Constructing Modern Knowledge 2011 (July 11-14, 2011) guest speaker and MIT Media Lab reception host, Dr. Mitchel Resnick, was recently interviewed for the Google Science Fair.

Watch the video below
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There’s chatter from time-to-time within the edtech community about the lack of women in prominent roles. Yet, some of the most important pioneers in the field are ignored, overlooked or marginalized by the very same educators seeking representation and role models.

If Seymour Papert is the “father of educational computing,” then Dr. Cynthia Solomon is its mother. Cynthia was one of the three primary inventors of the Logo programming language for children and she introduced many of the metaphors used to teach programming to children. She is the author of one of the field’s seminal books, Computer Environments for Children: A Reflection on Theories of Learning and Education. How many of you have read this book first published in 1986?

Nearly 50 years ago, armed with a history degree from Harvard, Cynthia took a job as Dr. Marvin Minsky’s secretary because she wanted to learn how to program computers at a time when that wasn’t an option for young women. A few years later, she, Wally Feurzig & Seymour Papert created Logo and started the educational computing revolution. Watch the recent interview in which Cynthia & Wally recount the birth of Logo.

Wally Feurzig, Cynthia Solomon, Gary Stager

Cynthia Solomon is also the co-author of Designing Multimedia Environments for Children (with Allison Druin) and Logoworks: Challenging Programs in Logo by Cynthia Solomon, Margaret Minsky and Brian Harvey. She most recently put the full text of  Computer Environments for Children: A Reflection on Theories of Learning and Education and Logoworks… on the Web for free.

Ken Kahn, Seymour Papert, Cynthia Solomon & a kid at Logosium '99

We go way back

In 1985, I traveled to MIT for the first time to attend the Logo ’85 international conference. I was 22 years old and had no academic credentials. Memory suggests that the instant I stepped out of my cab, Cynthia Solomon and a handful of other great scholars and educators said, “Hey kid, come to dinner with us.” I’ve been lucky enough to have Cynthia Solomon as a friend, colleague and mentor ever since.

My annual summer institute, Constructing Modern Knowledge, would be unimaginable without Cynthia on the faculty. She returns to CMK 2011 this July 11-14th for the fourth time in four years.

Cynthia Solomon (right) teaches at CMK 2010

There is still room for additional registrants at this year’s Constructing Modern Knowledge institute! Register today!

I created Constructing Modern Knowledge (CMK) four years ago as a labor of love. I was  growing increasingly concerned that educators lacked the time necessary to develop fluency with the software environments they embrace for students and may not have a deep enough understanding of learning theory or progressive educational practices to situate classroom computer use in a meaningful context. I also wanted to help leaders in the progressive education community recognize that computers are not the enemy of creativity and intellectual development.

It is enormously gratifying to see CMK become more successful each year. It is equally mind-blowing to think that Jonathan Kozol, Deborah Meier, Alfie Kohn, Lella Gandini, Derrick Pitts, Bob Tinker, James Loewen, Mitchel Resnick, Peter Reynolds and Marvin Minsky would agree to participate in my intimate summer institute. The greatest joy of my life is creating opportunities for educators to meet and spend time with their heroes. CMK does just that.

The CMK faculty of Cynthia Solomon, Brian Silverman, Sylvia Martinez & John Stetson are the best in the world. Cynthia and Brian are responsible for many of the open-ended software tools and pedagogical approaches constructivist educators employ when they teach with computers. Sylvia is an expert software developer, curriculum designer and student empowerment advocate. John Stetson is quite simply the best teacher I have ever met. They work together and with CMK participants like a well-oiled machine.

There is still room for additional registrants at this year’s Constructing Modern Knowledge institute! Register today!

Great news!

Registrations for CMK 2011 – July 11-14, 2011 are terrific!. In order to maintain the quality of educational experience I demand, I have expanded the real estate for our learning environment and added an additional expert educator to serve on our faculty.

