This is no time to engage in the luxury
of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing
drug of gradualism.
- Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. (1963)
|Constructing Modern Knowledge 2010
Spend four cool summer days in
making puppets roar, robots dance, animations
delight, movies move, simulations stimulate,
photos sing and leave with memories to last a
Popular and provocative author, Alfie Kohn,
MacArthur Genius school reformer, Deborah
Meie and awardwinning children's author,
illustrator and animator, Peter H. Reynolds.
are returning as guest speakers to Constructing
Modern Knowledge 2010, July
12-15, 2010 in Manchester, NH!
Dr. James Loewen rounds-out the team of
speakers that promises to make CMK
2010 one of the premiere professional
learning event of
James Loewen's gripping retelling of
American history as it should, and could, be
My Teacher Told Me, has sold more than
800,000 copies and continues to inspire K-16
teachers to get students to challenge, rather
than memorize, their textbooks. Loewen's most
recent book, Teaching
What Really Happened: How to Avoid the
Tyranny of Textbooks and Get Students Excited
About Doing History, helps teachers learn
to teach history more authentically based on
inquiry and access to primary sources.
He will challenge interested participants to
do history while at CMK
Modern Knowledge is a four-day immersive
minds-on institute during which educators
from around the world gather to collaborate
and create wondrous technology-rich projects.
CMK offers a playful rich environment in
which you can develop your technology skills,
become reacquainted with your creative spark
and spend time with some of the most
powerful thinkers of our time.
The stellar CMK
faculty includes: Brian Silverman,
the man who helped create countless software
learning environments including LogoWriter,
MicroWorlds, programmable LEGO and Scratch;
Logo co-inventor Cynthia Solomon; Gary
Stager; Generation YES President, Sylvia
Martinez and John Stetson.
Modern Knowledge is not an ordinary
conference where you sit quietly and listen.
CMK is about action and high-quality
interaction with experts in an intimate
Reynolds will host a reception at the
Studios to kickoff the
"Big Night Out in
Boston." Monday's festive conference
will be held at an all-you-can-eat Brazilian
Each participant receives a free
open-ended creativity software from
members of The
Constructivist Consortium for use
Modern Knowledge and beyond.
Modern Knowledge respects the budgets of
schools and educators by keeping registration
costs affordable and by offering team
discounts. The institute is appropriate for
all K-12 educators, administrators and
Go to www.constructingmodernknowledge.com
to register and for more information.
Enrollment is limited and early-bird
discounts expire soon.
This past August/September I enjoyed the
great honor (honour as they would say here)
of being a "Visiting Scholar" at the
Trinity College of The University of
Melbourne. I was provided with a large old
flat (at the top of the building pictured),
complete with library and art collection in
the college and will experience many of the
traditions including the wearing of an
academic gown to "high table" and leading
"tutes" with students. I was a judge for the
Allen Dialectical Society Essay Contest
and led a fireside chat on the topic of "The
Education Revolution?" (Aussies know what the
title means in the current political climate
I can't wait to return! I enjoyed college
life now more than ever before.
|An Aussie Anniversary
2010 marks an important anniversary for
me. It represents twenty years of working in
schools across Australia. I recently
reflected on my the experience of leading
professional development at the world's first
two "laptop schools" Downunder in
1990, in Hard and
Easy: Reflections on my ancient history in
1:1 computing. That early work was also
documented in the book, Never
Mind the Laptops...
In 1992, I delivered my first keynote
address at the biennial Australian
Computers in Education Conference in my
beloved Melbourne. That's why it's so
exciting to be a keynote speaker at this
year's ACEC, April
6-9, 2010 in Melbourne, Australia! I will be
presenting a brand new keynote designed
specifically for the Australian audience
entitled, "You Say You Want a
Sylvia Martinez and Alan November are two
of the other keynote speakers.
I hope to see all of you there!
Plans are also shaping up for a
on April 6th. Watch the Constructivist
Consortium web site for more information.
|Ready for My Closeup!
Almost two years ago, I was asked to be in
a film about creativity, math, science,
engineering and imagination. That new
documentary , imagine
it!² The Power of Imagination. is about
connecting imagination and creativity with
science and engineering in education. The
52-minute film inspires people to imagine a
better world, unleash their creativity and
take action to solve global challenges.
