Invited Speakers

Invited Speakers

Anna Sfard

Anna Sfard

Professor Emerita

Lost & Found In Dialogue: Embracing the promises of interdiscursivity and diminishing its risks

Ours are times of a rampant growth in communicational diversity. In the universe filled with multiple discourses, we may need to cross discursive boundaries even when trying to reach our closest neighbor. Against the natural instinct of turning a deaf ear at what may sometimes sound as a cacophony, most of us are trying to embrace this communicational entropy as an opportunity rather than as a problem to solve. Indeed, tolerance toward the simultaneous presence of multiple forms of talk carries a promise of a better world, of a world in which no discourse can gain exclusivity on the sheer force of the power wielded by its skillful participants. This is a world in which, on the contrary, people will gain leadership solely thanks to the power of their discourses.

This said, multi-discursivity carries with it some risks, and the question of how to avoid the pitfalls while enjoying the benefits is yet to be answered. In this talk, I will reflect on both promises and perils of discursive diversity, as they manifest themselves in the particular case of research on learning. The point of departure will be the claim that research can be usefully conceptualized as a discursive activity. I will conclude with a close look at the idea of dialogic education which, in spite of its being rife with mostly unacknowledged inherent dilemmas, constitutes our preferred response to the needs of multivocal classrooms.

Viewing research as a special case of learning, I will be asking how to harness dialogism in coping with, and trying to benefit from, the current proliferation of scientific discourses.

Audrey Watters

Audrey Watters

Writer, Independent Scholar

The Ed-Tech Imaginary

How do the stories we tell about the history and the future of education (and education technology) shape our beliefs about teaching and learning — the beliefs of educators, as well as those of the general public?

We like to think about this process differently perhaps: that our deeply held commitments to certain ideas about education — and ideally, to the science of teaching and learning — are what shape the technologies we build. But what if much of what inspires our technologies and what fosters our faith in what these technologies can do comes from fictions rather than facts?

This keynote will explore the “ed-tech imaginary” as it appears in science fiction — think of Neo in The Matrix, for example, so amazed that he’s rapidly learned kung fu by plugging into an instructional computer system. But it also includes historical narratives — shorthand phrases like “the factory model of education” that aren’t particularly accurate stories but that seem to be terribly compelling stories nonetheless.

Leigh Patel

Leigh Patel

Associate Dean for Equity & Justice

Learning As An Act of Fugitivity

In this talk, I will provide context, examples, and comparisons between the historical and contemporary practices of learning as fugitive. I will also compare these examples to the purpose, shape, and function of school-based achievement, most typically based in whiteness as property, intellect, and worth.


The conference schedule will be released in detail in spring 2020. The general overview of the schedule is below.

June 19-20 -- Pre-conference workshops

June 20 -- Opening Plenary with Anna Sfard

June 21 -- Keynote presentation with Audrey Watters

June 22 -- Keynote presentation Leigh Patel

June 23 -- Closing ceremony