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In February, 2019 a Pew survey found that 70 percent of teens in the United States say that anxiety and depression is a “major problem” among their peers, and an additional 26 percent say it’s a minor problem. (Horowitz and Graf, Pew Research Center, Feb 20, 2019). The numbers in Canada are not that different. One key source of this increased angst are the stresses that students face at schools -- including the challenges of keeping up their academic standing. Our kids have got the message that college is “the finish line to life” and they will do anything and everything to get over that line.  

This state of affairs is the inevitable consequence of a fundamentally misguided understanding of the true purpose and potential of schools. We are doing damage to our kids -- and robbing them of their unrealized potential -- because we have unthinkingly accepted the assumptions of the past without having the courage to imagine a better future. The time has come for parents and educators alike to re-examine what we really want out of our schools, and how we are going to get there.

It is with these sorts of background considerations in mind that Dr. Spear would be pleased to engage parents and educators in discussion about any combination of the following topics:

  • The Purpose of Education: Figuring Out Why Before How

  • Ten (Big) Questions For Parents

  • Education’s Achilles Heel: Student Assessment and Reporting

  • The Possibilities and Pitfalls of Personalized Learning

  • What We Can Teach Our Kids “When Things Go Wrong”

  • The Seduction of “21st Century Skills”; What Makes Sense and What Doesn’t

  • Inviting Teachers to Become Educators

  • Five Disruptions That Will Fundamentally Change Schools

  • School Orientation Nights: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  • The Schools of Tomorrow: Five Case Studies

  • How Parents Can Become Allies in Transforming Schools For the Better

  • What Education Could Be: High School Reconfigured

In general, he likes to start with a substantive overview of the topic at hand and then invite participants to reflect upon, question, and contribute to the ideas that have been presented. He has found that the follow-up questions and discussion typically yield the most important insights. His goal is to invite parents and educators together to change the way we think about the purpose and practice of schooling.  

Dr. Spear is able to initiate these conversations by way of any of the following formats:

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Traditional Group Presentations

  • Group size of 25 or more

  • 45-75 min presentation, with time left for questions and discussion at the end

  • Venue and technical support arranged by host organization

Small Group “Living Room Chats”

  • Group size of 8-18 participants

  • 20-40 min of presentation segments, with time for questions and discussion

  • Typically hosted in the evenings at a home or small conference room (e.g. in a public library) between 6:30-9:30 pm

  • Capacity to present audio-visual material required (i.e. screen or blank wall)


Roundtable Lunch or Dinner Discussions

  • Group sizes of 8-18 participants

  • 20-40 min of presentation segments, with time for questions and discussion

  • Private or semi-private dining venue and menu arranged by host

  • Capacity to present audio-visual material required (i.e. screen or blank wall)