I am at the most intimate conference on education that I have ever attended. I sometimes feel like I hear about a conference just after the conference has reached its point of bloated and oversubscribed. We sit for hours in ballrooms watching yet another PowerPoint presentation or the feverish exhortations of the keynote speaker.
Not Constructing Modern Knowledge.
By the early afternoon yesterday I was already engaged in learning something new. I was learning LOGO programming from the people who developed it. I had enjoyed a morning of listening to and thinking about history with Jim Loewen and had a terrific conversation with him about the Parker Stories Project. He confirmed my idea that it will take three to five years to finish it the way that I envision, and he was excited about it as real history. He encouraged me to think about the process as I went along and to write about that process, its challenges and successes. In the end there can be two written documents: the history itself and the meta-analysis of getting there.
I had dinner with Alfie Kohn and Chris Lehmann. Let me repeat that. I had dinner with Alfie Kohn. I had dinner with Chris Lehmann. I had dinner with lots other wonderful people that I have met here – like Jeff McClurken and Jennifer Orr from Va – and they are all part of the geek spiral that has sucked me in.
Day Two found us back to work on projects – I am programming a random Shakespearean Insult generator and a lame response field. So far I’ve been pretty successful. Push the button and an insult is generated with two adjectives and a noun. Then a first response of ‘huh’ is sent, with a lame follow-up after that. Day 3 I am going to try to make it randomly choose a lame follow up or a Shakespearean insult.
We heard Alfie Kohn and Deborah Meier converse about the difficulties in changing public education against all odds and the Duncan/Obama RTTT. Meier mused that there were no words left to use to describe real learning that haven’t been co-opted by the for profit educational bureaucracy. Wonderful to hear them together.
Brian Silverman ended our day with a look at the history of computing and how it has changed the way we look at the world and how we build stuff. Computers are just a tool in the same way the writing is just a tool. Computing allows us to create.
And all of this in a room of 50 people. And I was worried that I might need the secret handshake to feel part of the work here. Nope. And I don’t think we need to break out the foil hats either.
Triple Spiral by Song_sing