An Interview with Doug Thompson and Dr. Joanne Foster: Inaugural Brain Power Conference

Apr 5, 2012 by

Michael Shaughnessy –

1)      Joanne, I understand that you are about to present at an upcoming conference. When will it be held, and where?

The Brain Power Conference will be held May 3rd and 4th, at the Royal Conservatory in downtown Toronto. ( Everyone involved is very excited about this conference—the first one of its kind—highlighting the connections between brain functioning, and practical applications for learning and teaching. I’m looking forward to presenting a session, and I anticipate that this conference will be a wonderful learning opportunity for anyone interested in supporting and encouraging children’s development, including parents, teachers, counsellors, and other professionals.
2)      Doug, you are one of the key organizers. What is the theme of the conference?

The focus of the conference is on ways in which child development aligns with current advances in understanding the brain. We’re increasingly discovering that it’s possible to influence a child’s capacity to learn, and thus the science of the brain can have a major impact on teaching and parenting. The thrust of this conference is to bring together multiple disciplines to explore practical implications for the classroom, the playroom, and child development.

3)      What types of lectures, workshops, or exhibits will there be?

On the first day of the conference (May 3rd, 2012), keynote presenters will discuss the latest findings in neuroscience—how the brain works, grows, and develops—and there will also be discussions about the implications for education, children’s media, and optimal development. On the second day (May 4th, 2012), speakers will present workshops on a range of topics. Examples include the importance of art, play, language, and music; media choices in the home; the digital classroom; and how parents and teachers can apply understandings from the world of neuroscience while empowering kids to learn.
4)      Joanne, is this event primarily for parents or teachers of gifted learners?

No, the Brain Power Conference is designed to provide up-to-the-minute insights across disciplines in support of children’s development —all children—by heightening understandings of neuroscience, and connecting the information to educational and child-rearing practices. The knowledge will enable parents, teachers, and others to become more cognizant of the actual workings of the brain, and more adept at enhancing children’s capacity to learn.

5)      Obviously, we are in a state of changing technology, iPod, iPads, kindles, and candles. What do educators need to understand about learning in the year 2012?

The speed at which science and research are evolving and combining with emerging technologies such as iPads and other devices is already mindboggling, and the advances continue to open new horizons for the classroom, and for learning applications on many fronts. There will be a focus on technology at the conference, and there will be discussions about classrooms of the future, and how digital media is ‘partnering’ with thoughtful and innovative approaches designed to help kids learn and grow.

6)      Doug, who will some of the speakers be? Is the program already established?

The program will take place over 2 days, with several keynote addresses and an interesting and varied selection of workshops. There is a distinguished list of speakers including neuroscientists, educators, policy-makers, researchers, and psychologists. The conference partners have helped to ensure its value to everyone attending. They include Today’s Parent, Baycrest, Montessori, Yamaha Music, Spirit of Math, and many others.

To find out more about the schedule, presenters, and sponsors, visit the conference websites:

7)      What have I neglected to ask?

Is there a special rate? Yes! A 45% discount is available to educators, and an additional discount is provided for students. Use the code “BRAIN” when calling the box office at 416.408.0208.

We’ve covered the essentials, and hope people will join us in Toronto for this event. Thank you for your inquiry, and for enabling us to share the information here. 

Joanne Foster, Ed.D.
OISE/University of Toronto

Doug Thompson
Brain Power Initiative



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