What happens when you put the head of one of Canada’s premiere business schools, a former Olympic athlete and a CBC reporter in the same room?
That’s just one of the things we’re going to find out at People for Education’s 16th Annual Conference on November 3rd and 4th.
Roger Martin, chair of the Rotman School of Management, Bruce Kidd, former Dean of Health and Physical Education at the University of Toronto and Piya Chattopadhyay, journalist and CBC and TVO host, all have opinions (and knowledge, of course) about how our schools could work better. What’s going to be interesting about their perspectives is that they are all (relative) outsiders.
I think (hope) that all of the speakers and workshops at this year’s conference are going to force us to wrestle with some of our assumptions about education. Who should be in charge of picking teachers, for example? Or setting education policy? People talk a lot about the importance of things like creativity, critical thinking and 21st century skills, but do we really know what those things mean?
So it’s going to be interesting to hear Roger Martin – a businessman – talk about something called “integrative thinking.” He says students can be taught to think differently and develop the creative, flexible, “opposable minds” that are essential for success in the 21st century. And he’s actually got trained I-Think staff working in schools right now. After Roger talks, there will be two workshops with I-Think trainers who will lead us through the process. For all of us who are trying to solve problems in schools, or even education systems, this may be our chance to learn a different approach.
And speaking of problems, here’s an even bigger question: Who do you think should be in charge of our education system? There’s a big dispute going on in the province right now between the government and teachers. It’s partly about power and control. So sparks may fly on the plenary panel moderated by TVOParents’ Cheryl Jackson. The panel is framed in the question, “Who’s in charge around here?” The debaters will be the Deputy Minister of Education and the presidents of OSSTF, the Catholic Principals Council and the Ontario Public School Boards’ Association. There is bound to be lots of live tweeting from that one. (#p4e12)
Personally, I wish I could go to all the workshops. I want to argue with the “flipped classroom” people; I want to know more about how Joe Mazza has transformed parent engagement in his Philadelphia school, and I wonder if there really is a way to “build” healthier students. That’s why it’s great to have TVOParents participating. Producers will blog on many of the workshops and post video interviews with many of the presenters, including Roger Martin, Joe Mazza, and Greg Green, Principal of the Michigan school with flipped classrooms. So be sure to check back at TVOParents.com after the conference.
On another note, do you sometimes wonder if there’s too much teaching at home and too much parenting at school? Do we focus on the wrong stuff when we talk about parent involvement? We’re going to debate that too. I’ll be part of that discussion, along with the former head of the Ontario Principals’ Council, the head of Ontario’s Parent Engagement Office and Arlene Morell, the vice-president of the Thames Valley Parent Involvement Committee.
There are parents coming from Thunder Bay, Windsor, Timmins, Parry Sound, Delhi, Ottawa, Toronto and everywhere in between. And there are speakers coming from British Columbia, Philadelphia, Ontario, Boston and California!
But wait! There’s more!
On Day 2 of the conference, the participants are going to wrestle with more big questions. We’re worried that our definition of success in education has become too narrow. Can you really judge a system by its scores in reading, writing and math? Or is there more to education than that?
Facilitators from the Rotman School are going to lead us through a process moving from big picture future goals for the country, to concrete immediate implications for our schools.
In the end, we hope to have the first step in a new direction for our schools. And the beginnings of a whole new conversation about education.
I hope lots of you can come.
See you on the 3rd and 4th.