“The Imaginative Reinvention of Education” is a two-day symposium that will invite community dialogue about what an excellent education means for this region in the 21st century. The symposium will be hosted at Grand Arts on Friday, February 25th from 4 PM – 8 PM and Saturday, February 26th from 9:45 AM – 4:30 PM.

“The Imaginative Reinvention of Education” is organized by Julia Cole (Kansas City, MO). We are inviting participants with diverse relationships to education to join the discussion: teachers, administrators, governance, parents, students and community advocates. Individuals with connections to all kinds and levels of education are welcome, ranging from secular home-schooling and community education to public and charter K-12 schools, high schools, colleges and universities.

The core component of the symposium will be three sessions of presentation and dialogue, each created by a collaborative team composed of artist-educators including: educational theorists, community educators, active teachers and performance artists.

Facilitator Harlan Brownlee (Kansas City, MO) will moderate the symposium’s opening and closing dialogues. On Friday evening there will be a shared homemade meal Bread! hosted by Sean Starowitz, (Kansas City, MO). Session 1 “Scale and Connection,” with Jim Duignan (Chicago, IL) and Bill Genereux (Salina, KS) will discuss past, present and future relationships between schools and the community. Saturday morning’s Session 2 “Elastic Relationship,” with Zach Rockhill, Leralee Whittle, Zach Springer and Elysia Contreras (Kansas City, MO), will consider the dynamic exchange between mentor and seeker / teacher and student. Session 3 “Creative Social Intelligence,” with Inez Bush (Los Angeles, CA) and Asma Kazmi (Kansas City, MO), will explore the value of different kinds of knowledge. Each session will focus on a particular aspect of pedagogy or educational structure intended to provoke deeply thoughtful, moving or playful engagement with hidden or unspoken questions, and in this way call into question a gap between human values and the priorities manifest in the crisis of our educational systems.

The setting of this dialogue in an artistic space is a deliberate strategy. This symposium will revisit the role that artists can play in shaping social structures. By utilizing the creative potentiality of an artistic space, we hope to open up a new kind of conversation around the question of what an excellent education means here and now. The broad intention is to focus on a process of respectful and imaginative engagement as a kind of collective dreaming. The intent is not to dwell on nor assign blame for failures of the past, and there is no illusion that this brief encounter will provide any specific solutions to the deeply troubling complexities we face. We wish instead to collaboratively imagine responsive, relevant and daring future structures that will creatively redefine economic imperatives. We also hope that our inventive civil discourse might serve as a model and platform for future experimental initiatives.

The “Imaginative Reinvention of Education” symposium is open to the public and free with pre-registration http://grandarts.com. Registration forms are due by Tuesday, February 15, 2011. This symposium is a continuation of Grand Arts current project Dialogues By Design: Experimental Platforms for Intimate Conversations now through mid-March.



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