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Former PM to discuss indigenous education

Former prime minister Paul Martin

By Heidi Wicks

Paul Martin will speak at Edge 2009: Innovation and Inspiration in Teacher Education – an international conference hosted by Memorial’s Faculty of Education.

The former prime minister is currently the co-chair, with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai, on a $200-million British-Norwegian poverty alleviation and sustainable development fund for the 10-nation Congo Basin Rainforest.

He has recently established two new initiatives for indigenous communities. The Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative, which aims at reducing the Aboriginal youth dropout rate and at increasing the number of Aboriginal students attending post-secondary institutions, and the CAPE Fund, which helps establish and grow successful mid-market Aboriginal businesses both on and off reserve.

His talk at the Edge conference is titled Indigenous Education: Seeking Advice. He hopes his talk will be more of a forum for discussion, and made it very clear that he’s not coming to make a speech, but to outline what his initiatives are.

“I’m far more interested in what the audience has got to say than what I want to say,” he said. “These are some of the leading educators from around the world, and we’re very active in Aboriginal high schools, primary/elementary schools. I’m coming to outline what we’re doing so that I can get the comments and the expertise of the people who are in the audience.”

Edge 2009
Edge 2009 features presenters and attendees from around the globe, including the U.K., U.S., India, Uganda, Nigeria, Israel, as well as representatives from all 10 provinces in Canada and 10 U.S. states.

Under the umbrella of inspiration and innovation in education fall many fascinating speaker topics, from It Smells Gross, Sir: A School Gardening and Composting Project with Junior High Students, to Teaching: How Juggling While Roller Skating Can Bridge the Theory to Practice Gap, and Child’s Play: Using Popular Culture and the Imagination to Teach Emergent Literacies in the Public Classroom.

Grad student Joan Dohey will present on how filmmaking can be incorporated into modern school curriculum.

“’Lights! Camera! Action!’ versus ‘Grab your pen and paper!’ – which one sounds more exciting?” she said. “As educators, we need to tap into our students’ passion for technology. Having watched my daughter go through school unmotivated and unengaged, and basically doing the same things I did 30-plus years ago, I questioned the delivery of our curriculum. My research is child-based and motivates kids by tapping into their passions, giving them a vehicle and voice with which to discover and interpret the world around them.”
World-renowned technology education expert Dr. Chris Dede of the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University, will provide one of the keynote addresses, discussing emerging immersive media such as virtual environments and augmented realities.

Dr. David Dibbon, dean, Faculty of Education and conference chair, noted that the objective of the conference is to spark a dialogue about inspiration and innovation in teaching and teacher education, and to provide opportunities for researchers, teachers, administrators, policy-makers and students to generate and share new knowledge.

“The program is rich in content and includes an impressive line-up of local, national and international speakers, as well as numerous papers, workshop and panel discussions by practitioners, teachers and researchers. I’m very pleased with how the conference has developed and I’m already looking towards Edge 2010.”

For a full line up of Edge 2009’s schedule and events, please visit