Initial EduCon Thoughts

from Kevin Jarrett’s flickr

This past weekend was EduCon. In spite of the fact that we have to go north to Philadelphia in January it is one of my favorite weekends of the year. (Which doesn’t stop me from cursing Chris Lehmann for dragging me to where it is colder. Sheesh!) From Friday afternoon when we arrive in Philly (we because both my husband and I go) through dinner with friends, the Friday evening panel and reception, and on through the entirety of the conference and weekend I am in a physical and mental space that is amazing.

By the time we are on the road for the three hour drive home both my husband and I have full hearts and tired brains (as Karina Ruiz said). The conversation all the way home jumps around from sessions at the conference and other conversations throughout the weekend. We tend to go to different sessions so there is a lot to discuss.

Even with that time, which is such a gift, I am always wishing for a day to reflect and process the conference. EduCon is a fairly small gathering, as conferences go, but it is full of such brilliant people. This was my 11th EduCon and I spent a bit of time thinking about what results the conferences has had. I’m not sure that I can point to specific things that I have done as a result of attending EduCon, but I can definitely identify ways it has changed me and who I am as a teacher, parent, and human being. Many ways.

One of the things that has been bouncing around in my head from this year was a brief conversation during a session Diana Laufenberg and Zac Chase led on motivation. Those two could led a session on chemical reactions in batteries and I’d be there because I know I would be fascinated and would learn much that matters to me. In this particular session, which was fortunately not about chemical reactions in batteries, Diana joined our table during one of the discussion times. We were talking, I think, about how to know if a student is engaged or compliant. A question worth asking frequently.

Then Diana said something along the lines of:

Our school system is built on compliance. Our school system works best for girls. What does that mean for their future?

Wow. Seriously, read it again. Read it slowly. Process that.

I definitely accept that our school system is built on compliance. It is something I have to fight every hour of every school day. I fail at that fight regularly, to my great frustration.

I definitely accept that our school system works best for girls. Not long term, but in the day to day of school, girls are quite successful on the whole.

If you don’t accept either of those things you won’t see the problem here.

Girls are compliant through many, many years of schooling. They succeed because of that fact. Then they leave school. It is absurd to think that they (and by they I mean we) suddenly stop being compliant upon graduation. That compliance is a part of who they (we) are.

I have no answer for this beyond the idea that I think we should be fighting compliance anyway.

Back to the question of what results from my attending EduCon…I will be consciously working to ensure that my students, and especially my female students, do not need to be compliant to be successful. I will be consciously working to help them use their voices, advocate for themselves and others, and grow in their comfort doing so.

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