NYSEC 2023 Conference

October 18-20, 2023

Sowing Seeds, Growing Justice

Your Stories Matter.

This autumn, October 18–20, 2023, the New York State English Council invites you – to presenters and participants alike – to return to your educational roots and plant seeds for the future.

Seeds matter.
Our experiences and memories, formative hopes, fears, and dreams – these are the seeds of stories we tell of ourselves, our communities, and of the world. Seeds, as the place from which life and growth literally take root, are sacred. English teachers have the opportunity to tend to curricular ground where students can explore formative life experiences and find nourishment in writing, reading, speaking, listening, and creating. English teachers may hold their experiences of teaching and learning in the same way – writing and reading stories of their own growth, imagining hopes and dreams for classroom and world into reality – in a vibrant community of practice.

Whether you are a student or teacher, an administrator, policy worker, or educator in any way, we believe that sustainable and healthy growth in education is possible if we pause to recollect our inspiration, to remember our roots. This year, the New York State English Council invites presenters and participants to consider the seeds of learning and teaching.

Justice matters.
Every idea – small or big – has some beginning someplace, whether it is a ghost of a thought, a whisper, or longing to right an injustice. Individuals, groups, and collectives have worked tirelessly – often invisibly, across the course of human history – for justice. In Teaching to Transgress, bell hooks writes that the classroom, with all of its limitations, remains a place of possibility for individuals and society. hooks continues:

“In that field of possibility, we have the opportunity to labour for freedom, to demand of ourselves and our comrades, an openness of mind and heart that allows us to face reality even as we collectively imagine ways to move beyond boundaries, to transgress. This is education as the practice of freedom.”

Ultimately, the classroom can be a space where a student might imagine a life for themselves – and a world in which they might grow – beyond that conceived by the generation before. Teachers can create classroom environments that not only nurture the seeds of student experience but offer an ecosystem in which all forms of justice – economic justice, racial justice, climate justice, and more – support a flourishing imagination of a future world. The openness of the mind and heart that hooks describes is an education for freedom, for justice in the most expansive sense.

This year, the New York State English Council invites presenters and participants to consider what seeds of learning and teaching create educational ecosystems where students can pursue their dreams, justice, and freedom.

Stories matter.
In an era of scorched-earth educational policy, when clear cutting of curricula and attempted extermination of counternarratives dominates conversation, educators may feel it impossible to imagine a fruitful future let alone embody the vulnerability of a sprouting seed. Yet justice blossoms where stories are cultivated and cared for. Stories are – like a forest of sprouting seeds, or laughter and unbridled joy in shared experiences – irrepressible. In their advocacy for students’ right to read in the face of censorship, our parent organization NCTE advocates: “A story can encourage diversity of thought, broaden global perspectives, celebrate unique cultures, and motivate the reader to achieve their dreams. This right matters. This Story Matters.”

This year, the New York State English Council invites presenters and participants to consider the stories that matter, and how we might support students in writing their unique, singular stories into being – as a practice of freedom.