It’s been a few weeks, but as the end of the summer approaches and I get ready to head back to school for another year, I’ve finished processing a lot of what happened at unplug’d this summer.
- 37 Canadian educators from coast to coast (but unfortunately, missing the third coast)
- an “off the grid” lodge (complete with compost toilets)
- campfire and guitars
- canoes and early morning yoga
- great food
- a challenge to write a book and tell our story over the course of a few days
I’ve been to a lot of conferences over the past few years, but this is actually one of the main questions I kept asking people over the weekend that we spent together: “what is this? It’s not a conference. Is it a think tank? Is it a summit? A happening?” I didn’t quite have the words for it.
But I did learn a few things at unplug’d:
1.) There are some (at least 37) incredibly passionate, innovative, caring educators in Canadian classrooms. These were smart people and it was great to be with them.
2.) Educators know what education needs to be like for our time. These people are asking the right questions and making change in so many ways. Yet when it comes to education, these are voices that are often not honoured by those in the political realm. Very few people ask teachers about learning, about change, about the needs of students and families across our country.
3.) Teachers talk about education on 5 AM bike rides and runs, at 11 PM gathered around campfires, and at 1 AM deep in chairs near the lake watching for shooting stars.
4.) Teachers are human. We’re frustrated, we’re tired, but we’re also a deep well of hope who can support each other across a nation as large as ours.
5.) Being Canadian is different, it’s important, and it’s OK. We often live in the shadow of our much larger neighbour to the south. Yet – we aren’t them. We have different needs, concerns and challenges. Certainly we share many concerns and ideas, but there are differences between our societies and what education needs to look like to meet the needs of each our countries. And these differences are OK. It doesn’t make us (or them) bad, but we are different nations on different paths. We learned during unplug’d that the world needs more Canada and more Canadian voices (in education anyway).
This was a powerful weekend. The voices of Canadian educators to the world.