EVERY Educator AND Administrator should attend a Professional Development conference at the beginning of their school year. I was offered such an opportunity as integratED SF 2013 by the Organization for Educational Technology and Curriculum came to town. As you can imagine, I jumped at the chance to acquire more tools of the trade to toss into my bag of techniques and strategies as a teacher energized by educational technology. The Keynote speaker this year was Alfie Kohn.
Mr. Kohn was scheduled to to speak at the end of the first full day of the conference. Unfortunately, his plane was late from the East coast and the Keynote didn’t begin until well after 7p. Making the decision to wait it out after a day filled with discovery, rich conversation and fresh ideas, Alfie finally took the stage. After the first 5 minutes there was no doubt we were in store for a night of radical thinking that would challenge the very core beliefs of teachers – and administrators – about their assumptions of their craft and profession.
First statement/question: “What if we could actually generate, sustain and amplify kids desire to learn; an ongoing hunger to figure stuff out?”
Ok… you had me at ‘what if’. My brain had a few remaining cells for this next challenge and certainly my curiosity had shifted into a high gear as Kohn continued his ultra, critical assessment of our Education system in this country. Ready for some more?
“Standardized tests are best at measuring what matters least” Alfie Kohn #isf13
— Chad Zullinger (@czullinger) October 5, 2013
Kohn: Kids learn to make good decision by making decisions, not by following directions. #isf13
— Melissa Lim (@actionhero) October 5, 2013
— David Wees (@davidwees) October 5, 2013
Kohn: if test scores go up, parents should ask the school what real learning was sacrificed to make that happen. #isf13
— Karl Lindgren-Streicher (@LS_Karl) October 5, 2013
The assault on the Educational establishment sent shock waves through the audience as an overtired and amped up crowd wandered aimlessly out into a warm, fall evening in San Francisco. Twitter traffic was a buzz throughout the keynote as #isf13 began to really trend in the blogosphere. Some went out to local eateries in small groups to disseminate what was just hurled at them and some, if not most, walked away alone to process what they had just experienced.
One thing is for certain, rarely do we have the opportunity to witness, listen and experience another human being speak so passionately and with an overwhelming sense of conviction about educational constructs that a great majority generally accept as Truth. For a majority of attendees at the IntegratED Keynote session this fall of 2013, their once thought accepted notions about tests (all flavors and varieties), grades and homework we’re obliterated by someone brave enough and has dedicated his life to exposing these elements that have systemically plagued Education in a post industrialized world.
Is this kind of chatter out of your comfort zone? Have your belief structures been disrupted?
Good. Now go take a look at the work that’s currently being done in this brave new world and join us on the path to change.