teaching in the field of Health and PE for a number of years. I remember reading her work throughout my undergrad, so I felt so blessed to be in her presence! Unsurprisingly, her presentation was marvellous and she came across as a modest, humble, lovely lady. She was insightful, and really challenged us to think about obesity and whether we need to include it in our classrooms. 

I left thinking about the ongoing discussions around the obesity epidemic, and the lack of discussions and fear in regard to anorexia and bulimia. These eating disorders are often forgotten about, as I think many are more concerned with the forever-growing fat population and the impact obesity has on our bodies, than the impact order eating disorders may have generally, and big bodies are easier to see than bodies which may be suffering with anorexia or bulimia. Lisette briefly mentioned how people feel they are being watched all the time, that someone is always judging you, the idea of the panoptic gaze, which is unsurprisingly prevalent in our society where someone is deemed to be fat, overweight, obese, just by the way they look. 

But what really is the point of teaching these words? What do students actually gain from discussions about obesity? Do they become more self conscious and more aware of the panoptic gaze? Do students understand we can eat for pleasure and happiness, as health is holistic? If students are discussing eating disorders, do they begin to feel guilty and/or confused about what they are told at home, what their friends tell them and what media is portraying? Most importantly, in my eyes, what on earth is the point in teaching the food pyramid??? I have so many questions to ponder now, and I am glad I have time to reflect upon and read further about the obesity epidemic before I teach Health in the future.

Using Plickers cards for real time feedback
The second half of the day were sessions again, followed by a guest celebrity speaker (blog about the presentation here), then a closing ceremony and presentation. I attended workshops considering gamification and how concepts of gaming could be included in education, which I chose to go to because my learners are gamers, and a session about pornography for beginners to consider some of the major problems with porn and teaching it, what may be important to cover, and discussing some possible resources we can utilise in our classrooms.

I am sad the conference has come to a close, as I have learnt many new things not only content based, but also about myself and my biases, and some new ideas to take back to the department and school. I hope in the next 11 or so months I feel more comfortable with my progressions individually and as a collective in the department, as I would love to present at the next conference in order to give back what I learnt over the past few days. Can't wait!

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