The facilitators of this conference, Philip Snow Gang and Marsha Snow Morgan, have been developing learning environments for adults that are most clearly described in Montessori's The Function of the University. They provide Montessorians and others a "prepared environment" to earn the degree "M.Ed. Montessori Integrative Learning" (Integrative Learning for non-Montessorians). Almost all of this work is completed on an eCampus expressly designed by BigMindMedia, whose aspirations are to bring a deeper level of human experience to online social process and learning. Primary to this on-line process is a non-hierarchical, holographic, integrated network of seminars and workshops that encourage the development of a global learning community... that will continue long after the event is over.
We realize that nothing will replace face to face
meetings of people to explore common interests. However from our experience
we can articulate some of the benefits of virtual conferences:
- Everyone is a participant in dialogue with the
- There is time to "think and reflect"
prior to responding to another's comments.
- There is an opportunity to develop a mutually interdependent
web of connection that we identify as a learning community. The space
is set up so that there are areas for people to gather informally;
areas where presentations are shared; and areas where participants
can address their individual work or passionate interest.
- When the conference is over there is a complete
written record that can be used to further the objectives of the event.
- Since participants telecommunicate in asynchronous
time, there is no negative effect on the physical environment; i.e.
with no transportation to and from the event, there is less pollution
from fossil fuels.
- There is a substantial savings in travel, hotel
and food expenses.
- Dialogue is embraced as the medium of exchange
in order to explore issues and ideas in a non-adversarial manner.
How does the Conference Work?
Throughout the four week event, participants
will log on from all over the world in asynchronous time. During the first
week, the facilitators will help everyone by describing the technology
of the conference and addressing (1) the limitations of language and (2)
dialogue as a mode of inquiry.
People will "attend" five-day sessions
led by presenters. These sessions are conducted through a virtual site
enabling everyone to read all comments posted by each person. At the end
of each five-day period there will be a space for weaving the perspectives
of presenters who are giving simultaneous sessions.
In addition to the presentation/responses there
will be an "Open Space" area where participants can create an
Item on an issue of paramount importance to them.
An online Resource Center will be available to
help people connect with resources that further the possibilities described
in the section below.
Possibilities from Participation
The conference has three major perspectives:
First, it seeks to instill a sense of urgency among people who are working at all levels of Montessori -- with children, adolescents and adult communities. This urgency would recognize the critical nature of the world 100 years after the birth of the Montessori movement. Whereas people outside the movement may not have known of Dr. Montessori's contributions during the twentieth century, today a vast array of historians, cosmologists, scientists and psychologists are arriving at similar conclusions without the benefit of her expertise. And that expertise was a "method", an "approach" that provides a pathway for the achievement of universal understanding.
Second, it is hoped that people will begin to grasp the fullness of the emerging story of the eco-cosmological perspective, so that the actions
we take are mediated by the largest possible context of systemic understanding and interconnections.
Third, it is anticipated that emerging from this event there will be groups of individuals around the world meeting in small communities to
explore the ideas set forth during this conference.
Although other conferences with similar goals
have been convened, attendance has been limited to those who could afford
to travel to a conference and spend time at a physical setting. Hundreds,
perhaps thousands, of potential participants who live outside the USA
-many from countries where there is not an equitable relationship between
their local currency and the US dollar- have been unable to attend these
events because of time, distance and cost.
The information and experience of this conference
is critical at the present moment of global history. No other format can
bring people from all over the world together to discuss and discover
the possibilities for the needed transitions.
The conference fee is $150 USD.