Sunday, January 30, 2011

Educon 2.3

I'm giving an Encienda* presentation at lunch today at Educon. My message (that I hope comes through) is that we need the focus in education today to be on students, not on content.

I realized this morning that it hits on one of the reasons I love coming to Educon. I've spent the last two days with people who are focused on students, who are passionate about learning, who see the important pieces of education. That's easy to lose sight of in educational discussions in our country.

There is some frustration with Educon in that folks are frustrated by the lack of change. There seems to be a sense that after Educon everyone should go home and change the world. While I get the frustration, the more I think about it the more absurd it seems.

First of all, while I learn at Educon, it's not mind-blowing. I'm learning from most of these people on a regular basis already. There are things I will do as a result of this conference, but nothing will be earth-shattering.

Secondly, change takes time. Nothing is going to make our educational system change overnight. Not even Educon.

Finally, what on earth are people expecting from a few hundred human beings spending three days together? A whole new world?

The fact that Educon doesn't cause massive uproar in our educational system doesn't diminish its value.

*This is a 5 minute presentation with 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds.

Image from WOScholar's flickr stream in the Educon 2.3 group.


The Science Goddess said...

I think the reason some Educon people are frustrated by the lack of "change" is because they believe they have the right answer.

Guess what? They don't. Neither does Arne Duncan...or Michelle Rhee...or me. You're right---public ed should be about every student, every day. It's not about ego or Apple products.

If the Cult of Chris Lehmann comes back down to earth, there can be more inclusive conversations. Until then, they're just as dangerous (and misguided) as those they villify.

I'm glad that you're keeping your feet firmly rooted to the ground.

mr_tang said...

Jenny -- thanks for sharing your bit at educon. I just finished watching your Encienda presentation and thought about telling my students to quiet down during reading time. I recall quite vividly that on some days when I listen to their conversations more often than not it's about constructing meaning.

Being reflective is so critical. Your presentation is a healthy reminder to make sure we don't get caught up in our "rules". We are after all teaching kids (not content). The talking/discussion is how many of them learn best.

Andrea said...

First of all, I had no idea you were doing encienda today, and I caught it by accident. I am so glad I did!
As for your EduCon thoughts, I am right there with you. Learning is for life, it's a process. I have felt my share of frustrations to be sure, but at EduCon this year, I felt good. I like being with people who, whether we agree of not, are happy to talk about education all day (and all night) long.
I guess I measure my own change from one year to the next at conferences. Am I changing? Am I trying new things? I think I am, and that is what makes me feel good.
Someone in Chris Lehmann's "Now What?" session mentioned Gladwell's book "The Tipping Point." I think that as EduCon grows every year, it is reaching out and changing teachers and that WILL change education. I know that not just EduCon, but the whole, ongoing "conversation" has pushed me to be different in the classroom, not just to think differently about education (as I always have) but to really notice the things I do every day that, upon reflection are misguided (like your slide with the kids reading and talking). We're human.
I'm rambling.... so I'll stop.

Snippety Gibbet said...

I get so inspired at conferences. They tend to move me out of stagnation. jan

Andrea said...

One more thing...another reason I loved your encienda presentation is because it is so doable. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and get very self-critical if I feel that I'm not doing everything the way I think it "should" be done. I love the inquiry model, I get it, I fully embrace it...however, I don't always know how to make it work. That is not to say that I am not trying to constantly improve. But paying attention to the kids is something I can do right now, by staying present and really remembering that they are the reason I'm here. And that makes me feel NOT overwhelmed. And it makes me a better teacher even while I am still trying to upgrade my pedagogies.