I am in august company for my film
debut. Other experts interviewed in imagine
it!² The Power of Imagination, include:
- Stanford University President, John
- Author, Sir Ken Robinson
- Futurist and author, Ray Kurzweil
- G. Wayne Clough, Secretary, Smithsonian
- Segway Inventor, Dean Kamen
- Palm Computing co-founder, Jeff Hawkins
- Peter Diamandis, CEO, The X Prize
- Former MIT President and President of
the National Academy of Engineering, Charles
- The Founders of The Blue Man Group
Watch the film, see longer outtakes of me,
access related education materials or
download the entire film for freevia my
|Constructivist Celebrations are a Hit from Coast-to-Coast
More than 350 educators attended
Constructivist Celebrations in 2009. In
addition to the annual Constructivist
Celebration preceding NECC, we held highly
successful celebrations of computing,
creativity and collaboration in partnership
with NCCE and
A Constructivist Celebration is planned for
Conference in Grand Rapids, MI on March
11, 2010. Register
Keep an eye on the Constructivist
Consortium web site for information other
upcoming Constructivist Celebrations:
- Melbourne, Australia - April 6th
- Denver, Colorado - June 27th
|Buy One, Give Another to Your Kid's Teacher!
Nobody does a better job of challenging
conventional wisdom or killing education's
most sacred cows than Alfie Kohn. In this $29
DVD you get two compelling one-hour lectures
urging educators, administrators and parents
to question the use of homework and
There is no better way to heat up a teacher's
lounge or PTA meeting than this terrific
Don't forget that Constructing
Modern Knowledge attendees will enjoy the
rare opportunity of interacting with Alfie
Kohn in an intimate setting!
|Where You Can Find Me
Dr. Stager's upcoming schedule includes
the following speaking, teaching and
- January 14 - Orlando Florida
Speaker A Vision of 1:1
Computing Worth Sustaining at Florida Educational
- January 29 - Atlantic City, FL
Keynote speaker Ten Things to
Do with a Laptop: Learning and Powerful Ideas
at NJ Techspo
(superintendents), along with Alan November
- January 30-31 - Philadelphia,
NJ Speaker Stager Certified
Educator Exective Program and Papert
Matters: Thinking about Children, Computers
& Powerful Ideas at Educon 2.2
- February 15-16 - Portland,
OR Featured Speaker (multiple
sessions) at ITSC
- February 25-26 - San
Francisco, CA Visit me at the
Constructivist Consortium booth at the National
Association of Independent Schools
- March 1- Washington D.C.
Speaker The Best Ideas in the
World: Tickets to Modern Knowledge at
Conference (with David Thornburg)
- March 5 - Briarcliff Manor,
NY Keynote Speaker Creativity
2.0: The Quest for Meaning, Beauty and
Excellence at the LHRIC
Tecnology Leadership Institute, along
with Michael Horn
- March 6 - San Antonio,
TX Speaker Powerful Ideas and
1:1 Computing - A Vision Worth Sustaining
at the ASCD
- LATE MARCH - EARLY APRIL
AVAILABLE FOR PD, CONSULTING AND
AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND/PACIFIC-RIM. Contact
Gary to schedule services.
- March 26 - Doha, Qatar
Professional development session,
EdTech and Beyond at Qatar Academy
- March 27 - Doha,
Qatar Keynote speaker, The Best
Educational Ideas in the World: Tickets to
Modern Knowledge, The
3rd Annual ICT in Education Conference
- April 6-9 - Melbourne,
Australia Keynote Speaker &
Breakfast Speaker at the Australian
Conference on Computers in Education,
along with Sylvia Martinez and Alan November
- April 12 - Chicago, IL
Speaker at the National School Boards
- April 22 - Philadelphia,
PA Keynote Speaker, Ten Things
to Do with a 'Laptop - Learning and Powerful
Ideas, at Villanova
Technology Expo 2010
- June 10 - Palo Alto, CA
Full-day professional development session at
- June 27 - Denver, CO 4th Annual
Constructivist Celebration @ NECC
- June 28-30 - Denver,
CO Featured Speaker Creativity
2.0: The Quest for Meaning, Beauty and
Excellence at ISTE
- July 11-15 - Manchester,
NH Organizer of Constructing
Modern Knowledge 2010 - Register today!
