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What if? Teaching and Learning at the Edge of Possibility

By Christiana Perakis and Steve Medeiros
What if? Teaching and Learning at the Edge of Possibility

Ten years ago, in 2005, The American Community Schools Athens (ACS Athens) organized its first conference on Learning Differences, “Students with Learning Differences: The Challenge of Our Century.” At the time, there was a great need to educate children in Greece with learning differences, but limited services available in the local educational community. This posed a huge challenge for parents and educators seeking to attain and provide the utmost level of education to all students.
Drawing on its long experience, extensive research, and expertise in the field, ACS Athens considered it a civic responsibility to share best practices in teaching students with learning differences. To that end, the conference was organized with the purpose of reaching out train the education community in Greece.
The response was extremely positive and it fueled the demand for a second conference the year after. The conferences, showcasing the work of renowned international educators and researchers, became an annual tradition and grew to embrace an international body of participants from national and international schools on four continents.
Today, The Institute for Innovation and Creativity at ACS Athens is proud to host the 10th Annual Conference on Learning Differences and Innovation Summit, held on the campus of the American Community Schools of Athens, May 6–9, 2015. The theme of the conference is “What if? Teaching and Learning at the Edge of Possibility.”
This year, we take our inspiration from the artist Henri Matisse, who in his later years, confined to a wheelchair and unable to paint, took scissors to colored paper and began, as he put it, “carving into color.” In the process, drawing on deep reserves of craft expertise, knowledge, experience, and imagination, he reinvented his art and created some of the most joyously beautiful images in Western art.
In the same way, we seek to challenge educators to accept the challenge inherent in the question “What if?” and, drawing on their reserves of craft expertise, knowledge, experience, and imagination, to reimagine and perhaps reinvent their practice. We hope to highlight innovative practices that have a genuine power to transform the teaching and learning experience, and to empower all students to become architects of their own learning: independent, self-motivated, collaborative, critical, creative problem posers and problem solvers.
To this end, we have structured the conference in three strands:
- one three-day and three two-day intensive institutes, focused on specific themes of professional interest to our participants
- a series of interactive 70-minute workshops highlighting best practices in teaching and learning offered on Saturday afternoon;
- and the “Innovation Summit,” a series of seven 15-minute TED-style talks, spurred by the question, “What if?”—celebrating, promoting, championing, predicting meaningful innovations in our schools and lives and challenging us to consider their implications for our teaching and counseling practice.
Conference program details can be found at .

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