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R.W.B. Jackson Lectures of the past: A look back at keynotes of yesteryear

December 7, 2020

By Perry King

The return of OISE’s signature spring lecture and community reception is not exactly happening in the spring.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the R.W.B. Jackson Lecture was postponed rescheduled to Dec. 8, 2020. But, the public keynote returns to feature alumna and literary giant Dionne Brand, who will be in conversation with renowned Black studies scholar Rinaldo Walcott.

Register here for the 2020 Jackson Lecture

The Jackson Lecture has been OISE’s marquee public lecture for many years. It was established as a tribute to OISE’s founding director, Robert William Brierley Jackson, who was appointed by The Honourable William G. Davis.

To celebrate the Dec. 8 conversation, OISE News is looking back at select past keynotes.

2019 – The Honourable William G. Davis, in conversation with Steve Paikin

On March 27, packed house gathered to hear the Honourable William G. Davis in conversation with his biographer and award-winning journalist Dr. Steve Paikin. Watch the full lecture in the video above. 

William Grenville "Bill" Davis, who served as the Premier of Ontario from 1971 to 1985, served as Minister of Education from 1962 to 1971 – where he spearheaded the modernization of the school board system, the creation of the community college system, TVO, and OISE itself.

In 2019, Davis came to OISE to chat with Steve Paikin, one of Canada’s premier current affairs journalists who authored Bill Davis: Nation Builder, and Not So Bland After All.

2018 – Spirit Bear: Decolonizing Canada by Lifting Up the Children

Dr. Cindy Blackstock reminds audience of the power of love in fighting colonialism and racism at the Jackson Lecture (video by Kaitlyn Balkovec and Lindsey Craig). Watch the video above. 

Dr. Cindy Blackstock, a revered and respected Indigenous children’s rights advocate, came to OISE to discuss her fight to protect Indigenous children in Canada and how we can play in advancing their rights, justice and more. She was accompanied by award-winning investigative reporter and podcast host Connie Walker.

2014 – “Why the quality of Finland’s education system can exceed the quality of its teachers”

Quality of teaching and educational change are areas of major concern in Canada and around the world. For the 2014 lecture, OISE invited Dr. Pasi Sahlberg – one of Finland’s chief education architects – to explain how the Finns do it.

This is what former OISE Dean Julia O’Sullivan said about Dr. Sahlberg in her opening remarks:

“Pasi Sahlberg is a teacher, teacher educator and policy advisor in Finland and has studied education systems and reforms around the world. His expertise includes international educational change, the future of schooling, and innovation in teaching and learning. His best-selling book, Finnish Lessons: What can the world learn from educational change in Finland won the 2013 Grawemeyer Award. We are delighted to have him here tonight.”

Read more about the 2014 Jackson Lecture

2008 – Brave New Schools: Identity and Power in Canadian Education

The Jackson Lecture has always delivered data as well as a message. In this lecture, Jim Cummins, a professor with OISE’s department of Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, drew on data from a five-year research program entitled “From Literacy to Multiliteracies” to stimulate re-examination of the foundational principles of Canadian education in an era of increasing diversity and urgent global challenges.

Cummins’ lecture called for a radically different approach to educational policymaking. The constructs of teacher-student identity negotiation and societal power relations was proposed as validated influences on academic achievement and fundamental to the development of effective educational policy and practice.

Read more about the 2008 Jackson Lecture

2000 – In Praise of Polarities in Postsecondary Education

The first Jackson Lecture of the 21st century was held by Michael Skolnik, now-Professor Emeritus with OISE’s department of Leadership, Higher and Adult Education, in May 2000. Here, he discussed the relationship between institutional culture and an institution's transformation into a learning college.

Read the full transcript of this keynote

Each year, OISE's R.W.B. Jackson Lecture invites leading scholars and thinkers to address some of the most critical issues in education today. For more than a century, OISE has led and supported the transformation of education through leadership and innovation in teaching, research and advocacy. To support our work, we welcome you to make a gift today.

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