The Best Educational Ideas in the World – SXSW 2011

My friend and teacher has put out an all-call for help getting an important message out. Dr. Gary Stager has taught me a lot about learning, teaching, education and children’s “remarkable capacity for intensity”. I love that… capacity for intensity.

I had the pleasure of attending the Constructivist Consortium’s Constructing Modern Knowledge last month where participants experience the very message Gary shares. I think his proposal to the South by Southwest (SXSW) event is a great move, too many are presenting to the very masses that share the same vision for learning, teaching and technology. Branching out to other events other than just educational domains is an important step in democratically addressing the school reform debate taking place in our country today.

Please allow yourself the two minutes it takes to complete registration and vote for Gary’s “The Best Educational Ideas in the World” for the SXSW 2011. He has outlined the step-by-step process for this which I’ve included at the bottom of this post. Knowing that this is a “popularity contest” you should vote.  This is the game we must play sometimes. Here is the session description and questions answered:

Contemporary discussions of school reform focus on the creation of obedience schools for poor children or utopian governance schemes, such as charter schools. Neither approach does much to amplify the natural curiosity, expertise, creativity, passion, competence or capacity for intensity found in each child. A leading educator serves as your tour guide for a global exploration of powerful ideas and exemplary practices. Stops on the tour include personal fabrication; Reggio Emilia; El Sistema; Generation YES; One Laptop Per Child; a juvenile prison; 826 Valencia and more. The artificial boundaries between art and science are blurred as children engage in authentic activities with real materials, create sophisticated artifacts of personal and aesthetic value and become connected to ideas larger than themselves. Collegiality, purpose, apprenticeship, complexity, serendipity and “sharaeability” are a few of the common values. Each approach either requires digital technology or may be dramatically enhanced by it. Lessons learned en-route our tour create productive contexts for learning in which students construct the knowledge required for a rewarding life. Alternative models of school reform in which we treat other people’s students as our own will emerge. The common principles identified in some of the world’s most creative educational practices serve as lessons for parents, teachers and policy-makers eager to help children realize their full potential. Questions

  1. How can we create learning environments that build upon children’s capacity for intensity?
  2. Are there humane creative models of school reform based on principles of social justice where students do extraordinary things?
  3. How are disparate ideas like El Sistema, Reggio Emilia, personal fabrication, alternative prison education and One Laptop Per Child similar and offer new models for education reform?
  4. Is learning natural and are children competent? Why do so many adults think that the answer is, “no?”
  5. How can early childhood approaches be applied at the secondary level and the arts inform approaches to science?

Step-By-Step Voting Instructions

  1. Go to:
  2. Follow the instructions for creating an account
  3. An email will be sent to you containing a link to click that will return you to the voting site
  4. Click the link in the email
  5. Login using the email address and password you just created
  6. Click on the Explore the Interactive Proposals » link (
  7. Type Stager into the Organizer field
  8. Click the SEARCH PANELS button
  9. My session, The Best Educational Ideas in the World, should appear
  10. Click the icon of the THUMBS UP to vote for my session.
  11. If you wish, click on the title of the session, scroll to the bottom of the page and leave a message of support. Every bit helps!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.