Summer Institute – Plenaries

I’ve got about an hour until dinner, so I’ll take this opportunity to let you know what I’ve been up to at Summer Institute.

I’ve attended three sessions, one “collective-intelligence” gathering, and two plenaries.

I’ll start by talking about the plenaries.  They were in the banquet hall and were always scheduled directly after a meal.  As a result, there were always plates, food, and other stuff on them that precluded comfortable (therefore any) note-taking.  So my take-away is not very detailed.  Here it is:

The first plenary presenter was by Dr. Irwin Kirsch from ETS.  He talked about America’s Perfect Storm.  The report is here.  They also have a 9-minute video that didn’t really come up on Google, which I think is an oversight on their part.  The talk was based on that video, which was about how three factors are happening in America at the same time and are leading slowly but surely to a crisis: the changing economy, changing demographics, and the nonresponsive education system.  Interesting.  Some of my questions include how ETS’s interests as a company factor into this and how things are changing as the recession continues.

The second plenary presenter was Barry Shaffer from the Minnesota Department of Education and talked about the economic climate in Minnesota and the amazing accomplishments we’ve all made this year in Adult Basic Education (ABE).  We rock, and he proved it with numbers.  Thanks, Barry.

It was great that these very important people (who I couldn’t help but notice were men talking to a room that was comprised of at least 85% women) came to talk to us about very important issues.  They were effective speakers who had a lot to share.  It struck me as strange that there wasn’t a bigger effort to up the environment so that people’s backs weren’t toward the speaker and there were clean, or at least cleared off tables to write or type on.

It’s funny how much the little things impact the big things.

I’ll talk about the sessions and collective intelligence gathering in near-future posts!

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