If you are popping your Festival of Education cherry this year then please heed the advice of an experienced lady to maximise your enjoyment of the experience:
Losing your way
1- Don’t book train tickets for ‘Wellington’ train station. Wellington College is not in Wellington, it’s in Crowthorne.
Yes, this actually happened. You can find directions to Wellington College here.
2- Don’t head down what looks like a track into the trees. You’ll discover that it is just that- a track into the trees. Definitely don’t do this after you’ve just met a workshop speaker and taken him with you- it’s going to appear sinister to say the very least. If other people look like they’re going the same way as you then follow them- unless of course a hoard of people turns into a lone couple of people warily stepping further into the outback. In this event, turn around. It’s either the trees or it’s a very terrible workshop. Better still, ask someone in a t-shirt for directions!
Yes, this all actually happened.
Being so embarrassed that your experience is ruined
3- Have back-up workshop sessions at the ready. There’s a chance your first choice will be full, especially if the speaker is in one of the smaller rooms but it feels as though they shouldn’t be. Be prepared to run to the first of your other options, or at least walk very quickly. Avoid walking around in circles until you realise you’ve walked past the windows of the workshop you were looking for several times- you become so embarrassed that you skulk away to go and speak rubbish to people trying to sell things.
Yes, this actually happened too.
4- Don’t fear being late. Don’t miss a workshop just because you’ve missed the first 4 minutes. No-one will stare at you like you think they will- don’t flatter yourself. Your arrival is not more interesting than the speaker…and if it is then back out quickly: you’ve clearly stumbled into a terrible workshop!
Yes, this actually happened. Are you spotting a pattern yet?
Trust your gut feeling for maximum enjoyment
5- Do your research before going. Find out about the speakers. If there’s a company name involved then it’s likely they’re selling something. Unless you’re buying and you have a serious interest in the company then these sessions will be more than likely completely useless to you. Sorry.
Yes, I actually attended a workshop like this.
6- Sit close to the door if you’re unsure and trust your instincts. If you get a bad feeling that the workshop you’re in won’t really hit the mark, leave. Better feeling a little awkward and embarrassed than wasting your life away bored and gazing longingly at the programme filled with speakers you wish you were listening to. Equally, don’t just follow the Twitter crowds. Trust what you will enjoy, be interested in and/or feel challenged by.
Yes, I ignored my gut a few times before I learnt my lesson.
Improving your experience even more
7- Enjoy a bit of time in the grounds on your own soaking up the atmosphere. Skip a workshop, grab a snack and indulge.
Yes, this actually happened and was so worth it!
8- At least go and look at the Mandarin Centre. It’s an envious learning environment- the rest of the buildings and grounds are ok, I suppose…
9- Wait around for the headliners. So they sadly won’t be Michael Gove this year but you need to listen to the people at the top and if you have a question or a comment then make your voice heard. You’ve been given a rare opportunity to stand up and be counted so don’t waste it!
No, I have never once made my voice heard but I have regretted it. Perhaps this will be the year for me.
10- Don’t go and see the likes of Katie Hopkins. You’ll discover you were right all along: she’s a total waste of space and fresh air. You don’t need to anger yourself in a tent for 45 minutes to work that one out!
Yes- this actually happened too- sadly.
Coming soon- my shortlist of who I intend to see! This might be of slightly more use to anyone looking for serious tips for serious people!
Oh, and if you’re not free to attend, perhaps you’ll be able to attend #ReadTL15 on Saturday 27th June?
PS. In case you were wondering- I have no connection to the festival at all- I just enjoy going and I enjoyed writing this!