We live in a world of our making. Having a strong sense of agency comes from embracing the idea that we have the ability, right, and opportunity to design and create the world we want to live in. Negotiating that process of invention with others is hard work. It requires empathy, curiosity, flexibility, and capacity to embrace different perspectives.

School can be where we practice and strengthen these skills among others – it's where strangers become community. At school, we can learn the benefits of taking safe risks, to become comfortable with uncertainty, to build emotional intelligence, and to exercise civic responsibility.

During this workshop, Opal School's Susan Harris MacKay and Matt Karlsen celebrate the courage, wisdom, and tremendous capacity to navigate complexity children and adults discover when they invent the world together. The two days will be rich with inspiration, reflection, and connection. Participants will engage with multi-media presentation materials, and engage in experiences designed to support new practices with materials and dialogue in their own classrooms.

We hope our time together inspires you to re-imagine the vital role of school for children and democracy: Let's leave better equipped and more strongly committed to working with children to invent more just, whole-hearted, and beautiful worlds.
Participants In This Workshop Will Explore Questions Such As:
  • What habits, dispositions, and understandings are necessary for participatory democracy? How might we nurture them in school?
  • How do play and the arts help us see beyond the limits of the systems we have now to feed our imagination for more just worlds of greater democracy?
  • How can we create learning environments for democracy guided by a strong image of young children as creative, competent, and capable, full of gifts that the world needs now?
Day 1

9:00 Welcome and Introductions

9:15 What is an education for democracy and what are the alternatives?: Participant small group experiences and discussion

10:00 The Principles of Playful Inquiry: Presentation

10:30 A.M. - 11:00 A.M. Break

11:00 The role of questions: Participant experience

11:45 Looking at pictures of practice from Opal School classrooms: video and reflection

12:30 P.M. - 1:30 P.M. Lunch

1:30 The role of materials: Presentation and Participant experience

2:30 Connecting the personal, the local, and the global: Presentation

3:15 Questions and reflections

4:00 Adjourn

Day 2:

9:00 Making Friends with Conflict: Working in the Aesthetic Dimension: Presentation

10:30 A.M. -11:00 A.M. -- Break

11:00 Looking at pictures of practice from Opal School classrooms: video and reflection

11:45 The role of the environment: Participant experience

12:30 P.M. -1:30 P.M. --- Lunch

1:30 Supporting the social and emotional intelligences of children and the adults who work with them: Presentation and reflection

3:00 Where do we go from here?: Action planning

4:00 Adjourn
Opal School:
Opal School is a small school serving children ages 3-11 in Portland, Oregon. Since 2001, Opal School has worked with thousands of teachers guided by its mission of strengthening education through provoking fresh ideas concerning environments where curiosity, creativity, and the wonder of learning thrive. Over the last two years, Opal School has been investigating the school conditions in which children's inventiveness thrives, resulting in a framework, classroom documentation, and tools for classroom and collegial learning. Learn more about Opal School at opalschool.org
Susan Harris MacKay:
Susan Harris MacKay is currently the Pedagogical Director of the Portland Children's Museum and Opal School. She has a degree in English from Vassar College and an MAT from Lewis and Clark College. Her teaching career began when she discovered the potential of writer's workshop to invite young children to make their voices public and imagined the power in that potential to change the world. Later, she discovered the concept of the 100 Languages from Reggio Emilia, Italy where adults were inviting the very youngest children to make their ideas and experiences visible long before they could write. Susan writes and presents about what is being learned in Opal School classrooms as students and teachers use the 100 languages to express their powerful ideas and inspire the new possibilities for environments that support playful inquiry, creativity and the wonder of learning. Publications include What About Play?, Equity and Inclusion through Story Workshop, and chapters included in Fostering Empathy in Museums, Living the Questions, and In the Spirit of the Studio. She has published numerous articles in professional journals including Language Arts and Democracy and Education, and has presented at conferences world-wide. Susan is a member of the Advisory Board for the Lego Foundation and Harvard's Project Zero's Pedagogy of Play project. Her TEDx is entitled, "School Is For Learning to Live".
Matt Karlsen:
As Director of Professional Development, Matt Karlsen supports Opal School's mission to use learning experiences in its small lab in Portland to transform educational opportunities around the world. For fifteen years prior to joining Opal School, Matt worked in a range of range of educational settings, including as a teacher (mostly at the upper-elementary and middle-school levels) and in leading teacher professional development programs. As he developed a relationship with Opal School – as a parent and collaborator – he saw the important role it plays in expanding educators' vision of "third doors" through which adults and children might walk together to create richer, more just worlds. Since joining the staff in 2012, he has worked to connect the ideas being constructed at Opal School to audiences hungry for those perspectives.

9:00 am to 4:00 pm
Registration at 8.30 am
on the 10th September 2019.
AUD 720/- Early Bird Offer 1st April 2019
AUD 790/- Closing date 1st August 2019
INCLUDES: Certificate of Participation for 16 Professional Development hours, Lunch and 2 coffee breaks.
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7th - 8th September 2019
Hong Kong
Teaching and Learning Through Inquiry
- By Trevor MacKenzie
15th – 16th August 2019