Keynote Speakers


Dr. Joel Westheimer

University Research Chair (University of Ottawa), CBC Radio’s education columnist

The Teaching of Wonderful Things

Friday, March 21st, 2014 , 1:15- 2:15

Jack Cram Auditorium (EDUC 129), Faculty of Education, McGill, 3700 McTavish Street.

Joel Westheimer is University Research Chair in the Sociology of Education at the University of Ottawa, Canada, and education columnist for CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning show.  A former middle school teacher in the New York City public schools, he received his Ph.D. from Stanford University and his B.S.E. from Princeton University.  Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Ottawa, Dr. Westheimer taught at Stanford, New York University, and the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto.  He is co-founder and executive director of Democratic Dialogue, a group of researchers dedicated to the critical exploration of democratic ideals in education and society. Westheimer’s books include the award-winning Pledging Allegiance: The Politics of Patriotism in Schools (foreword by the late Howard Zinn). He is also author of the critically acclaimed Among Schoolteachers: Community, Autonomy and Ideology in Teachers’ Work. He’s currently working on his third book, Restoring the Public in Public Education. He has published more than 50 scholarly and professional articles and book chapters and addresses radio and television audiences on shows such as Good Morning America, More to Life, The Agenda, NBC TV News, C-Span, NPR, and CBC. He is recipient of the Canadian Education Association’s Whitworth Award and Knight Fellow for Civic Engagement in Higher Education. Westheimer grew up in New York City and currently lives with his wife and two children in Ottawa, where, in Winter, he ice-skates to and from work. He tweets once in a while at @joelwestheimer.

Abstract: The Teaching of Wonderful Things

Imagination. Critical Thinking. Creativity. Democracy.  These are all important goals for schools. Yet education reformers and policymakers have become obsessed with, entranced by, and inured to a cultural obsession with measuring things.  Perhaps, even more worrisome, researchers have largely followed their lead.  Scholarly theories of accountability and standardization continue to undermine teachers’ professional practice.  In classrooms and schools across North America, teachers are under attack and the public trust that many teachers once enjoyed is undermined by the media, politicians, school boards, and sometimes even by fellow educators. This lecture describes how this happened and what professors, teachers, parents, students, and policymakers can do about it.


GeorgeSDDr. George J. Sefa Dei

Professor (OISE/University of Toronto), Co-Chair of the African Community Networking Committee in Toronto.

The Intellectual and Political Project of Decolonization and Anti-Colonial Praxis in the [Western] Academy

Saturday, March 22st, 2014 , 4:00- 5:00

Jack Cram Auditorium (EDUC 129), Faculty of Education, McGill, 3700 McTavish Street

Ghanaian-born George Sefa Dei is a renowned educator, researcher and writer who is considered by many as one of Canada’s foremost scholars on race and anti-racism studies. He is a widely sought after academic, researcher and community worker whose professional and academic work has led to many Canadian and international speaking invitations in US, Europe and Africa. Currently, he is Professor of Social Justice Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT). Professor Dei’s teaching and research interests are in the areas of Anti-Racism, Minority Schooling, International Development, Anti-Colonial Thought and Indigenous Knowledges Systems. In June of 2007, Professor Dei was installed as a traditional chief in Ghana, specifically, as the Adumakwaahene of the town of Asokore, in the New Juaben Traditional Area of Ghana. His stool name is Nana Sefa Atweneboah I. In 2012 Professor Dei was honoured with the title of “Professor Extraordinaire” from the School of Education, University of South Africa, He has also received several honours in Canada including the ‘Excellence in Education and Community Development’ award from the Canadian Alliance of Black Educators.  He is the recipient of 2014 OISE Distinguished Teaching award,  and the 2014 Ludwik and Estelle Jus Memorial Human Rights Prize, University of Toronto.  Professor Dei has published  29 books and over 70 articles in refereed journals.

Abstract: The Intellectual and Political Project of Decolonization and Anti-Colonial Praxis in the [Western] Academy

In the overarching concern of “decolonizing our minds” my keynote address will touch on the particular subject of “decolonizing the curriculum” as an entry point to academic decolonization. I situate my discussion in some key questions. For example, how do we frame an inclusive anti-racist/anti-colonial global future and what is the nature of the work required to collectively arrive at that future?; what education are learners of today going to receive and what are we going to do with such education?; how do we ‘re-fashion’ our work as learners to create more relevant understandings of what it means to be human?; how do we challenge colonizing and imperializing relations of the academy?; how we can use our myriad identities as students, educators, researchers, community workers and activists to engage in anti-colonial struggles for educational change?, and lastly, what are the possibilities and limits of counter-visions of education? I do not presume to have answers to all these questions. But decolonization begins by asking new and critical questions. In my discussion I will highlight the particular place of Indigenous epistemologies that seek to threaten, replace and re-imagine alternatives to colonial thinking and practice.  I will argue that anti-colonial is intimately connected to decolonization, and by extension, decolonization cannot happen solely through Western scholarship. Furthermore, that the complex problems and challenges facing the world today defy universalist solutions, but can be remedied by multi-centric ways of knowing/doing/being. I end the discussion with some particular strategies to decolonize the curriculum.


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