Saturday, March 13, 2010

TEDxNYED Reflections

There have been so many thoughts flying around the blogosphere about TEDxNYED I'm not sure where my own thoughts begin. I'm not going to get involved in the critiques of the format; I can accept that different conferences have different set-ups and leave it at that.

When the videos get posted on the TEDx channel on YouTube I'll watch most, if not all, of them again. Trying to process 14 live talks and 2 videos in an eight hour day is beyond my capabilities. Add to that the excitement and joy of talking with and meeting folks I've only known virtually or not known at all and the day was exhausting. In the best possible way.

Michael Wesch's presentation was fabulous. I have to admit that having seen the videos his classes have created I was a bit hesitant about him. I had some fears of his being cheesy or condescending or something (I'm not really sure what). My fears were completely unfounded. He began with a hilarious story that will make watching his video completely worthwhile for it alone. My big take-away from him is the idea that we need to honor students' interests and passions. It was intriguing to feel such a connection regarding goals for our students when he is a college professor and I teach first grade. It suggests that the differences between the various levels are not as significant as we may think.

David Wiley was someone with whom I was completely unfamiliar. Of all the new-to-me faces at TEDxNYED he may have been my personal favorite. He spoke on the idea of 'openness' in education. This section of the conference was the most challenging to my thinking. In theory I agree wholeheartedly with the idea of openness. In reality I'm not sure where we should draw the line or how we make this work while still honoring everyone's efforts. It's something I will be thinking more about. Wiley also said, "Technology always plays opposite its nemesis, policy." I thought last weekend that I needed more time to think about that sentence and I still do. I think it's the 'always' that makes me uncertain.

George Siemens
was another I did not know before TEDxNYED. He spoke about connections and transparency in education. This is another talk I need to watch again (and maybe again). I was really struck by this, "We want to disrupt what it means to be a teacher and to be a learner." I don't think we will be able to enact any sort of meaningful change without disrupting that. Siemens also earned immense respect for me when he said, "We drop so much on the educational system it's amazing it functions as well as it does."

The final batch of presenters was one I had been really looking forward to. It began with Dan Cohen of the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University (just down the road for me). I had never met Dan but was familiar with him through my husband, a college professor who has worked with Dan in a variety of ways. Dan's talk was fun, interesting, and exceptionally well done. I highly recommend watching it when these are posted soon.

Dan Meyer was another in this final group. I have read his blog for some time now and appreciate the ways he pushes himself and others. His talk was not new to me (for which I was actually pretty grateful by this point in the day). That said, it's the first talk I'll be pushing people to watch. He's a high school math teacher with the mantra, "Be less helpful". I've been talking about his presentation all week with others at my school. He's an engaging presenter with an important message. At one point in the talk he said, "I'm going to retire into a world my students run." That's something teachers need to remember everyday (as does everyone, really).

Finally, the day ended with Chris Lehmann. I've been familiar with Chris since attending Educon last year and I am convinced he is one of the brightest, most charismatic, important voices in education today. Again, this was a talk that was not new to me. Chris had mentioned concerns that many folks in the audience had heard him say these things. I firmly believe they are worth hearing often. Everyone at TEDxNYED spoke with passion, but no one is quite like Chris. He can barely contain himself when he begins talking about education and it is inspiring. Watch this one.

There are many great reflections on TEDxNYED out there. Shelley Krause has wisely and generously set up a wiki collecting them. There are a few I highly recommend:
Chris Lehmann
Will Richardson (Reading this one will give you a real sense of what the day was like.)
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach
Jose Vilson

My reflections just cover the talks, and only a few of those. I met and talked with so many amazing educators that day from breakfast through to dinner. I hope to spend some time thinking deeply about that aspect as well, because it was equally important to me.


The Science Goddess said...

Speaking of retiring in a world run by your students...

At the first school I taught at, there was a sign that read "Somewhere in America, a future president is sitting in a classroom. Let us hope that she is having a nice day."

That has always stuck with me---that the future really is in our hands. I hope that we're doing the right things.

Launa Hall said...

Thank you so much for going over this amazing day. If I weren't pounding out a paper right now, I would be watching all of these, as fast as I could. I'm going to have to ration myself, but I intend to watch all of them. Again, thank you for the links. I could really use some inspiration right now!