Notes from Opening Panel Discussion of EduCon 2.1

Notes from opening panel discussion at EduCon 2.1

Panel Discussion @ The Franklin Institute — “What is the Purpose of School?” Come to the Franklin Institute to see a group of societal visionaries speak about their vision of the purpose of school in a panel discussion.

  • Joel Arquillos — Executive Director, 826LA
    • 8 years in San Francisco schools, dealing with all that happens in the classroom — the purpose of school is to build community and to respect and honor the students that come into our classrooms
      • The best that you can do some days is to help students talk with one another and get through all the big issues in their lives
      • How to help them build the world that they will inherit
      • Then, I began to see that there were other ways of opening the school to the world — working with 826 Valencia
      • Wanted to create a space for students to have an opportunity to work on their writing
      • Connecting the classroom and the community; changing the perception of what schools can be
  • Dr. Molefi Asante — Professor, African American Studies, Temple University
    • First, this is a complex question, the purpose of school, because the purposes given for schools have always changed
      • 17th century — train young white men how to be leaders in the world
      • What should be the purpose of school is perhaps what we should ask
    • One purpose that perhaps should be non-changing is that the purpose of school is inquiry
      • If there is a value to be transmitted by schools, it would be inquiry because inquiry is about openness
    • The notion of knowledge needs to be developed such that we have an understanding that all cultures contribute to knowledge; there is not one perspective on knowledge
      • We might need to redress this whole question about this idea of a monocultural system that has evolved from the Greeks to now; we forget the Chinese, Africans, Indians, and others
    • The purpose is inquiry — just when we think we are set, that is the moment we should inquire even more
  • Kendall Crolius — Founding Partner, The Sulevia Group
    • Creativity — what business leaders say is that the biggest challenge is to keep innovation going
    • Collaboration — more important now than it has ever been, must be able to work in teams by appreciating cultural diversity and other perspectives
    • Courage — confidence; embrace change and challenge the status quo
  • Jeff Han — Founder, Perceptive Pixel and inventor of the multi-touch screen
    • Did really love school, and I had some really excellent teachers
    • We were really well equipped and got to use technology in the classroom
    • Communication
      • Learn how to communicate socially, and also in the sense of sharing concepts and constructing an argument
      • Be didactic, be able to communicate with one’s peers
    • Calibration
      • Look at how teachers can callibrate what knowledge is difficult to understand, what problems are difficult to solve
      • Is this something that is novel? That is a real contribution?
  • Prakash Nair — Co-Founder, Fielding Nair International — Architects and Change Agents for Education
    • There is a huge disconnect between what you see as the rhetoric in school offices and what happens on the ground
    • Six ideas
      • Schools should be a social anchor, a hub that offers value to students and community
      • A place for kids to hang out with all the cool toys: computers, video links, gamers, artists, musicians
      • Generate ideas and not just regurgitate ideas: from architecture to courses
      • Ideas harvesting, bring them to fruition
      • Key player in community’s economic network
      • Flexible, accessible to build social capital: physical and cultural resources for schools
    • Many of these things are happening around the world today
    • How do you enhance the bottom line — accountability for all, and everyone should be pulling in the same direction
    • 30 Strategies for Education Innovation
  • Dr. Stephen Squyres — Principal Investigator, Mars Exploration Rover Mission
    • Two particular purposes for science education
      • Open student’s eyes to what is possible — this is important for those who are going to go into STEM
        • Went to a public high school and realized that teachers were hamstrung in many ways because they couldn’t do everything that they wanted to do with students
        • Space exploration was something that I saw on TV, and not until college realized that there were options for being exposed to those doing space exploration; this is much too late
        • Need to reach students in high school and middle school — expose kids to what is possible
      • To allow people how to understand how things really work
        • Teaching an introductory astronomy course — it is very easy for students to see science as a static body of knowledge to be learned and tested
        • Instead, try to show them what science really is and what scientists can do
        • Start with “what happened on Mars” today in the course
        • Science is a process of uncovering new knowledge, of discovery
        • Opening their eyes to how things really work
      • Collaboration with the Mars Rover — the machines are so complex that no one of us understands everything about it
        • Bringing together the right size group of people for the task at hand that are united by a common passion
        • Everyone has to believe it is going to be great and has to agree to the core, crisp statement of the mission and what we are trying to accomplish
  • Diane Castelbound, Pennsylvania Department of Education
    • Meeting with people everyday from businesses, to politicians, to people in schools from rural to urban and talk to kids and find that they feel schools are failing them all
    • Schools are supposed to create community and civic identity, and failing on that front, too
    • By whatever metric, our schools are not keeping pace
    • How the system is failing our kids and teachers — public education funding system
    • If education is supposed to be the great equalizer, then it is no wonder that we are not keeping up
  • Moderated by Frederic Bertley — Vice President of the Center for Innovation in Science Learning, The Franklin Institute

Franklin Institute founded in 1824, teaching in mechanical arts 2006 – SLA opens in a partnership with Franklin Institute and Philadelphia Schools

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