This was my second year attending Congress of Social Sciences and Humanities and the conference of the Canadian Society for the Study of Education. My first time at the Congress was fun, but I wouldn’t call it very conducive to my professional or academic growth. I was simply lost trying to get everywhere and see everything. Having learned my lesson, I came to Toronto with a clear plan on how to attend as many sessions as I could without being overwhelmed and exhausted every day.
To achieve my ambitions plan, I spent a considerable amount of time exploring the conference program days before heading out to Toronto. First, I searched for topics that I am interested in and marked them down. Second, I looked at Spotlight Sessions and chose the ones that I was especially interested in. Finally, I had to make a difficult choice of cutting some of the sessions when there were two or three that overlapped. Because of this, I arrived at the conference with a clear plan regarding what I was going to see. I must say, that this method has benefited my time at other conferences as well. So, I highly recommend doing your homework to make conference attendance a little less stressful.
Because of this pre-planning, I managed to attend several Spotlight Sessions that were truly highlights of my conference experience. In this post, I want to share my impressions about one of them: the CACS-ACÉC Symposium Re(mixing) Curriculum Playlists: Responses of Synopsis and Expansion—Sean Wiebe (UPEI), Carl Leggo (UBC), Pamela Richardson (Royal Roads), Diane Conrad (Alberta), Pauline Sameshima (Lakehead), Rebecca Lloyd (Ottawa), Kedrick James (UBC), Susan Walsh (MSVU), Lynn Fels (SFU), Peter Gouzouasis (UBC), Celeste Snowber (SFU), Karen Meyer (UBC), Jenne Kentel (UBC).
Everything about this session was moving and inspirational From Kedrick James’s poetry that blended words into “beautiful smoothies” to Peter Gouzouasis’s guitar with Heine’s “Where words leave off, music begins” as a backdrop, this truly unique session beautifully drew on art to challenge the audience and reimagine the future directions of educational research.
When Susan Walsh talked about the comfort she finds in rooms full of books and “crates of notes left from graduate studies,” I realized how difficult it is for me to clear spaces for new ideas. But, on the other hand, how enlightening this bittersweet experience can be. So, these are my memories of this session and the changes happening since I have cleared some of space in my practice.
Celeste Snowber asked us “What if love was our epistemology, what if love could open the world?” I thought: “Yes, what if?” Too often my work is focused on assessment and outcomes, but now I decided to put love first. Love for the work, for profession, but above all for the students in my classes. I was further reassured in this determination after hearing Jeanne Kentel fabulously sing the same question, “Where is love in research?”
I’ve always enjoyed hearing other people’s stories, but have never understood them as Pamela Richardson does. As energies, material and elemental. Indeed, how much power there is in a story! Not only do stories help us make meaning of our experiences, they also help us make sense of ourselves. Now, I will create space in my practice to listen to my students, to their stories, journeys and plans for the future.
Carl Leggo urged us to “let the children play.” Indeed, what is learning if there is no play in it? What are we taking away from children, by confining them to the rigid protocols of our curricula? The joy for learning. The joy so essential to students’ growth. Never forget that, I told myself. Let the children play and play with them, connect with them, listen to their stories, put love first.
There were many exciting and thought-provoking sessions at Canadian Society for the Study of Education, but this Spotlight session was the one that made me laugh, tear up, reflect on my past, re-envision my practice, and set new goals for my research. This session stirred up some of the long-held beliefs I kept dear, so that I can continue to remix my practice. Thank you to all the presenters.
Department of Language & Literacy Education
University of British Columbia