Last week I attended the 8th Global Meeting of Fashion Interdisciplinary-Net at Mansfield College, Oxford. This conference was an excellent platform for practitioners to come together and present their research surrounding their work studying fashion. I can not recommend highly enough the all in compassing and welcoming ethos of this conference where students, professionals and educators came together. I heard papers on not just on teaching but also design, sustainability, cultural effects on fashion and fashion through disability, and the presenters came from education specialisms such as fashion, sociology, religious studies and marketing. But also professionals who were outside of the educational bubble presented their fascinating research. So to say what I found the most great about their week? Was the fact that I was learning about contemporary and historical issues and factors in fashion that were completely new to me and outside of education.
How does attending conferences enrich your working knowledge?
I think this is crucial to discuss and develop thoughts outside of the, sometimes, narrow corridor that education can take you down each year. Frequently in my workplace I have partaken in learning development meetings and sharing best practice with colleagues across my colleges. It is good to go out and see teaching in different subjects in the college, in a previous position I held, our college had a teaching resource centre where you could collect idea cards placed in their and adapt them for your lesson.
However I come back to something I tell my students ‘you are not going to get inspired by looking at these 4 walls for 2 years’ but also and more importantly ‘do not just go and research fashion’ aiming to widen their horizons. I think us as educators should have this same ethos, don’t just stay discussing education, the real world of our subject is so vital and fast paced. It was interesting however to talk to other educators at the conference and hear the amount of similarities in students around the world! I think the knowledge you gain from learning and looking at the ‘real world’ is also vital to pass to our students about the industry their aspire to enter into.
How do you share good ideas? Do you colleges have cross curricular development and discussions?
I was fascinated at this conference with papers about visual impairment and fashion, the rise of fashion foundations, sustainability, and also many discussions about how culture around the world has influenced dress. I do think sharing good ideas is great and the dialogue from the delegates hear sparked many further discussions far past the end of the sessions.
Perhaps I risk contradicting myself now, education is an industry and equally fast paced. I feel many a time that I have two professions- and yes I completely do! You could use the slightly cliche term ‘duel professional’ but this is quite true yes, and I am completely passionate about them both.