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

Author: Troy Hicks

Dr. Troy Hicks is a professor of English and education at Central Michigan University. He directs both the Chippewa River Writing Project and the Master of Arts in Educational Technology degree program. A former middle school teacher, Dr. Hicks has authored numerous books, articles, chapters, blog posts, and other resources broadly related to the teaching of literacy in our digital age. Follow him on Twitter: @hickstro

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