Monday, March 31, 2008

Farewell to Orlando

Random notes on the conference that will wrap up tomorrow:

- The keynote speaker on Sunday was Sidney Poitier. I've seen a lot of speakers at a lot of conferences in the past four years, and if not the best, Poitier was right up there. From the time he walked onto the stage to the completion of his address, Poitier was the picture of class and dignity. His speech was a simple one - talking about his mother, father, and growing up under difficult circumstances. The lessons he learned from them, the way that they prepared him for a life that would come to define the term "meaningful." Throughout, he spoke quietly but forcefully, and in a manner that could almost be described as hypnotic. At 81 years old, he is a generous soul - and a man who has a profound understanding about what his life has meant - and the messages that it holds for other people.

- Today, I saw a presentation by a guy who I have to admit I'd never heard of before: Daniel Pink. In short, I thought he was great. His presentation was very interesting, and he is an engaging, well-spoken, amusing guy who fields questions well and even came up with a good joke when the inevitable cell phone rang during his speech. His presentation centered on the new abilities that students will need to have to succeed (and for the U.S. to succeed) in the 21st Century, and how at the present time our public education system - particularly the accountability mechanism - is not structured to deliver that content.

He also has a new book coming out tomorrow - called "The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need." It is a career guide in the guise of a graphic novel. He showed a sneak preview of it (just like a film preview) at the lunch which was absolutely hysterical. It looks like it could something that could become a huge hit.

- And finally, I got to see the Parade of the Ducks at the Peabody Hotel. On the one hand, it was corny beyond belief. On the other, it was pretty damn funny. I may never return to this hotel in my lifetime, and I'm glad I had the chance to witness this strange but strangely endearing tradition.

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