Friday, October 30, 2009

Breakthrough Learning Conference

Last week I was honored to be invited to the Breakthrough Learning Conference the Googleplex in Mountain View. This event brought together some of the brightest and most influential minds about education out there, and put them together at one place and time. (Check out the list of attendees here.) One of the recurring themes throughout the event seemed to be, "Let's really make something happen here." with some discussion about it being a sprint or marathon to substantive change in the education system. I felt that an important aspect was this conference was bringing together top players from all the sectors, education, tech companies, philanthropic organizations, etc. Of course we all have a vested interest in the outcome of a quality education system. One thing that came up was the question of, if it's too late. John Merrow stated it clearly which Mike Lawrence tweeted here:

And regardless if you feel that way, the change is imminent. Building off of this, I see this momentum as the perfect opportunity to conduct the practices that we've always wanted. If technology is the medium in which teachers feel comfortable sitting beside their students and learning with them, then fine. There's no better way to learn a topic than to have to teach it to others. And where teachers may no feel comfortable learning beside their students on algebra or reading, they usually have no problem having a student show them how to post to a blog. If you are not a learner, then you are not a teacher. Since this 'tech stuff' is the latest wave, we should use it as the medium to change the learning for the better. If I had been given the power to give out an actionable item to the group, it would be go to the source. Start bottom up with students as mentors for the adults in their lives. When the onus of their education is put on them, they will respond.

Side Note: One of the highlights of the trip (and the envy of my 4 year old) had to be seeing Grover.