There’s colors on the street
Red, white and blue
People shufflin’ their feet
People sleepin’ in their shoes
But there’s a warnin’ sign on the road ahead
There’s a lot of people sayin’ we’d be better off dead
Don’t feel like Satan, but I am to them
So I try to forget it, any way I can.
–Quoted from some Canadian
I have been deeply immersed in an active and intellectually distributed community devoted to re-imagining the role of technology in education for over two years now, but the intensity that the Northern Voice conference demands is something else altogether. To start, I get to hang out with the very people who continually inspire me to think critically about the field we inhabit, to contextualize the ideas beyond a trendy bubble, and imagine our commitment and relationships as a real way to transform ourselves — if not the culture we live in. That is not usually what your average conference promises, but there is something different at work here. And while the crowd was groovy, the vibe was mellow, and the ed tech presentations I attended were all extremely impressive (as were so many others), I’m not certain that is what makes this conference so transformative — although it certainly has something to do with it.
I think what I come away with, as I did last year, was the sense that this conference provides us the opportunity to really examine what it is we are working towards. For me, the mythical eduglu is far more powerful as a metaphorical space for re-thinking the social, political, and economic forces that frame the current state of education that extends far beyond any particular technology. Which is why this conference proves so demanding on my psyche, for it re-establishes the push to renew a ridiculously high-level commitment of time, energy, and emotion to continually think about these ideas together.
Where are we going with educational technology? What do we believe? And why do we care so much? It is the intensely personal sinews of these online communities that demand one to think about where they are and why, and I certainly understand that the community you build defines your perspective. Given that, I cannot even begin to articulate just how fortunate I feel to draw such immense inspiration from so many brilliant people. So, when I read the following quote pulled from this post by Barbara Ganley’s announcing the new directions that lie ahead of her, I am extremely grateful to have access to someone who can begin to explain these feelings to others with such a determined sense of wonder, fear, and excitement.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
Long live the spirit of Northern Voice, or at the very least until the next one!