From the title, you might be expecting an essay on existentialism. Sorry to disappoint, but a few days ago I promised an explanation of why we are in Belgium and here it is: We are attending a conference or as I like to think of it, we are getting brain massages. Educators take in a lot of training; it’s almost constant. Most of us are learning about and trying to implement new methods and materials as fast as our brains can take them in. I actually love that about my profession, but sometimes I wonder if we are persisting with better light bulb making. We do a lot of reinvention of say, teaching literacy, but the root assumptions about how one learns to read and write have existed for a long time.
Allan and I are attending a TED conference. If you are unfamiliar with TED, it is a series of conferences featuring speakers who have something of value to share and 18 minutes in which to share it. The presentations are all video recorded and posted on their website where they are available to the world, for free. This is just simply the dissemination of thought provoking information and research; it is left up to individuals whether or not they can make any application of it. If you are open to new possibilities, however, something you hear here could potentially give you a vision for turning a current paradigm you work under, on its head.
An interesting twist has been added to this particular TED conference. It is being hosted by St. John’s International School in Waterloo and they invited the participation of 50 children who were born in the year 2000. This makes them 11 years old and I teach 11 year olds. In fact, two of my students applied and are at the conference. I don’t know what to expect, exactly, but I am going to watch presenters engage this group of children in some learning activities that will challenge them for the moment and will hopefully challenge my teaching for the long term.
If you want to participate remotely, the conference will be live-streamed on Wednesday, June 1st, from 9:00 AM Brussels time at the following link: TEDXBrussels . Before you begin watching, however, take a few minutes to watch the link called Kids’ Videos, at the top of the page. They are asking children some key questions regarding their perceptions about how they are currently taught. There are some responses in there that make me think, I can do that better.