My regrets for staying away from the blog last week — I poured my time into a conference on “Education and the Imagination,” held in beautiful British Columbia. It was put on by the Imaginative Education Research Group, and I presented on Lee and my “big spiral history” framework. (If you haven’t yet heard of that, it’s fun stuff! I’ll be laying it out here at some point.)
The presentation, incidentally, went well enough, though it wasn’t particularly well-attended. (Special thanks, if any of them are reading, to those who did come — good questions were posed!)
Overall, the conference was underwhelming. Its ostensible goal was to discuss the exciting work being done around the theorizing of Kieran Egan, curricular theorist to the stars. (He’s dubbed his framework “Imaginative Education” — hence the name of the research group, and the title of the conference.)
But many of the presenters seemed absolutely ignorant of his ideas (which were, again, what most of us came to the conference to learn about). Instead, they talked about “imagination” in an entirely nebulous way. (If pressed, I’d say a number of them would have defined “imagination” as something like “don’t whack kids,” though I may be exaggerating.)
It was like showing up to, say, a conference on hummingbirds, only to sit through presentation after presentation by people talking about how they’ve trained their chickens to hum, or about how they theorize extinct quails might have emitted a soft buzzing noise. Not exactly wrong, mind you — these are all humming birds — but really not what we the conference goers came for (in many cases, traversed oceans for).
In other words: adventures in missing the point.
I’m very glad I went, however, if only for one particular session: that of the staff of Corbett Charter School, of Corbett, Oregon.
Their presentation was, for me, a religious experience: for the ninety minutes I was transfixed, jaw hanging down, at their description of what they’ve been doing.
To state this very briefly, they described the most delightful, bewitching, and magnificent learning community I’ve ever heard of. It met my highest hopes for what our school could be (at the K-6 level, which was the focus of their talk), and ever-so-slightly exceeded them.
And now that I’ve seen that, I have three questions I’d like to ask, which, gods willing, I’ll post on this week.
(For the record, there were a number of other great presentations, some of which I may blog about in the future.)