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The 2015 Education Forum: On the Spirit of Learning
at Dallas ISD’s Lincoln High School

Click here for Dr. Donald Cowan’s “The Spirit of Liberal Learning” chapter, the focus text for the 2015 Education Forum.

Click here to open a map of Lincoln High School parking


To provoke thoughts

To inspire hearts

To raise questions and begin a conversation

Welcome to the Education Forum, the Dallas Institute Cowan Center’s program in which citizens are invited to join professional educators to highlight and explore an issue in education that is of concern to the nation and to our city.

The topic of the 2015 Education Forum is the “Spirit of Learning.” For those of us who have studied in Cowan Center programs, this is more a matter of concern in its absence rather than in its presence. But we believe that every child in America deserves and needs access to a great education, and we believe that the proper spirit—beginning with the educators and the public—is needed in order to achieve this end.

Unlike other Education Forums, in which the topic was focused on primary and secondary education, in the 2015 Education Forum, we will consider the spirit of learning—or what we are going to call the spirit of liberal education—across all levels of education, from primary and secondary to colleges and universities. Every stage of American education could be strengthened by the proper spirit of learning.

The Program:

Friday, September 25, 2015, 6:00 PM: a panel of the speakers discussing Dr. Donald Cowan’s chapter called “The Spirit of Liberal Learning” from his book Unbinding Prometheus: Education for the Coming Age. (A pdf of this chapter will be made available online to those with paid registrations.)

Following the panel, Dr. William Deresiewicz will follow with a talk about liberal education and culture.

Diane Ravitch will then deliver the keynote address, giving us the history of liberal education in America.

After Dr. Ravitch’s keynote address, speakers will do book signings until 9:00 PM.

Saturday, September 26, 2015, 9:00 AM: Dr. Elizabeth Samet and Dr. Andrew Delbanco will each speak about liberal education at the college and university levels through the lens of literature. Their talks will be followed by a brief, moderated panel, setting the format for the teams that follow.

In the next hour, Dr. Matthew Crawford and Dr. Diana Senechal will speak about and discuss liberal learning through the lens of philosophy at both the university level and the secondary levels.

After lunch, Dr. Ben Olguín and Dr. Dan Russ will speak about and discuss liberal learning at all levels of education through the lens of literature and poetry, with a focus on reaching “at-risk” students.

After a break, the speakers will gather for a final plenary discussion.

Then Dr. Louise Cowan is scheduled to deliver the final address on the Cowans’ idea of the spirit of liberal learning and the centrality of what they call the “poetic imagination.”

Most of our speakers have written books in which they discuss the value of liberal education—from liber, meaning “free one,” in other words, an education suited for a free person—and all of them are educators who have thought deeply about learning and teaching and knowledge and have practiced the spirit of learning.

Let’s use this time to begin a conversation in Dallas, a conversation in which we can reacquaint ourselves with the timeless qualities of a liberal education that can meet the needs of students in our day.

Join us to learn, to remember, and to be inspired.

Join us to help ignite the spirit of learning for all.

September 25 & 26: Friday 6:00 to 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Speakers for the 2015 Education Forum

Top, from left: William Deresiewicz, Elizabeth Samet, Diane Ravitch, Dan Russ, & Matthew Crawford.
Bottom, from left: Louise Cowan, Andrew Delbanco, Diana Senechal, & Ben Olguín.
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