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Audience members ask questions at the  first HEAR Chicago Talk event Wednesday at Schubas upstairs lounge in Lakeview. The talk facilitated an exchange of ideas about education.

Social hour facilitates an exchange of ideas about education

by Elissa Nadworny
June 06, 2013


Elissa Nadworny/MEDILL

Kaara Kallen, center, talks with attendees at the first HEAR Chicago Talk event Wednesday at Schubas upstairs lounge.

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If you walked up the stairs to the private room on the second floor of Schubas, a bar on Chicago’s North Side, the scene might surprise you.

On Wednesday night, the lounge was filled with approximately 20 teachers, administrators and program educators sipping on cold drafts, snacking on bar grub and discussing ideas in education.

The event was the first of a series of quarterly HEAR Chicago Talk events, where presenters pose a question about an issue or idea in education.

“The goal was to get people that reach and teach people in different ways to get together and share ideas about education,” said Kaara Kallen, a Chicago-based education-programs editor who organized the event.

The presenters have only six minutes to speak before the audience takes over. But there is no question and answer portion. Instead, after each presentation audience members have a minute to yell out questions they have, specifically for the presenter or ones rhetorical in nature, so attendees can ponder them.

Questions included: “How do we make arts valued in the classroom?” “How do we balance student choice with test-based knowledge?” “How do we measure success in anti-violence programming?”

“Coming back to questions really helps revisit what we’re talking about,” said Kallen, who named the event . Hope for Equitable access * Authentic learning * Relevant experiences, or H.E.A.R.

The event presenters and participants ranged in topics, approach and professions.

Yoli Maya Yeh, co-founder of Peace Within YOUth, a Chicago Public Schools service-learning program, asked, “How do we transform youth violence in the school system?” She talked about how her organization is teaching mediation and yoga practices to high school students, working on balancing internal and external peace building programming.

“We’re still exploring how to use yoga as a student peace building experience,” Yeh said.

The initiative is the first CPS sponsored yoga program and they’re still changing and adapting the program, which was held in five high schools this spring.

“We’re flexible,” Yeh said. “We’re letting the students and the teachers help drive this idea.”

Other presenters included a charter school founder, an artist who works with veterans and a curriculum developer.

“We’re often just focused on the one way, but there are many different ways to learn,” said Kallen, who hopes to continue including presenters and attendees from multiple fields.

After the presentations ended, Kallen opened the microphone up to participants.

Katie Larson, an educator at the Alliance for the Great Lakes, talked about working with schools to integrate Great Lakes curriculum. Jenny Sider, a science teacher at Amundsen High School in Ravenswood talked about creating long-term relationships with outside partnerships.
“I wanted people to really think about what they were hearing, and not just listen,” Kallen said.

The event ended in multiple conversations among attendees.
“These events are really about making connections,” said Christine Krumsee, an artist who works with veterans “I always meet and connect with people.”

The next HEAR Chicago Talk will be held Sept. 18 at Schubas Upstairs Lounge at 3159 N. Southport.