Lynnette Erickson, Janet Young, and Stefinee Pinnegar are excited about attending an international academic conference in a castle. The fact that the castle was built in the 15th century and is surrounded by a moat gives it a Camelot appeal. A rumor suggests that several trees on the property are as old as the castle itself. “It is just exactly like a fairy tale castle in a lot of ways,” Erickson remarked.

Erickson, Young, and Pinnegar from the Department of Teacher Education have been appointed co-chairs of the Castle Conference, held bi-annually at the Herstmonceux Castle in Essex England and sponsored by the Self-Study of Teacher Education Practices. Attendees include teacher educators from around the world who are interested in self-study as a research methodology. As representatives of BYU, their appointments and service reflect positively on the university and on the McKay School of Education.

As castle chairs, Erickson, Young and Pinnegar have already spent almost two years preparing for the 2010 conference and will do likewise for the 2012 conference. Preparation involves calling for proposals, coordinating several double-blind reviews for all papers submitted for presentation—meaning two people must edit each paper without knowing who the authors are—and then coaching authors on preparing for the conference. The chairs edit the final papers and compile them as conference proceedings that are published in advance of the conference.

Of the 106 proposals the castle chairs received from teacher educators hoping to present at the 2010 Castle Conference, 70 were chosen for presentations. Erickson, Young, and Pinnegar have accepted proposals from all over the world, including Australia, the Netherlands, Iceland, New Zealand, Israel, Canada, and the United States. “It’s large enough to be a microcosm of world teacher educators,” Erickson expressed. “We’re meeting with people who are really influential in their own spheres, even if it’s a smaller cadre of people than are represented in other conference settings.”

Young explained the importance of the conference being international. “It’s easy to get myopic and think only of your immediate surroundings,” she said. “Even if we look nationally at trends, that’s still limited in scope. When you take a global view and step back even further, it opens your eyes to things that are common but things that are also very different. If we’re going to be good educators and good teacher educators, that is absolutely necessary.”

Erickson described the Castle Conference as an opportunity for attendees to learn from one another. “It’s educational for all those who attend—for presenters as well as those in the audiences,” she explained. Presenters are encouraged to creatively engage the audience in their work, which leads to some intense discussions and new understandings, the Castle Chairs said.

Queen’s University in Canada now owns the Herstmonceux Castle, which was built in 1441. The history-rich building is currently an International Study Centre. During the summer the castle is used for special programs and conferences,. The castle chairs explained that the castle is an ideal venue because it is secluded and economical. “Having the conference in a castle gives a mystique to it,” Pinnegar said. “The castle has become an icon associated with certain behavior and an expectation of learning and growth.”

22 March 2010