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 Plenary Sessions 

The Warped Table Still Life-1940

Liz Cottrill

The Unseen Foundation

Every teacher knows there is far more to teaching than choosing and implementing curriculum.  Preparing the varied feast of school subjects is simple compared to working with the complex personalities of our students. Add our own personality to the relationship, and the reality of the day-in and day-out work often shakes our hopes and dreams of a living education. How do we cope with conflict and contrariness, doubt and discouragement, opposition or downright disrespect? How do we honor these persons and their rights and maintain our balance? We acknowledge that character is the outcome we aim for, but what if our own character is challenged and found wanting? We will explore what Mason has to say about the realm of education beyond the material we cover in lessons, advice that makes all the difference in experiencing education as an atmosphere, a discipline, and a life.

Giving Thanks-1942

Dr. Jennifer Spencer

Understanding Cognitive Load and Its Implications for a Mason Education

Every task that we undertake costs something of us in terms of mental energy; that is, it has a "cognitive load." The more novel the task, the higher the cognitive load. The task feels difficult because our brains have to spend much attention and energy to accomplish it. As we practice the task over time, our brains do not have to work as hard, and the task feels easier to us; that is, the task has become automated to some degree. This fact has important implications for us as educators, as we try to determine when a child is ready for certain tasks. In this lecture, Dr. Spencer will discuss cognitive load, using Michael Polanyi's model of focal and subsidiary awareness, how it relates to various subjects of study, and how Mason's developmental and incremental learning model recognizes the importance of cognitive load.

The Temptation Of Saint Anthony-1946

Storm Hutchinson

Atmosphere and Relationships: How to Shape Atmosphere by Building a Strong Student Community

Student relationships have a significant impact on Atmosphere.  As we work in a broken world full of broken relationships, how do we create habits of healthy relationships for our students?  By building a strong student community we shape the will and mind of both students and teachers so that they are focused on strengthening and repairing relationships in the classroom and across the school community.  The focus is also on how we prevent problems from occurring in the first place and what we need to do to ensure that practice and policy support this effort.  These practices have been implemented in families, in schools, across school districts, in churches, and even throughout an entire town with dramatic results for over 30 years.

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