All Roads Lead to Rome!


Early in the fall of 2007 I came across a little post on the Internet about a conference in Italy. Needless to say the location of the conference piqued my interest. The post went on to describe the “6th Annual Worldwide Forum on Education and Culture.” Having just received some grant money to promote my project ( I decided to register. When November finally arrived, I was ready for Italy but I was not ready for what would be the best conference of my life! Now, believe me when I say I’ve been to a few conferences—having been involved in education for more than six years and politics since I was thirteen, I have been to a few conferences. But, the Worldwide Forum was something different— it was personal, intimate, provocative, truly worldwide and most of all fun!

The Worldwide Forum on Education and Culture was first held at the beginning of the new millennium at John Cabot University in Rome, but quickly moved to the Trilussa Palace Hotel and Convention Centre to accommodate the ever-increasing number of delegates. With contributions from scholars and practitioners in the fields of education, literacy, literature, media, communication and cultural studies from all five continents, the latest conference (December 4 – 5, 2008) collected more than 85 professional leaders from 26 countries under one roof, confirming that all roads do in fact lead to Rome! The conference featured two jam-packed days of keynotes, presentations and panel discussions as well as receptions and banquets. The Forum has also grown to include a regularly published online journal as well as a newly released textbook in which dozens of past conference presenters have been able to publish their work.

In 2007 I attended and presented my sociopolitical writing project and received a plethora of valuable suggestions and comments. I returned last year with a paper in response to that feedback and have subsequently been published in the textbook. The whole experience has been rigorous, continual and refreshing. The result is that my teaching practice has benefited from informed peer review and the opportunity to share with others from all over the world. This, in turn, has reinvigorated my classroom practice and allowed me to stay fresh in a career where far too many become stagnant.

Before I leave you, I don’t want you thinking this conference is all stuffy academic work. It’s not. There are endless opportunities to meet and dialogue with people at the average of three receptions a day. Additionally, there is the famous banquet at a nearby and truly Italian restaurant. This evening proves to be not only fun and filling but engaging and entertaining too. Then, of course there is Rome! So, the next time you are in need of a little professional development and a touch of Tuscan sun…. (well, OK, Roman sun) attend the Worldwide Forum on Education and Culture. You won’t be disappointed to say the least. See you there!

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Michael Ernest Sweet
Michael Ernest Sweet lives and teaches in Montreal and is a regular contributor to Canadian Teacher Magazine. He is the founder of Learning for a Cause and a member of Canada’s Commission for UNESCO.

This article is from Canadian Teacher Magazine’s May 2009 issue.

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