Thoughts on a Friday… at a big education conference.

Random thoughts:
This keynote speaker, Sugata Mitra, gave a talk this morning, walking us through the origin of schooling, to the dematerialization of institutions… he spoke of the disappearance of coachmen due to the advent of the automobile and the dematerialization of the film camera, the map book, the record player and the slide rule into the smartphone. And in many ways at that point, as he showed us these beautifully conceived and executed “schools in the Cloud”… where students directed their own learning experience… my mind was stuck on the fact that we were a room full of coachmen defending the existence of slide rules…

He made me think a great deal about children and childhood and purpose. And for a moment… I definitely wanted to do something different… education… but not schooling. About working hard to transform things so that schools as we know it no longer exists… and that all these electronic devices, and bits and bytes and the Cloud. And there is something about that that makes me feel even more awkward and stupid.

And I though of a pair of families (interestingly enough the Kings and the Wisdoms) that I know that are home-schooling…. and from what I can see, providing not only a good education for their children, but good childhoods… and I know how important that is… and I wondered how on a grand scale– the mass scale of public education- we could give both a good solid education, and help each and every child have a good childhood.

This is the second day of this conference… and when it is done I have two weeks off for Easter break.

Coachmen disappeared when the automobile showed up. And the automobile wasn’t a pair of engines harnessed to the front of a wagon-coach, driven and steered by a pair of reigns. Such is the nature of change. It doesn’t look like you think and the consequences can mean that roles disappear and horses dematerialize.

I do have to remember to turn in my progress reports (electronically) before 3:00 today.

I feel like I have failed to speak to too many people… as if conversations have become very very awkward. I don’t know what to say… and it does seem like I am doing it wrong. Even with the vendors who are trying to connect with me… I don’t have much to say that is related to what they are asking. I’m not “hanging out” with anyone… and that probably isn’t good. But I tried to latch onto the comprehensive high school people with very little success. This really does make me feel awkward and stupid.

The vending room has publishers that have sweets and free coffee… and people with 3D printers and cases and carts and projection devices and computerized learning programs. The coachmen selling more slide rulers. I walk around and take chocolates from as many tables and booths as possible and avoid any conversation.

The content of most of these sessions seems a bit beyond my ability to implement. I fear as technology advances… I am becoming stupid with age. As antiquated as a coachman. As relevant as a film camera.

Last night I went to the street fair and art show in Palm Springs and ran into (quite on purpose) Aeron Brown… and looked at his wonderful work and talked nuts and bolts about creating and selling art. And I got to see people interact with him and touch his paintings (!) and ask him how long it took to paint. That is the question most people ask me about my paintings. And I thought, one day, I want to be like Aeron. (I’d love to paint like him… but of course not exactly like him.)

And I had prime rib for dinner. It was excellent. I go to the motel, find nothing on TV. I miss my wife. I miss my cat.

Today I’m walking around with three hotels and a convention center with a couple of thousand educators… and everyone is wearing name tags. I like that. I try to read every name tag of every person that I walk by. Everyone should wear a nametag all the time. It doesn’t even have to have their real name. Just something so that if I ever talk to them, I can address them with the name that is on a tag.

I was going to show a picture of this cool “globe” projector… but I can’t find it. So here is my cat being cute.

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This is the globe that I wanted to show. It is demonstrating how many earths fit into Jupiter. You can show any planet or even our moon. Nasa has files and so does NOAA… But you can do a world map. You can show what areas are warmer than they were 30 years ago. You can show the physical earth with each biome in a different color or a political map of the globe showing the empires of the last century… or a map of the triangular trans atlantic slave trade…

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