CAMDEN CONFERENCE IN THE CLASSROOM, THE 2017 CONFERENCE AND BEYOND
The Camden Conference in the Classroom program was the most successful yet at the 2017 Conference. The Conference Board has long seen the value of sharing the inspiring conferences with high school students while recognizing that these young people need some education and support to fully appreciate the experience. At the same time, high school teachers are stretched to provide the necessary resources to lead education on the Conference topic. To support these teachers and students and contribute to the learning for leaders of the future, the Camden Conference has developed a program titled “Camden Conference in the Classroom (CCC).
The topic of the 2017 Camden Conference, Refugees and Global Migration, was not only in the news almost daily, but was particularly relevant to the experience of many high school students with about 20% of the CCC student attendees were refugees themselves or from families of Refugees. Students in rural Maine schools had the chance to understand how important and close the topic was to them.
The CCC school program begins with the September Workshop for the CCC teachers. The teachers work together to develop a syllabus that supports learning on the conference topics. By the time of the workshop, teachers have already had the course approved internally and they use the resources on the Camden Conference website such as the books and videos as well as gathering their own resources. Every school does something different. We ask that each teacher to submit the syllabus, not for approval, but for our information.
On the Friday evening of the 2017 Conference, the students and teachers gathered to share some supper. Nearly half the schools must travel and stay overnight to attend the Conference. Several students who were refugees were willing to share their Slam Poetry or experiences with the group. That set the tone. By the high school lunch on Saturday, the students were mixing and sharing thoughts about the Conference, each table facilitated by a teacher.
We have an excellent group of schools for 2017-18. They are a mix of three private and eight public schools, both rural and urban. Camden Hill Regional High School, Foxcroft Academy (Dover-Foxcroft), Gould Academy (Bethel), Edward Little High School (Auburn), Lincoln Academy, Damariscotta, Maine Academy of Natural Sciences (Hinkley), Medomak Valley High School (Waldoboro), Piscataquis Community Secondary School (Guildford), Portland High School (Portland), Deering High School (Portland), and Watershed School (Camden).
For the 2019 Conference, the Education Committee is looking to add new schools to the program. Our funding model is now firmer and we believe there is interest in Maine. Prospective teachers may attend the 2018 Conference and use this academic year to consider how the CCC could work in their school. As always there is the challenge that the topic changes every year. Fortunately Maine has teachers who can rise to this challenge.
Teachers have expressed enthusiasm for the support system that allows them to expand their course offerings and enjoyed working together with other teachers. Students expressed excitement about attending the global conference event, and learning about the topic from experts, and from others around the world. Students appreciated speakers offering differing perspectives, which raised many questions about the complexity of global dynamics. The biggest impact perhaps was the sense of urgency that was created for being prepared for future leadership role in emerging world affairs.