Ignite Education

The Ignite format can connect schools and students to their communities.

During Global Ignite Week, I participated in Ignite Petaluma, which took place at St. Vincent de Paul High School in Petaluma, Calif. I didn’t quite know what to expect when I walked into the school’s auditorium. There was popcorn and soda but no beer. The audience was filled with families, including squirming kids, and other members of the community.

What surprised me when I looked at the program was that many participants were faculty and students. The principal, John Walker, gave an Ignite talk on how to survive a bear attack. I gave a talk on “Creating Makerspaces in Education.”

The presentations by students were remarkable. They seemed to grasp the Ignite format and take full advantage of it. I was particularly impressed by Kara Flageollet and her talk “How Joe Kincheloe Changed My Life.” I was glad I didn’t follow her.

A speech and debate team member, Kara was so comfortable on stage and discussed how the ideas she was learning made her see the world and interact with it in new ways. Afterwards, I told her that her talk should be her college application. Anyone seeing it would recognize her passion and see evidence of the capabilities she demonstrates so well. I believe that education should increasingly focus on giving students the opportunity to demonstrate what they can do, and share that online with a broader community.

Ignite is a great format to bring together students, faculty and members of the community and connect the school to the community by sharing what we do and what we know. I would expect to see Ignite take place at more schools in the future.

You can watch other talks from Ignite Petaluma here.

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