Date: Tuesday March 6, 2018
Time: 3-4:30pm
Location: 3515 Tolman Hall, UC Berkeley Campus
Hosted by the Graduate School of Education


In my career as a researcher and designer I’ve worked to nurture young people’s interests by engaging them in creative activities that blend technology and art. I’ve focused primarily on what young people do outside of school, guided by the belief that the things kids are most interested in and excited about shape their lives as much as the classes that they take. I’ve mostly evaded the political and economic complexity of the educational system, designing tools and activities that are used primarily at home or in after school programs. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, but as my own child approaches school age, the choice to avoid classrooms feels increasingly problematic. Looking for schools for my son, I’m being confronted personally with the heartbreaking iniquities and tensions that are built into the system—the enormous disparities in resources available to different communities, the concentration of minority kids into low performing high poverty institutions, and the uncomfortable choices faced by caring parents.

Many of the most significant challenges society faces are woven into our educational system. By avoiding classrooms, have I been sidestepping all of the hardest and most urgent problems? In this talk, I’ll share some of my personal and professional angst about the state of education in our society. I’ll discuss recent research on inequalities in our school systems and explore the central question I keep returning to: How can we ensure that our society values and cultivates the interests, passions, communities, and cultures of all kids?