It is a pleasure to formally invite you to the forthcoming  conference of EPA and TA Teachers in Riga, Latvia.

Some decades ago educators, including parents and teachers might have said to children: “If you pay close attention to what I`m teaching you now, you`ll learn everything you need to know for a successful life.” It`s doubtful that this message was ever entirely true, but it`s certainly not true today. We don`t know all the information that today`s students will need or all the answers to the questions they will face. Indeed, increasingly, we don`t even know the questions. What is more, the flow of information starts at a very early age and it does not stop for vacations either.

These realities mean that we must empower our children, the school students of today to become creative thinkers, critical thinkers, and problem solvers. Even educators, parents and teachers alike must become lifelong learners, raise the children to become people who never lose curiosity and who can apply their new knowledge to unique, complex challenges, even with no known right solutions.

Traditional education systems routinely teach students how to use various sets of cognitive tools to make life at school easier, to have better grades and better learning outcomes. They learn tools for note-taking, memorising texts and facts, to organise and reproduce information. When the focus shifts from learning facts to learning thinking we are more likely to prepare them for the uncertain future ahead. To be able to shape this future both creative and critical thinking skills need to be developed.

The stereotype creative thinker is like an untamed animal, living in an imaginary world with weak links to reality. However a critical thinker is required to be analytical, serious, unbiased and down-to-earth. The truth seems to be more complex: the two ways of thinking are complementary and equally important. Research shows – as we learnt it in Lisbon – that today’s children use the two sides of their brains in a unique way and they show a very high level creativity, many ways different from our traditional view on creativity.

On the one hand traditional schools have realised the need for change from putting academic content and memorising in focus to skills and competence development. You will see a large number of good examples of this in the Riga conference. On the other hand parents have a great responsibility to start developing these skills as early as possible, before a child enters the education system and also to support their development in non-academic periods, sometimes balancing the work of more traditional schools. The parents’ strand of the conference will focus more on these topics. The programme ensures that you will have an interesting time in Riga regardless which areas of the above interest you more.

Preliminary Programme

The conference is held in English. No simultaneous translation will be organised.

Friday, 19th September

09:00 School visit

11:00 Registration

12:30 Lunch

13:30 Official Opening – Welcome by the Ministry of Education & Culture, Riga City Council and Nordic Council of Ministers

13:45 Competences for Teaching Thinking – dr. Alexander Sokol, TA Group, Latvia

14:30 A Step towards Implementing the Thinking Approach – Susan Granlund, Kirkonkylä Primary School, Finland & Kirsi Urmson, Rauman Normaalikoulu, Finland

15:15 Getting Prescient Knowledge – Dmitry Kucharavy, Seecore Project, France –

16:00 Coffee break

16:30 Let`s Think: Cognitive Acceleration – Stuart Twiss and Lynda Maple, Let`s Think Forum, UK

17:15 Thinking-Based Footprints in Scandinavia from the 13th ICOT – Prof. Bengt Lennartsson, Linköping University, Sweden

18:00 Naturally Unique: Encouraging Creativity and Metacognitive Skills in Family Environments – Linda O`Toole, Universal Education Foundation, Learning for Well-Being, Belgium and USA

19:00 Welcome reception (conference hotel restaurant)

Satuday, 20th September

09:00 Breakup Session 1

Strand A. Innovations in the classroom

Strand B. Innovations in educational management

Strand C. Innovations in family learning – Room “Gauja”

OTSM-TRIZ – the planner of a successful life path – Ingrīda Muraškovska, Latvia

School Holidays: Finally Time to Learn? Creative Use of Long Out-of School Periods to Foster Creativity – Andrea Gruber, Pressley Ridge, Hungary

10:30 Coffee break

11:00 Breakup Session 2

Strand A. Innovations in the classroom

Strand B. Innovations in educational management

Strand C. Innovations in family learning – Room “Gauja”

Learning for Well-being Core Capacities/Practices in Family Environments – Linda O`Toole, Universal Education Foundation, Learning for Well-being, Brussels, Belgium

PASS materials as a tool for the development of thinking skills of pre-school children – Edgar Lasevich and Alexander Sokol, TA Group, Latvia


12:30 Lunch

14:00 Breakup Session 3

Strand A. Innovations in the classroom

Strand B. Innovations in Educational Management

15:30 Coffee break

16:00 Breakup Session 4

Strand A. Innovations in the classroom

Strand B. Innovations in Educational Management


Detailed programme of Strands A and B can be found on the TA Group website


18:00 Old Riga walking tour – free for confrence participants

20:00 Optional dinner – registration needed, special fee applies


Sunday, 21th September

09:00 – 16:00 Optional sightseeing (separate registration necessary)


Logistics information:

1. Hotels

We are staying at two different hotels, the majority of the participants are staying at the conference hotel Radisson Blu Daugava – Kugu iela 24.

All board members are staying at the Konventa Sēta – Kalēju iela 9/11, the cheaper hotel. It is walking distance from the conference venue, across the river.

  1. Conference venue is Radisson Blu Daugava – Kugu iela 24.
  2. The school visit on Friday at 9:00 will take place at the  Riga State Gymnasium No. 3 – Grēcinieku iela 10. As we are coming from two different hotels, we are meeting at the school gate at 8.50. Ask for instrucitons at the hotel reception if you have a problem. It is very central. If you are arriving between 9 and 11 on Friday, feel free to join us.
  3. Conference dinner on Saturday – if you registered and paid in advance – is at Restaurant Neiburgs – Jauniela 25. If you participate at the free walking tour, it will end at the restaurant. It means there is no need to dress up.
  4. Airport transfer – different options

Bus No. 22, stops opposite the terminal (see map) Get off at Nacionālā bibliotēka (Radisson Blu) or Autoosta (Konventa Sēta) You can see the timetable here: Price: 1 EUR or 0.70 EUR if you buy a ticket in advance (not on the bus)

Airport shuttle

You can have details here: None of the hotels is on the official list of stops but you can normally agree with the driver to be brought to the hotel you need.

Taxis stand outside the terminal. The fees will be 10-15 EUR, depending on the traffic and the route chosen. Ask for the receipt from the terminal, it`s in each car. If no receipt is provided, the ride is free.

6. Practical information

In Latvia the local currency is the Euro.

As Latvia belongs to the Schengen Area, there is no border control and all EU and EEC citizens can travel with their national identity cards instead of a passport.

English is widely spoken, but not by the elderly who mostly speak Russian.