- August 16-20 - Paris,
France Presenter at Constructionism
- LATE AUGUST - EARLY SEPTEMBER
AVAILABLE FOR PD, CONSULTING AND
IN AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND/PACIFIC-RIM. Contact
Gary to schedule services.
- September 6 - Adelaide,
Australia Keynote Speaker at
International Middle Years of Schooling
- September 7&8 - Adelaide,
Australia Workshops and consulting
with South Australia Department of Education
and Children's Services.
- October 18 - Hartford,
CT Keynote Speaker at Connecticut
Educators Computer Association Annual
Hard to believe it, but Howard Gardner's
Theory of Multiple Intelligences is 25
years-old. MI at 25: Assessing the impact and
Future of Multiple Intelligences for Teaching
and Learning is a collection of really
thoughtful essays on the theory, its
controversy and implementation.
The essays by Howard Gardner and CMK
2010 Guest Speaker Deborah Meier are
Even the contributions of people I think are
nutjobs are well-written and reasonably
well-reasoned. This book would be excellent
for faculty discussions and education courses.
|My Educon Sessions
For the 3rd straight years I'll be
"leading conversations" at Educon
2.2 in Philadelphia, January 29-31. One
session is a bit more whimsical than the
other. See if you can determine which one.
Stager Certified Educators
Play your cards right and you can
leave this intensive, immersive, engaging and
transformative session a Stager Certified
Educator, complete with I.D. card,
certificate of awesomeness (suitable for
framing) and web badge for use on your blog
or web site. Some educators don't achieve
this much over a lifetime, but you may in
less than 90 minutes! You will also gain a
greater sense of the issues, ideas and
expertise a 21st Century educator needs in
order to create more productive contexts for
learning. Resources for post-certification
learning will be shared.
Papert Matters: Thinking about
Children, Computers & Powerful Ideas
For those of you who can't make it to Philly,
most Educon 2.2 sessions are streamed via the
Web with synchronous chat. Check the web
site Saturday and Sunday morning.
Seymour Papert, often referred to as
the "father of educational
technology," is arguably one of the most
important thinkers of the past half-century.
However, too few educators are aware of his
ideas and contributions to the field.
Papert's work is too often dismissed for
having the audacity to ask educators to do
better. Papert's creation, Logo, was the
catalyst for a vibrant community of educators
committed to giving voice to powerful ideas
in their classrooms. Yet his influence has
been much greater. Through an exposition of
Papert's lesser-known writing and speeches,
this session demonstrates Papert's tangible
impact on the creation of classroom robotics,
laptops, HyperCard, Squeak, Scratch, 1:1
computing and creation of the MIT Media
I will also discuss Papert's enormous
influence on the fields of artificial
intelligence, computer science, mathematics,
educational computing, epistemology, learning
and the politics of school reform. His
prescience regarding the dominance of the
information metaphor predicted the fallacies
promoted by today's Web 2.0 community. This
session explores just a few of Papert's most
powerful ideas about children, computers and
learning through his own words and rarely
seen video. The presenter worked closely with
Dr. Papert for years. Educators new to
Papert's theories will be challenged to think
deeper about learning. Others may be inspired
to reinvigorate their practice and challenge
the status quo.
I eagerly await video from my Educon 2.2
sessions to appear online. Stay tuned!
|About the Critical Friend
The Critical Friend is an online
newsletter for 21st Century educators
published free-of-charge by Gary Stager.
It offers unique perspectives on important
educational issues, debunks hype and
confronts special interests all with a sense
of humor. This newsletter analyzes trends and
challenges the status quo.
Thoughtful educators, parents and
decision-makers may be inspired to rethink
their educational beliefs and practices.
The Critical Friend will blow the
whistle on superficial education journalism
and attempts to put the latest "crisis du
jour" into perspective.
Pass this newsletter along to friends and
unsubscribe if you wish not to be bothered in
The Adventures Continue!
2009 was quite an exciting and productive
year. 2010 is already shaping up to be
something special with an around-the-world
speaking trip scheduled for March/April.
Although I completed my doctorate at the
University of Melbourne a few years ago, I
could never schedule an opportunity to attend
a formal ceremony and get my fancy hat.
Apparently, I was a graduand
since I had yet to participate in a conferral
of degrees and receive my testamur.
