#Cong16 – My first visit to Cong, for CONGregation, was a delight.

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Congregation website with all details – http://congregation.ie/, including my ‘entry ticket’ blog post http://congregation.ie/blog-papers/if-teachmeet-is-the-answer.html

The first thing to say about CONGregation 2016 is that the date for CONGregation 2017 is November 24-26. That is how good it was. The second thing is that if Cong is this lovely a village to visit on a wet November day, it is high time to pencil in a visit in the summer.

Thanks to Eoin Kennedy for developing an unconference event that allows each attendee to present their case (this year on the theme of FUTURE), listen to that of others, and have questions posed and answered by others, in a series of small groups called huddles.

cong16-cardI don’t remember any other event I’ve attended where I was assigned to the sessions for the day – on registration one was given a ‘dance card’ already filled, so to speak! At each session one would join a huddle of 8 to ten people for an hour, during which the chair would invite three presenters to state their case, and prompt discussion among the group. Then we’d say thanks and leg it up or down the town to find our next huddle. One might be nervous at this lack of personal choice for a whole day, but from the first session to the fourth, and right thru lunch, it worked. The variety and quality of the interactions was wide and deep. The passion and empathy of the attendees was affecting. At the day’s final huddle, our group discovered that we’d each ‘presented’ already, so the chair allowed us a free range discussion about how we saw the future. All I can say is I’m still thinking about the people I met and the things we discussed – all that was good about Ireland was there. I have marked my calendar for next year – and this time I’ll be sure to be there for the entire weekend.

Thanks to my friend Margaret Griffin, @foodborn, for the company on the journey (once we got there, we never saw each other all day – but I did hear rumours that she enjoyed some terrific discussion on ethical food production, more about which next year I hope).

PS – one of my own takeaways was a realisation that the word Teachmeet isn’t yet in the dictionary. My blog post / presentation concerned the past and various possible futures of TeachMeet; the chats with folk from outside education made me decide that to discuss a topic it is easier to start with its definition! So watch this space…

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(TeachMeet discussion sketchnote by Gar McCroiste @mindrising)

PPS – took the first step…

 

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