I met Jeff Richardson for the first time twenty-one years ago, minutes after landing in Australia for the first time. I came to Sydney with Seymour Papert and Brian Silverman to speak at the 1990 World Conference on Computers in Education. Jeff was already teaching online graduate courses and had taught countless educators across Australia how to teach with computers in a constructionist fashion. Jeff had a cellular telephone back then when they were the size of a lunchbox, but still prefers PINE as his email program 🙂

We became great friends and have worked together in numerous capacities ever since. Jeff’s breadth and depth of knowledge is remarkable – bordering on maddening. He is a briilliant educator, lifelong learner and raconteur. The skills he has developed over thirty years on Australian public radio will make an important contribution to CMK participants’ interactions with our amazing guest speakers.

The following is a little more biographical information on Jeff Richardson, just one more reason why you should register for Constructing Modern Knowledge 2011!

Jeff Richardson

Jeff Richardson is the Director of Student Services for Trinity College at the University of Melbourne. For decades, Jeff was a senior lecturer in education at Monash University where he was a pioneer in online learning, even before the graphical Web. As a result, Mr. Richardson taught a generation of educators across Australia to use computers in a constructionist fashion. Jeff was also a primary teacher and taught at RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) as well. He was the Australian editor for The Logo Exchange.

When not teaching or supporting students, Jeff Richardson is one of Australia’s most enduring and popular radio personalities. Jeff is host and a founder of The Coodabeen Champions, a comedy troupe with multiple shows on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), now celebrating its 30th anniversary – the same number of years Johnny Carson hosted The Tonight Show. Jeff is also the substitute co-host for ABC Breakfast Radio in Melbourne. He also sang the Coodabeens’ hit song, That’s the Thing About Football, before more than 100,000 at an Aussie Rules Football Grand Final (think Superbowl).

The Coodabeens have enjoyed best-selling books, songs and albums. Their motto (below) oddly captures the spirit of Constructing Modern Knowledge.

“You’re only young once, but anyone can be immature”

National Book Award-Winning author and civil rights activist Jonathan Kozol is coming to Constructing Modern Knowledge 2011! I could not be more thrilled or honored.

You may never have another opportunity to spend time with this American hero in an intimate setting.

For forty-five years, Kozol, has given voice to America’s poorest children. He is a tireless champion of educational equality and civil rights for the millions of defenseless children left behind.

In 1964, Kozol was back in Boston after graduating from Harvard, going to England as a Rhodes Scholar, dropping out to spend time learning to write in Paris with authors, including William Styron and Richard Wright. When Kozol learned of the murder of civil rights workers, Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney, he walked into the Boston Public Schools office and said that he would like to teach. After becoming a fourth grade teacher in a segregated school in Roxbury, Massachusetts, Kozol’s teaching career came to an abrupt an unwelcome end when he was fired for “curricular deviation” for having the audacity to read a Langston Hughes poem to African American children.

A man with the courage to match his convictions, Kozol spent several months on a hunger strike in 2007 until his old friend, Senator Edward Kennedy refused to meet with him to discuss the “No Child Left Behind” Law.

From his National Book Award-winning first book, Death at an Early Age to his most-recent, Letters to a Young Teacher, Kozol has sold millions of books about teaching, learning, poverty, homelessness and growing up in America’s poorest communities. He has appeared on countless television shows and testified before Congress on many occasions. C-Span’s Web-based video archive allows you great access to twenty different Kozol appearances on that network free-of-charge.

The following clip is one of the most moving statements about children and what we owe each  young citizen. Kozol speaks about caring for children in moral terms that resonnate with me at a Harvard conference commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court decision. Regardless of where you stand on religion or spiritual matters, please watch the entire 16 minutes. Kozol really builds to a knock-out punch.

Click the image above to launch video window

Learn more about Constructing Modern Knowledge 2011

Further reading:

Jonathan Kozol Takes on The World – By Gary Stager
This educator’s latest book shines a bright light on what he calls this country’s big shame — not only are cities segregated, but the education we offer those city children is markedly worse.
Published in the January 2006 issue of District Administration

Speaking Out: An Interview with Jonathan Kozol
Kozol speaks with Gary Stager about his new book, Ordinary Ressurections: Children in the Years of Hope
Published in the June 2000 issue of Curriculum Administrator Magazine