“There is more that I don’t know, than what I do know” –Baratunde Thurston on learning more about the book he was writing from others
Once we can get past this idea, we will be both stronger teachers and more active learners.
Last Friday was the first Penny Conference by Skillshare. It is now a week later and I am still floating on cloud nine from the event. Skillshare and all of the speakers at the Penny Conference asked themselves this question: If we could redesign education for the 21st century, what would it look like? Each speaker captivated the audience in a different way, but the thread that tied them altogether was the idea that sharing knowledge is the key to learning.
The Penny Conference was so unique is because it was not a conference about education reform, it was a conference about learning and sharing knowledge. Tony Wagner spoke about the difference between the words “reform” and “reinvent” and in my estimation, Skillshare’s Penny Conference was more about a reinvention of the way we learn through redefining how, when and where learning happens.
My Top Takeaways from the Penny Conference (in no particular order):
- Learning should not be restricted to the classroom environment
- Everyone is an expert at something and anyone can be a teacher. [Teen teacher (and student!) Adora Svitak proved this to us during her speech.]
- Many teachers are working with a curriculum that will soon be obsolete. We need to begin teaching the skills that will benefit our students in today’s society.
- Engagement must be a top priority for all teachers. Don’t ask yourself: “Do they know it?” Ask yourself, “Do they love it?” -Adora Svitak
- Michael Karnjanaprakorn did not only offer inspiring words, but speaking with him 1:1 after the conference made me realize that a large part of why Skillshare is so amazing is because their CEO is a great visionary. Michael was approachable and friendly, and the way that he spoke about his vision for Skillshare was incredibly engaging.
- Adora Svitak made me think about how the engagement factor in learning must be a top priority for all teachers. Don’t ask yourself: “Do they know it?” Ask yourself, “Do they love it?”
- Aaron Dignan won me over on gamification for learning while speaking about how even in games, people want to skip the tutorial and figure out the rules while playing. As a teacher, I sometimes forget what the draw of gaming used to be, but Aaron’s words took me back to the era of DuckHunt, Myst, and Oregon Trail (how embarrassing!) His words illustrated such a clear example of human nature craving learning by doing.
- “Learning is not about competing with others…” –Eddie Huang (followed by a freestyle rap session)…enough said.
- Charles Best discussing how organizations such as Donors Choose, Etsy, Kickstarter and more are trying to stop traditional gatekeepers from standing in your way.
- I’m not sure how but Zach Sims managed to convince me that I want to learn to code. Do I hear a movement towards coding as a second language in schools?
- Im not exactly sure what to say about Adam Braun. From the second he set foot on the stage, he was completely captivating. I love everything that Adam Braun stands for and am in awe of his organization, Pencils of Promise.
I’ll leave you with this. I was so moved by the attention Kio Stark paid to failure. She put forth the idea that embracing and allowing failure will bring us closer towards success. That is a difficult concept for us (teachers) to grasp today, especially when everyone in the education industry is penalized for failure. With all of the testing in NYC this week, I have continuously been thinking about Kio’s description of how in order to move forward, more people need to risk failure and make mistakes…