How can schools and communities work together to create innovative avenues to engage students in their education? That is the central theme of this year’s Summer Institute offered by the York Centre for Education & Community (YCEC) in the Faculty of Education.
Presented Aug. 17, 18 and 19 at York’s Keele campus, this year’s program builds on the success of summer institutes held in 2008 and 2009 and draws on contemporary research and innovative approaches to education.
"We have more than 100 people signed up to attend this year’s symposium," says York education Professor Carl James, director of the YCEC. "They are coming to York from Toronto as well as the 905 area public and separate school boards and community organizations to engage with us about student engagement and how to make community a vital part of education."
Left: Carl James
As families move to suburban communities in the 905-area from urban centres, says James, they bring with them a rich diversity of experience and unique expectations. James says it is important for schools and communities to understand and engage with these collective experiences that students and families bring to their new communities and classrooms.
Education faces constant challenges due to the rapidly changing world, says James. The migration and residential patterns, technological advances, as well as economic, political and social conditions, create an environment for education that demands ongoing assessment. This year’s Summer Institute continues on a history pioneered by the YCEC that focuses on building on the relationships between learning institutions and communities to ensure that education is current, relevant and a cornerstone of academic success.
"Many schools in communities in the Greater Toronto Area are interested in the research that York has been doing with urban schools in the areas of engagement and inclusion," says James. "Participants will hear about our findings and they will explore the idea of diversity inside the classroom, how to be inclusive of students’ backgrounds and experiences and how to work with families and build commitment and support."
Presenters and workshops in this year’s institute will articulate effective curriculum and pedagogical practices around inclusion and models of student engagement. Student achievement is directly affected by engagement, explains James. Participants in this year’s institute will participate in workshops, theory to practice seminars and panel discussions that directly address student engagement and building inclusive classrooms. Key thinkers in these areas will present keynotes each day of the institute in order to guide thinking.
On Tuesday, Aug. 17, the Summer Institute begins with a keynote presentation by Harvard University education Professor Mark Warren. Warren is a sociologist concerned with the revitalization of American democratic and community life. He studies efforts to strengthen institutions that anchor inner-city communities – churches, schools and other community-based organizations – and to build broad-based alliances among these institutions and across race and social class. Warren is interested in fostering community development, social justice, and school transformation; and uses the results of scholarly research to advance democratic practice.
Right: Mark Warren
Wednesday’s sessions will kick off with a keynote from Dr. Llewellyn Joseph, a medical doctor and director of the outpatient Disruptive Behaviours Program at Southlake Regional Hospital in Newmarket, Ont.
Dr. Joseph provides clinical services to children and teens with disruptive behaviours and was previously the physician leader in the Child & Adolescent Program in the Department of Psychiatry at Humber River Regional Hospital. He is an associate professor at the University of Toronto in child and adolescent psychiatry and co-editor of The Mental Hospital in the 21st Century (1992). Dr. Joseph is a frequent contributor to journals and conferences on the subject of mental health and disruptive behaviours among young people. He is also a member of the YCEC Advisory Council.
Following the keynote, the first series of workshops of the Summer Institute will offer interactive sessions in technology and its role in engaging parents and the community; the complexities and possibilities inherent in an inclusive approach to education; the search for cultural and economic biases in the mathematics curriculum in Ontario; and how to construct an inclusive curriculum by using autobiographical narratives by African Canadians. Information on each of these sessions can be found on the workshop descriptions that are available online.
Wednesday afternoon will feature a panel discussion with York education faculty, school and community representatives who will discuss the implementation of equity and inclusive programs in schools.
After the panel, there will be a second series of workshops. The first will focus on fostering intergenerational learning within community responsive schools by involving linguistic and cultural minority students and their families. There will be sessions on what teachers think about student engagement; equity in the classroom through arts and literacy; and an exploration of girls, gender equity and social justice. Details on each workshop are available online.
On day three of the Summer Institute, Ryerson University education Professor Althea Prince will deliver the day’s keynote address. Prince is a sociologist and teaches at the G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education at Ryerson.
Right: Althea Prince
Prince’s teaching area includes explorations of race, racism, and African Caribbean peoples in metropolitan communities. She is also an essayist, novelist, storyteller and author of children’s books. As a community educator, Prince teaches writing workshops that concentrate on accessing voice and building confidence.
More about the York Centre for Education & Community
YCEC is a faculty-based Organized Research Unit located within York University’s Faculty of Education. YCEC seeks to strengthen links among the University, colleges, schools and communities.
The centre works with faculty members both within and outside the Faculty of Education, education researchers and administrators, teachers, parents, government agencies and representatives of community organizations to both initiate and facilitate research.