As an Australian in a foreign land, I must confess that I packed quite a few preconceived ideas about America in my luggage. I didn’t even know they were travelling with me but once I got here they just sort of appeared.
Whilst I write this my husband is speaking to my mum on the phone about beer. Why am I telling you this? Well to be honest, he was freaking out about the beer situation in the US. From what we knew, all Americans drink light beer. We Aussies do not. Full strength or it’s cat’s piss, right? Lee loves craft beer made by small breweries. He really likes a good beer and was scared he’d have a choice between Bud Light or no beer. Neither choice was appealing! But as soon as we arrived in the US he’s been amazed by the amount, quality and price of the beer that’s available. There’s heaps more options here than at home in Australia.
Moral to that story? Lee had a preconceived idea about beer in the US and it was shattered pleasantly by reality. I too have had a series of preconceived ideas that have been bash, bash, bashed whilst here in the US. For simplicity I’ll list them:
1. At ISTE11 everyone will think radically about education.
A friend posted a question on my fb wall: ‘Are you no longer a lone wolf? Have you found your pack at ISTE?’
I thought the pack would be 18,000 strong. Naive, I know. Details will follow in a later post not typed w/ one finger on my iPhone. I will say, however, that I did spy my pack in person and face to face. It’s a small but growing and intensely passionate group of educators. ISTE taught me that I am not a lone wolf, but I am not part of an 18,000 strong pack.
2. I will be able to navigate ISTE11 solo.
If you ever get the chance to come to this insanely big conference, don’t try to go it alone. For one thing, it’s not in the spirit of the conference – in the words of Chris Lehman, ISTE is about community, family, your teacher brothers, sisters, mums and dads. I was so fortunate to have my fellow edmodo blogger with me, Andy McKeil. In the words of @thenerdyteacher – he’s my edubro. Together we navigated the three buildings that ISTE11 sprawled over, we ate almonds and chocolate for protein and energy, we got excited about the future and we gave each other the confidence to say hello to our edu idols. Thanks Andy!
3. Self-help gurus are out for the cash.
If you know me well, you know I can be a little cynical. Me and sarcasm have been roomies for most of my life. I’m also a working class kid eternally frustrated by artifice. When I read that the keynote speaker on Tuesday was a guy who wrote self help books I was pretty disappointed. Yeah, I know you’re all thinking I must live under a rock or something cos I don’t know who Covey is, but I really didn’t. I’d heard of his famous book (not the one on leadership and schooling) and it just never appealed to me. I don’t like to prescribe to rules. I don’t like being told how to live my life. But hearing 78 year old Covey speak with concern, guts, honesty, passion, commitment, damn edupunk balls in some parts – well, he surprised me. I thought he would wanna sell a book. But he just wanted to sell change. To be honest, maybe I just liked him cos what he said reflected my own thoughts about the state of play regarding education and change. Change how you think. It’s a mindset thing, not a skill set or a tool kit.
Well my iPhone battery life is leeching into the ether and I’m still suffering the ISTE11 hangover so I’m going to cut this post off now.
I’m going to ISTE12. I dunno how but I won’t be missing Kevin Honeycutt again.