Monday, March 9, 2009

Highlights from Channel Thirteen’s Celebration of Teaching and Learning

I had the pleasure of attending the Channel 13 Celebration of Teaching and Learning event on March 6. Described as the World’s Fair of Education, I highly recommend this event as a must-attend for all innovative educators. The celebration's panels, workshops, and speakers are sure to impress. At the conference I had the good fortune to join Geoffrey Canada, Sir Ken Robinson, Eric Schmidt and Michael Horn. Here are the big ideas I took away from each.

Whatever it Takes: Harlem Children's Zone

Geoffrey Canada

Ideas That Stood Out

  • They take accountability for their kids from Pre K to College grads and have them 11 months of the year from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. This is the only way to ensure they are prepared and don’t get lost along the way.
  • Geoffrey started a Baby College to teach parents how to be parents.
  • Geoffrey says, "I refuse to let kids disappear into the abyss after they leave me.
  • Facebook is a great solution to keep up with kids after they leave schools.
  • Geoffrey Canada said he wonders, “How do I tell my students that it's no longer true that if you stick with me and graduate college you'll get a good job?”

Conference Biography

In his 20-plus years with Harlem Children’s Zone, Inc., Geoffrey Canada has become nationally recognized for his pioneering work helping children and families in Harlem and as a passionate advocate for education reform. Since 1990, Mr. Canada has been the President and Chief Executive Officer for Harlem Children’s Zone, which The New York Times Magazine called “one of the most ambitious social experiments of our time.” In October 2005, Mr. Canada was named one of “America’s Best Leaders” by U.S. News and World Report.


Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America

Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America

Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America


60 Minutes Ed Bradley’s Reporter’s Notes on His Interview with Geoffrey Canada

The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

Sir Kenneth Robinson

Ideas That Stood Out

  • If everyone agrees we learn at different paces why in school are we expected to teach everyone at the same pace?
  • Many adults still do things because they're used to it. An example is the number of Baby Boomers who still wear watches verses teens. When asking about his watch, his daughter said, "Time is everywhere so why do you where a watch? It's a single function device."
  • A teacher told a student he was dumb for wanting to be a fireman & not attend college. The kid felt better years later when he saved the teacher's life when rescuing him and his wife from a car accident.
  • We've become obsessed with making sure kids go to college & many of them don't know why they're there & graduate not knowing why they went.
  • Why has date of manufacture become the most important thing educators see kids having in common?

Conference Bio

Sir Ken Robinson is an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation, education and human resources. Now based in Los Angeles, he has worked with national governments in Europe and Asia, with international agencies, Fortune 500 companies, not-for-profit corporations and some of the world’s leading cultural organizations. For ten years he was Professor of Education at the University of Warwick in England and is now Professor Emeritus.

The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns

Michael Horn

Ideas That Stood Out

  • Online learning as a way to make up a class a student has not passed.
  • Schools can have learning centers with learning facilitators that connect them to various learning opportunities i.e. bring experts to the schools for one time or a class with simple Skype/webcam technology.
  • In foreign language class have a facilitator that connects students to various digital learning programs so students can study the language(s) of their choice.
  • In the not too distant future 50% of all high school classes will be taught online.
  • Escape the prisoners of time teaching (i.e. we all learn at the same pace-we don't.). Make the learning constant and time variable.

Conference Bio:

Michael B. Horn is the co-founder and Executive Director, Education of Innosight Institute, a non-profit think tank devoted to applying the theories of disruptive innovation to problems in the social sector. He is the coauthor of Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns (McGraw-Hill: 2008) with Clayton M. Christensen and Curtis W. Johnson. Disrupting Class uses the theories of disruptive innovation to identify the root causes of schools’ struggles and suggests a path forward to customize an education for every child.

Disrupting Class

The Future of Technology

Eric Schmidt, interviewed by Charlie Rose

Ideas that stuck with me

  • Soon we will text w/a foreign language speaking friend (with whom u can not speak) w/auto translate.
  • Google provides a personal viewing experience. Education does NOT provide a personal learning experience.
  • Transparency keeps societies honest.

Conference Bio

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin recruited Eric Schmidt from Novell, where he led that company’s strategic planning, management and technology development as chairman and CEO. Since coming to Google, Eric has focused on building the corporate infrastructure needed to maintain Google’s rapid growth as a company and on ensuring that quality remains high while product development cycle times are kept to a minimum. Along with Larry and Sergey, Eric shares responsibility for Google’s day-to-day operations. Eric’s Novell experience culminated a 20-year record of achievement as an Internet strategist, entrepreneur and developer of great technologies. His well-seasoned perspective perfectly complements Google’s needs as a young and rapidly growing search engine with a unique corporate culture.



  1. I read Michael Horn's Disrupting Class. I found it quite interesting, but I do have some concerns as a science teacher. There is enough false information being propagated on science topics, from "Intelligent Design" (which isn't either) to conspiracy theories about the origin of AIDS and space aliens, that not having a content area expert present to catch students before they travel down thoroughly discredited paths of inquiry could result in serious repercussions.

    Put another way, I'm sure there will be schools who will see Horn's suggestions as a way to get rid of content area specialists and replace them with generalist facilitators. While I may not be an expert on the latest string theory or materials science discovery, my training in physics and astronomy means that I have a thorough understanding of the basic principles. This, in turn, means that I can help students evaluate and question sources.

  2. @jsb16, Thank you so much for your insightful comments. I agree that we need content area specialists to help guide students. I see these specialists as expanding the horizons of students into areas of deep personal interest and connecting them to experts and resources that will help them achieve their personal learning goals. It is the wise educator that realizes the power of connecting students to experts and resources and helping them develop and discover areas of passion.


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