x = independently organized TED event

Theme: How Learning Happens

This event occurred on
January 21, 2012
9:00am - 4:00pm EST
(UTC -5hrs)
Amherst, MA
United States

We are a group of adult learners and teachers who care deeply about learning. We were inspired to organize TEDxPioneerValley to share ideas about learning that takes place in unexpected ways and places. Our speakers engaged our attendees in an energetic inquiry into what catalyzes learning – across the disciplines, in the arts, in the sciences, in the humanities, and, in fact, everywhere in life. In the process, we cracked open traditional notions about how learning happens.

Amherst College
Stirn Theater
Mead Art Museum
Amherst, MA, 01002
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Eleanor Duckworth

Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Cambridge, Massachusetts A former elementary school teacher, Eleanor was a student, colleague and translator of influential Swiss developmental psychologist Jean Piaget. Today, as a prominent progressive educator, Eleanor grounds her work in Piaget and Inhelder's insights into the nature and development of understanding. In her teaching/research approach, “critical exploration in the classroom,” Eleanor emphasizes the insights teachers can gain about the students’ understanding by observing their behavior as they work through complex problems and projects.

Salman Hameed

Assistant Professor, Integrated Science and Humanities, Hampshire College, Amherst, Massachusetts An astrophysicist by training, Salman’s primary research interest focuses on understanding the rise of creationism in the Islamic world and how Muslims view the relationship between science and religion. He is currently the lead investigator of a National Science Foundation-funded study on this topic, and he heads the Center for the Study of Science in Muslim Societies at Hampshire College. He also writes the blog Irtiqua, dedicated to science and religion.

Camilla Barry

Founder and president, Classrooms Across Cultures, Mill Valley, California A zealous teacher, Camilla has been devoted to science education for more than 20 years. She emphasizes teaching critical thinking through hands on-science experiences, with “a fervent hope that the concept will translate” to other areas of her learners’ lives. Since 2003, Camilla has played a leading role in restoring education in Afghanistan – especially for girls and women – in a country ravaged by decades of war. Her experiences in her annual visits to Afghanistan speak both to the “power of one” to make a difference and to the wonder of minds empowered.

Lynn Pasquerella

President, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts A first-generation college student, Lynn has been president of Mount Holyoke College since July 2010. A teacher, scholar and prominent ethicist with a career marked by local and global engagement, Lynn has written extensively in the areas of medical ethics, theoretical and applied ethics, metaphysics, public policy and the philosophy of law. She is committed to women’s education, educational access for people of all socioeconomic means, and liberal learning as an agent of transformation for individuals and communities.

Eric Rosenbaum

Research assistant, Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge Eric’s interests include collaborative learning in shared spaces, authenticity in learning environments, musical improvisation for novices, and learning through constructing science simulations. MIT Media Lab’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group is dedicated to extending the kindergarten style of learning so that learners of all ages continue to learn through a process of designing, creating, experimenting, and exploring. Eric teachers the MIT class “Radical Design for Learning” with fellow TEDxPioneerValley speaker Jay Silver, with whom he has collaborated on numerous projects for the Media Lab.

Sue Barry

Professor of biological sciences, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts For years, Sue taught her neurobiology students the conventional wisdom that the human brain is highly malleable during a “critical period” in infancy but loses the capacity to rewire in adulthood. Her personal experience with a radical change in her once limited, two-dimensional vision – she was born stereo-blind with crossed eyes -- has led her to see things differently, both as a person and as a scientist. Her experience led to re-examine the subject of adult neuronal plasticity.

Nadinne Cruz

Community-based learning advocate, Cruz Consulting, Palo Alto, California Nadinne’s early volunteer experiences with peasants in the Philippines inspired a life-long commitment to the power of connecting learning with community work. For over 25 years, Nadinne Cruz has been a leader and advocate for the practice of teaching and learning through involvement in communities. As executive director of the Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs in St. Paul, Minn., Nadinne led a consortium of 18 Midwest colleges and universities to develop community-based learning programs. At Stanford University, she directed the Haas Center for Public. As Eugene M. Lang Visiting Professor at Swarthmore College, she piloted the Democratic Practice Project for the political science department.

Jay Silver

Research assistant and Ph.D. candidate in Media Arts and Sciences, Lifelong Kindergarten Group, MIT Media Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts The Lifelong Kindergarten Group in which Jay plays is dedicated to extending the kindergarten style of learning so that learners of all ages continue to learn through a process of designing, creating, experimenting, and exploring. At Media Lab, Jay has helped develop new technological experiences that fertilize learning, including Drawdio, which lets you turn everyday objects (paintbrushes, trees, even the kitchen sink) into musical instruments; Singing Fingers, which lets you finger paint with sound; and Color Code, with which you can create computer programs that respond to colors of objects in the physical world.

Priscilla Kane Hellweg

Executive/Artistic Director, Enchanted Circle Theater, Holyoke, Massachusetts Priscilla has written for, directed, and performed educational theater throughout New York and New England since 1980. As a master teaching artist, she integrates theater arts with science, social studies, math and English language arts, in classrooms from preschool through college. She is currently an adjunct faculty at Hampshire College in the department of Interdisciplinary Arts. Priscilla and her company are pioneers in the field of arts integration, collaborating on many innovative programs with school systems and human service agencies, throughout the Pioneer Valley.

Suzy Polucci

Theater artist; conflict resolution trainer and trauma educator, Pioneer Valley, Massachusetts Suzy has a lifelong mission to make people laugh, Dubbed a “New Age Lucille Ball” by the Boston Globe, she brings her talent to bear in her quest to understand man’s inhumanity to everybody and everything. Sparked by the flood of information coming out of the field of neuroscience, Suzy has become a brain enthusiast and marvels at its healing potential.

Tom Stevens

Tom, a disabled USAF Veteran, is a retired union official who worked for the Department of Defense for the last 19 years of his working career. Presently, he is involved with volunteer projects and enjoying the company of his family members and golfer friends. Tom and his wife moved to Western Massachusetts to be closer to family, especially a new granddaughter, four years ago.

Organizing team


Northampton, MA, United States
  • Linda Matys O'Connell
  • Aliza Ansell
  • Allison Reid
    Organizing partner
  • Alan Bloomgarden
    Organizing partner