My 10 Most Memorable Quotes @ #ISTE2014 – What are Yours?

Every person who attended #ISTE2014 likely has their own list, but here are mine, in no particular order. What do you think? Consider leaving some of your favorites in the comment area.

1. “In education, we largely use the language of empowerment but the actions of control. Is this true, and how does edtech play into that?” – Steve Hargadon in a panel discussion about school 2.0

Steve is an amazing facilitator. He brings this wonderful combination of humility, hospitality and insight to conversations that matter in education. As facilitator of a panel discussion (that included the audience voice as much as the panel, Steve started the conversation with this provocative question. We talk “empowerment”, but do we walk “control” in our schools? This started an hour of idea fireworks that was one of the highlights hours of the conference for me.

2. “The weeds will kill the flowers.” – Gary Stager in a panel discussion about school 2.0

In the same session, Gary Stager left this quotable, arguing that we often try to layer good ideas in education on top of bad policies, practices and procedures that will eventually kill off the good ideas. As such, Stager argued that we need to find another way. I may not agree with the absolute nature of some of Stager’s comments (as I tend to see ample room for diverse, even contrasting forms of schooling…even ones with which I personally disagree), but I find myself philosophically on the same page with him. He, like Alphie Kohn, provides a critical voice in the wilderness of contemporary education.

3. I’m trying to create change, to help us see ourselves as producers, not just consumers.” – Dale Dougherty @ EdTekTalks

As you will see, Dale (founder of Make magazine and the person who first suggested the idea of web 2.0), earned three of the ten spots on my top ten quotes. His words about the promise and possibility of maker culture (not just maker spaces) cast a wonderful vision for the role of making in our world. This first quote draws our attention to the possibility of maker culture helping us to resist the dominant consumer culture in which we find ourselves. It reminded me, in part, of Gatto’s quotes about cultivating young people who are creative and courageous and not just complacent, compliant consumers.

4. “To create a culture where we like to make things and share what we make with others.” – Dale Dougherty @EdTekTalks

This second Dougherty quote got me thinking about the power of making as a form of gift-giving, a brilliant vision for life and citizenship in the 21st century.

5. “Making is a universal language especially for learning and discovery.” – Dale Doughtety @ EdTek Talks

Dale reminded me that some activities, like making, trascend common barriers of language and other differences that sometimes separate and divide us. Could it be that a growing culture of making could provide an important bridge between diverse people and communities?

6. “What happens if you embrace the shake?” and “What I thought to be the ultimate limitation became the ultimate liberation.” – Phil Hansen @ EdTekTalks (after nerve damage from pointillism)

Without question, Phil’s was the most inspirational talk for me. Phil, an amazing artist, told the story of getting severe nerve damage from an obsession with pointillism art. It was so point that trying to tap a piece of paper with a pencil looked like a scribble more than a dot. For a time, this led me to abandon his gift and calling as an artist, until he met with a neurologist who suggest that he embrace is “shake.” Check out his TedTalk for the inspirational result. He used this as an invitation to embrace our limitations, to leverage them as tools for creativity, and reaching new levels of imaginative life, work and play.

7. “Lessons are learned at recess.” – Kevin Carroll @ his keynote

One of the object lessons from Kevin’s keynote was a simple rubber ball. He used it to remind us of the power of play in our lives. This quote reminds us that lessons don’t just happen in the classroom, boardroom and formal spaces of our lives. They happen when we embrace plan and create times for recess in our lives and the lives of students.

8. “what is your http://me?” – Amy Burvall @ an Ignite Session

This this 5-minute 20-slide presentation, Amy Burvall, known for her creative music videos of historical characters and events, left us with this memorable quote/question, intended to get us thinking about how we manage and represent our identities in this digital world. Amy explained how this is part of what she teaches her students, helping them to discover their voice, find an audience that wants to hear that voice, and be intentionally in shaping their “http://me.”

9. “What might happen if students were leveraged for not just tech support, but lesson support?” – Jamie Lewsadder @ an Ignite Session

Jamie left us with a wonderful idea about how to further empower learners. The idea of a genius bar in schools, run by students, was a popular concept already at last year’s ISTE event, and it continued to be this year. However, Jamie challenged us to take it to the next level. What if students did not just help with tech support, but they also became guides and resources for helping to create high-impact lessons and learning experiences for students? What if we invited students into the lesson planning process?

10. “This nonprofit exists to provide the tools that kids need to change the world.” -Executive Director of Kidnected World in PitchFest

This quote came from the PitchFest, an event where education startup companies get five minutes to pitch their company. One of the most compelling pitches for me came from a company that has no interest in making money. Instead, it is a non-profit interested in designing opportunities for young people to contribute to global causes by doing what they do best (using their imagination and playing with others). This made my top ten list for two reasons. First, I found Kidnected World to be a wonderful example of social entrepreneurship in the education sector. Second, the quote is about empowering students to be change agents, to see themselves as people can can impact change in the world now, not just when they graduate from high school or college, or when they get their first job. It honors the role of childhood without trying to turn it into little more than a bridge to adulthood.

There you have it. Those are the ten most memorable #ISTE2014 quotes for me. What about you? Consider sharing some of your favorite quotes in the comment section.

Posted in blog, Conferences

About Bernard Bull

Dr. Bernard Bull is an author, professor of education, Vice Provost of Curriculum and Academic Innovation, podcast host, and blogger. Some of his books include Missional Moonshots: Insights and Inspiration for Educational Innovation, What Really Matters: Ten Critical Issues in Contemporary Education, The Pedagogy of Faith (editor), Adventures in Self-Directed Learning, and Digitized: Spiritual Implications of Technology. He is passionate about futures in education; educational innovation; and social entrepreneurship.