← Return to Seizing an Alternative | Section VIII
Track 5: Schools for Children
This track consists of many ideas, but they are ideas which call forth new ideas. This track speaks to the necessity of ideas for healing a fractured view of learning; ideas which call for healing the fracturing that has occurred across countries, disciplines and learners. As Whitehead noted, “our existence is more than a succession of bare facts” and this track looks at ways to connect, renew and reimagine our fundamental approaches to education and learning. We must question and challenge the wisdom of educational policy being based on economic competition and finding success in a globalized economy. Instead, cooperation and collaboration within this framework should be our new driving forces. There are many world issues to tackle, how is education preparing students? Is the American Dream a renewable source of inspiration? The US education system must come together in supporting the education of the next generation of globally competent leaders. Our children need a new dream, a Global Dream. We must give students the tools to heal the lands, so they may plant new ideals. To reimagine and reinvent education means to have the courage to step back and take a thoughtful look at how we see ourselves, our children and our responsibilities in a truly connected world. At its core, modern education has been about fracturing the world. We have broken learning into disciplines, broken disciplines into subjects and subjects into a series of fragmented pieces in fragmented places. Each of these fractured elements has been divided along national, state, local and school lines. Tom Welch, Brian Flannery, Dane Ramshaw and David Marshak are among the educational visionaries who will be nourishing Pando Populus with new ideas to contribute to our growing, evolving, learning community.
Tom Welch is known around the country as an ardent revolutionary when it comes to the redesign of the learning process. He has been a high school French teacher, an English teacher and was a high school principal who mandated that all administrators teach one class every day. He also taught courses in math, humanities and entrepreneurship for high school students. His commitment to the opportunities for unbounded learning today has caused him to reexamine many of the practices and beliefs that led to the education paradigm of the early 20th century.
The results have been varied and included the design of a performance-based physics and math course for NASA that included non-English speaking students from abroad. With the mantra that “Everything is an opportunity for learning” he helped teachers at an Arizona Navajo school use kite-flying on the butte above the town as the means to constructing lessons that helped students reach learning targets in every subject taught in the school.
As an independent consultant (www.twelchconsulting.com) for the last ten years Tom has witnessed, participated in and advocated for the explosion of opportunities for learning unbound by traditional limits of time or place.
He currently lives in Chicago where he has established himself as a “connectivist” deliberately taking a Pando approach to connect the varied organizations, projects and initiatives he is involved with.
Coordinator of Global Education at the University of Oregon
As an administrator and teacher, at both the K-12 and university levels, Brian Flannery brings 17 years of experience to the Global and Online Learning team at the University of Oregon. He has extensive experience constructing and implementing professional development programs for international audiences in K-12 and higher education environments. He has served as a language and technology teacher, middle and high school principal, and coordinator of online learning programs. He holds a BA in Communications, an MA in Education, and is currently completing his Doctorate in Education. Brian is the Coordinator of Global and Online Learning, and instructs education technology courses for the College of Education at the University of Oregon.