Check it out – coverage in The Philadelphia Inquirer!
Big screen and bigger ideas by Carolyn Davis
The cold, windy, bright walk to SLA on Sunday morning was invigorating (if you had the proper outerwear) or positively brutal (if you didn’t). Even a hearty breakfast from the Midtown III on 18th Street wasn’t enough to keep my walking partners Elizabeth Helfant and Brian Crosby warm. (Elizabeth, in typical understated St. Louis style, said only, “I wish I’d brought a hat.” Brian, wearing what appeared to be a light North Face fleece windbreaker of some kind, said nothing. I think his teeth were frozen together.) [Image credit: TonyBaldasaro]
The morning panel go underway right on time as the moderator Kevin Hogan, Editorial Director of Technology & Learning Magazine (shown below, top left), expertly guided the distinguished panelists through the mental minefield of a question: “What Is The Relationship / Disconnect Between Policy Reform and Pedagogical Reform?”
The panelists were:
- Doug Levin, Executive Director of the State Educational Technology Directors Association (and former Deputy Director of the National Association of State Boards of Education)
- Michael Horn, co-author of Disrupting Class and Executive Director of Innosight Institute
- Torch Lytle, Professor of Education, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania
- Jolley Bruce Christman, Senior Research Fellow, Research for Action
- Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, Professor of African American Studies at Temple University and author of over 70 books including Afrocentric Infusion for Urban Schools.
Honestly, I wish I had something intelligent to offer about the content of the panel.I enjoyed the discussion but felt like an intellectual midget – these folks were in WAY deep – I’m just a computer teacher, after all! (lol)
I must say, this panel moderating business is hard work. Kevin did a terrific job guiding the discussion. I am now living in fear of the panel I am scheduled to moderate at ISTE 2010 in Denver. I am not kidding.
The impossible task of choosing sessions was somewhat easier this morning as Gary Stager set up shop in the front of Room 204 for Papert Matters: Thinking About Children, Computers and Powerful Ideas. Unfortunately my photographic skills regressed to new lows as the shot below is the best of the bunch I took.
Fortunately the event wasn’t a photo-op, it was an opportunity to listen to one of my favorite critical friends share passionately about a topic that defines him. Gary’s digital handout (in his words, poorly formatted) is worth the price of admission alone. Spend some time with a few of those links and you’ll come away with newly activated neurons, guaranteed.
Gary presented Dr. Seymour Papert’s beliefs and life work with a unique mix of admiration, invective and humor that is his trademark. He shared great quotes, video clips, and fascinating personal anecdotes that showcased Papert’s beliefs and lifelong battle against the educational (and political) establishment. They came so fast I couldn’t even keep up posting them on Twitter. It was classic Gary. I enjoyed learning even more about Dr. Papert’s work and getting a glimpse into an intellectual relationship that clearly means so much to Gary.
Session 5 for me would be David Jakes’ On the Development of Learning Spaces. This is a topic I find fascinating, even though I’m not designing any schools, classrooms or libraries (yet). David’s “Old Skool Paper Handout” ran against the “green” grain at Educon (I think I saw Will Richardson shaking his head disdainfully) but is a great illustration of how David operates: if it works, he does it. He puts the cutting in cutting edge, gleefully separating the intellectual wheat from the chaff with less effort than it takes to raise one of his (trademarked?) eyebrows. Well, ok. More effort than that. Here’s David’s slide deck:
Just click your way through the slides above. What makes David’s delivery so powerful for me is that he is a practitioner. He’s an administrator. A former Chemistry teacher. Someone whose passion to serve children hasn’t diminished one iota after so many years “in the system.” (If anything, “the system” has only made him into what he is today. What doesn’t kill you makes you strong, right?) I loved hearing him effortlessly mix theory and practice with vignettes of life at his own school. He’s getting sh*t done. He came to Educon to tell us how he’s doing it, and along the way to challenge us to “critically examine [our] perceptions and biases about what a classroom is.” Hell yes. That’s what I signed up for…
It turns out David’s talk was the last for me at Educon 2.2; I left early expecting to have to shovel several hundred cubic feet of heavy, frozen snow from my driveway … only to discover that my wife and daughter had already done it for me as a surprise. (It was a lovely gesture; the only thing that would have made it better would be if they’d told me, so I could have stayed for Session 6.)
No matter. It was a very good day, and, an absolutely invigorating experience. A friend asked, via Twitter, “do you feel like you need power brain down time?” The answer: hell no! Hard work is how I relax. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to hit the shower and get ready for school – I can’t WAIT to get back in my classroom – and get to work!