LCI to Join WNET Celebration of Teaching & Learning on March 16

In three weeks, more than 10,000 North American educators will converge on the Hilton New York for WNET’s seventh annual Celebration of Teaching & Learning. The Celebration is a major professional development conference that includes over 40 featured speakers and 100 interactive workshops, as well as two exhibition halls full of education resources. This year, as in 2011, I’ll have the privilege of presenting there, on a panel with Madeleine Holzer, director of educational development at Lincoln Center Institute, and 2010 National Teacher of the Year Sarah Wessling.

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The Pope’s Telescope

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Image by Sarah G*

The discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe would be the greatest turning point in the history of humankind. Fire, the wheel, religion, organized government, the printing press, the computer—all of these breakthroughs, which have enabled us to advance in so many ways—would pale in comparison. Of course, the scenarios I’m imagining wouldn’t necessarily have to involve intelligence: mere microbes from other planets could help us cure diseases. But what does the Vatican, of all institutions, have to do with this?

In November, the Associated Press reported that “the Vatican has called in experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial alien life and its implication for the Catholic Church.” The Reverend José Gabriel Funes, director of the 120 year-old Vatican Observatory, held a weeklong conference that brought together thirty scientists—astronomers, physicists, biologists, and other experts—to discuss these issues. Obviously, the possibility of sentient beings existing beyond Earth raises many questions for adherents of all religions, but the conference centered on science rather than theology. This interests me most, however, as an illustration of imagination at work. Continue reading

Finish the Story

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Adapted from an image by laurenatclemson*

Image adapted from a work by Lauren Manning*

As parents, as teachers, we often feel the impulse to explain things to our kids. After all, they’re young and inexperienced, their minds are forming, and we want to help them make their way in the world. When we explain too much, though, we’re doing our children a disservice. The best educational experiences invite young people to leap from passivity to activity. They are always open-ended, in the same way that learning itself is a process that is never finished. But let me get a bit less abstract … Continue reading