I remedied this situation last August during
my tenure as a Visiting Scholar at Trinity
College at the University of Melbourne.
Living on campus was great fun and a
tremendous honor. I thoroughly enjoyed eating
at "high table," leading
"tutes" and judging the dialectical
society speech competition. The students and
faculty were fantastic.
There was a great deal of bowing and
doffing of my bonnet during the graduation
During 2009 I spoke at conferences across
the United States and Canada, plus made
another trip to Doha, Qatar, keynoted the uLearn
Conference in Wellington, New Zealand, the eLearning
Innovation Expo in Brisbane, Australia
and led a Masterclass
broadcast across South Australia. It was
great to consult with public schools, private
schools and policy-makers at the national and
I presided over three successful
Constructivist Celebrations and Constructing
Modern Knowledge '09 where generations of
creative educators colllaborated, created and
interacted with some of the leading education
thinkers in the world. The great scientist,
Dr. Marvin Minsky joined us for a
"once-in-a-lifetime" reception at
It will be hard to achieve, but CMK
2010 promises to be even better. I hope
you can join us July 12-15th! Please let me
know if you need brochures or would like a
discount for sending a team of three or more
In late June I enjoyed the thrill of a
lifetime when I was invited to be part of the Keynote
Debate at the last ever NECC conference.
Just chatting in the green room with
"voice of God," Robert Siegel of
National Public Radio was a real kick. The
reaction to my
comments was overwhelming.
In July, I also spent a week teaching
middle school kids in Brooklyn, NY computer
programming and robotics.
In August I convened a team of gifted
teachers with more than a decade of
experience teaching in schools with a 1:1
computer ratio, to lead a week of
professional development for an independent
school in Los Angeles.
In October I experienced the joy of
working once again in the Methodist Ladies'
College in Kew, Australia. This day was very
special because I got to work with the
world's finest (and first) laptop-using
educator, Steve Costa, in the school where I
led 1:1 professional development in 1990.
I had not been at MLC in years and I was
thrilled to work with a new generation of
teachers and students.
Later in that month, I realized a
decade-long dream of visiting Reggio Emilia,
Italy where I enrolled in a week-long course.
Seeing "Reggio" in action with my
own eyes confirmed that this community has
the richest, most sustained, subtle and
beautiful approach to education in the world.
In addition to staying in a 700 year-old
hotel, I got to explore Bologna and Rome for
the first time. The magnificence of Italian
history, food, culture and beauty is matched
by the approach to the education of young
children found in Reggio Emilia. If you're
not hip to the "Reggio Approach"
check out these
books. In December I visited a young New
York City heavily influenced by
"Reggio." The delightful Blue
School was created by the creators of
Blue Man Group.
While in Reggio Emilia we visited a farm
where five guys work two shifts 360 days per
year to make Reggiano Parmagiano cheese. It
was like visiting Wonkaland for a person with
my affection for cheese.
I was the opening keynote speaker for the
1:1 Symposium in November and also worked
at the legendary Lamplighter School in
It was a great privilege to meet American
civil rights hero, Dr. Joseph Lowery, when he
visited Pepperdine University.
I continue teaching at Pepperdine
University as a Visiting Professor. In the
past four semesters I've taught in five
different programs: MA in Learning
Technology; EdD in Learning Technology; EdD
in Organizational Leadership; Teacher
Education - secondary and elementary (MA);
and EdD in Educational Leadership. The work
has been rewarding.
I will be back in Australia in April to
keynote their national edtech conference and
in late summer (August/September) to keynote
a conference on middle years education. I
also find myself speaking to more audences
comprised of school board members,
superintendents and principals. That's
My kids are terrific. In 2009, I traveled
150,000 miles, ate in great restaurants, saw
world-class concerts, visited museums,
attended lectures, heard fantastic musicians
in numerous jazz clubs, spent time with
great friends, spent time in NYC and even
attended two days of master classes at
Julliard with old friend Branford Marsalis
and hosted by my pal Carl Allen who directs
the Julliard Jazz Program. By some miracle,
my mighty New York Jets are in the NLF
playoffs!! To quote Pee-wee Herman, "I'm
the luckiest boy in Puppetland." I hope
this "luck" continues in 2010.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter! Please
let me know if I may ever be of service.